Tuesday, May 26, 2015

On the Shores of the Muskegon River, Wilbo Contemplates the Road He has Traveled & Wonders if He Can Wander Like That Again.

I am wondering again how long can I live with a Subaru and a foldable bag chair? In 2005, I went out on my own in business and crossed the country a few times. A hotel room had charms and I've stayed in many different kinds. For twenty-five dollars, a hostel in Santa Fe provided a room with a lock, a bed with a blanket & a pillow and a breakfast that could last all day. As I was traveling to client sites on my own dime, a free meal and a modestly priced room made for a big win. The hostel had interesting people staying for a night or longer, so I roamed around the Indian art market, a market with hundreds of years of tradition, with a good fellow who just happened to be an ethnographer. Another group and I piled into my truck and we drove up into the foothills and enjoyed the Japanese baths of Ten Thousand Waves for a pittance. Another day, I drove a few hours north of Dallas, crossed the Red River into Oklahoma and made a weekend camp on a hard-to-find shore of Lake Texoma. I was kept company by people who lived on their pontoon boats or in campers balanced on the shore. All of these people living on land managed by the Army Corp of Engineers showed no sign of moving soon. At night, I would drive a few of them, seated in my flatbed, to the nearby town for food and gambling and make a few bucks. Monday morning, I would show up at work at the prestigious Seven Eleven tower in Midtown Dallas and talk about my weekend with the rest of the programmers on my team. "Yeah, I took a road trip up to Oklahoma," when my turn came.

At night, I would check into four straight nights in an extended stay somewhere close to Midtown, Priceline always good for a deal in those days thanks to Name-Your-Own-Price. Using their free wifi, I could send the mortgage company a payment that I saved up by vagabonding on the weekend.

Another time, I drove east to Shreveport, then more populated than New Orleans, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Baton Rouge had the honor as most populated city in Louisiana. After exploring Shreveport, I drove slowly back and walked around every Texas courthouse town on the way back, including Tyler, Texas. I had to walk around the block, drink a cold drink, read at least one historical marker and make idle chat with at least one person. I made notes in a Moleskinne journal I kept in the glove compartment; I had my entire collection of Moleskinne journals in a milk crate, rereading them at night as the sun set. I have yet to transcribe all of those hundreds of pages of handwritten observations, and I have all kinds of schemes for making the leap from page to blog pages. I always imagined I would have a few slow years for the task and that hasn't happened.

I have heard that not just one woman of my acquaintance has burned their journals, especially after remarrying after years of dating. One woman confessed that after filling up a journal, she would throw it away. I had always wondered if my university, Michigan State, would accept the Moleskinnes for their rare book room.

The smart phone has extinguished this habit completely. I handwrite todo lists. And throw the lists away. Once throwing away any handwritten sentence of my authorship was unthinkable.

Looking down into the path of a Texas River alway made me nauseous as even the Sabine River was a muddy, diffident current without enough water to make a convincing progress downstream. That simply isn't the case this week over most of Texas, with streams growing to powerful floods, carrying off houses and even cars. I have to remember to check on my Texas friends and find a way to send some help.

The sun has descended below the tree line to the west and illuminates the underbelly of a cloud bank flowing east over my head. Across the river, above the flats, I hear a bird call as loud as a Sandhill Crane's and yet different. The call diminishes as the bird flies further away. The cloud cover has begun shedding a misting rain, the kind that makes one look east for a rainbow. A mosquito with an red abdomen large with my blood has lighted on my iPhone, arrogant and yet lacking an understanding of its danger.

Not too bad for a living room composed of a fishing landing, a river, a bag chair and a Subaru.

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