Election day! In Fulton library a sign read 'Push to operate' on the restroom door. Will there be 'Breathe' signs soon too? Whoever wins today has got their work cut out. Onward, half on the KATY trail and half on quiet, hilly roads. This is the first state encountered that letters its minor roads, rather than numbering them, which as a Scrabbler I much prefer. The whole way across Misery it has been round, green hills, golden trees, ponds, rivers and pretty houses. Today I lost my top gear; that is to say I left replacing the chain a couple of hundred miles too late and the top cog (the most used) has worn down, so that the chain is jumping. Many of the towns round here have Germanic names and I made a mistake approaching one of them, Wentzville, tonight's destination. Such is the small scale of my map, I had thought the dot depicting it was to the left of the name, when in fact it was to the right, necessitating a further 10 or 15 miles riding. In the dark. With the rush hour traffic. Without a hard shoulder. This took today's tally up to 98 and I was so glad I had ridden those 25 miles to Fulton yesterday. More headaches trying to fathom people's directions in Wentzville, but somehow, ended up in the right street.
Rock and Nahele (not the names they were christened with) were by far the most colourful characters encountered thus far, via the Couchsurfing website. Another couple were also staying with them, The Captain and Tempest, resplendent in a pirate and gypsy hat respectively. All four of them were heavily into re-enactments of historical events and having fun in a variety of costumes, especially of the 'renaissance faire' variety. They didn't let the small trifle of there being no ocean for over a thousand miles bother them when it came to pirate festivals, when they used a land-locked boat, with splashing effects for baddies thrown overboard. The teenage girls present were just as much fun. One of them had a phone permanently glued to her ear, even while she took photos, played a computer game and did stuff on the pc. It was as if she and this other person had to share every moment - even if they weren't communicating. Her mother, Nahele, had confiscated her mobile phone because last month she racked up 10,000 text messages. 10,000... That's over 300 a day, or over 20 an hour (of a 16 hour waking day). She was even known to send SMS's while in the shower. There were also two cats, Omen and Aloysius. Or maybe that was the girls' names. It was a very noisy and busy household, with overlaid loud voices, TV, music, phones ringing AND a screeching parrot. Oh yes, and Nahele ate ice. That is, instead of drinking water, she had a cup full of ice which she crunched all night long. They were all adept at tuning in and out of conversations, and doing and listening to several things at once. This is not a criticism; it's just not what I'm used to.
The food once again tantalised, featuring a chicken casserole with cornbread - and keeping with the renaissance theme - homemade mead. With all the distractions, I was surprised that they requested a game of Scrabble and we played a four-hander. I picked up both blanks early on, producing SAINTED/PAWN and victory was a formality. They were a great bunch to play with, so patient and good-humoured, particularly as they barely knew the rules. Then we switched to cards and a game of 'phase 10', a complicated version of rummy, which I was terrible at. After a few rounds I asked to be relieved, somewhat embarrassingly, as they were in my 'couch'-room. We all went to bed at midnight, including the girls, aged roughly 13 and 15.
Oh, yes, the election result came in tonight... In a house of Democrats, they were pretty pleased about it of course. It seemed to be a landslide, although I don't really know what I'm talking about. All I can say, is that I hope America unites behind their new President, including the press and foreign nations. It would be great to see a narrowing in the gap between rich and poor, better health care for all and a drop in consumption – notably of the gas-guzzling variety. I also hope that America stops using its military power overseas and solves 'problems' using diplomacy alone. Well, one can dream.
I was woken at 5 when Nahele, a school bus driver, had to be up. Then again at 7, when one of the girls came in to wake her Dad, because her bus hadn't stopped for her. Rock whipped up bacon and eggs, and off I went.