Tag Archive: Star Trek


#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 8
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

Brent and I are in Kansas, heading west, as I scroll through our itinerary of roadside attractions. We’ve been adding stops as we go and occasionally ruling out other stops, but when Brent suddenly asks, “What’s next?” I tell him it’s a place called Truckhenge. “We’re definitely going there,” he says, with a weird smile on his face.

I plug the coordinates into my map app, which I’ve named Sally—don’t ask why—but she’s busy yelling at me, as usual, that we’re doing something wrong, or that there is no such location. “Oh, yes there is,” Brent says. I ask him what Truckhenge is, and he says, “I don’t know. But it’s there.”

TruckhengeIt’s about a half hour drive from Lawrence to just outside Topeka, under a blue sky and rising August temperature. We navigate our way to a dirt road that turns sharply to the right and leads us to a Quonset building tucked behind the treeline. The place is silent. Brent stops the car and we look at each other. We suddenly realize we have no idea what we’re doing.

So, Brent gets out, and I stay put, hanging out the car window and lazily saying things like, “Is there a doorbell? Knock again. Try the handle. Do you see anyone inside?” After each quip, Brent shoots me a knock-it-off look. He gets back in the car. We sit and stare at the building. There’s a fading phone number painted on the garage door. I call it and a man answers. “Hi,” I say. “We’re at Truckhenge…”

“I’ll be right down,” the man says.

Moments later, the owner, Ron Lessman, walks out with a dog or two in tow. He introduces himself and begins talking, and man, he talks fast. In the first two minutes, we learn his name, that he built this Quonset house, and that he put gargoyles on it to keep the County away. We share a laugh and he explains his philosophy on life, which is all about common sense and is not so keen on bureaucratic rules. But just when I think he’s anti-establishment, he tells a quick story about the local police force and mentions the officers with respect and by name–because he knows them all by name–and his story is about appreciation for their quick thinking on a matter at his property and the work they do. Somewhere in the fast and funny story, he begins to mention the wood carvings around the property that he’s made himself, the art of the Quonset house, he casually points out an old boxcar to our left that he says is full of bones, and he makes mention of a pond beyond the trees.

To myself, I think: Bones? Human?

Ron is a wiry, tan man with long, graying beard, a bandana on his head, and he’s wearing a red t-shirt that bears the words Truck You. “We’re just trying to have fun here,” he says. “Would you like to come in the house?”

“Sure,” we say happily and immediately. We follow Ron and I make eye contact with Brent. I widen my eyes to ask him silently, “Think we’re gonna die?” He mirrors my look and I read him saying, “Not sure. Let’s find out.”

I take a final look around the front of the building, the trees, the blue sky, and the boxcar, thinking we’ve dropped in to a strange new land. “Kansas,” I think to myself and I think about life, death, and journeys, all in the blink of an eye. As we follow Ron, he tells us that William Shatner was at Truckhenge just a few weeks ago. It’s apt because right at this moment, I can’t help but picture the characters from Star Trek beaming in with their recorders (by the way, Brent owns one of those recorders) to learn about a new place with a sense of adventure and a sense of “anything can happen.” This sentiment is precisely why, wordlessly, we knew we’d go inside, because anything can happen, anywhere, anytime, so we can get back in the car and drive away or we can boldly go forward. We choose forward, knowing we rejected outright any other choice. (Don’t try this at home, kids. Don’t risk everything unless you’re willing to lose it all.)

TruckhengeInside the Quonset house, Ron shows us more of his art—it’s on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, painted on the floor, and I’m drawn to the reverse side of the smiley face window he’s made from wine bottles. The house is spacious, and everything in it, and of it, has been repurposed. Pieces from cars and boats have been rebuilt into a staircase with a chest of drawers and signage made into railings. As sunlight streams in from windows on the second floor, fencing creates hallways, fruit hangs from a coat hanger, a series of boarded up windows serves as shelving. Everywhere you look is art in progress, and objects reimagined to new purposes. It’s nothing short of astounding. Brent and I realize we’re safe as kittens, and just as curious.

Ron shows us his art, lets us take pictures, and takes us through the back of the house to the expansive farmland that is dotted with his wood carvings—each with its own character story—areas for bands to play, boats, bottles and cement, the pond beyond the trees, and the word Truckhenge spelled out on the ground with bricks to be visible from planes above. TruckhengeAlong the way, Ron tells us about his struggles with bureaucracy, he tells us about the many bones they found in the large pond that experts from the university have deemed to be camel bones (they mystery deepens), and he tells us of the great concerts that go on at this property.

TruckhengeWe stop at the trucks at the corner of the farm. The County said because of the flood plain, Ron had to “pick up” the trucks. So Ron had them raised off the ground onto girders of concrete and the County conceded that the trucks were no longer a mobile threat. Thus, Truckhenge was born.

TruckhengeWe round the corner, listening to Ron’s stories and sharing some of our own—where we’re going and how far we’ve come. At this point, we know we’ll never make it to Colorado before dark, but we can’t help ourselves from exploring more with Ron. The temperature continues to climb as we make our way back around to the boxcar of bones. Ron invites us in, and we happily follow. The boxcar is in bad shape, but you can still move around in it, carefully, and we find that Ron has separated and sorted the various animal bones he’s found in the pond.

We suddenly hear the ring of a telephone and the sound is so foreign to us. Outside the boxcar, we see a small group of people walking the property as if they live there. We have no idea where they’ve come from or how long they’ve been there, out of sight, but Ron and his dogs are completely at ease with their presence, so we are, too.

Back inside the house, Ron invites us to sign the guestbook, and we do. Brent turns a page in the book and shows me what he finds: William Shatner’s signature. Brent gets a Truck You t-shirt, and Ron gives me a peacock feather. He hugs us goodbye.Truckhenge

The heat of the day has caused my Missouri bug bites to flare up in fiery itch, so once back inside the car I scratch and scratch as we drive down the road. For an hour, all we say to each other is, “I… I…” and shake our heads. We are forever different and there are no words anymore. Truckhenge is an experience that you have to have for yourself, because you’ll enter as one thing and emerge as something completely changed.

Eventually this day we will reach the Mushroom Rocks State Park, where we’ll wander around saying things like, “We’re just trying to have fun here,” and, “Well, Ron says…”

Until then, we drive in quiet awe of what just happened toward a town that’s not real.

Our deepest thanks go to Ron Lessman for inviting us in.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.


Dealing pic 1What do you do when you walk into work to find a known-to-be-difficult person is now on your team? Or a new neighbor that can’t get along with anyone? It happens to the best of us. So what do we do?

Get angry? Get dramatic? Complain to anyone who’ll listen, especially on social media?

These are all fine solutions—for perpetuating the situation. But for real resolution, the first thing to do is to let go of the past.

What’s Past is Past
We can’t change the past, fix it, or go back to live in it again, so there’s no point in holding on to it so tightly. The only constant is change. To quote the all-too-creepy Borg from Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.”

What can be done is a concerted effort to make today better, not just personally but for everyone around. The future can be just as blissful as the past, but that won’t happen by complaining about it, and it won’t happen overnight.

The Easy Road
The next thing to do is change the way you think. Why you? Because changing someone else is entirely too difficult. You’re actually taking the easy way out this time.

In addition to “nine-to-five” employment, I’ve moonlighted as a waitress in five U.S. states spanning a period of approximately 18 years. That’s a lot of coworker personalities, and innumerable hungry guests. (Aside: Hungry people can be temperamental.) When faced with a crazy coworker or a guest who walks in grumpy, the first thing I used to notice was that I had nothing in common with this other person, and I simply couldn’t agree with their line of thinking. Then I swallowed my pride, put myself in their shoes, and always found a way to relate. Always. And that’s because the biggest obstacle was pride, and that was in me and I change it. (Incidentally, it made me very good at caring for hungry people.)

Look for Something to Like
When you start looking for things to like in someone else, it gets easier and easier to find things. I saw this positivity in action when I worked a food booth at a fair. Summer after summer, the owner of the company and I would work together, side by side, and all day long I could overhear her talking to herself as she cooked and people-watched, saying things like, “Oh, I love her shoes… I want that shirt… Great haircut…” When one of those people came up to buy from us, she’d tell them her compliment. She never held back. She meant what she said, and the person she complimented would leave our booth different–taller, in a way. Without even trying, because it was simply in her nature, the business owner managed to get the “good” flowing, and it kept flowing. (Think about it: When complimented, you typically look for an opportunity to pay it forward.)

Simple Works
It sounds simple and even obvious, and it is. And that’s why it works. With a little practice, in very quick time thought patterns start changing. Negativity won’t be the first thing on your mind and out of your mouth. Instead of thinking to yourself, “What’s his problem?” and “Who does she think she is?” you find you’re actually thinking, “I like that person’s style,” and “I’m going to ask her what workout she does to get legs like that.”

This approach has helped me strike up friendships with people the complete opposite of me who have become amazing and good friends. It’s helped me with work relationships, helped me defend coworkers during misunderstandings, and it’s helped me be a much happier person.

Found in Translation
These practices translate into other avenues: When faced with adversity, not getting the job/raise/promotion/funding/etc., your first focus is on what new opportunity the loss creates, not the loss itself.


Elephants by artist Bela Roongta

Is everything sunshine and roses? No. Do you have to like everybody? No. But putting these things into practice, you’ll find that less and less will bother you about other people, so that when something big does happen in life, you’ll have the focus to handle it.

We’re all human. And we’re all in this together.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler who has waited tables in five U.S. states. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

I went to a farewell barbeque yesterday for some friends who are moving to Arizona. Over the past couple of years, they’ve had many gatherings at their house where I’ve been able to get to know them as well as their friends over crab dip, popcorn salad, s’mores cake, absinthe, and a Super Bowl blackout where we watched Portlandia.

Yesterday, our discussion was on movies, and we landed on Love Actually. Each of us—the men included–love the movie for different reasons and for different characters. One loves Colin Firth and follows all his films. Another likes Hugh Grant’s story line as the Prime Minister because Grant is great at playing the fool. Personally, I love when Daniel, played by Liam Neeson, chuckles and asks Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) if he’s too young to be in love and Sam simply replies, “No,” like it’s the most natural thing in the world to be in love and to be tortured by it. And now Brodie-Sangster’s on Game of Thrones. And Martin Freeman who plays John is Bilbo Baggins as well as Watson, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. And Cumberbatch is Khan in the new Star Trek movies. And of course, this Zombie Sonnet writer can’t ignore Andrew Lincoln whose Rick in The Walking Dead is a whole world away from Mark in Love Actually—so much so, that you don’t even know it’s the same actor.

There are more amazing characters and great story lines, but I’ll give you a break. Discussing all this, we decided we’d all invite ourselves to Josh and Lori’s place for movie night before they leave town, and we’ll pile onto the giant couch together. Josh and Lori have a ton of packing to do in a short amount of time, so when this idea came up, they both gave a wide-eyed, “That’s not happening!” cry.

S'mores and Peanut Butter Cup cake made by Heather

S’mores and Peanut Butter Cup cake made by Heather

It was a great afternoon, and we held fast to our time together, knowing we’ll be going our separate ways, and soon. And that’s when my brain connected all of it in the weird way it does, and I said, “Look around. This right here, all of us, this is our Love Actually. We’re all together with our separate story lines, and soon we’ll be off in the world. Some of us will go on to Star Trek, some to the Shire and hanging out with Sherlock, some to Westeros, and some of us won’t get Keira Knightley but we’ll go on to battle zombies and fight the good fight. There’s work to be done in the world. We’re not losing anyone. We’re expanding our reach.” It came out something like that.

To Josh and Lori, all our best to you on your move. Thank you for bringing us together as your friends.  We’ll see you at movie night.
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.


Through Outer Space

This kind of thing takes forward thinking, and a disregard for the fear of the unknown.

It occurs to me that even Extreme Television would die off if we were all too busy living to watch it. So, take heart this fine Sunday, and boldly go.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.

%d bloggers like this: