'Government Shutdown' Creates Dangerous Scramble
After orders by federal officials to leave, a dangerous exodus ensues. Photo by Angie Creswell McGhee
Guest Commentary by Angie Creswell McGhee
Talladega: Insane day and night dealing with psycho government federals. Imagine doing a fast 50 in very hot, humid conditions over rugged trails. Some were still on trail finishing up the 75. You've all been up since 4 AM. At 10 PM the federals showed up and said "EVERYBODY OUT NOW!!" 100 big rigs backed in all around tricky pine tree parking areas, DARK, your stuff is scattered everywhere, horses are tired and need to rehydrate. We said, "FIRST thing as soon as it's light". NO NOW!! or you will be ticketed, prosecuted, towed." "TOWED WHERE WITH WHAT? What could even get IN these parking places at night?" More threats. Now there’s a traffic jam building up through camp with long trails of red tail lights at a standstill. "What about the people who came from Texas and Louisiana, came in off the trail and had a few drinks, this is insane! None of these people are really safe driving a big rig on the road at this time of night after a day like this!"
This is where I saw what government healthcare will be like. You have a local official who is probably a nice person who agrees with you, but he has this boss, who has a boss, who has a boss, and they don't get it...and if HE doesn't carry through with orders HE will get a huge fine. They would love to stand up for you but when it comes to your family or his well, sorry. This ride is actually a BENEFIT ride for the Talladega National Forest. They stood to make thousands. It has to be closed down because the person who empties the kiosk with the money in it was on forced furlough. Actually, that person came out to visit with us all day because these volunteers help him do his job every day of the year. The management from this ride literally is the maintenance crew for this trail system and donates hundreds of hours labor per year. Actually, this ride is the reason this camp is as large as it is since they got the grants, and did much of the work to build it. HERE'S THE KICKER...the officials say,"Ok, you can stay till morning...OVER THERE." WHERE??" The day parking area on the other end of camp that doesn't have a kiosk. "You are kidding, right?"
Nope, that was the sort of logic you get from a far removed government official (the kind that will be making your healthcare decisions). There is a day parking area just as you turn in off the road into camp. There is no gate between them, it’s just a different designation. An entire over crowded horse camp with over 100 rigs and exhausted horses and riders was supposed to hook up, load it all, back up around a bunch of pine trees on the sides of hills in the dark, and shift your rigs about 100 yards crammed into a tiny parking area for the next 5 hours or so, then try to get everyone turned around and back out in the morning. The insanity of it was so frustrating. I know that in Washington they all imagined us furious at those who shut down the government. They were WRONG. I really didn’t hear anyone talking about either party, we were talking about a federal government that is inept and out of control.
Personally, it made me see how much WASTE is involved with the federal government and that they are too far removed and cumbersome to be logical about anything. Think about it, because they needed to save the money to pay one person to empty a kiosk, thus would lose a couple of $100 in fees, they lost thousands of dollars that the riders who were already on site were going to donate to the forest. In order to ENFORCE the closure, though they couldn’t afford one man to empty the kiosk, they spent thousands in overtime to send a CREW from Montgomery to work all night with marshals to throw us out! The amount of money spent not to spend money was insane, but the federal government probably does it every day of every week. Rather than risk some psycho physically forcing us to leave our horses, or haul them with our rig off to what…a holding yard where nobody is allowed to touch them because they’re under forced furlough?
We loaded up and pulled out of camp headed for home near midnight. We had been up since 4. The horses were tired and dehydrated. It was NOT good for them and I worried until we unloaded them save at home at 3:30 AM. It was NOT safe for us to be driving. We had a car and a truck there, 3 drivers, so fortunately when Josie started nodding off at her wheel I was fortunately able to take over. Don’t know what anyone who was alone and no place to take a horse would do, maybe pull over but what do you do with horses? I talked to several people including quite a few who are furloughed and the mood was not “Oh well, they’ve made it so unpleasant for us, let’s give in.” The mood was, “These people are out of control and somebody’s got to stop them. Now is as good a time as any.” Having some faceless person several safe levels away from the action making life and death calls for you is an awful situation. I just hope that those naive people who have pushed for it will feel the consequences in time to turn this country around.