Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Okay, so it's the next morning and I'm back at the Salina Public Library, on Computer Station 7. BACK TO LE STORY.

I plopped myself down on a hill adjacent to what I figured out was some sort of loading bay for trains, and watched as the occassional car drove by on a road going alongside the building and then turning beneath the freeway. Shift change. After a while I decided there were no Bulls around, and I threw myself over the fence and plodded into the tunnel and down the road toward a conglomeration of train tracks and lumbering or stationary trains. At this point, I decided to wave down some passing Union Pacific dudes and ask them which freeway was 135 or I-35 or what-the-hell-ever.
"That one!"
"This way's North and that way's East!"
"Haha, okay, thanks!"
"SURE! :D"
So they smiled real big - these very old people who looked more like charicatures of railmen than real railmen themselves, these two old men in overalls and a beat up old pick-up truck with the U.P. logo battered and barely visible on the side - and sped off in the direction I came. It's at that point that I noticed a lake on the far side of the tracks. I decided I'd try and find a place around there to sleep. Weaving between cars and clambering over open-bed cars, I came to the side of the lake and spotted a little garden type place. I sat down and started setting up and noticed a water bottle and some fishing line just sitting around a few feet a way from where I was setting up my tent. I shrugged it off, laid down on my sleeping bag outside my tent, and exchanged some messages on my phone with Brandon, I think, and then went inside my tent and fell asleep.

When I woke up, lo and behold, a big old black guy - a railman, I think - sitting by the lake with a cooler and a broad-rimmed hat, line in the water. I clambered out of my tent and started packing up very matter-of-factly, we exchanged a few short words ("G'mornin'." "G'mornin' to you...") and I headed off along the side of the Interstate, hoping to find a place with food and water. But first I had to jump another fucking fence. It was at this point that I was really beginning to appreciate my decision several months ago to begin jumping fences to accustom myself to basic, essential urban movements. Had I not, I would be moving much more slowly and I would be much more irritated. With no water, I was really pleased - for the first time in a long time - to see a large billboard that read "WENDY'S: EXIT 14". I was at exit 11.

Well I never made it to Exit 14, because I was so hungry and dehydrated that I had to sit down and wallow in self-pity twice. Then, on the forced march to Exit 13 where I had identified a motel and surmised they would have some sort of restaurant somewhere, a strong wind came along to my back. "Excellent," and I turned around to walk backwards on the shoulder to let the wind blow on me. After a few minutes of that I decided to open my eyes, and I was pretty surprised by what I saw: A state trooper pulling up to me slowly with lights flashing. I took off my POLARIZED SUN GLASSES (thanks Brandon, they've helped), smiled, waved, and started to walk up to 'em. He grimmaced and his index finger shot up, telling me to stay unless I wanted to be pinned to the ground. Or rather, his finger and his expression told me that, and I didn't have to be told twice. He stepped out of the squad car and marched toward me as another trooper pulled up behind his car. I greeted him and he asked for identification and the conversation went something like this:
"What're you doin' out here?"
"Walking to Denver."
"Denver, huh?"
"Well, you been taking the Interstate the whole way? Where you comin' from?"
"From Dallas, n' yeah."
"Dallas! Dang." Just then, the next trooper walked up to the first guy. "This kid is walking all the way from Dallas to Denver! Can you believe that?"
The second cop's eyebrows arched, equally out of genuine amazement as out of sarcastic disbelief: "Denver! How about that."
The first cop straightened up and set his eyes back to mine - having been switching between mine and the other cop's gaze in an epileptic fit of stupid grinning: "Well haven't you seen them signs at every on-ramp that says No Pedestrians in big black and white letters?"
I had, of course, but instead I made up some ridiculous lie to maintain my innocence: "Uh, no, I've been going around."
"Going around."
"Going around," echoed the second cop.
The whole conversation was rather comical, as I could not for the life of me tell whether or not these cops were toying with me or whether they were serious. My experience with authorities told me they were being ass-holes, but standing there in front of them I couldn't get around the good-ol'-country-boy aura. It was really hilarious, not being able to tell if a couple of cops were being sarcastic and mean or genuine and kind. Anyway, the first cop told me I couldn't be walking on the side of the Interstate - any Interstate in Kansas - and that I would have to get off here.
"That's fine, I was going to go get some water here anyway," which sounded like a silly lie but which was actually the truth.

They headed off, I meandered down the off-ramp, and basked in the glory that was ... Country Kitchen. Having never been happy to see this disgusting little abode before, and never imagining myself ever being pleased to see one, it was an awkward and repressed euphoria. I struggled through the doors into the empty waiting area and kind of stood there looking pathetic for a few seconds until a waitress hurriedly seated me and said, "Um! Would you like to start off with some water? You look really hot!" really nervously. I think maybe I was a little dissheveled, because I felt like collapsing and my mouth was completely parched.

I ordered a large breakfast. Four eggs, four pieces of bacon, two glasses of orange juice, three glasses of water, two pieces of toast, and nearly ten dollars later I was on my way to some random town whose name I forget.

Well I have to end this post here because I only have 40 seconds left, so I guess I'll post more the next time I get access to a computer.



N.Senada said...

Hell's Bells, man! I'm waiting for the day you drag your tired ass into town and we can celebrate the first tier of your beautiful journey. I'll buy a bottle of wine. I'll also see what I can do about the Fighting For Our Lives pamphlets.
Until then, I'll leave my light on for you.

Jesse said...

I'm filled with envy at each installment, but also a certain kind of awe, because I know that I would not have the endurance for this. I play DDR and count my paltry steps on a pedometer. You're walking to Denver, from

BTW, this might be useful to you:


Brandon said...

Word. There is no guest commenting.

darby & the guys @ work said...

Yo' dude!!!
We're just checking in on you from time to time. Haven't heard from you in awhile. Wassupwidatt?
Hope you're still safe.