Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day Ninety-Five, Tongs and Tote Bags

I very much enjoy staying in motels, though I never do get much sleep. There are too many big things for me to do. There is television to watch. And hot baths to take and whiskers to prune. I like to look in the mirror. My reflection no longer looks much like me. He is probably better off.

And there is gear to reorganise and dry. I think I like the chairs best. You would be surprised how few good places in Nature there are for a boy to sit down. Usually I sort of squat on my pack. It is not entirely restful. In the future when I am really rich I am going to get me a recliner.

I was up until four; I woke up at seven. There was a hell of a storm last night. I was happy to be indoors like I was designed to be. I did not have any root beer but I did enjoy an Antiques Roadshow marathon. Say what you want about PBS. I for one find it soothing. And their documentaries rock. Their dramas are good. They do do some fine reporting. You don't have to wait until pledge week, you know. Go ahead, write them a check.

I am Walking Across America to Raise Money for Public Television.

And to meet girls.

When I did crawl out into the world it was awfully hot out there. Yesterday all but had me convinced that winter had already come. When I got to Hot Springs it was cold and dark and I was shivering like a Chihuahua. But today it was back up into the nineties. I wish it would make up its mind.

Hot Springs, South Dakota is a dead little town but it is pretty as all get out. There are indeed hot springs, somewhere or other. I did not make it up there. It has been a sort of resort since the 1880s. It is meant to have curative powers. For me any old hot bath will do. I do my best bathing alone. Or with an extraordinarily close friend. Or with a few dozen Japanese men. Communal bathing is big in that country. Not everything else is.

I had the meatloaf lunch at a local cafe. The waitress asked me how it was. As did the cook; it put me, I thought, in a rather awkward position. Honesty is the key to good art. And I tend to giggle a bit when I lie. It was fantastic, I said. They did give me extra marshed potatoes. Marshed potatoes are Nature's Perfect Food.

I did have a lot of laundry to do. I was wearing my last pair of shorts. The ones I found in a laundromat in Helena, Montana. They were in fact just my size. Eww, you might say, but you don't understand. God wanted me to have them. He did, I believe, want me to rewash them first. I have long since made them my own. To the extent that if I were to inadvertently leave them behind, no one would pick them up. Not without tongs, at any rate, but that's neither here nor there.

As a sort of practical joke on tourists and the like, Hot Springs has put its two laundromats side by side at the top of a very steep hill. I went to the one painted pink. A nice lady gave me two magazines. I got my computer recharged. And stole paper towels from the mensroom. Not many; I think I'll be fine. I have already put one of them to good use. How, I would rather not say.

It is always nice to get my clothes clean. Next time I may add some bleach. I am afraid I am getting a little to stinky for just detergent alone. Maybe a capful of kerosene would do the trick. Then again, maybe not.

There was a nice view of town from the top of the hill. It is built on a strip between cliffs. A nice little river runs down one side. There is a waterfall downtown. "It's fake," I was told by one local cynic. "The water company put in a pipe. They just did it to get tourists."

I think it was nice of them. Most of the buildings of any significance are built to last out of stone. Not just the courthouse and banks and such, but homes and shops, as well. There are some neat little wooden buildings there, too. Most of them looked pretty old. But well-maintained and often for sale. Hot Springs has seen better days. I could, though, imagine myself living there, if not all the way through the winter. It is the gateway to the Black Hills, of which I am very fond.

I ate again before leaving town. I guess I didn't need to. There is a documented psychological phenomenon. I don't remember what it is called. Food paranoia, or something like that. It happens a lot among campers. You get an unreasonable sense that you are going to starve and it leads to gluttony and hoarding. Friends have killed each other over peanut butter in the course of a two-day trip.

I had the chicken wrap, thank you. It came with fried potatoes. I had a little trouble eating it all, but I figured every bit helps. And it was good and the people were nice and the girls who worked there were pretty. It was a little cafe in the back of a pawn shop. You need hobo skills to find places like that.

Leaving town I soon left the Black Hills behind. It is hard to describe the land here. This corner of South Dakota can't seem to decide if it wants to be Nebraska or Wyoming. There are rock cliffs and sagebrush, then a cornfield. And those too well known rolling hills. And it was plenty hot. Tomorrow it is meant to be hotter.

Camping may get tricky from here on out. It is hard to hide a tent in this land. I've been spoiled of late but here it is too wide open. I am in a dodgy spot now. Tucked among the snakes behind a smallish gravel pit. The tire tracks all looked fresh. Worst they can do is throw me out, or beat me half to death.

We'll see if I can't put in some miles tomorrow, though in so saying, the jinx is in.

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