Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day One-Hundred-Fifty, Huzzah

I don't know how far I walked today. Better than twenty miles. I am camped in a holler near some power lines. The Internet can't find me here. I miss it, I do. I like getting mail, the odd letter here and there. And I like to have at least a glance at my map, and I had some reading to do.

About the Battle of Huzzah, or Huzzah Creek. It took place somewhere near here. On the very Missouri outskirts of the American Civil War. I'm lost without Wikipedia. I am no historian. But as I understand it the state of Missouri had its own civil war going on. Before and during the greater conflict, bushwackers were at large.

I think the first ten minutes of The Outlaw Josey Wales sums it up fairly well. I've had the music of that opening montage bouncing around my head all day. Local militias, not the regular armies, were abroad in the land. And they were most ungentlemanly, if I may understate things.

Missouri, and I am relying on my unconnected memory here, was admitted to the Union as a free state. Which really pissed the Southerners off. For years they had been trying to maintain their balance by moving to Missouri Territory, in their thousands, every time the issue of slavery came up for a vote. After the election they'd go home. For a while there were two legislatures, each one challenging the legitimacy of the other. The details are lost to me. It went to the Supreme Court, I know. Anyway, no one was happy and pretty soon there was a war.

The good guys won.

That's a bold statement and one that's bound to upset some amateur historians. With more facts and figures at their disposal than I would ever care to know. But the way I see it, one side was fighting to preserve the institution of slavery and the other side was fighting to end it. All other issues are secondary, if not wholly manufactured. It disgusts me that people are still arguing about this. Slavery is a bad thing.

The good guys won.

I woke early and unmolested and was back on the road by eight. As I half-jokingly predicted, that mean ol' possum did indeed try to come into my tent. Ugly critter. I was too scared to find my boot so I just sort of shook the whole tent and he went away. After that I slept fine.

It is hard to generate too much enthusiasm about walking in these awful boots, but it was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny and the trees around here are getting more beautiful. We're still missing a yellow, and a convincing red, but there are all shades of orange. And a few stubborn greens, here and there, some of which turned out to be pine trees.

I smelled them before I saw them, and even then I didn't pay them much mind. I must have been ten minutes walking through the forest before I thought to look around. I didn't know they had pine trees in Missouri. It's an unusual state. The only one that will grow both apples and peaches. Or so I have been told.

You'd think California could do it too. California can do anything.

I had a good thirty inches of shoulder to walk on today. The road went up and down. But it would open up at the top of some hills and I had some spectacular views. Of hardwood forests, miles of them, with broad green valleys between. And several creeks and a river or two, all of which looked very clean.

I am still I think in the national forest, but there are houses here and there. And a number of what might be best termed shacks. Hovels, if you will. With piles of junk on their porches, and still more filling their yards. And pretty nice trucks parked out front. I guess they're not house proud.

Prejudices being what they are, I kept smelling ether and burning plastic. Which is what I've always just assumed a meth operation smells like. But I think it was just burning leaves, with some garbage thrown in for luck.

The nicer houses have lawn jockeys. That's all I've got to say about that. But almost every house has a few concrete deer standing out in the yard. Which doesn't seem very bright to me. You're asking people to shoot at your house. It would be like living in LA and decorating your yard with statues of Crips and Bloods.

I met a few cows and that was nice. They're always so kind to me. If I cannot get any mail I'll find my encouragement where I can. Remind me to go back to vegetarianism, as soon as it is feasible. Cows really are lovely creatures and I think we should make them our friends.

So I guess it was a pretty good day. I lived on bread and cheese. And I've got cuts on my toes and my muscles are sore, but I made some forward progress. It was a glorious autumn day in a beautiful part of the country. And I didn't get myself dogbit or squished. Tomorrow I'll hit Potosi.

And celebrate with a hamburger. May God forgive me.

THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is one of my very favoritest movies of all time. It was based on a book called, I think, Gone to Texas, which was written by a Nazi. Not many people know that.

I SEE flyers advertising bluegrass events, but never where and when I am. I was hoping there'd be more banjos down here, but I ain't found any yet.

CHEERS to Mr. Ray Free, proud American and tomato farmer, cultivator of sideburns,who gave me water when I was thirsty. He had no doubt I would succeed in my journey because I am "young" and "full of piss and vinegar." Am not.

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