Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day Thirty-Three, Peace

Woke up sleepy at nine a.m. That's ten, Montana time. Rocky Mountain Time, I've heard some folks call it. It's all very confusing. It's got something to do with Relativity or Ike Newton or the Mayan calendar or something. The upshot is that where I had been lucky to be on the road by eleven o'clock, now I'm lucky to make it by noon.

But it's nine and it's still bright as day outside. I may have pitched my tent a little too soon. I am on a tiny little peninsula, just after the bridge on my way into Trout Creek, Montana. It's rather a nice little spot. I am invisible to all but one house on the other side of a wide river, and the highway is twenty feet away, up a high bank. It is noisy but that is the point. It will delay my being eaten by bears.

The other places I looked at were in a National Forest and looked very much like the sort of scenery you'd expect to see in one of them National Geographic documentaries about bears. Who eat people. Though I am having the damnedest time figuring out why they should want to eat me. I'm old and probably chewy. There are so many better options out there. If I were a bear I'd eat a child.

I have too noticed that every road sign in Montana is riddled with bullet holes. Not holes, exactly. Dents, deep dents. The use a real heavy gauge steel. But it does make me wary about putting up my tent too near a road sign. The gunfire could keep me up nights.

I had a hard time sleeping last night, as well. I think the ground was too flat. It was creepy; it makes you feel like you are camping indoors or something. And it was strange having so many people around me. It's a weird way to camp. I like my usual approach better.

The first two miles I walked were no fun at all. I felt so blasted sleepy. I tried to take a nap but bugs crawled on me and made their nests in my hair. I bet if space aliens came here and saw how many bugs we've got everywhere, they'd be really creeped out.

After that I found a store where none was expected and enjoyed an icy Coca Cola and one of them super-caffeinated energy drink dealies they market to the Ritalin generation. And I tell you, that caffeine really is a miracle drug. Got me pepped up and right back out there. I walked twelve miles, zoom, and managed a not too awful eighteen for the day. Uphill and starting at noon.

Rocky Mountain Time.

I did take a break at one pretty spot, a "scenic turnout," they call it here. It was a wide spot in the road, high above the river I've been following for days. There were no boats or houses or powerlines or anything. Just trees and the sun on the water. I could see what I am pretty sure had to be Rocky Mountains in the distance. I'll get to see them close up soon enough.

And I walked through a construction zone where the flaggers stopped traffic in both directions for almost ten minutes so I could walk through undisturbed. The construction guys mocked me openly and sang Army songs at me. Still it was nice of them.

"I don't know but I've been told, Eskimo ----- is mighty cold."

I also met a couple of cyclists who were celebrating their graduation from the University of Washington by pedalling from Seattle to the Dakotas and back. I think they are very silly but I did not tell them. I was happy they even talked to me. Cyclists never talk to me. They don't even say hi. I saw these two coming up the hill behind me and thought, "Oh, great. More asshole cyclists." I was trying to think of something nasty to say to them when they said hi, just like that. They slowed their climb and we talked for like five minutes. I didn't even learn their names.

The road is less travelled here and the shoulders are a little better. Oncoming cars are free to make a wide path around me and I tip my hat in thanks. I've got a whole lot more people waving at me these days, more than half. I find it very encouraging. So I wave and nod and tip my hat. I've been experimenting with a peace sign.

I must say it still feels a little unnatural. I had been using it only for Volkswagen vans, but you hardly see those anymore. I remember a woman I met in Leavenworth, Washington--Jackie was her name--who asked me what I was walking for. "I don't know, I'm just walking," I told her. "You're walking for Peace," she said.

And why the hell not? I am walking for Peace.

I WAS having trouble explaining my politics to two nice Montana ladies. I told them I was a Bolshevik. "Bolsheviks are bad," they told me. "I'm not a Bolshevik," I said.

I HAVE wondered what it would be like to give everyone the finger, just to flip off every passing car. It would not be in keeping with the spirit of my own adventure, but it would still make an interesting social experiment.
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  1. Giving it a rest today James, my right hand index finger is numb from clicking on this blog to up the page view count as moral support, jeez I must have done it at least 2,100 times by now, but who's counting?

    Only joking of course, more like 2000. Keep up the slog but please stop knocking cyclists, you have a lady who follows this who might think poorly of you.
    Personally, I reckon it's just plain jealousy anyway, coz they've got the brains to know an efficient machine when they see one, not like those old die hard sole destroying bear lovin caffeine addict emerald city (wizard of Oz) martyr complexed sympathy cravin hippies ye see on the road these days..trampin all across Amerikey.

  2. Walking for peace good for Jackie for suggesting. I'd not flip anyone off as remember those metal signs never know they might not take kindly to the jesture.
    Take care!