Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day One-Hundred-Fifty-Four, Clean Living

It is meant to be bitter cold tonight, some degrees less than freezing. Which would no doubt kill a lesser man. I am content just to suffer. And grumble a bit. I may shiver some. I might shed a few lonesome tears. But in the end I intend to survive. Death for me holds no appeal.

I woke up at six. That's early for me. My good host had to go to work. At the sawmill, though he is a poet at heart. One day he'll be a walker. We did manage to empty a beer or two. Blame the St. Louis Cards. I don't think either of us were in shape for a long and active day.

Four hours' sleep. A mild hangover. A sour taste in my mouth. I had a breakfast biscuit at Hardee's. That was some time before seven. I still had to type up the previous day's notes. I left all the good stuff out. My half-drunken profundities did not sound as good in the morning.

I went too to the local sevice station. I was there for another hour. I wanted to know the state of my innards before I climbed back on the road. There is a reason why athletes eat Wheaties. And not fried cornbread and beer. Consistent and predictable digestion. I've stated as much before.

Five brisk miles will sweat out most poisons. I was prepared to suffer some. But damned if I did not hit the road strong and keep it up most of the day. My legs felt great. My pack was light. I had a long smooth stride. Hushpuppies, they're called. The cornbread, I mean. They are Nature's Perfect Food.

It was an awful pretty stretch of road. The trees looked better than ever. And the air was clear and bright. You get that when it gets cold. The sun was out and the sky was blue. There were some good autumn clouds. Flat and grey on their undersides but billowing white towards the sky. Like they could rain on you if they wanted to, but were just in a benevolent mood.

I'm on Seventy-Two headed roughly southeast. I went up some fairly steep hills. But they are not wedged together with hollers in between. They offer broad and beautiful valleys. And once or twice I got that top-of-the-world view where I could see in all directions for miles.

I was in another piece of the Mark Twain National Forest. It was a lot more foresty here. With fewer houses. There is, however, logging going on. National Forests are not National Parks. They're not that sentimental. There were vast tracts up near the top that were peeled completely bare.

These are hardwoods remember, with the odd pine tree. I think most of them are oaks. Not big ones, and I could be wrong. I'm somewhat out of my depth. Being in love with a forest ranger does not make you an expert on trees.

It does make you a little lonesome sometimes, but I'll take the bad with the good. If falling in love were in any way easy everyone would want to do it.

I had a good shoulder to walk on, too. I powered over the hills. Fifteen miles took me to the edge of Patton. I did not walk into town. Nor, I think, is there a town to walk into. I had lunch at the Moo Cow Cafe. Which is attached to the auction barn, and which I highly recommend.

It was so cheap it was almost free. I had a very big lunch. And a big slab of peanut butter pie. Man, it was good. It was the last piece; a few regulars glared at me just a bit. But life is rife with disappointment. The sooner they learn that the better.

The mensroom was out in the barn. I'd never been in an auction barn before. It was neat, like a small theater, with a pen in place of a stage. In my old age I'll be a gentleman farmer. I think I'd like buying cows. I'll bid on the ones that look lonely and then I'll set them free.

I had been hiking in only a T-shirt. I hate to wear too much more. Because it just winds up getting all sweaty and stinking up my tent. And never ever gets dry again. And makes my armpits chafe. But a gallon or two of Coke and ice water had me shivering some.

Shivering is a terror out here. It starts a downward slide. Where you get cold then colder and then colder still, and then you don't warm back up. When I stop walking my temperature drops. It can get scary at times. And it is most undignified for a man of my age and size.

I had fifteen miles and a full belly. I walked another six or seven. But I was sure I'd get them in. I did not feel any stress. I do have some ugly blisters. One of my ankles is sore. My shoes are about to fall off my feet. Still it was a pretty good day.

I passed a house that was a barn, or a barn that was a house. Not an old barn like I would prefer. Still they've got plenty of space. A man and his son were waiting outside. They had seen me earlier in the day. And the boy, the little Christian, was sure I was hungry and insisted on making me lunch. Two sandwiches and two bags of chips, a Pepsi and some Kool-Aid. I didn't even learn his name. Bless his generous heart.

I may have looked hungry. That was the hangover. But let's not tell him that. There are enough cynics in the world. Bless his generous heart.

I sat on the sandwiches and mooshed 'em flat. Not deliberately. I ate one in the dark in my tent. It was surprisingly good. Because, and I might be wrong here, I think it was made with bologna and strawberry jam. I am saving the other one until morning. For some forensic research.

If it's the same thing, I'm going to eat it. Like I said, it wasn't half bad. I like to see young people experimenting. They're the future of the Sandwich Art.

I am camped on the edge of a field, wedged tightly into the trees. Which means I won't get the morning sunlight, which means I'll probably sleep in. If I can sleep. Damn, it's cold tonight. I'm wearing two pairs of socks. And two pairs of pants and two warm shirts and my usual ear-flap hat. I think I'll be fairly comfortable.

If it snows I quit.

I WISH I were indoors watching Game 7. I ain't got no Internet. But I really hope the Cardinals win. This will be the one Series I remember.

I SAW a cardinal a couple days ago. They're like red blue jays. I like the shape of their heads.

MY SHAVING foam exploded in my pack. Stop and imagine the mess. But I'll get it cleaned up sooner or later. Meanwhile I smell like a Frenchman.

MY TOOTHPASTE exploded as well. Minty!

I MET a kangaroo today. I didn't get a picture. So you probably don't believe me. But I did. A geat big one. Muscular. Friendly. And a little one. And some little white deer. And some goats. And a camel. Really.

THE STARS are spectacular. I'd rather it were warm.

A COP has pulled over a drunk driver a hundred yards off. I thought he was after me. It is disappointing. This would be a good night to spend in jail.

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