Monday, October 10, 2011

Day One-Hundred-Thirty-Six, Missouri!

It is raining but I'm fairly content. I am camped for once on high ground. Had this sort of weather hit yesterday I would have had to pick up and move. But the breezes are warm and my tent's nice and taut. I am cheerful and fairly well fed. So far, so good. My hike through Missouri may not be so very bad at all.

It was again dark when I woke up. I've learned how to deal with that. I went out and had my morning pee then crawled back into my bed. And woke again at seven-thirty, a far more bearable hour. The sun came filtering through the trees and dried my poor little tent. There were snakes abroad; a fellow I met says they're part of a Great Snake Migration. They are on the move, heading south to their caves to coil up for the winter.

Disgusting, hateful, vile little beasts. I hope they get frostbite. I hope they freeze then thaw too fast and all get tummy aches.

I was camped in a gully by a disused road. I could have camped on the road itself. But one idiot in a monster truck could have ruined my whole morning. I felt much safer down in the trees. People had been there before. Some of the logs were insulated. They were rotten old telegraph poles.

I love things like that, like the mines I passed hiking through the Black Hills. Or the foundations of a forgotten town, or crumbling old stone walls. They are ruins of a civilisation not so ancient at all. But wholly forgotten, as we'll be one day, and sooner than you might think. Three or four generations and then we are erased.

I had an easy walk into Moulton, Iowa, my last stop in that great state. I found a cafe at the back of a shop and had me some pancakes and eggs. And sausage. They were out of biscuits and gravy. Nobody knows how I suffer. But I lingered two hours recharging things and making friends with the locals.

I spoke at length with one fellow. He is a Sun Dancer. That is what the plains Indians do to keep in touch with their god. It involves fasting and smoking and praying and such, vision quests, drums and dancing. Now this guy wasn't an Indian. I think he was a Republican. And another man I could have talked to for hours if only I had more time.

Do not fear, my Christian friends. I won't be seduced by any heathen religion. But not either am I likely to be born again. My gods have cursed me with Reason.

Seven more miles took me into Missouri. My first impression was good. At the very moment I crossed the state line the sun emerged from its cloud. And the wind became very noticably warm. You're south, it seemed to say. But I won't be fooled and will not be at my ease until I hit Florida.

My road got narrower still in Missouri. There is the same gravel shoulder. But it is less obnoxiously well-maintained as been allowed to compact some. And is ornamented with cushioning weeds. I expect they're full of snakes. So I burned up a little extra energy by stepping down extra hard.

Our international friends may not understand. Allow me to explain. Highways, though for the most part federally funded, are the responsibility of the states. I expect they are held to some minimum standards, but each state has its own ideas about how just to spend the money. In Montana they like wide asphalt roads. South Dakota invests in concrete. In Missouri, it seems, their highway dollars went for liquor and whores.

It should, though, be easier to camp here. The roads are narrow but the right-of-way is much wider. There seems to be a good deal of space between the road and the fence line. Where there are hills or curves this gives me lots of good places to set up my tent unseen. What did you do in Iowa, you wonder, where the fences come up to the highway?

I trespassed. Forgive me.

Of course, I don't know how jolly glad Missouri is to have me hoboing on the edge of their highways. But they can't see me. That's the point. Neener.

I hiked another fair stretch to Glenwood, Missouri. There was nothing there. It is but a New Jersey to Lancaster, two more miles up the road. I stopped on the edge of that good town. I'll never know what it offers. And bellied up at Buddy's, a fine saloon, and had a hamburger.

I carried out my fries. I couldn't eat them. My appetite is fading these days. At first I thought it was because I was sick. Then I blamed gas station food. But it is just how it is. I am still eating as much, but not with the very same relish. If I can get it down to a mere four or five thousand calories a day I'll save a fortune. We'll see, we'll see.

Buddy's is more than a saloon. It is a beloved restaurant. They are still pushing those fried pork loins I thought I had left in Iowa. They are an institution. I don't want to hurt any feelings but they left me unmoved. I include here the recipe so you can decide for yourself:

*take a hunk of pork
*butterfly it
*hammer it as flat as you can, big as a frisbee
*coat it in secret batter (flour and water)
*drop it in boiling oil
*make some phone calls
*clip coupons
*find old girlfriends on Facebook
*moon over them
*feel sorry for yourself
*ease your feelings by noticing how old they all are
*reflect sadly on your own old age
*wonder if your best years, such as they were, aren't far behind you
*blink away girlish tears
*remove from oil

You know who can really fry pork? The Japanese. I swear to golly. They are pork-frying fools, they are. Tonkatsu, look it up. Nobody does it better. They don't eat a lot of pork in Japan, but when they do they don't mess around. It may be noted that most Japanese pigs are descended from pigs we sent them after the typhoon of nineteen-fifty-something-or-other. From Iowa.

The rain has stopped and started several times. It has been heavy at times. I only hope it rains itself out before I resume my walk. We'll see, we'll see.
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1 comment:

  1. Well now I know what was missing from our family pork loins recipe. Thanks for sharing!