Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day Sixty-Four, Timber!

I had the damnedest time getting out of my tent this morning. I'd done set it up on a slope. I woke up in one corner crumpled up in a heap with my gear piled up on my face. The outside of my tent was covered with ear wigs, a creature I know little about. They are squirmy with pinchers and the name alone does not suggest anything good. I thought I might just linger a while, hungry and lacking all strength.

It's a pain having to pack up my gear at the start of each long hot day. I have not yet learned to appreciate the ritual of it. It causes me a great deal of stress. I used to feel the same way about shaving my face and strapping on a suit and tie. It is bad enough you have to wake up and go to work without dealing with all that. Insult to injury is what I call it. Salt in my undeserved wounds.

Today it was harder. I was feeling light-headed and my hands were cramped into claws. My stomach was knotted and my muscles were weak. I was tempted to stay where I was. But the longer I waited the worse it all got. The ear wigs were bringing in troops.

So like it or not it was back on the road. It looks like I've got two new blisters. And two more coming and a bite on my ankle which should have come from a snake. I picked the almonds out of my trail mix, and walked the seven miles to town. About two-hundred yards down the road I found the fishing access I had been shooting for the night before. It had been too dark to see the sign.

I remember being somewhat unhappy in Eastern Washington because the towns were so hard to reach. You would see them on the horizon three miles away and as you walked they did not get much closer. I saw Big Timber from six miles off, a patch of trees on the river. And a sign advertising a Conoco where I hoped I might buy a Coke.

Turned out there was a restaurant, too. Country Skillet, they called themselves. I had a bland lunch that did not much agree with me and went looking for a place to be ill. That place was the Lazy J Motel. I know I cannot afford it. I had been hoping to hold out until Billings at least, but I am weakening in my old age. Twenty mile hikes on ninety-five degree days had for me then lost all appeal.

So cheers then to the Lazy J. It would make a nice name for my ranch. I took full advantage of their generous Walking Across America discount. A lot of places get real snotty about that. Here a nice woman was kind to me at a time when I needed it most.

My room has green carpet and a bear and moose theme. I could not feel more at home. There is no pool but there's a reclining chair. If I could I would sit there forever. I have owned a few chairs in my unhappy life, kitchen chairs and a desk chair or two. When life was good I had a very nice sofa but I have never owned a recliner. That kind of purchase makes a statement, one I am not ready for yet. In a recliner you are forever alone, but comfortable with the idea.

I ship out tomorrow whether I am ready or not. I have no more motel funds. But between you and me my stomach is sick and I am really in no mood for walking.


BIG TIMBER, we are informed, was named by Capt. Clark himself. Coming down the Yellowstone on his long journey home, he thought he had at last found cottonwood trees big enough to make into new canoes. They weren't big enough, it turned out. Today even they are gone; just a few scrawny cousins remain. Trees are not an outstanding feature of Big Timber, Montana.
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