A BULL FIGHT WITH NO PICADORS
Day 28 Superior to Globe
today: 26 miles cumulative: 535
Bird songs. We sleep by a fence that keeps us out of a State Park, but they cant keep us from hearing the bird songs. Awake for sunrise, Picking Post Mountain now sun streaked, last night a castle in the moon. One mile to town, one mile to breakfast. A waitress brings me orange juice that I didnt ask for, I can never afford orange juice. Youre gonna need it today, its on me, she says. A bigger gift than she knows, I should walk to Washington D.C. in protest of orange juice prices at restaurants. Orange juice should be free. My new platform for the presidential race is free orange juice for everyone. $2 is price gouging. Mattie Earp is buried across the street, they say her body never decayed because of all the whiskey and laudanum, like a mummy found on top of a Peruvian volcano. A man in the kitchen tells me he walked across American on this route 2 years ago, thats how he found this place. Will I end up in a small town cooking bacon and eggs in 20 years? I used to worry that if I went on a true spiritual search I would end up in a saffron robe in a monastery and never be able to drink beer or dance naked around a bonfire, but now I dont worry too much about that, because Ive seen gods dancing naked around a bonfire in my front yard, with beers and vodka drinks and hot wine with spices. Maybe I still will end up in a saffron robe, or maybe Ill be flipping pancakes in Superior, Arizona, or Ill be in a mental institution in a medicated coma, or a metal box with a satellite dish. The difference is that now Im not worried about it. Today I am eating sourdough toast with strawberry jam, I always eat the toast last if its good toast, like dessert with my 10th cup of coffee. I am not worried about tomorrow. I am worried about today. Then I am not. I go crazy several times a day.
On the edge of town there is a wall painted with waves.
The uphill is not so bad because the shoulder is so big and because I am reminded of the waves. But then the shoulder is gone and it wont come back for 17 miles of uphill. It is tiring, but we are making good time, and then we get to the tunnel. 300 yards with no lights and no shoulder and no one expecting a dog cart in their lane. I have taken the cart and am walking backwards, trying to keep Cosmo on my left, away from the cart. I walk backwards so I can see if a car is not going to move, so I can wave my arm or jump onto a 1 * foot concrete ledge that runs along the tunnel to my left. New blinking lights are strapped to the back of the cart, but with no one looking for us I am afraid. Running backwards one car comes close, one semi comes closer. Cosmo slips around me towards traffic. I am screaming, running backwards, picking her up by the scruff of her neck and swinging her back to the other side, still pulling, breathing hard, she starts to piss all over as I lift her up, she is scared, I am scared, cars are coming close, she stops, she cowers, she is still pissing. I stop to jump, this one looks like its not turning, it cant see us, its not changing lanes, ready to jump, it swerves. 3 times I am sure I will have to jump onto that tiny concrete ledge. It has been a bad car day, and its not over yet. On the other side of the tunnel we can breathe again, but there is more uphill and still no shoulder.
It is beautiful up here though as I approach the high plateau, sharp fins of rock, geometric stacks presses up like devils tower fence posts, giant boulders balanced like the statues of Brancusi, Modigliani, Moore. Maybe you know Modiglianis kissing faces. They are simple. And the high plains again for a few miles. Still the traffic. A man begs me to let him drive me past the dangerous sections ahead, another 12 miles. He warns me that there are no shoulders, and there is a long bridge, and the traffic will get even worse when people start getting off of work. He tells me that it is suicide. I explain that this thing must be seamless and that I am willing to take the risk.
As soon as he leaves I start to regret not getting the ride, a momentary weakness, no one would have known, but I would have known and I would not feel so triumphant pulling into Globe in the back of a pickup truck and then telling people at tonights coffee stop that I am walking across America, except for the hard parts and the scary parts and the hot parts and the windy parts. No, there are too may excuses, to many reasons, if I do it once for this Ill do it again when I dont want to walk in the rain and Ill do it again when I have blisters. Every day is dangerous, every day hurts, everyday I want a ride but dont take it.
Hard ups, hard downs, all on the wrong side of the white line. Through a town they call the top of the world even though its only 4,000 feet, and down to rolling plains, down to Miami and Globe. I have been slowing down and turning to watch how close cars are coming to the cart, still ready to jump. No faith today. A semi comes by so fast that I freeze up and make a weak attempt at jumping back too late, there is no time, it clips the flag and I spin around like a matador. Like a novice, sick to my stomach from fear, spinning a cape around that will not stop a horn from goring me. But this bull has not been bled, has not been weakened by the lances. A bull fight with no picadors. Cosmo looks up at me, she knows it was too close. We are both afraid. Back to running around corners, bottle necks, switching sides of the road to increase our odds. The bridge that I was told about, again, no shoulder, and a house on the back of a truck comes up behind us. We stop all traffic. No extra lane, no shoulder, no place to jump, I commandeer the road for this stretch, no one can argue, there is no place else for me to go. At the setting of the sun we are still alive. What I am doing should be illegal. I will be the first to admit that I not only put my own life at risk today, I put others lives at risk. I am out of my territory without a motor, and I beg the good spirits to keep me off these suicide highways with no shoulders. What will the next mountain be like, I have another 2 weeks of mountain roads? I know I say it all the time, but again, today was without a doubt the most dangerous day on this journey.
Out of the death trap, into Miami, Arizona. A mining town. So many ugly mines in this last stretch. Id scream rape but I remember that I am using what they are mining. Bleeding mountains. Like having your meat killed in front of you. You want the meat, you just dont want to watch. Whole cases of beer bottles dumped on the side of the road around these mines. 3 broom sticks taped together with a sign on top for motorists to contemplate: Jesus Saves. Im not sure if thats helping your cause, you guys need a good marketing director, maybe spice it up a bit, a clothing line, a new soda or a pop star or something. You cant sell Jesus with duct taped broom handles and a blue pen thats almost out of ink.
In Miami high schoolers are playing basketball under street lights. 5 girls watch from the sidelines, heckling them, I am from a small town, all small towns are the same. I watch for a while because it reminds me of friends who played this game, Scott Rigg and Mike Hejtmanek and Mike Hyatt, and trombones blaring and cheerleaders and how important we thought high school sports were. High school sports are in a box somewhere under my old bed or in a closet in Wyoming, but the fight songs are still in my head and again I wish I had a marching band playing behind me on this walk. I want today to be over, there was no marching band today. There were a few trumpets, a beautiful view of high plains and balanced rocks, but too much stress. I know that I will walk another 25 miles tomorrow and that is OK, but for now I want today to be over. A policeman is concerned about my safety so he takes me to a place where there are too many lights and too much noise where he can see me as he cruises the main street all night. Today is over. And when my shoes are off, life is good again.