Friday, December 30, 2011

Day Two-Hundred-Seventeen, Princesses and Peas

Gosh, but I miss my REI-brand self-inflating foam core air mattress.  If I misspell the odd word, if there are gaps in my logic, if my poetry sometimes falls flat, understand that I am typing all of this in my tent.  With my thumbs, no less, after having spent most of my day on the road.  That thin inch of cushion made all the difference.  It made me feel loved.

Not well loved, certainly, but every little bit helps.  I am still carting around its shrivelled corpse.  It is hard to say goodbye.  I am still sleeping on it, as a matter of fact.  I am not wholly sure why.  It does nothing to ease my weary bones.  It does not make typing any easier.

I was uncomfortable last night, at least I think I was.  I was asleep through most of it.  It was hard to get up in the morning.  I rely on that spring of foam rubber to sit me upright in bed.  Now I am forced to do a sit-up.  That is no way to start the day.

I did have some trouble falling asleep, and not because the ground was hard.  I was besieged by chirruping critters, some sort of chipmunk, I guess.  But I have my suspicions.  It could have been gators trying to lure me outside.

The truth is I don't know much about gators.  I may know more than you.  They like marshmallows and tuba music.  Look it up if you don't believe me.  And I know they are soulless killing machines, bent on my violent destruction.

I suppose that's all I need to know.  That and that they are good hiders.  Crafty masters of disguise.  They could be anywhere.  Even now.  Watching.  Waiting their chance.  Hook was misunderstood.

I was reflecting today.  The bears didn't get me when I walked through Montana.  I haven't been eaten by rattlesnakes.  Maybe my fears are all wrong.  But Florida has bears and snakes as well.  And man-eating poisonous toads.  And gators, of course.  The people are nice, but they're living right on the edge.

I woke up early.  I could have done with a Fruit Pie but it was a beautiful morning.  Warm with friendly clouds in the sky.  My pack felt a little heavy.  I did my best to ignore it but I was really hungry.  Starved when I got to Cottondale.  There was there nothing to eat.  But I had two biscuits at a gas station, with something called "chicken fried steak."

It is neither steak nor chicken.  It is thoroughly fried.  It made a fairly good breakfast.  Heavy, at any rate.  That's what I'm looking for.  I don't want the weight of the world on my back.  I want some of it in my belly.  It takes my mind off other things, like how blasted hungry I am. 

There was nowhere to sit down.  I sat outside, on my pack beside the front door.  And watched the people come and go, looking like some kind of hobo.  Everyone was kind.  They all said hello.  In lieu of giving me change.

I had to linger there for a while.  I collected Bible tracts.  It is heartening to see how interested folks are in my Personal Salvation.  I was just trying to charge my computer.  The battery is awful low.  I cannot in this instance blame Samsung.  I've been spending too much time walking.

And not enough plugged in.  I'm running on fumes.  I could do with an overnight charge.  But it was too nice a day not to be walking.  I headed for Marianna.

My new friend Shelley said there was a Waffle House there.  That'll put a spring in your step.  I covered eight miles in two hours.  That is a blistering pace.  The exercise, though, killed my appetite.  When I got there I wasn't hungry.  So I had only one biscuit to go with my hash browns and eggs and sausage and toast.  And pie. 

I tried to stay there as long as I could.  I needed some more time plugged in.  And I had already put in sixteen miles.  Four more make an honest day.  I wound up walking six more miles.  It took four just to get out of town.

Big place, Marianna, Florida.  Population six-thousand or so.  You can tell it has been there a while, almost two-hundred years.  There are some beautiful houses on main street.  It's a five-lane highway now.  But they're still pretty and well maintained, despite the traffic noise.

There was a Civil War battle fought there.  It was late in the war.  The Union went down to free some slaves and make them join their army.  They were met by a gaggle of boys and old men and one or two wounded veterans.  Who got their shots in but they still lost.  It is probably for the best.  Well into the Twentieth Century they maintained the ugly habit of lynching people, but they don't do that any more.  That is also for the best.

I got out of town over a river and past a good-sized lake.  Clean, too.  You could see down to the bottom.  I did not see any gators.  I did see an enormous fish.  I don't know what kind it was.  It was not silvery; it had big scales.  It had your standard fishy shape and had to be four feet long.

Gosta keep them gators fed, I guess.

Find me now in a housing development some miles east of town.  They surveyed the place and bulldozed some roads and gave it up as a bad job.  It's all overgrown and somewhat spooky.  It would be a good place to race dirt bikes.  Or shoot off guns or drink underage beer.  I tucked myself deep in a thicket.  And spent half an hour pulling up weeds and clearing a spot for my tent.  It is still awfully lumpy and very hard.  Gosh, I miss my air mattress.

MARIANNA'S famous Motel Sandusky did not have one single guest.  Go figure.  Had I been so inclined I could have got a great deal there.

A LOT of people around here keep goats.  It is disturbing, given the rumours.

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  1. Shelley From Crestview again.
    Chattahoochee is coming up soon on your path. That's the home of the state mental hospital. Where folks who get caught doing strange things with goats go.

    So James, I was thinking about calling the Tallahassee newspaper to see if they would be interested in doing a story on you. They might, or they might not.
    If they do a story, well you never know. Nice folks might offer you meals, or a place to stay, or line the roads and cheer you on.
    Or nutty people might hear about you and decide to seek you out and throw you in a swamp full of gators.
    Personally, I think that 95 percent of folks are nice though.
    How would you feel about me calling the paper?

  2. I need all the puicity I can get. If I could do this all over again I would promote the holy hell out of myself. Self-promotion is the key to success in America. And always has been.

  3. Alrighty. I called them. I forgot to tell them about your yellow hat, which differentiates you from all the other folks who are walking across America on Highway 90 just east of Marianna today.