Monday, February 6, 2012

Day Two-Hundred-Fifty-Five, To Walk No More

I am a dozen-odd miles from Key West.  I've been eight months on the road.  Find me now in the grip of an existential crisis.  At least my stomach's upset.  Come tomorrow my journey is done.  And then where will I be.  Right back where I started, but three thousand miles from home.

Or four thousand.  I've not added them up.  I'm not sure I ever will.  It's not for me to measure the marigolds.  It's enough that I still have ten toes.  And I've gained a few things.  Philosophy.  I stand taller than I did before.  I've tamed the North American continent.  I'm a master of the hobo art.

I needed all my skills this evening.  I've passed one final test.  I left no mark on the rice paper.  I snatched the pebble from Master Kan's hand.  A good hobo can walk through walls.   Looked for, he cannot be seen.  Listened for, he cannot be heard.  Sniffed at, you take your own chances.

I've put up my tent where no space exists.  I'm invisible in plain sight.  And I accomplished it all by the light of the moon, surrounded on all sides by lizards.  Last night I camped in mud.  Sometimes my training fails.

It rained all night.  New records were set.  I woke in a sea of goo.  It coated my shoes and messed up my tent.  My pack weighs six extra pounds.  From all the clay I'm lugging around.  I did as well as I could.  But I was trapped in the worst of it.  I suffered some this morning.

But onward I marched.  Big Pine Key was a good eight miles off.  Over some bridges; I lost count.  Beyond a fetid swamp.  Which is home to the National Key Deer Refuge.  Key deer are an endangered species.  But easily found.  They look like ordinary white-tailed deer, only they're fearless and puny.

Two foot high at the shoulder.  They seem content.  They're enjoying their endangered status.  You'd go to jail just for hurting their feelings.  So they go where they want and do as they please.  No one can say boo to them.  Traffic on the road is slowed to a crawl.  There are all sorts of posted warnings.  With that same sillouette you see on other deer signs.  Only the scale is different.

I had a fine breakfast in Big Pine and wound up staying for hours.  Because it started raining all over again.  You weren't getting me out there.  Enough's enough.  It was another monsoon.  I decided to wait til it passed.

Then it was over several more bridges, only one of any length.  The shorter ones tend to have bike paths.  That takes away all my stress.  But I was soggy as hell.  It was plenty warm and about as humid as it can get.  Which makes me not only chafe but smell.  Such are the hazards of the road.

Ten more miles and I stopped at a bar.  I chatted with Captain Paul.  And his vast family, only one of whom looked like Papa Hemingway.  Which is rather a fashion down here.  They hold contests.  I prefer Mariel.

I stayed longer than I ought to have.  I got a bellyful of CocaCola.  And walked off into the setting sun.  I was pointed due west.  Blinded.  I made it three more miles.  They say it might rain tonight.  But I'm on dry ground.  Rocks, even.  I will be just fine.

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  1. I am super proud of you!!!! I cannot wait to hear about the new adventures you encounter in Key West!

  2. This is incredible! You have walked all this way; I have to read these from the beginning, lest I ask pesky questions.

    I drove from Bellingham,WA to Key West, FL and saw many great things. I am sure that you have countless more stories to tell than I.

    I saw you on that bridge and without knowing what you were up to, thought to give you a lift. I had figured that adding an extra 2 minutes on to my trip was worth saving you the soggy trek.

  3. Shelley in Crestview Florida --
    Google maps says it is 3,513 miles from Puget Sound, Washington, to Key West Florida. It also says it will take two days and ten hours to get from the one place to the other place.
    Congratulations on the completion of your journey! I hope you will continue to update your blog, so the members of your fan club can see how the next chapter in your life unfolds.