Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Fifty-Eight, Capsicum

When I set off on this jouney, many years ago, it was with a gnawing fear. I am not the adventuresome type. I am the greatest physical coward you've ever seen or heard about and I have all the emotional stability of a thirteen-year-old girl. I like my comforts. I like to sleep in. I get nervous meeting new people. I am physically weak. I take long showers. I don't like using strange toilets.

"Where do you poop?" I would ask myself, over and over again. You may have noticed, and I do apologise, that poop has been a central theme of these reports. I wish I could have come up with something more philosophical; I bet every other walker has. But it is a real concern I tell you. Having to poop at the wrong time and place could ruin this adventure for me. It could ruin a good pair of socks.

The walking, believe it or don't, is the easy part. I believe anyone could do it. Anyone. The hard part is keeping clean and fed and watered and sleeping in a stinky old tent. It is finding places to sit down or camp or recharge your silly computer. It is staying warm and keeping cool and finding good places to poop.

Today I woke up in a potato field on the edge of an interstate highway. I had, shall we say, an upset stomach. Explosively upset, if you get my meaning. They'd have to call in Red Adair. Potato fields don't offer much cover. And packing up my tent involves a great deal of squatting and bending over, a lot of straining, a lot of stress. That I made it out alive and with my dignity more or less intact is a triumph of ingenuity and muscle control.

I duckwalked back up to the truckstop where I had had my evening meal. "Go nuts on the jalapeños," I told the young man who was kindly making my sandwich. He was too glad to oblige. I couldn't let him see me picking them off after I had asked for them, and when I ate the other half later in my tent, I didn't want loose jalapeños floating all over hell so I ate them then too. It is perhaps worth noting that I had had a jalapeño burger for breakfast at the Bunkhouse Saloon.

I have outlined the advantages offered by taverns, free Cokes, people to talk to and such. The food is cheap but I think it is killing me, one poor dead cow at a time. It sure worked against me this time it did. It could have been a disaster.

I had a fast food breakfast at a sit-down restaurant price at Wheat Montana, a tourist trap of sorts. I've been passing their signs for three days. The food was bland and coldish but the place was packed. Their hook is, get this, they make Bread out of Wheat. What will they come up with next?

It failed to settle my stomach, at any rate, and I duckwalked the four miles into Three Forks, half intending to get a motel. I know I can't afford it and I know Winter is coming soon, but I was feeling poorly. I went instead to a saloon and had thirty-seven Cokes for a dollar and a modest tip, after which I felt a little better.

From there I went to the town museum. I kick myself every time I pass one of these places but I never seem to be there at the right time of day. But I am afraid I was not feeling well enough to really take it all in. I did get to speak with the couple who run the place, so that was nice. I told them I was Walking Across America to Meet Girls and they seemed to think that was a pretty good idea. They told me my special someone was out there somewhere.

Funny thing is, I have always believed that, as well. But then I've been wrong about lots of things.

I did learn about this fellow called Colter who had been this way as part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and came back a few years later to hunt beavers. Well it seems the Indians--Blackfeet, I think they were--were pissed off about something or other so they murdered his friend and then took all his clothes and set him running. I guess the idea was to have some fun hunting him down.

Well he showed them. He ran like a bunny, bare-assed naked, all the way to the nearest fort, two-hundred miles away. Took him a week. I don't know what sort of reception he got there. They probably kidded him some. Anyway, he went on to discover Yellowstone and is for me a role model.

Three Forks is a nice little town, recovering from a short bout with land speculation. On the way out of town I passed a beautiful wooden hotel. You don't see those everywhere. I think they're illegal.

I can't say I ever fully recovered, but I did begin walking in earnest. I found a road other than I-90 and started clicking off the miles to Bozeman. Good Jimminy, it was warm. Mid-nineties, I guess, but on black asphalt you can feel it up through your shoes. There weren't any trees or sources of shade for ten grueling miles.

It was pretty, though. I like these hills and it was nice to be off of the highway. There was no shoulder but traffic was light. It really could have been worse. It was a fairly awfull uphill day but it was as nothing compared to the miseries I suffered in the first few weeks of this adventure. What was I thinking, I want to know, when I was young and foolish.

I made it as far as Manhattan, Montana where I had a jalapeño burger in a saloon. I am not sure what I was thinking. Just exhausted, I guess.

There was the kind offer of a campsite but I was determined to make it a few more miles up the road. There was the promise of another "fishing access." I didn't make it; it got dark. I settled into a place just as secure, home to a million mosquitos. I coated myself in nerve toxin, waded in and set up my tent.

Eighteen miles today. It could have been much worse.

I MET A BIKINI GIRL from Tennessee. I really liked how she talked. And I hear they've got some fine banjoists. I may be headed that way.

I THINK I may be developing a new blister. Wait and see, wait and see.

IT IS COLD and I could do with a Tums. Goodnight.
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  1. James...See that you made it to Three Forks..Have been there. Did you stop at the new strip club across from Wheat Montana?.....a very highy overrated place for sure..Sounds like you are having a heck of a time...pooping is why I could never do what you are doing....Be well.
    Joe B

  2. James, sounds as if you're moving right along. I agree with you that the subject of "pooping" is a little overdone......just be thankful that your body is still functioning properly. Still no pics.....think you're going to regret not recording what you're seeing each day.....I speak from experience on this. Seeing a pic on Google is not the same.

    A couple of questions: have you decided on an ending destination? Also, do you have a walking routine, i.e., walk x number of miles, rest x number of minutes? For someone who hasn't put in lots of previous training, it seems you're racking up a goodly # of miles each day., not anyone can do it, but I get what you're saying. 60% of the population are not physically fit enuf; another 30% have too narrow a "comfort" zone; 9.999999% could care less. The remainder could do it, given the time.

    Take care of yourself......Jeff.