Tuesday, June 13, 2006

z0mg. So it's the next morning and I'm back at the library. I slept at some park, in an observation deck overlooking a smelly "restored to its' natural beauty" river, across from an industrial train station. I give the place a 10 out of 10 for sleeping: I got a full ten hours of sleep, I slept really well, no one bothered me, there were no mosquitoes, and in the morning I had a short conversation with another bum. I sat around for a while drinking water and taking in the sunshine, and then I packed up and brought myself to Burger King - the only place in sight - and got ... french toast sticks with corn syrup. Not even real syrup. Corn syrup. The criminals, I know! I wrote a kindly "Live free or die trying" on the bathroom wall after brushing my teeth, dropped off some Fighting For Our Lives, and then wandered here.

SO, back to THE GREAT ADVENTURE or whatever. I woke up that morning, sat around, packed up my stuff, and wandered past the gas station to a bridge. I stood there for a while watching birds and fish, as the water was clear and full of fish and apparently insects, with the birds moving around hunting something I couldn't see. I walked to a McDonalds and sat there reading and trying to think of what to do. Then I got bored of sitting there, so I just grabbed my pack and started hiking north off the side of the I-35. Passed through a construction yard, got sunscreen at a dollar store, almost hopped a train - a recurring urge, for sure: train tracks and attendant trains are everywhere! - and then found a street that would take me directly to downtown Wichita. For the rest of the day I was walking down that road, and I eventually found a QuikTrip where I got water and a gatorade (and plenty of stares). From there, by asking around, I was able to find where the library was, and I made my way there in the sweltering heat. Though I had made it to the library, I didn't find the time to put in a blog entry, as I was instead busy chatting with folks via www3.meebo.com, and also trying to not laugh hysterically at the guy at the end of the desk who was wearing headphones and grunting and groaning. I also took time to help the illiterate next to me to fill out a form. Fruitlessly, as it turned out: he asked me how to get an e-mail address, I gave him the URL for Hotmail, and he then entered "www.hotmail.com" as his e-mail address in the form. So I hung out there for a while, wandered back outside, and found my way back to the Interstate. I discovered that through this part of the city, the Interstate was elevated, and beneath it was a shaded and desolate-looking linear park. Onwards!

After a couple hours of enjoying the graffiti and the sound of big-rigs tumbling over-head, I came along-side a very large, very green park. I dropped my stuff at the side of a bench and sat down, intending to just sit for a little while. As it turned out, I was there for a good three or four hours. It was really pleasent watching the dandelion fuzz float by in the sun-light in a light breeze that would also occassionally build up to a puff of wind and rattle the otherwise lazy trees. After a while of struggling not to fall asleep, I found I was out of water. SO, I wandered across the park to the pool where I found out where the water fountain was, and then lolligagged (what the hell does that mean?) over to it and filled my bottle and cantine. I didn't really feel like walking any more, since I had been walking pretty much all day, so I plopped down on the grass and laid there for another hour or so, just drinking and rolling around and looking at the bugs and the clouds.

Eventually I got back up and started walking again. And I came across something that has so far been a recurring theme, and a very confusing one. Randomly placed fences. The linear park ended and the Interstate dropped back down to ground level, and several hundred meters from that point, at a street passing under the freeway, there was a chain-link fence with a gate locked by a bunch of thick wire wrapped around. There was no apparent reason at all for this fence to be here. It was just a fence, randomly sitting there. There was a similar fence in Oklahoma City that I had to clamber over. They fenced off 35 from an off-ramp to an intersecting freeway .... for no reason. Anyway, yes, random fences. After that I ended up in what apparently was Wichita's ghetto, reserved for the mostly-black lower-class, complete with unkempt shoddy houses and roving pigs, two to a squad car: the occupying forces no doubt in full force to minimize proletarian "crimes" like trying to eat, sleep, relax, and express and enjoy themselves. Anyway, I wandered away from the Internstate in search of a place where I could get some food. I found a place, but, thinking I could do better, I made the stupid decision to merely buy a drink and wander up the road. Having found nothing, I came back and discovered that the restaurant was closed. I sat around pitying myself for a bit and plotting to break in to an abandoned (but fully stocked!) gas station to gorge, and after deciding I wouldn't get away with it, I got back on the hilly side of the Interstate - surmounting no less than FIVE more fucking fences randomly placed - and walked for a bit before noticing the train-tracks emerging out of some giant concrete building that looked like a cross between a dam and some kind of spaceport out of Star Wars.

1 comment:

paulo said...

Be really careful if you decided you really want to do some train hopping. I remember asking the anarchist hitchhiker I picked up about that, and he said if you want to try it it's best to find some people who already do it to show you the ropes. He said the train bums will give you trouble if you look like you're somebody with money and a place to stay, and you're just slumming it for the adventure. Maintained manic-panic mohawks are a no no, you're better off with an unkempt head of matted dread locks.

Another homeless dude I knew told me the same thing. He said if you freight-hop, you better be prepared to drop some names. He told me he could do it, because he knew some guy named Spider, who is like the national leader of train bums, supposedly, and has a bunch of spiderwebs tattooed on his face.

Oh, and it's certainly possible to kill yourself if fail when you're trying hop on.

I've had similiar experiences with the computer illiterate. I was trying to help an old lady search for some stuff online, and I tried to explain Google to her, so she went to google.com and searched for google.com. Some people are hopeless when it comes to computers.