I landed in a diner in Houston Missouri to hear a fat pasty kid whining. He was way too big for the high-chair, and he was America's great disgrace. I slept in the park across the street.
I cooked noodles and poured in a can of low-grade beans. In the midst of this success of self-sufficiency, a cyclist arrived by motor vehicle. He was riding west to east with his girlfriend driving a support car. I was camping here; he was camping here. I was talkative and bubbly, and he was sheepish and rushed. He wanted to be done, and he was whipping himself to do long days. Whatever floats your boat. There's a measure of self flagellation to be recognized in all of us on this trail - my goal is to bring away some beauty, enrichment and enlightenment. Choose all three. We'll soon see.
The guys called me at half-nine last night to check in. They were on speaker phone. We talked a bit and compared notes. They let me know that they missed me too. I let them know I was glad to hear from them. It will take the next couple of days to ease myself into a new reality.
I woke up to a goosed phone. White screen; killed by dew. It was on it's way out long before the trip. I called my parents, and tried not to cry about it. More accurately, I just had pent up general emotion, and it's probably not an unhealthy way to spend my summer. I love my family, and I take these small moments as an excuse to hear friendly voices who love me too. My mom used the internet to tell me where a Verizon store was - about nine feet to the south.
I got riding at the hottest part of the day. Twenty miles in, I bought refreshments at a feed store where cowboy hats converge. I rode some more and stopped in the quaint and lovely town of Hartville, Missouri. (Missouri, bitchezzzz!!! - I can hear Stuart exclaim this in a Scottish accent as we crossed the border on full steam. It brings me happiness.)
I ran into a couple touring cyclists from New Zealand who I passed several days ago. Every library is a slice of home where I don't pay rent. The New Zealanders had put up a tent out front - where you're allowed to do that - and the final 28 miles of my ride melted away from my careless itinerary. This looked good. Another short day, and I'm feeling great.
It's nine minutes until half-seven in the evening. I'm at the Casey's gas station and convenience store a short walk from downtown Hartville. I am confident on foot, knowing that I have a couple of kiwis stationed near my bicycle. On the counter, I've placed one Mickey's 24oz, One Clamato 24oz, and one empty 32oz cup that I am willing to pay up to 25 cents for. (Eight liquid ounces is just enough to account for head.) The point-of-sale system is down and I am waiting as the senior boss employee adds my total on one of those old calculators with the small solar panel. No charge for the cup.
I got groceries and secret sodas. I have a Clamato in a cup and a pot of Rice-A-Roni on simmer. I would literally rather be nowhere else.