Friday, June 24, 2011

Day Twenty-Eight, Krishna Consciousness

A good way to walk, and it's a lot harder to do than you might think, is to let your mind go blank, to let your feet do all of the walking. Your unconscious mind will keep an eye on the road and do a fairly nice job of it. It'll tip your hat to the ladies and wave hi to farmers and step to the side for wide loads. Meanwhile, you are free to contemplate higher things in comfortable, pain-free environment.

I've never been able to do this for long. Maybe a mile or two. I think it's a kind of meditation. I don't know much about it. I shared a cab with a Hare Krishna once. They meditate like madmen. And I remember there was something about using the toilet. Some special ritual or difficulty. By those standards I am a Hare Krishna already. Invite me to your next party.

I had the damnedest time getting out of bed this morning. I slept until almost nine. I ought to be on the road by seven. I feel like such a dog. And I was so comfortable there. What I thought had been rain was nothing more than the pine needles, clicking together in the breeze. There were flowers and butterflies and great many ants. The mosquitos were all a bit groggy. A bullfrog was croaking; the odd deer scampered by, waving at me with her tail. I think I may still have been within the Priest River city limits. I don't care. It was nice. I could have stayed there forever.

But the secret to success in modern America is to be a goal-setter, to think at least eight moves ahead. You're a team-player; you're a self-starter; you've got things you mean to achieve. None of this living-in-the-moment foolishness. That is for nincompoops.

Yet there I sat, for an hour or more, contemplating the moment. And the one that followed and the one after that. I was beginning to get a bit drooly. It took will but I ate a blueberry poptart and got my butt back on the road. Must have been eleven or so. Motel time.

I would have been quicker but I had a lengthy debate over whether I should wear my pullover. Every time I took it off the wind would pick up and the sun would go behind a cloud. When I put it on it would get blazing hot. I played at this for an hour or more. I was controlling the weather.

I finally wore the silly thing and was all of a mile down the road when I decided it was too hot so I stopped to take it off and put it on and take it off again. All on the side of the road. I felt like a god. Still, it was awfully tiring as I have to work all kinds of buckles and straps each time I put the thing away. I endure the most cruel hardships.

I sat down next to a pretty little lake to rest and reapply sunscreen and then wipe it off and reapply sunscreen again. I used up my spray-on sunscreen, which I rather liked even though it was a pain to lug around, and replaced it with SPF 50 for babies. It won't sting your eyes, they claim. But apart from that one virtue it is the foulest goop you can imagine. It's like smearing yourself with paste. And of all discourtesies, it stains my chin whiskers white. I could sue them for wounding my soul.

It was an awful pretty little lake. I found myself in the moment again. I watched and osprey diving again and again and never quite finding his fish. They taunted him by jumping when he climbed back into the sky. And I thought that the sky was beautiful and I waved at a passing train. I was at peace and now I am deeply ashamed. Hippy bullshit.

I did want to walk a couple of miles. It's all I have that defines me. And the next town, the next food, the next well-earned rest, were eight miles up the road. So I sat down and ate a bag of CornNuts. I contemptated each CornNut. I empathised with them. I appreciated them by the handful. I gathered a small group of fishermen around me and spoke to them of wise things. The first ingredient in CornNuts, by the way, is corn. The second? Nuts.

But I did walk on and finally wound up in Lacrede, Idaho, an unassuming little town consisting of a good-sized timber yard, a gasoline station, and a tavern. I went to the tavern. For the price of a Whopper I had a Bruno Burger, the most satsfyingly greasy bit of nourishment you can imagine being served with one small, thinnish paper napkin. It came with fries. It was named for Bruno who I guess owns the Klondyke Cafe and Tavern. I liked him because when I came in he said, "What'll ya have, cowboy?" I've rarely been better pleased.

Bruno said it was OK if I put my tent up in back and it was sorely tempting because it was nice, there was a toilet and everything. But I left and walked another ten miles, contemplating my blisters. I did a little surgery on them last night. I won't say I botched it but I will admit that I had hoped for better results. Live and learn, that's my motto.

So in the end I did maybe eighteen miles, seventeen, possibly. But my feet hurt and it was getting dark and I am getting into one of them snooty, lakefront property areas where everyone has these five-thousand sqare foot cabins, all logs and lawn and glass. My dreamhouse each one, in its every form. Some of them must be worth millions. And most people feel that after the first $500,000 or so they are entitled not to have hobos camped in their woods.

The psychotic vagrant I met yesterday objected to being called a hobo. He said hobos have been defeated by life. He was, rather, a woodsman. "Woodsmen give life the finger."

So I am here in my tent up a driveway to nowhere, just up the road from Sand Point. As I was typing this something large and snoofly walked by my tent. I was scared. I think it was a bigfoot. Or a moose. Or some kind of pig. Them mooses, they tell me, is meaner than snakes. Kill you just as soon as look at you.

CHEERS to the apprentice glassblower who found me on the side of the road and gave me butterscotch candies. Thanks!
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  1. From Lee,

    CornNuts, Pop Tarts, Bruno Burger, aren't you afraid of gaining weight, what with your sedentary lifestyle and all?

    "Them mooses, they tell me, is meaner than snakes. Kill you just as soon as look at you."

    Silly James, the plural of moose is not mooses, it's mice. Anyway, they use their front hooves to crush the skulls of wolves and tourists alike and only become mean when they want to.

    Sun screen, huh, still rather grey and dreary here in Duvall, but the Grill and Raven (brewpub in Redmond) and all our friends help brighten up the day a lot, but not enough to require sunscreen.

    Keep on Truckin . . .

  2. I like the bit about the CornNuts and the fishermen. Some guys should get together and write a couple of books about it...