Last night I was camped in mud. This evening I'm camped on rocks. It's like that tale of the Three Little Pigs. Tomorrow I'll camp on spikes.
But I'll be fine; I'm a superman. Huff and puff on that. Never in my life have I slept so well as I have huddled in this tent. I could not tell you why. It may be the fresh air. It might be the exercise. It's often all I can do to type up these notes. Exhaustion do make a boy tired.
I'm a bit sleepy now but otherwise fine. Google says I walked 22 miles. Or more or less, I cannot say. It has been a while since I checked. I am quite without Internet service. I'm having technical problems. Technically I forgot to pay my bill. In any case, Samsung sucks.
There's a McDonald's across the street. I'm in Tavernier, Florida. They're bound to have Wi-fi. If they don't, I'll kneel outside someone's condo. Which is what I did this afternoon. It made me feel like a spy.
I slept until almost eight o'clock. I woke up in the mud. It had not been so bad the night before but it rained a bit in the night. My tent has a hole in its bottom. So do most of my friends. I have never travelled with a ground cloth. It usually does not matter. But this time the water came up from below. It got a little wet. With the humidity and this Internet thing, I started my day in a grump.
The yacht club next door was members only. They did have a Pepsi machine. Taunting me through a wire-topped fence. They like to stick it to the poor. But I walked proudly on in the morning steam, through a regular jungle. Of those rhododenrony-looking trees. I was going to look them up. But I can't; you do it. Do let me know what you find.
Eventually I came to a bridge, my first of many down here. A great tall thing. It did have a good shoulder. I still was not happy up there. As far as I know it goes over a lake, Lake Surprise; it is part of the sea. Saltwater or fresh, I cannot really tell. I'm a half-mile from Plantation Key. Which is split from Key Largo by what looks like a river. I guess I could go and taste it. Or you could, come to think of it. Do let me know what you find.
There was quite a view from up on the bridge, Everglades to the north. And what looked like the sea on either side. I did not really look around. On bridges my focus is on not getting squarshed, and on not falling over the side. If I take a bus home I'll get you a picture. Or Google it; you pay your bills.
Off the bridge I was in the Keys, a bit shaky but happy to be there. I had a big Coke at a Shell station and made friend with garbage men. Aaron and David. They wore yellow vests, very much like my hat. Only cleaner and not as stinky. They were duly impressed with my trip.
Another three miles and I stopped and ate. A burger. I did not love the place. Three blocks up I found the Hobo Cafe. I wish I had eaten there. I bet they would have fed me for free. They all would have kissed my ass. Robert De Niro does not have to pay when he eats at his restaurant.
I still haven't had any Key lime pie. I am watching my pennies. My friend Dennis says it is not very good. He has all sorts of strange beliefs. But I'm a guest here; it's my duty to try. A good guest may have two pieces. And at the end of this long strange trip, I'll have a pitcher of margaritas.
And number of beers.
It was clear where I was once across the bridge. There were resorts here and there. And invitations to tourists for glass-bottomed boats and snorkel and skin diving tours. You can swim with dolphins or parasail. You can rent motor scooters. Or buy decorative items fashioned from shells. Or rent jet skis by the hour.
It all looked pretty fun to me. I might give parasailing a pass. Or forego the chance to scuba dive with a sunken statue of Jesus. But I would very much like to swim with dolphins. Dolphins are my favorite fish.
You can too rent a bicycle. There's a bike path next to the road. Which makes walking very easy indeed. I expect it stretches all the way to Key West. Through the trees here and there I could see the ocean. It is a travel-poster blue. But I did not try to get any closer. I'll see the sea soon enough.
There are hunnerts of cops up and down this road. That's new in history. It used to be a lawless place. Then came the War on Drugs. And 9/11 and other evils. People used to smoke pot in the streets. I missed the Bluegrass Festival in Yeehaw Junction. I'm too late for everything.
No one has bothered to strip search me yet. No one's locked me in their car. But I'm sure they are watching me. This is where they catch everyone. No escaped prisoner, gone uncaptured, fails to make his way here. Seriously. Blame John Grisham. They got another one just today.
They think they'll be welcomed, their past forgotten. They think they'll start a new life. With no worries, just palm trees and pretty girls. I've entertained such thoughts myself.
The road stretched on with more of the same. I was never out in the sticks. But there are patches of jungle where a clever hobo could easily put up his tent. I heard camping down here would be hard, that the cops write all kinds of tickets. But I think beginners always camp on the beach. I'm sticking to my methods.
Which means tonight I'm camping on rocks. I wish my sleeping pad held air. But I'm a hundred yards from a McDonald's, and yet I'll sleep undisturbed. And file this report in the morning. Remind me to check my spelling. And to enjoy a fabulous McDonald's breakfast. I like them; they're like airplane food. Foul but evocative of travel and exotic places.
Of which this is but one.
"DOLPHINS ARE NOT FISH!" Melville says they are. He was a very good writer.
EVERY NOW AND THEN a flotilla of Cuban refugees will turn up on one of these beaches. I hope I'm there when it happens. I want to be the one to say, Welcome to America.
THERE WAS A MOVIE called Key Largo, starring Humphry Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. Whose voice I always tried to approximate whenever I talked to cows. "Moo, I tell you! Moo, moo! Moo! Moo, I say!"
IF YOU HAVE Japanese acquaintances, do tell them the story of the Three Little Pigs. "By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin" means different things in different languages.