Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day Four, Eastward. Ho.

Find me in a marshy field, just east of Monroe. I've finally turned the corner. Three days headed north has been discouraging, as my goal lies east-southeast. But I'm here now, fat on Highway-2, with only 3500 miles to go.

This business of finding places to camp is going to kill me yet. I don't really know the etiquette. Is it OK, I wonder, just to throw up my tent in any odd patch of land? This one seems destined to be home to a mall or a housing complex or something. Maybe a prison. Hell if I know. In any case, there were no No Trespassing signs or gates or fences or anything. I am visible from the road, but only if you are looking for me. Once it's dark I'll be all but invisible. Meanwhile, like the child who hides by closing his eyes, I have zippered shut all my windows and am staying extra quiet in my fluorescent yellow home.
Not a great day--it was cold and it rained and I suffer greatly of my feet--but it started out awfully well. I rolled into Carnation hungry and sore and ran smack into a cafe of sorts which at first I thought was an art gallery or perhaps a bicycle shop. But I did see a gang of rough looking characters eating and thought I might have a shot.

"Where'd you get that gay hat?" they greeted me. It was hard to know how to respond. I suppose in prison I would have had to shank someone, but it was friendlier than that. A half-dozen hard-working men, the grumpiest and most foul-mouthed bunch of unrepentant bullshit artists you might ever want to meet, let me hang out with them for a few hours and I can't remember having better enjoyed a breakfast. One gentleman, I regret I did not learn his name, even paid for my breakfast. I drank fifty cups of coffee and when it was time to go, our very lovely hostess loaded me up with oatmeal cookies and chocolate balls and, bless her sweet soul, banana bread.

I don't doubt they all thought I was an idiot for trying to Walk Across America, and they just wanted to help. There are good people in Carnation, Washington. I dare you to say any different.

Found: two quarters, and one dime, all cruelly mutilated
Met: the friendliest herd of cows you've ever met. They followed me down 300 yards of fence.
Discovered: blister upon blisters
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Day Three, Goats Gruff

Find me under a bridge or next to one outside of what might be Carnation, Washington. I have walked something like twenty-five miles. I didn't mean to, of course. I thought I would stop at eighteen or so and ask some friendly landowner to let me set up my tent.

In daylight, you understand, the way I practiced it. On a soft patch of ground with flowers around and maybe a puppy to play with. But I didn't meet any landowners, at least not friendly ones. A woman at an RV park offered me tent space for forty bucks. She had a spittle moustache and the place looked like something Scooby and the Gang ought to be looking into one of these days. Later a man with an obscenely neat little beard looked at me like I was a hobo. And I showered and shaved this morning. He smelled like beefy curry.

I did meet some nice folks--on bicycles, no less. I must endeavour to conquer my predjudices against the cycling breed. And I walked through Issaquah which I had always dismissed as another ghastly suburb of Seattle but which is in fact a charming little town. A bit self-consciously, perhaps, but I wasn't there long enough to question their sincerity.

And I learned a few things, namely:
*Lutheran churches are always built on the left side of the road, facing downhill. God only knows why.
*Nothing good ever comes with a road with the word "hill" in its name. "So-and-so Hill Road" or "Such-and-such Mountain Highway"... forget about it.
*Goats poop more like dogs than they do horses, but they lack the dog's endearing sense of shame.

So on that bright and educational note, I will let you go. Thanks for tuning in.

Found: two dimes, one penny
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Day Two, My Own Pace

Day Two I spent on the sofa. I made a fire, I watched some TV. I ate cold pizza and drank CocaCola and didn't do much else at all. It was cold outside and it threatened to rain. I thought I should spoil myself. It isn't every day a young man turns forty-two.

In truth I am still just a little bit sore, and my feet are not all that they could be. But I guess I had better get used to that. It is what I signed on for. On Day Three to be polite I'll put in a few miles. Life ain't all sunshine and daisies. The heroes among us will camp in strange fields and can poop almost anywhere.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day One, Baby Steps

Ten miles from home I met a nice man, whacking weeds in front of his house.  "How far you going?"

I did not have the heart to tell him anything but the truth.  "I'm walking across America," I say.  At least, that is my intention.  Ask me again when I'm in Wyoming or so and I may be a bit more convincing.  This close to home I just felt foolish.

"Don't give up," he tells me.  Good advice, good advice.

I left home at maybe 6:30 or so, earlier than I needed to.   I had some idea to beat the rush of all the other people walking across America.  As it was, I didn't see any of them.  They must have left yesterday. 

I'll catch them, no doubt; I'm making good time.  I put in maybe 25 miles.  Not deliberately, you understand; I got a bit lost toward the end.  Eventually and with the help of GPS,  I arrived at the charmingly disordered home of my good friend Larry, his delightful bride, and their dozens and dozens of children.  I was hoping the kids would be impressed with this, my latest adventure.  They weren't.  They stretched a pair of Dora the Explorer underpants over my head and mocked me cruelly.

How am I holding up, you may want to know.  So far, so good, I guess.  I've got cuts on the front and back of both feet; both happened in the last 5 miles.  If I was a little better at reading maps, or had been blessed with any small sense of direction, I would have arrived here fresh as a daisy.  As it is, I'm limping a bit, which brings me to something of a dilemma.  Do I venture on into that cold unknown, or do I tarry here a while?

Larry and Shonna, his delightful bride, do keep a very nice pantry.  They've got a soft sofa and an enormous TV and their kids aren't as bad as all that.  And they've got a great dog and my feet are a bit sore and it is, after all, my birthday.  But if I do wind up staying that extra day, know that it is because I'm afraid.  A manly fear, mind; there's no shame in that.  I bet even John Wayne felt a little uncomfortable when he had to poop in strange places. 

FOUND: 2 quarters, 2 pennies, and a Chuck E. Cheese token
MET:  Horses, small cows, a llama or two, and dozens and dozens of bunnies
THANK-YOU!  Larry and Shonna and all of their kids, Good Dick and the Lovely Elinor, the kind strangers who've encouraged me along the way, and Mom, wherever you are.
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