The Price is Right is on. Jesus, do I miss Bob Barker. Legions of hardworking people, like my wife's Uncle John, got to retire and watch old Bob for almost as many years as they toiled at the shop. What do I get? This endomorphic lout who talks too fast and can't enunciate and bumbles his way through the show. Bob Barker, wherever he is, must have one of those tears running down his cheek like the Indian from the old anti-pollution commercial.
So maybe you're thinking along these lines: He's blogging, but he's not walking. Just loafing around. What's up with that? Does he think we're that interested? What is this--Twitter, where people go on the internet for no other reason than to say they've cut their toenails and are sitting on the couch eating Cheez Doodles?For what it's worth, in my imagination I'm already back down south, having just finished reading Frances Hunter's historical novel, To the Ends of the Earth: The Last Journey of Lewis and Clark. Much of it takes place in the woods of northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, not far from parts of my own route, only minus the good roads, the convenience stores, and the comparatively reliable social order. The kind of traveling they did in those days makes what I'm doing look ridiculously easy, which has inspired me to complain less and appreciate the manifold comforts of my walk. And I recommend the book--it is entertaining and imaginative, well researched and written. I hope to have an opportunity to meet the author when I get to Austin, Texas.
Meanwhile I am accumulating small things for the resumption of the walk. Moleskin. A supply of emergency ponchos from Meijer, which for some reason I can't find at any Walmart--at least not the kind I like, which resemble thin yellow garbage bags with hoods and arm holes and cost less than a dollar each. To be sure, I have more substantial rain gear, but these little plastic things have the virtue of being compact and lightweight and comparatively cool.
My other major preoccupation has been loading books on CD from the library into iTunes for eventual use on the iPod. Music has served me well so far, but I'm ready for something more substantial, so I'm stocking up on unabridged tomes. I rarely listen to the iPod for more than a couple of hours during a walk, but it's often just the ticket to break up the monotony of the day. I'll bet Meriwether Lewis would have appreciated an iPod, and it might have helped to keep him on a more even keel.
Finally, I am soaking up as much cable television as possible. Call it cultural carb loading. On the road I get a couple of channels here and there, but they're usually the broadcast networks, showing things I wouldn't watch if you paid me, like shows about serial killers and special bullshit scientific investigative branches of law enforcement where the IQs of the police are easily twice what they are in real life. But here at home I've been watching the primo stuff I rarely get to see out on the trail, such as reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and The Beverly Hillbillies, and the lovely Pastor Melissa Scott doing endlessly digressive close textual analysis of the Hebrew scriptures in the wee hours of the night. And Andrew Zimmern saying things like, "Boy, I've eaten a lot of sheep's eyes over the years, and they're usually just bland and chewy, but these have a really pungent muttony flavor that's just fantastic." And big doses of the MLB network, which I would watch even more of if it weren't for that nimrod Bob Costas (who died and left him in charge of baseball, anyway?). And finally, that zany spike-haired Sham-Wow dude. Are you following me camera guy?