I can feel yesterday’s 14-hour-on-the-road in my body: it’s tired and my eyes won’t stay open. Half an hour out of New Meadows, I knock on a random door and ask whether I can have a siesta in the garden (all the neighbouring land being fenced off and with barley any shade). The owner agrees, so I pull out my sleeping kit and have a nap until 4 in the afternoon.
Once I emerge back into life, it’s pretty late and I have barely done 10 km. The sun having a go at me and is eating me alive. And it turns out that I left my sunscreen at the place where I had a nap.
I therefore decide to stop at a random house and ask for some cream. There’s a residence with a confederate flag and a guy whiter than snow hanging outside. Hmmm… I have doubts whether I’m making the best choice of house to stop at but I am BURNING ALIVE so I have no time for this shit. Also, I am the first to hate generalisations and stereotypes and what DO I KNOW about Confederates? Nothing! Have I ever met any? No. How can I therefore be prejudiced against a concept I am not even familiar with?
Dave, the man I approach, fetches a bottle of sunscreen from his car and immediately decides to GIVE it to me. He invites me inside his house for something to drink:
“Beer? Well, you gotta have some snacks with it. We should actually fix you a proper sandwich, you know? And you cannot have lunch without some dessert and coffee, right?”
Dave and Rosie, two long-time friends and flatmates in their 70s, are the kindest and the most attentive people there are. You’d think hospitality and serving others are their life goals. They recount stories about the different travellers who have stopped at their house throughout the years and how they like exchanging with people from outside the US. Dave talks about fighting in Vietnam, losing friends in the war and how all America used to hate them all. Hate? Whom? Why? I need to revisit some history to understand this. We also talk about animals and Dave breaks down reminiscing about a cat he used to have. The pet got sick, an operation only made things worse and one day he just wouldn’t stop meowing. Dave didn’t want him to suffer so he took him out to shot him. It’s been a year and he still cries when he talks about him.
These people are full of stories and I would so love to get to know them better but the road is calling. When I finally manage to get some kilometres behind me, I end up just 10 miles short of where I wanted to get to. I am at the local Park Ranger Station facility and am allowed to pitch a tent near a power outlet for my breathing machine. It’s the BIG BOSS of the station who put me up at a cozy spot and provides an extension cord. I am so lucky!