Journal 3
Journal 5
Day 97 Alpena to Branson
today:35 miles cumulative:1,945

I am sweating. Laying in my sleeping bag wanting more sleep. We walked until 3 am and I need more sleep, but I am hot and I am uncomfortable. Relentless. Pack up this wet gear as fast as you can and get moving, no down time, always moving, always walking. While others sleep I walk, while they watch TV I walk, while they work I walk, while they have sex I walk, while they sit in bars I walk, while they work on homework I walk. If you ever wonder what I am doing, know I am walking.

Early breakfast at the Leopard’s Den in Alpena. Pictures of high school basketball back to the 1920’s. Go Leopards! I watch a man smoking alone at the booth next to me, he looks out the window. He is a good photo. I am sure he is a good person too, but right now he is a good photo. Click. I will carry your image with me, smoking man. I take my fork out to stir up Cosmo’s dog food and when I come back in the owner acts like I just tried to rob the register. I half expect him to call me a faggot and punch me. He starts to threaten me, he doesn’t like the way I look, so I leave, he probably knows a few Klansmen (as in Klu Klux), better to just go, and go fast. Fat, bald, prejudiced, ignorant man, you can have your Leopard’s Den. You must have a very sad life to get that upset about a fork getting some dog food on it. I hope something changes in the next few days, Arkansas is feeling like a huge mistake. I won’t say I regret coming here, but I will say I am not enjoying the experience. Hills, threats, blind corners, no shoulders, hot days. Where is the director of this film. I am going to kick his ass.

This complaining is pathetic. I am the director. Buck up Huey, you’ll be North soon and away from these swamp water suicide hills. Ticks. What will the roads look like up North? At the junction for 65 there is ice cream and wide shoulders. Happy days are here again. I am not going to walk the Ozarks to the east. I like these shoulders. I have too much to do to die under the wheels of a chicken truck. I will stay on 65 north and avoid the bulk of the mountains. On old 65 there is no traffic. There are rock shops on the side of the road. Rock shops are under appreciated. The things I find in them never cease to amaze me. I have said that I want a wall sized picture of the millions of universes, in one good geode you can see the same thing, concentric circles and crystals fitting together in some secret story, the great story of creation that we have not yet found the words for, just stare into those stones and you will see the same thing that the Hubble Telescope sees. I pick them up and dream.

All this week I have seen butterflies dying on the side of the road. I have not stopped to ease their pain. What is happening in those last minutes for them. Do they contemplate death? Should I kill them? I have not because I want their wings to flap a few more times. To move the air in subtle ways that a semi cannot, and those subtle movements will someday meet others and move whole fields of grass, and build storm clouds and carry birds and blow other butterflies into car windshields to lay dying on the side of the road to flap their wings a few more times. Just a few more. Like the wings write poetry. I want more poetry so I do not make mercy killings when I see the dying butterflies.

On 65 I meet Ernie. He has a truck and some beer. I am done for the day so we take a ride to get some pizza. Ernie wears a red bandana on his head, his spiked hair sticking out of the top. He does not wear a shirt or shoes. Today was his day off. On the radio is a local Blue Grass band. Happy days, happy days. I am out of Arkansas. I am not going to get hit by a chicken truck today. I have a cold beer in my hand. Ernie reminds me of summer in Wyoming. I never wore a shirt or shoes, I drank beers as the sun set watching lightning storms over the badlands. No walking in those days.

He does not have shoes to go inside with, he has an old yellow and black cowboy shirt with embroidery on it, sleeves torn off. Wyoming summers. Ernie knows someone I can drink beers with tonight. Ty at the kayak shop. Well, giddyup, lets go.

Passed on from one good man to another. Missouri will make up for Arkansas. Right away Ty knows that I have to meet Chris, one of his kayak guides. Chris went to school in Wyoming for awhile, and everything I tell Ty seems to connect Chris and I, so we meet after their Kayak tour. The kayak shop is in an old go-cart place and still has go carts that run, so we drive too fast around the track, yahooing like little boys. You are never too old to drive go carts. All men secretly want a go cart track in their back yard. And now instead of sleeping in a park I am going to Chris’ to look at plans for geodesic domes and to see his father’s taxidermy shop. The drive out to his family’s home is a long one, but a relaxing drive, good music that I have not heard for a long time, music that was for comfortable days and drives through the deserts and dinner with friends, I miss the comforts, but this walk has made me appreciate it more, the music is better, the food is better, the company is better. I value all of these things more. This time we are the car driving too fast into the night, hope there is no one pulling a dog cart on this road. If they are we will probably hit them. Narrow and hills and blind corners and we will explore some dirt roads to see their family land, and where legendary hillbillies live, and right by Big Bone Mountain. Sometimes driving is very therapeutic. I remember a friend of mine who used to go on drives into the night when he was upset about a girl or wanted to punch someone, sometimes he wanted to punch me. Healing drive. Tonight is a healing drive. I don’t care if we never stop. But we have to because their dome is at the dead end of highway KK.

Chris’s father Brian builds dioramas for the Smithsonian, models of dinosaurs and ecosystems and battlefields and decaying animals. He is also a taxidermist. A damn good one. Rumor has it that he once stuffed and mounted an entire herd of bison, 22 in all, in just 3 weeks for an exhibition in Tokyo. Their home is like a museum. Their garage is like a morgue. Cosmo smells the death and she is afraid. Her tail is tucked between her legs for an hour after smelling those mummies. A full sized moose stands in the garage, a piece for some museum, from the ceiling hang yellow plastic animal bodies, no ears, no feet, they are all muscle, molds to give shape to the skins that are stretched and sewn over them. Brian is working on a hummingbird when we arrive. Buffalos, a turkey shot this week, an owl. He is very gentle with the humming bird. A bird…"Like Grecian goldsmiths make, to sing to Lords and Ladies of Byzantium, of what is past and what is passing and what is to come." Yeats did not want to come back as a mortal thing, it was too painful for him, he would rather be a clockwork bird. Or a Humming Bird I think.

Inside Brian shows me manuals for building geodesic domes, he built this one that we are sitting in. My head starts spinning with ideas for buildings, so much to do in Santa Fe. I want to build a place for the people who are not slaves. A refugee camp. I will need a dome. Don’t worry, we won’t stockpile any guns. We will paint. We will sculpt. We will make another Genesis without the fall (you can keep your original sin). So now I have the formulas, nothing can stop me (imagine maniacal laughter now). Art as Revolution.

One last mental stop on this long day. More rocks. Chris has a collection from his grandfather and his great grandfather. Some of the most beautiful stones I have ever seen. Crystal oceans and 100 million year old wood and translucent stones filled with concectric circle patterns that again make me think of deep space, because the microscopic can show us the macroscopic 100 million universes. A tiny model of the whole, hidden in miniature. The original thought. The DNA of the universe. I am holding a piece of it in my hand, holding it up to the light, trying to understand. Go out today and find a rock shop. I am convinced that the secrets of the universe can be found there.