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Wednesday 7 June

Yesterday, after waking up very late, as I usually seem to do in Jenkins, I shook myself and, leaving just past 1 P.M., walked to Dorton: centro storico to centro storico (although in the case of Dorton there really doesn't seem to be any center, a very diffuse place stretched out along a mile or so of road) is 11 miles; since I left from the house on the far side of Jenkins and eventually arrived at the Citgo station past the limits of Dorton, call it 19 km. No cramps, no problems, though I was very stiff afterwards for about two hours then the stiffness went away more or less, before I went to bed.

At 1:25 I was at the Community Bank clock in downtown Jenkins; at 1:43 I was at King's Dairy Bar, and remembering from last November that that was pretty much the last food thru as far as I'd been on this road (thru Burdine and #1 Bottom),​a and realizing that a bowl of Cheerios wasn't going to hold me for the walk, I sidled up to the drive-up window and ordered a pork barbecue and coleslaw sammich and a peach milk shake; which I was encouraged to enjoy indoors where it was cool, so I did.

A good chunk of one wall there is given over to photographs and newspaper clippings of how King, the owner, lost his wife to cancer and since 1995 had been raising money for cancer-related causes thru a (motor) bike ride, usually in August. After eating I took back my little plastic basket (sammich excellent — coleslaw not a side, but in the sammich; milk shake bland commercial product) and talked with King a bit about the "Love Ride", which nets near on $2000 every year, currently for the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center in Pikeville — and left at 2:08; from then to the end of the day I stopped only to take pictures etc.

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King's Dairy Bar: the Bikers' Wall.

Nothing exceptional anywhere, but a pleasant walk with near perfect weather, and 79° maybe, and much of it shaded since the road navigates a narrow valley between tallish hills; a background scent of honeysuckle pretty much thruout, and very green.

About a mile before the Pine County line, who but Super-Mike (as I think of him) zooming toward Jenkins, beep, wave; courteous Booby beeped, waved back, then suddenly realized who it was, so turned around to wave a bit more convincingly, and of course kept on walking. About two minutes later, Super-Mike had come back, apparently mostly to ask me if I needed a ride to Dorton; to which I looked suitably shocked, saying thank you, but no, I walk because that's the only way to get to know a country, etc. He warned me about semi's on the narrow road (as King had earlier), and sped off; he eventually passed me twice more during the course of the afternoon, seeming to spend almost as much time as me on that road.

About five minutes later maybe, I was taking my photo of an attractive small wooden building when a car stops, not asking for directions, but why I'd taken a picture of their house; genuinely puzzled — hadn't taken no shots of nobody's house for a coupla miles — but ah! yes, the vivid blue and yellow sign in front of their house (can't remember the house at all) encouraging us to support our troops. Turns out the young woman's concern was that [. . .]; her son is a Marine somewhere near Fallujah, due to come back in October God willing; I showed her my picture — wonder­ful things these digital machines — and we parted best of friends; I told her I'd keep her 20‑year‑old in my prayers (infrequent and generally unavailing as they may be, but I didn't say that).

[image ALT: A cardboard placard reading 'Support our troops — Freedom is not just a word! — USA • USN • USAF • USMC'.]

Nothing much else of note on the walk, except my first conscious look at kudzu; I'd asked Mike about the stuff, he said if I liked I could see the effects of it near where he lived, off the Jenkins-Dorton Highway at Marshall's Branch, and that the stuff is like a grape vine on steroids. This is early in the season, I saw some just coming back, that had covered a huge stone pier not much later, one of three piers bearing no road or anything: I wondered what it was that had not been built, but learned later instead that they had once supported a railroad, now gone.

The most attractive item of the walk was an old house with somewhat damaged but beauti­ful gingerbread carving; wouldn't you know it, Super-Mike of course knew exactly which house, and the story of who lives there and how and why, and had even tried to buy the house about 2 years ago —

[image ALT: missingALT.]
Traditional Appalachian woodwork, ca. 1930.

Dorton, though, a disappointment: houses and for some reason used-car lots (country style, not the flashy crowded modern things I have in my own neighborhood in Chicago) straggling along the road, ending in a sort of loose triangle where I was to find the post office then call Susan who'd come and get me — this at around 5:45.

Well my cellphone basically doesn't work much around Jenkins (puzzling since I seem to remember it working just fine last November?) — so off to find a pay phone. Nearest one, thank goodness, at the aforesaid Citgo station right on the highway to Pikeville; except they didn't work either, please dial area code, please deposit, please do this or that, but whatever obedient Boobykins did the 2 phones in the parking lot spit my money back at me and bawled me out for doing the wrong thing. Inside the convenience store (Pit Stop) they were very nice, I used their phone to call Susan at home — but her phone is out of whack; then her cellphone — but their carrier balked; so I called the Hospital and told them, can you please reach Dr. Rhoads? And they did and Susan showed up within 16 minutes, the time for me to guzzle down 3 pints of chocolate milk; we were home in ten more minutes. A very light dinner and I slept.

Today I didn't do much: helped move a few boxes, creating a sort of neat warehouse effect in a downstairs room where before it had been a jumble in which we've been wondering whether there just might be her cat Xelº (the one I barely saw in the ten days I was here in the other house last November). No cat; we're hoping of course she didn't somehow escape, but is merely lurking in the basement or in a closet or somewhere.

Susan also says she wants to learn French — I'm kinda wondering why — so she found the time for me to sit her down and do an evaluation of her vowels and pronunciation generally; we'll see where this goes: she's a good mimic so if she sticks with it by the time I leave she'll sound fine.

Super-Mike here in the early afternoon for a chat, as well as a man to look at why her central air doesn't work (compressor kaput); I walked into town to get t-shirts and potassium and magnesium supplements, was back in half an hour. Susan left for horrible long shift, roughly 5 P.M. to 9 A.M. at the hospital. I fed myself a very small meal of left-overs (after all, no walking today) and called it quits for the day, though not before Fang decided to show me how he pissed on Susan's stuff: right in front of me, on a folded curtain or something. Bad Cat, scampered off; me writing notes to Susan for her to find when coming off long difficult night's work —

And right now, 9:15, all caught up, all set to turn off the light, the earliest so far on this trip.

Thayer's Note:

a For a good explanation of "#1 Bottom" and similar placenames, see the note at Elfinspell.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20