Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day Fifty-Six, Damn the Wind

It is thundering and lightninging. How very very brave I am. Anyone else would be scared about now. Not me, I tell you! Ha Ha!

I walked twenty-five miles today. We'll call that a very good day. I may have walked further early on in this trip, but I was young then and didn't know any better. I thought it was a princely effort. I should get a prize.

I got a late start but that worked in my favor. I found an outlet on the back of the Bull Something-or-Other Saloon, the finest bar in Winston, Montana, where I was honored to put up my tent. I had my computer all recharged before I even set out on the road.

The very pioneers did not suffer as I do. It is this need to recharge my computer which has conditioned me to take these three and four hour breaks, sipping soda and bullshitting with rednecks. Which I often find so exhausting I have to nap under a tree.

But today I was troubled by no such excuses. I just put my head down and walked. The wind was blowing--I looked it up--at twenty-five miles an hour. For our international friends, that is like 150 kilometers per hour. Enough to knock you around, I tell you. It was mostly at my back. But every now and then, just to keep me on my toes, it would hit me at a weird angle and send me tumbling this way or that, depending on its whim.

And it was most unkind to my hat.

I do hope I mentioned that this forty or fifty mile stretch of road I am on is in the process of being repaved. Or widened. Or rebuilt altogether. It is something to do with asphalt. And tar. And pilot cars and long delays and smoke-belching steam rollers. The whole stretch of road, I swear to golly. It is going to be really nice one day.

For the first several miles I was able to miss all that excitement and walk on a little farm road, some yards off to the side. It started as just couple of ruts and grew more convincing with each passing mile. I had it almost entirely to myself.

Walking on rocks is tiring. You have to watch where you put your feet. Your ankles are always making little adjustments. It slows you down a bit. But it was safe and peaceful; I inhaled the tar and tried to let my thoughts wander.

The wind did make that difficult and I was not feeling quite up to form. I was sleepy and my stomach was tight and I was feeling feverish about the temples. A hangover, some people would call it. Some people don't understand.

I was pleased to discover that, not two miles down the road from the Bull Something-or-Other Saloon in Winston, Montana, there is a lake. It is called Something-or-Other Ferry and is apparently just teeming with walleye, a largish but not particularly endearing fish. Men come with their boats from miles around. Businesses of all sorts sell bait.

But today the fishermen stayed on shore. It was too windy out there. There were whitecaps and what I heard one disappointed gentleman refer to as "swells." But it did give me something to look at when no road graders were passing by. It is an ugly lake, as lakes go. And it is infested with fish.

It is intersting to note that this Something-or-Other Ferry lake is really just a wide spot in the Missouri River. That's right, sports fans, the Missouri River. The Wide Missouri. The Big Muddy. I am practically in St. Louis.

It does seem to be flowing the wrong way. Maybe it reverses direction somewhere downstream. Or upstream, rather. I don't know. I don't know very much about rivers. I like them, though. I think rivers are neat.

Eventually I made my way to Townsend, a proper town of some one-thousand people. From there I moved out of ranchland and into agriculture again. I don't know what they are growing but it is about fourteen inches high and it is very green. It is served by great, self-motivated irrigation machines, guided, I swear, from space.

The hills are pretty. They are high and look sandy, but I think it's really yellow grass. They are wrinkly, like a Sharpei dog, and in these wrinkles, or so I am told, are tons and tons of yet undiscovered gold. In the case of the Sharpei you would be lucky to find a tick.

The road, though, had virtually no shoulder and traffic was moving fast. I was delighted when I reached a very long stretch where I had the in-progress lanes all to myself. It was very rough and the soil was too soft and I had to weave my way around heavy equipment, idled for the evening. But it was safe.

The sky, though, turned black and threatened all manner of mischief. Lightning was shooting back and foth, but I never saw it touch down. But I could see sunshine around all the edges and eventually it passed me by. And then I saw a rainbow, then a double rainbow. Then it started to rain. I was reminded of why it is called a rainbow and not a sunny-and-mild-bow.

But I gutted it out and kept walking, all the way to Totson, Montana, where you now find me camped. I had a light dinner at the Bunkhouse Saloon. It was like being on Jerry Springer.

I don't expect a long day tomorrow. My knees are starting to click. And it is well after one and I have not yet lowered my careworn head to my pillow. I hear cats and coyotes. There's thunder and rain. And it is unbelievably cold. And a hillbilly couple some acres away, seems to be having a fight.

I set up my tent in the pitch dark and have no clear idea where I have camped. I wouldn't be surprised to wake up tomorrow and find myself in a graveyard, or a school playground. It is, in a word, creepy.


NOTE TO SELF: A reminder--use your head, now--not to talk politics until you get to a blue state. Or was it a red state? Whichever the good one is. Telling people you are a Bolshevik is only funny to you.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi James

    The first time I posted on your blog, a few weeks ago, signing in was as easy as could be. This time, it's taken me the best part of an hour to figure out how to do it again.

    Anyway, I'm enjoying the narrative of your wanderings. If you were walking the length of the UK, you'd have finished by now, unless I'm much mistaken. Some sissies might content themselves with such paltry feats, but not Mr Pierce!

    I hope your back will not give you any more trouble, and I look forward to reading your adventures over the months to come. May the sun shine on your path tomorrow.