Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day Two-Hundred-Thirty-Nine, By The Way I Use My Walk

My new air matress has sprung a leak.  A slow one; it's not big deal.  I wake every three hours and puff it back up.  It gives me something to do.  And I'll get it patched one of these days.  All I need is a bathtub.

To find the hole.  I'll patch it with duck tape.  I do not have duck tape either.  I meant to steal some from my friend Dennis.  Not the entire roll.  That would be unchristian.  Just a couple of feet, wrapped around my can of deodorant.  That's a trick I learned on the REI website.  They've got all kinds of camping advice.  Like how to adjust those various straps my backpack no longer has.

I missed them today.  Man, what a stinker.  I'm on Florida's highway 60.  It is narrow with an eighteen-inch shoulder.  Traffic moves at eighty miles-per.  Which is not quick enough for a lot of these maniacs.  There's a whole lot of passing going on.  Which brings cars fast up behind me, unannounced and six inches from my elbow.

I made it a point to give them all the finger, just to make sure my arm was still there.  And to express my mood, which was rotten.  It was a hard-walking day.  My feet hurt and my shoulders were killing me.  The landscape was not much to see.  Dead flat scrubland, hot and dry.  It still managed to be humid.  I had to keep my eyes on the road.  I could not let my mind drift at all. 

I like to stop every now and then.  I like to meet the folks.  I want my thirty-nine Cokes and my big breakfasts.  This was miles of nothing.  With a heavy pack and the beginnings of shin splints.  I was running low on water.  Once across America is perhaps enough.  Today made me remember Montana.

You would think these long stretches between towns would make me want to walk faster.  But they seem to have the opposite effect.  They fill me with a sense of defeat.  All I want to do is sit and sulk.  I'm sure it points to a weakness in my character.  But even still I walked twenty-three miles further than you did today.

And I was depressed, which itself depressed me.  I've been so cheerful of late.  I wanted to believe my dark days were all behind me.  There may be a few yet ahead.  Adversity, I fear, does not bring out my best.  I can be as sour as ever.  It's easy to be happy when life is good.  Misfortune is the chief cause of depression.

I struggled but could not find my rhythm.  I'd walk two miles and stop.  And walk two more then stop again.  Then maybe one and a half.  I stopped at a veg warehouse and begged water.  That should have cheered me up.  But it also made my pack heavy.  It just wasn't my day.

Around three a fat girl in sunglasses threw a bottle at me.  From a passing car.  She missed, the cow.  It got me thinking about things.  I'm doing something great here.  It's easier than it looks.  But you cannot deny the scope of it.  It takes courage and determination.  And even hinting at greatness puts you at risk.  Think about it; see if I'm wrong.  The world is geared towards mediocrity.  The protruding nail gets hammered down.

Or bottles thrown at it by idiots.  Or shot three times in the chest.  Or nailed up on a cross.  I got off easy.  Look what they did to Roseanne.  People are frightened of what we don't understand.  I should learn to embrace their contempt.  But if I see that bitch again I'm going to kick her ass.

And make her boyfriend hold my jacket.  I have some capacity for violence.  Or I'll just make fun of her until she cries.  Words can wound, you know.  And I've got a lot of them.  Call it a gift.  I am too blessed with empathy.  But I can turn it on and off like a light.  Empathy wears you out.

I became suddenly cheerful after that.  I never thought I would be again.  But it's hard to drag yourself out of depression.  It took music to do that.  My little radio coughed back to life.  I'm getting a Fort Pierce station.  Oldies.  That includes the Seventies now.  The BeeGees made good walking music.

There were other songs too.  It was like night and day.  I took off like a rocket.  And clicked off twelve miles in half the time it took me to walk the first ten.  I'd have preferred NPR but that's just me.  We get our stimulation where we can.

I'm a mile from Yeehaw as the crow fles, but I will have to double back some.  I found an old highway buried in shrubs.  I just had to see where it went.  I followed it for two miles or so before it became unpassable.  But I did not turn back.  It was getting dark.  I put my tent up right there.

On asphalt, no less.  I miss my air mattress in its better days.  But I'm camped in a jungle, a proper jungle.  No one's been back here for years.  With vines and palm trees, gnarled old oaks.  Somebody's grunting outside.  A pig, I gather.  I saw another one today.  Ugly beasts.  They'll put you off pork.

I also saw four-hundred snakes today, medium-sized and black.  Most were squished flat on the shoulder, the same shoulder I was walking on.  Which made it frightening on two levels.  One would be enough.

I saw too another alligator.  He was not very impressive.  Big enough to bite off my toes, but small enough that I could pick him up by the tail and swing him round and round until he got sick and coughed them back up.

There is a canal twenty feet from my tent.  I hear someone splashing around.  But everyone says the gators won't eat me.  I've decided to put it to the test.  But I'm not going out there to pee.  I'm on cold weather protocol.

HIGHWAY 60 is also known as Hesperides Road.  I believe they were some brand of nymph.  But I ain't got the battery to look it up.  Call it homework for you.

MY AGED mother has been snowed in for three days.  She was without power for one of them.  But no snakes, no pigs, no crocodiles.  I hope she can see the bright side.

I ENJOYED a very fine sandwich for lunch.  From Rosie's restaurant.  I'd been carrying it for a day.  It was still just lovely.  A Cuban, they called it.  Stop in and get one next time you are in town.

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  1. Just look what they did to Rosanne.
    I am thoroughly enjoying your writings. Reading them from the end of the trip to the beginning (because I'm special like that). You're an inspiration James.

  2. Just look what they did to Rosanne.
    I am thoroughly enjoying your writings. Reading them from the end of the trip to the beginning (because I'm special like that). You're an inspiration James.