One of my tent poles has cracked. It hasn't noticed yet. But I did; I keep an eye on these things. It is my home after all. The only one I've got. It's an ugly little thing. Yellow. Its shape does not please. But I always feel fairly safe in here, even when I am not.
And it has endured some awful mistreatment. I set fire to it early on. And have dragged it through all manner of brambles. I've stumbled and squashed it flat. But it keeps the rain off, more or less. It does not let in every mosquito. You'll see it yourself. It will be on display, one day in the James museum.
In a glass case, of course. For your own good. It does have an awful smell. Of onions and tomcat and things not discussed. To me it just smells like home. My sleeping bag smells even worse. Or so I'm inclined to imagine. I can't smell it, whatever it is. A fellow gets used to these things.
I didn't see any gators today. I was not really looking. I've seen enough; they no longer amuse. There are saltwater crocs down the road. And after that, what, dinosaurs? Where do you go from there? No doubt there'll be something to frighten me. I was thinking I might get a job.
I woke up early and packed up fast. I felt just fine where I was. But there were cars driving by. I worried someone would see me camped in a swamp. Few would object, but I do have my pride. I usually find better spots. I was covered in mud and bugbites and stink. I did not feel pretty.
I was plenty hungry. I've been underfed. It's what the Greeks call austerity measures. There are more things in heaven and earth than food to spend money on. I need a shower and a discount haircut. I've got to get my beard pruned. I need moist towlettes and deodorant. I'm a day's walk from Key Largo. This, my friends, is my victory lap. I don't want to look like a bum.
A hobo, sure; that's a point of pride. But one with some self-respect. I want to be welcomed in Key West. I'm hoping I will make some friends. Which may be harder than I imagined. It's a much bigger town than I thought. A proper city of some 25,000 people. I will be eaten alive.
My first five miles were fairly rough. I was still in the jungle. And this 997 is strewn with garbage, home and industrial. Dirty. Humid. A narrow road. I had to walk in the gutter. My pack was collapsing and my back was sore. I was hungry.
The road opened up some time after that. I passed a number of farms. Strawberries, tomatoes and corn. And what I want to call potatoes. But that can't be right. The soil is rocky, but it is soil indeed. Not everyone here is so well off. Most of this state's made from sand.
The wind picked up; that helped a bit. Then came the nurseries. Exotic plants, I guess you would call them, mangoes and orchids and palms. The palms were being circumcised, I guess that makes them grow taller. By a man with a machete standing in the bucket of a front loader. While his friend drove him from tree to tree. Someone call OSHA, quick. But not immigration. That won't win you friends. I'm making assumptions here.
You can buy a twenty-foot palm tree for $75. Delivery is probably extra. It still seems like one hell of a deal. I lived well ten years ago. And had a palm tree in my living room. It was about three feet high. And cost at least that much, I'm sure. When my girlfriend moved out it died.
Six-thousand calories. I believe that's what I need to be happy. Yesterday I had a good many less. It made the walking hard. But I did at long last get where I was going, a gas station with a Subway. With which chain I do have my complaints, but they will feed you for five bucks. I sat there for three hours, recharging and chewing my sandwich slow.
I was in no hurry to get to Homestead. Tomorrow I'll spend the night. Indoors. I need to get rinsed. I am not feeling my freshest. I tried to find a truck stop but no joy. This shower is going to cost. So I'll check in early and check out late. I'm determined to get my money's worth.
I did in fact walk all the way to town. Big place, Homestead, Fla. So I turned around and walked back out. My hobo skills kicked in at last. I'm in the city. I'm in the woods, camped behind a Lutheran church. And very much looking forward to my bath. I'll tell you about it tomorrow.
CHEERS TO Dewayne and Mickey, Christian bikers. They're down from Alabama. Riding their Harleys and sleeping rough. We shared stories of the road. They gave me a Bible book to read. I expect I will.
I HIT A Goodwill for a new shirt and a used pair of shorts. Nine bucks. Damn. The price I pay to look halfway presentable.
PICKING TOMATOES looks like awfully hard work. Hot. A lot of bending. I bet these anti-immigrationists have never picked tomatoes.
I THINK I like Cuban people. One does hate to generalise. But the ones I've met have been polite and dignified. I wish I was a Cuban person.
EVERYONE DOWN here speaks Spanish but me. I feel a little left out. I believe I may have to sit down and learn it. Don't laugh; I'm capable. I'm a cunning linguist. I can do anything. I Walked Across America.
JALAPEÑOS do not agree with me. When will I ever learn.