Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 16

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

A few minutes later, Bill called the group together and introduced Bennie and me. Next to Bill stood a tall older woman who had an air of ownership toward him. Bill introduced the group to us including Sylvia who was obviously his partner now. Bennie took a turn to explain Preservation and our mission to them. He then moved into a description of the radios we used in general terms. He explained that we would set up a station at City Hall. The item of most interest was that we had electrical power and were able to help others in that regard. Bennie was careful to explain that the solutions his dad and Michael had developed used small dams. They were experimenting with wind power but those efforts were in their infancy. He told them that we would help them put together a good station that they could use to join our nets in the evening. He also explained that we could put up repeaters that were linked as well as one for more localized use. He explained that these radios were more useful than the CB's that many used before the Day and roughly why.

Bill had Jimmy tell everyone about the radio conversation that we had earlier. The ladies brought supper and we had a potluck dinner followed by our contact on the net followed by listening as the many members of Preservation checked with news and greetings. They were amazed to hear the Salt Lakers come in and report their current status. After Momma closed the net, everyone wanted to hear more about the radios and Preservation.

The discussions went on into the night. Finally, people were tired. Sylvia invited us to join Bill and her at their home. We did and were placed in their guest bedroom of a comfortable home. In the morning, we found out that it had been neither of their houses. They decided to make a break with the past and move to this house that offered more sustainability regarding power outages. It had some solar panels that Bill had tried to keep in working order. It also had hot water for bathing and Bennie and I both enjoyed a hot bath.

After breakfast, Bill went to check on his fields while Sylvia accompanied us back to City Hall. One of the results of the discussions last night was that the people here wanted an association with Preservation and acknowledged that they could use some technical assistance. Getting power back was appealing to them all.

We stayed the day helping get the radio better set, antenna higher and better tuned, and introducing them to Michael and Ben to talk about power generating. We spent the night with Bill and Sylvia again. After bathing and breakfast, we said our goodbyes and continued down the Interstate.

We went down through Adel and came to Valdosta. People were there but were in hiding. When we talked to Poppa and Momma that night over the radio, Poppa suggested that we look to outlying areas. He also wanted us to detour over to the Okefenokee Swamp and see how it was doing without much in the way of people. After looking at the map, it would have been closer from Tifton and then come to Valdosta. We humored Poppa and I am glad we did.

The next morning, we left for the swamp heading northeast toward Waycross. It was a quiet ride and we could see the landscape change as we rode closer to the swamp. We actually had to cut through the southern part of Waycross and trace the road southeast to get to the park entrance chosen for our visit. We found it along with cabins. We picked one that was in good shape and even found a fenced area for the horses. We unloaded them and released them into the large fenced plot. From what we read, there had been horses here at one time for visitors. We went down and found a good canoe that we cleaned out and up along with life vests that didn't look too badly dry rotted. With the paddles, we felt we would go out into the swamp some. Bennie found brochures in the old office and we read about the animals in the swamp noting that there were alligators and bears. We brought our rifles. We didn't want trouble but we didn't want to be lunch either.

It was a lovely time we had the next day. The weather was good and the scenery was superb. That night, we thanked Poppa for talking us into making the detour because of the beauty and undisturbed nature of the setting. We were probably the first people to go out into the swamp since the Day. The animals showed no fear of us though they had their natural wariness. We didn't hunt as we had food from Tifton that had been pressed upon us by the inhabitants. We did leave the next morning and retraced our steps back to Valdosta.

When we arrived back in Valdosta, we left a few notes in some of the stores that we had passed through and giving a short bit of information on Preservation. Momma had prepared those for us to take with us saying that we might get people interested in being in contact. We also wrote that there was a community in Tifton, too.

We followed down the Interstate stopping at the rest area at the state line and a campground there for the night. We could easily have gone further but weren't in a race. I think both of us were feeling lazy. It was a warm day and the horses were tired. We released them into a playground at the campground that was fenced and walked around. There were no people to be seen. In the campground were only a few big campers but we didn't go into any of them. Either the people had left them for a hospital or had died in them. There was nothing we could do now. We did go through the camp office and picked up some maps and information brochures for later use. We were totally dependent upon HF to talk to Preservation now. We listened to the Tifton people on the net. They were preparing a party to go up to Preservation and talk more about planning for generators and further contacts. I noticed that John was planning to be part of the party.

We stayed an extra day in the campground taking our ease before heading south. We were hoping to see some people but there was no sign anywhere that anyone had been in the area for years.

We packed and left the next morning heading south. We were watching for whatever there might be in the way of anything different. Poppa had told us to be careful of anything that wasn't normal. We had memories of the stag to keep us aware of our surroundings.

We didn't try to make time but watched for people or animals. It was eerily quiet. We didn't see any animals. Even the birds were quiet. That was not normal. We wandered off the road a mile or two at each exit looking around. Bennie had a Geiger counter out and frequently checked it for readings but only found background radiation just like at home.

When we got down to I-10, we went east and west for maybe ten miles looking for signs. It was quiet but we found nothing. We camped for the night at the interchange leaving in the morning and continuing our way south. We quickly reached Lake City and spent a few hours going through the town looking sign of people. We still found nothing. It was like everyone went somewhere else. We made it to Gainesville before stopping for the night. There were a number of lakes and we picked one and set our tent in a nice area beside it.

We went fishing but caught nothing. However, at least we saw fish in the water. It was nice to see any kind of animal. I was concerned about the lack of birds and small animals like squirrels. Bennie said that it troubled him, too. We talked about it with Poppa. He thought there might be some residual issues from the explosion even though there was no radiation according to the meter.

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