Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Make it Pretty

8/6/11 Wytheville to Catawba, VA

Got poured on today. It was pretty marvelous. All of our gear is water proof, including phone cover. So I basically just giggled at the rain and googled how to find the hostel. We got lost, which is no fault of Eric's as he is always telling us specifically how to find our destination. He is such a thoughtful guy.

We have named him L.B. for "Lil Beasty". I know we are not allowed to give one another trail names as we are not hiking the AT. But we are not worried about appearing as poseurs. We are nerds. Chris I have dubbed "Molasses Pants". Which one hiker remarked, "could have many unintended meanings other than slow." I am Coil. As in the Kentucky pronunciation of a bird that makes a whistling sound, is tasty to eat and is low to the ground.

We found the hostel. Which is a house and garage on a gravel hill. Inside the garage, a veritable mess of meat hooks and weapons, army cots with a snow dusting of dead bugs, a busted tv, two farm cats, and my favorite: two shelves, the first marked, "Hiker stuff up for grabs", the next marked, "Less popular items".

Ah, well. When you are on the road in the middle of nowhere, you can't be choosy. And we are glad for the company. Joe, a divorced ex-hiker and bow hunter has worked for the railroad most of his life. He is tall, salt and peppered, crass and totally made of sweetness and love. He also talks nonsense when it is his turn in chess which I love. His son, Josh, is 12, and just about the most industrious little dude I have ever met. He is afraid of no one. I am sure this ease with people is the result of living in a house that is also a hostel for smelly-weirdo Appalchian Trail hikers. However he came about it, it suits him.

He and I chatted about how a derailleur works. I started to explain it to the best of my limited ability. He finished my sentence. He got it. Ok, Lauren, shut up. Now on to hunting. "I shot an 11 point buck".

I am sure that this is impressive in the world of hunting, but all I can picture are big plastic deer bounding through the forest with numbers on their bellies. "Want to see my dirt bike?" Yes.

We looked at animal parts on the tool wall that were to be made into gun racks. You know this is a stretch for me.
"We're gonna flip the hooves upsidown. I'm gonna make it real.pretty."

"Mmm. Nice."

I spotted a tiny pair of deer antlers. Josh and I shared a look. The lightbulb went on simultaneously.

"Dude. We should put these on your bike." I actually jumped in the air. All through Utah and Nevada I had been trying to find ways to affix bones to my handlebars or rack. I don't know why. I think it's a Kraft thing.

Josh went to work, sanding the ends, fixing them together with a screw. The ease with which he worked with power tools was alarming. He went to attach it to the bike. His father watched, skeptically. Joe crossed his arms.

"Make it pretty, now."

"I am!" Josh stepped away.

"Well," Joe raised his eyebrows high, "that looks alright, now doesn't it." He smiled and sat down to play chess with a hiker named Blister.

Joe drove Chris, Eric and myself to an amazing century home turned restaurant. An enormous plantation style house with wrap around porch and rocking chairs on every side. We disembarked from his bossy Ford truck. "If you keep eating it, they'll keep bringin' it." Woah. Really? We were pumped.

You choose the meats, they bring the food. More food than a medieval faire. Ridiculous. And we do eat it all. It is, a bit like nursing home food. But, the bisquits are real and so is the cobbler. So I eat two pounds of it.

The hostess calls Joe and he comes back to pick us up. Did I mention this is free, what Joe does? You drink his beer, sleep in his garage and he drives you to and from dinner. All the while not proclaiming the act a "ministry".

I didn't sleep. After fighting with the hiker about drilling for oil in Canada, the existence of god and why Libertarians are just pot smoking Republicans, I was just too jazzed. Add that to bugs the size of my thumb, cats rubbing against me, roosters screaming and the sillouette of meat hooks swinging from the ceiling. It was no good.

Blister slept like a rock. No surprise there.

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