But it's misery I crave, atonement, penance on that black asphalt road. I need blisters and sunburn and odd aches and pains. I need to get rained on sometimes. Life ain't all about sipping cold beer and talking to beautiful girls. If it were I would feel foolish for having ever done anything else.
As it was I did not suffer that much today. I didn't leave home until two. I wanted to say goodbye to Chris and Chet and anyone else who happened by. We had rather bonded in those two-and-a-half days. I was frightened my tears would show.
But I bore it manfully and finally got rolling, accompanied for the first couple of miles by a new friend Ted who had just been passing by on his way to meet his parole officer when his little motorcycle threw a rod. Apparently he has dozens of motorcycles. He fixes them and makes them pretty. This wasn't one of his best. He had to abandon it and walk a few miles home to get another one. If he were late they would put him back in jail.
I did my best to buoy his spirits and set a masterly pace. I felt a little sorry for the guy. He looked like he was in much better shape than me but when we got to the top of the first long hill he looked like he was going to die. We stopped at a grocery and had Cokes in the shade and he told me the story of his life. It sounded like he had had some rough breaks, girl troubles mostly. There but for the grace of God is not an unreasonable motto.
I had felt pretty good on the hill. My muscles were aching a bit. But it was nothing compared to the strength I got from watching that poor kid suffer. It made me feel like a superman, a class apart, a genuine professional walker. Of course I am not burdened by his legal and personal difficulties. All my problems are in my head.
I sent him on ahead and lingered at the grocery store to replenish my food supplies. I have been on something of a feed. Outside I met Tom with whom I had driven up high mountains in the dark and shot off guns. He is a quiet and thoughtful man but he has hidden depths. He told me about these lizard people who dominate world banking and live in the center of the earth. And about pole shifts and tidal waves and this big electromagnetic generator thingummy they got up in Alaska which was designed to track submarines but they can also use it to make people crazy and alter the weather. Some of his ideas are pretty far out but he seemed perfectly sincere. Thing is, I have heard all these things before. He wasn't making anything up.
I said my goodbyes at four and began my day's walk in earnest. I crossed the street to a taco stand and enjoyed a one-hour lunch. Then I walked for something like three hours. We can call it a twelve-mile day. That's not bad for my first day back. All of it was uphill. What's more, my feet felt terrific in their fancy new hiking boots. They enjoyed their rest and it is worth noting that today is the first day I have set out without so much as a band-aid on either of my feet. Just shoe and sock and pavement. I could not be any more pleased.
I could have gone further, easily, but the days, they are getting shorter. I found myself at the shop where a friend of a friend sells home gardening equipment. Lights, fertilizers, hydroponic pumps-- anything you think you might need. It had been agreed I could put my tent up here. As it was, that guy wasn't home and I wound up getting permission from his neighbor, a mad glassblower who makes beautiful pipes and bongs and other useful household items.
Turns out the two of them are having a feud and I may have pissed some people off by talking to the wrong hippie first. These things can get awfully complicated. All I can say is oops.
But here I am, snug in my tent, secure on private land overlooking Diamond Lake. Life ain't entirely bad. I had a bag of yogurt pretzels for dinner. I am very fond of yogurt pretzels.
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