Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day Two-Hundred-Fifty-Two, Islam/or

You are not reading this, not in a timely fashion.  I'm still without Internet service.  Oh, it's there.  My signal is strong, but no connection is being made.  It may be Verizon; it may be Samsung; it may be my own fool fault.  But I am inclined to blame Samsung, because as history has shown us, they suck.

There was a case some years ago; I cannot give you the details.  Because I don't have Internet service.  The gist of the matter was this.  A reporter for an English language daily in Seoul found himself hauled into court.  And sued for millions.  He had written a column about Samsung and how much they suck.

The libel laws are different in Korea.  They favor conglomerates.  But I am an American.  I have certain inalienable rights.  Samsung sucks.  It is said.  I stand by it.  Let them prove that they don't.

Good freakin' luck.

After bragging about how well I sleep in tents I had the damnedest time falling asleep.  I rely on the night air to dry myself.  I perspire some as I hike.  But it was seventy-five degrees last night.  It was humid; I was sleeping on rocks.  Volcanic, by the looks of them, but I don't know much about that.

Are volcanic rocks pointy?  They were holey, as well.  Like great jagged chunks of Swiss cheese.  But it was the steam more than anything.  I was up until two o'clock.  And slept until eight.  I did sleep well.  I'd wanted an earlier start.  But I made it to McDonald's by nine.  It was just across the street.

McDonald's, ah.  Their food is crap.  (Let them prove that it's not.)  But I do tend to feel fairly comfortable there.  I've been going for forty years.  Off and on, you understand.  It was my favorite when I was a kid.  Now it's just a place to use the wi-fi.  They have wall outlets as well.

I had my rubbery pancakes with mapley syrup, a biscuit that wasn't so bad; some eggs of a colour not seen in nature, and a sausagey air hockey puck.  Their hash browns are an insult to that noble art.  Their coffee was pretty good.  I had several cups.  I may have trouble falling asleep tonight.

I sat there for two hours, recharging and reading yesterday's news.  And attending to my scant correspondence.  I usually do that in my tent.  But I was done by eleven, plenty of time.  I did not want to walk very far.

It's tricky down here.  Study your maps.  I was at the south end of Key Largo.  I walk twenty or twenty-five miles a day.  I have to plan ahead.  There are some awfully long bridges; if I'm not careful, I can find myself stuck on one.  After dark.  It must be lovely, but it's a good way to get myself squished. 

There are fine people down here, I'm sure.  I haven't got to know many of them.  But beyond a certain time of day you have to assume that they're drunk.

It's a cultural thing.

As it was I did not walk twenty-five miles.  I did walk twelve or thirteen.  In three short hours.  I did not leave McDonald's until well after three o'clock. 

That's six hours under those Golden Arches.  I made my very first friend.  In the Keys, that is.  Mr. Joe DeMicco, a retired cop from New York.

Fort Apache, the Bronx.  Man, he had some stories.  He talks like Dennis Franz.  He was there in the Sixties and Seventies.  They were, how shall I say it, corrupt.  He spoke of kickbacks and schemes and internal affairs, and beating people up.

He's been stabbed in the neck.  They put a bomb in his car.  They didn't do that again.  I'd tell you how he solved that problem, but it's his story not mine.  Let's just say it was funny in a frightening way.  Joe was one mean S.O.B.

Not anymore.  He left the force.  The force may have hastened his going.  And made a fortune in real estate.  And lost it.  And got himself Saved.  And made a new fortune and lost that too.  Now he lives in his van.  He could do better but he's on a mission.  He drives around helping people.

When there's a flood or a hurricane, he makes a point to be there.  In order to help out however he can.  He has some talent for building.  Between natural disasters he finds homeless people and gives them blankets and soup.  And sleeping bags and portable stoves.  Anything they might need.  He bought me lunch; I was in fact a bit hungry at the time.

I think he does some preaching as well.  He calls himself a roamin' Catholic.  But has long since lost faith in the papacy.  He's a Protestant now.  He asked God how he could better serve Him.  God put him right to work. 

Using every talent he has.  He's foul-mouthed, fearless and persuasive.  He can B.S. his way up corporate chains in order to get big donations.  With which he does good.  The hungry are fed.  The naked, such as they are, are clothed.  And he tells some very funny stories about being a rotten cop.

Sad stories, too.  He should write a book.  It's the pathos that sells.  That's why I spend as much time as I do writing about my feet.

I could have talked to Joe all day.  I get enough Bible talk.  And the disaster stuff just makes me sad.  But those cop stories were great.  Especially in that badda-bing accent.  He should be in Hollywood.

When I did start walking I walked pretty fast.  I was wired with coffee and Coke.  And wanted to put some dent in the day.  You can't spend your life at McDonald's.  So it was three hours non-stop.  I wish I would have stopped for snacks.  And a bit more water but I'll survive.  I've got a pint yet to go.

I blew through a couple of Keys.  It was more of the same.  A number of houses, most of them nice.  Resorts and boat brokers.  Motels, none particularly lovely, but all of them on the beach.  The bars and restaurants boast of waterfront views, but that's really not saying much.  When an island is a quarter-mile wide the whole thing is waterfront.

Which is not to say I'm seeing much beach.  They would not waste that land on me.  I'm on the road running down the middle.  I don't get much of a view.  Just glimpses of blue between the trees, at the ends of driveways and such.  These are not public beaches.  I am not welcome.  I'll see the sea soon enough.

On bridges between islands it opens up some.  The sea's an impossible blue.  I see kite surfers and paragliders; the odd sailboat, of course.  And I get to smell whatever they're grilling at their fancy restaurants.  It's a pretty place; probably prettier still on five-hundred dollars a day.

I guess I do feel just a little left out.  It was a trick to walk all the way here.  I've earned my spot in these islands.  But those restaurants do smell awfully good.  And I'd like to drink at a tiki bar and watch the pelicans.  And see the sun set without worrying about where I will put up my tent.  It all seems aimed at a different crowd.  I don't think they're all super rich.  But they're the people, you tell them you're Walking Across America, and they look at you and ask, "Why?"

So what if I can't articulate it.  It's better that I cannot.  Consider.  I'm an articulate fellow.  Who better than me?  But it's one of those things you either get or you don't.  To many it makes perfect sense.  The others would not be satisfied with any explanation.

Find me on the far end of Islamorada.  Careful, you're saying it wrong.  Tomorrow I shoot out over the blue. I again invite you to consult your maps.  I'm going out on a limb here, as it were.  God knows what's at the end of this road.

I'LL REACH A Verizon shop the day after tomorrow.  It will be like going home.

THEY DO HAVE pelicans, plenty of them.  The buzzards are following me again.  If anything they're bigger down here.  Great, ugly things.

I'M CAMPED IN a jungle.  There've been hoboes here before.  It's raining hard but I am dry.  Dryish, at any rate.  I should sleep well; I'm on flat ground.

I PASSED TOO a sort of Sea Worldy place.  The entrance in marked by a sculpture.  Of what I think's meant to be a giant conch shell.  The artist took liberties.  All pink and gaping, I haven't blushed so much since I was 15 years old.

CHECK OUT YOUR maps, seriously.  The Keys are kind of neat.  It's like walking on water.  I wish all the continents were connected by little islands.

I think my photos came out askew.  Put your computer on its side.

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