My throat is sore; my nose still drips. My legs are a little weak. But it would have been worse if I'd been compelled to put away a wet tent. It is worth a little extra chill at night for some extra comfort in the morning. Some very little comfort, that is. My tentpoles snap at my fingers.
Heated tentpoles. Seriously. All credit will go to you. That is if you can get them into production some time in the next three weeks. And send me a set. Keep your riches. Money will not keep me warm.
People do ask me where I'm going. I've never known what to say. Anywhere on the Atlantic coast would make this trip a success. But Florida is sounding better and better to me. Cuba, better still. Rum drinks with little parasols. Palm trees and steel drum bands. I can frolick in the surf and show everyone my ab.
"Don't you mean 'abs'?" No, I don't. Shut up. Stop trying to hurt my feelings.
I had thirteen miles to Panora, Iowa, named I guess for Lake Panorama. Which is in itself a funny name. I was not consulted. But that is where my breakfast was. I set out in a hurry. More than anything I wanted to wrap my hands around a warm coffee cup.
It was not a spectacularly cold day. The sun was out and shining. But once I convince myself that I am freezing it takes a while to change my mind. And I was hungry. Nothing will restore your good health like a heap of hash brown potatoes. And biscuits. And a couple eggs. And some sausage if no one is watching.
Halfway there I saw Yale, Iowa. I'd been told there was nothing there. But it looked like a good enough little town, about a mile out of my way. I flagged down a farmer and asked him if there was a restaurant in town. There is, he said. Right on Main Street. He drove off before I could kiss him.
I was too late for breakfast. I had a hamburger. Everyone was real nice. The kindly waitress gave me free cake, icy cold from the fridge. That's the way to serve cake, by the way. Try it, you'll see that I'm right.
I got too some very good news. I could pick up the Raccoon River Trail. Which was headed more or less the same way as me, at least for a day or so. And is paved just like the last trail was. There are no half measures in Iowa.
On my way out of town I met Emily, a very pretty girl with glasses. She has a blind dog called Lizzie who very much liked how I smell. Emily may have been less impressed. I guess it does not really matter. She was too young and what's left of my heart is somewhere in South Dakota. In a USFS evidence bin, guarded by one pretty ranger.
I beleve she is in fact a hydrologist, a perfectly honorable career. But making her a forest ranger appeals to my poetic sense. It is my heartbreak, after all. I'll interpret it however I please.
The Raccoon River Trail is lined with trees, at least as often as not. I had a fairly good walk to Panora, blowing my nose as I went. On the edge of town was a little hut with an outlet for my computer. I sat there for an hour or so, contemplating my navel.
'Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve.
I found too a grocery store where I bought some bagels and cheese. I may or may not have some long stretches coming up. When I can I like to keep fed. And then I went across the street and had another burger.
I wasn't so very very hungry. I just wanted to sit down indoors. People do sometimes die of exposure and I feel sorry for them. It just sounds so lurid, the sort of thing men are arrested for. If overeating myself can save me from that indignity, I say it must be done.
It was PJ's, one of these 1950s diners I run into from time to time. The food was OK, I guess. But I was very impressed with the man working there. He was spectacularly cheerful. And energetic and better than that, he had fantastic hair. Like Einstein if Einstein rode his motorcycle to work, putting on his helmet halfway there. I don't think I've seen better hair on a man. I should have taken his picture. To show my own barber next time I go in. "Make me look like that."
I continued down the trail through the town of Linden, which I did not stop to see. And moved on just as much after that as I needed to to make my quota. No heroism today. I have a drippy nose.
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