Friday, 24 October 2008

Springfield - Ulysses (October 23)

Day 39 (halfway!)

Paul in Philomath just sent me this round robin :

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.) Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

It does not of course reflect the views of Scrabble Travel Blogspot.

Whilst leaving my trusty steed outside the post office in Springfield, it shifted forward with its wet front wheel nudging the glass door, as if a dog waiting for its master. In the library it made me chuckle to see that the only reference to the election in the half dozen headlines on the British Yahoo homepage was about Sarah Palin spending campaign funds on clothes. The tumultuous sky unleashed a barrage of snizzle, followed by snow, sleet, rain and drizzle; all from left to right, now that I was travelling east. After 20 miles of the former precipitation, I took refuge in the Walsh grocery store, where feet were dried with tissues in the restroom, wet socks were changed, hands were revived in hot water and hunger pangs were treated. They often have microwaves in grocery stores and I assembled a sandwich (all the constituent parts came individually wrapped) and heated it up until the pepper jack cheese dribbled down the side. Back to the fray to contend with the second weather type on the list. My right foot was soon soaked again because the strong side-wind propelled water off the wheels in that direction. This is when I found out the $5 Walmart gloves weren't waterproof and I cursed my meanness.

The third moisture variant had given way to the fourth as I stole across the border into Kansas. The puny state sign looked funny contrasting with the ten foot tall “Welcome to colorful Colorado' one facing it. Hello Mid West, hello Central Time. The landscape changed straight away; it was still flat and open, but now there was corn, sunflowers, green, green grass and NO sagebrush. There was also a proliferation of grain-related machinery – industrial islands towering above lakes of gold. These silos and other structures played havoc with my spatial awareness, as they seemed to be in the foreground, when actually they were 10 miles distant. Great swarms of birds feasted on crops and a mile overhead hundreds of geese headed south. How do they fly such great distances without the promise of a hot meal, hot shower or motel bed each night? I saw a couple of anti-abortion billboards too, using bible quotes to strengthen their case. Johnson City up next, and I had to ask for help to unwrap a chocolate bar because my fingers were frozen. Sat in the library, where popcorn was being given away, to thaw out for a while. Then it was onward to Ulysses and the Peddlers Inn (not pedalers). Draped my clothes over the radiator, as well as every pair of socks I have brought, which by now were all wet. There was a bath. A bath I tell you! One of those things you fill up with hot water and sit in. Yes! Aaaah. They had their own restaurant too, so I needn't brave the elements again tonight, and rubbed shoulders with burly workmen. Don't bother changing out of your dirty overalls or even take your baseball cap off guys. They had French fries, German fries and - in case you hated both nationalities – frozen fries. No beer. Tap water please, no ice. Studied the Kansas map tonight. Not only is it a broad state, but I'm lengthening my stay by zigzagging about all over the place to take in Scrabblers and Couchsurfers. The Kickapoo Indian tribe have a reservation in Kansas. I didn't know there were Glaswegian Indians.

I breakfasted alone until an old man by the name of Madison joined me. It was as if he knew I was coming, understood what made me tick and plied me with information about SW Kansas. Those cylinders I had seen yesterday were actually salt water tanks and connected to the oil and gas industries. The town is named after Ulysses Grant, a Union General during the Civil War; it has a population of 5,000, is 35% Hispanic and there had been a double homicide in August. I wonder what views the big man upstairs has on gun control.

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