North Bend (Quality Inn) to William Tugman State Park (actual date Sunday 6/1/14)
At the free breakfast, folks silently weaved through each other while waiting for the make-your-own waffle machine to beep. They stacked danish, toast, and too much of every other tasteless option on their styrofoam plates while their eyes trained on the sort of TV news channel where anchors and correspondents yell at each other, all for the sake of entertainment. I sat with my back to the tube, watching everyone as they looked up, transfixed. I was disgusted by their chewing mouths, by the way they smeared containers of grape jelly on their white bread. The way they wiped syrup from their lips. Nobody spoke and I was overcome with a sadness that burnt a hole through my growling stomach. When I realized I was holding my breath I had to leave, and with a quickness. Even the apple I grabbed was dry inside.
Surfacing from the trail in a crappy hotel made one thing crystal clear. I am addicted to access. Upon my arrival at the Quality Inn I had consciously decided to refrain from the so-called luxuries offered here. I felt they might weaken me. I failed in my efforts to ignore these indulgences and they ruined me, as expected. My pile of Chinese food last night gave me gas and stomach cramps. I stayed up too late with the television on. As for the the shower – well, that’s the only place I sort of stuck to my guns, but at a cost. Out of sheer principle I gave the shower the finger and I didn’t take one. The least I could do for myself was start the day as dirty as when I arrived. But I did steal the soap and shampoo for when I do decide to rinse off. Something in my brain was working even though this drug of access was making me scratch all over.
As I passed through North Bend I hung a piece of artwork. A Dutch Brothers Coffee employee walked towards me and I noticed his graceful stride. So many people, it seems, walk as if it’s a burden. Not this guy. This fellow’s gait seemed to say, “Good morning. I am happy. But excuse me, I’ve got things to do.” We made eye contact and he stopped to inquire about my journey. His smile seemed out of place even though it was genuine, that much was easy to tell. He didn’t gush, but he did tell me my trip was inspiring. We shook hands and I kept on. I needed a brush with energy like him this morning.
Right away I was crossing the McCullough Bridge and feeling a burning pain in my left hip. My backpack’s waist belt was rubbing my skin raw. I found it strange that this would show its face on day 9, but I also wondered if I was losing weight and wearing the pack differently. Up until yesterday, I’d been eating very little and burning quite a few extra calories. I’d need to keep an eye on it. Especially since with each step I felt a little electric shock.
I made multiple stops to adjust my pack, including one at Saunders Lake City Park where I watched a family fish for an hour. Kids threw lines in after an ancient man in a wheelchair, who I assume was their grandfather, tied flies on their lines with all the gusto left in his feeble fingers. When a fish was caught, the whole family celebrated. Seemed that the old man was doing what he loved most. I wondered if the kids would look back on these times with reverence. I wondered if thinking of their grandpa would make them cry sometimes.
The side of the road is an interesting place to explore. I am not sure what I expected to find, but still I am surprised by the myriad discarded items. Rope, clothing, chunks of furniture or car parts, some broken glass. All this is standard. But the most common item I’ve encountered so far is a plastic bottle filled with urine. What gives, people? Get out and go. I have to assume the culprits are men. Though I don’t doubt a woman could pull it off, the male anatomy requires less, yet still lots of, agility to prepare for and accurately manage the effort. I am hereby both disgusted and fascinated by this feat. The motor skills alone involved in relieving one’s self mid-roadtrip are impressive. It’s one thing to successfully pee in a bottle, but an entirely different thing to chuck it out the window. This is a problem on Oregon’s roadsides. A serious problem. Plus, it’s fucking disgusting, gentlemen.
I only managed to knock out 15 miles today. My hip would allow no more. This is mildly worrisome and reminds me of my running days when a simple blister could ruin a race, even force the runner to quit. Though I am open for whatever happens on this journey, I don’t want to stop. And I won’t stop (I hope). It’s these minor trip ups that keep me vulnerable. And, in their own weird way, the problems make the trip better.
Art drop in North Bend
The McCullough Bridge over Coos Bay (5305 feet long)
Strange, strange sight along the say