I woke up at all of five-thirty or so. I really didn't mean to. There was thunder outside and a good healthy rain. I was frightened for my safety. But then I remembered reading how automobile passengers are safe from lightning. It has something to do with tires or frames or something. The same must certainly be true of tents; it almost has to be.
I tried to get back to sleep but was unsuccessful. I was back on the road by nine. I stopped several times and was having some trouble finding my stride. Small encouragement came when I met my new friend Carrie. She was driving a great big truck. She usually rides her Harley but she's a girl about the rain. A few days back I went four-wheelin' with her and we all drank and smoked and shot off guns. You can't do that without making friends.
Carrie's no kid, don't get me wrong. She's seen a summer or two. But she's blond and trim and has a great big smile. Picture Linda Evans, mid-career. She stopped by to say hey and wish me good luck. It was awfully nice to see her. She is one of my favorite things about the time I spent in Elk.
Then I walked two more miles and stopped in for pie and ran into Carrie again. She is a cowgirl and wins prizes in rodeos. Her horses are Blue and James. I think those are splendid names. She was having drinks with her farrier. I was jealous and so did not trouble myself to learn his name. He seemed like a nice guy, though.
I also ran into Red, a regular at the Mulz'z Shed bar and grill. He has red hair and a red face and talks like some combination of Boomhauer and Froggy from the Little Rascals. He is about sixty years old and nobody can understand anything he says. You just listen for the nouns, and a good forty percent of those are vulgarisms.
"grumblegrumblegrumbleBEERgrumblegrumbleHAHAgrumblegrumble@#%&grumblegrumblegrumblegrumbleGIT'R DONE!!!" Interesting guy.
And from there walked to Newport which is all but in Idaho. It's got me nervous, Idaho does. Everything is different. The roads, the shoulders, the State Patrol, the new ways drivers try to kill me. The road signs are new and the mileage posts all rolled back to zero. I've never camped here and never made friends nor relied on the kindness of strangers. My driver's license makes me a foreigner here, a feeling I am altogether used to.
I was a good half mile into Idaho before I noticed. Finally I had to ask. The city of Newport straddles the border and has a river that runs (backwards, as far as I can tell by looking at it) up the middle. But the river is not the border. It's all on Idaho land. And it's a nice river, pretty and deep and wide. I think we should get at least half.
I paused to put my feet in the river and passed the time with another vagrant. He gets crazy money from Social Security and spends his winters in Spokane and his summers as a mountain man in the national forest. His name was Harold and he was drunk and crazy. His right eye had been gouged out in one of those impromptu knife fights where no one has thought to bring a properly sharpened knife and as such they had made a real hash of it.
"Eww," he told me when he saw my feet. "You should go to a hospital!"
As a rule I try not to let people see my feet. He just happened to be there. I tried to explain that my feet are, in fact, in lovely shape. The last bits of gangrenous flesh are finally dropping off into my shoes. My open wounds are half healed. A lot of that puss staining my socks is from weeks ago. I have three or four new blisters but they are nothing.
"You should go to a hospital," he told me again. He was a big guy and for a moment I thought he might force me.
Despite my condition I walked on from there, all they way to Priest River. I am camped in some sort of prospectve housing development, just on the east edge of town. I for one would never want to live here. There must be a billion mosquitos.
We'll call it 18 miles today, not an altogether bad effort. More tommorow or not too much less, depending on the state of my blisters.
LEARNED, the hard way. It is not necessary in this part of the country to blurt out "Hey, a deer!" every time you see one. There are millions of them. Everywhere. It makes you sound like an idiot. You may mention it if you see a turkey, but even then you shouldn't expect people to get too worked up
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