Day 6

That was a thoroughly demoralizing day.

At 3 in the morning I came to realize that I had violently poisoned myself with greed in the form of a jalapeno olive cheddar pizza ("Really?" said the man at the counter. "Just do it Mack!")

I was also violently ill at 7 in the morning and at 9 on this my day of rest. I was shivering and cold when I got up at 1030. I opened the front door and noticed everyone -- the bikers, the teens I was convinced were going to jump me -- all gone. And so I lumbered, lumbered to the laundry mat [sic] and washed my tiny load of clothes.

By the time I started, the sun was right above me and the wind was in my face. And it never stopped. I got lost and accidentally biked east -- the wind changed directions! When I turned back on route it changed back, like all it wanted to do today was punch me in the face.

I finally made it to Wytheville, half past dead. So was the town. The plan was to camp out on the community gardens opposite the sheriff's office. I made it to the Sheriff and he didn't know nuthin'. I leave the office and the biggest man I've ever seen is being brought in in cuffs by two police. He's frothing from the mouth. Then I look around: two newly released prisoners are waiting about on the lawns. Up the street are two competing advanced drug testing stores, a twice-used furniture store, a gun shop, and a Long John Silver's. And that's just the historic district.

I made my way to the nearest motel. It is also run by a very nice Indian lady. I don't know if it was a look on my face but she made a point of telling me, unsolicited, that there is no crime whatsoever in Wytheville. Maybe so, but I'm inclined to believe that if people insist something is really, really safe -- without your asking -- it's not really, really safe.

There are, by my count, 8 different churches in this town, and every Protestant denomination seems accounted for. Presbyterian -- check. Baptist -- check check. Holy Church of the Power of the God in The Passion of Mel Gibson -- let's be fair. So how could a town with so much in the way of God seem so down in the mouth? Perhaps there's a war going on, between the churches, for souls and the rights to use "God is Love" in all advertising?

So I took myself out to dinner. Food will keep me company, food and maps and the long stares of everyone around me at the historic Log restaurant. I had my first cheeseball and my first real lemonade of the trip.

The table behind me was two couples RVing together, and with little else in common.

"Let me ask you something," says the man from New Jersey. "You like wine? 'Cause I like wine."

"Yeah I like wine. You like beer? Me not so much."

"Me neither." Smiles all around. The women never talked. Later they bonded over their concern for spinal spinulacra, a disease I swear they made up on the spot, that and high speed internet.

The table directly in front of mine was all seniors and two very un-appreciative grandchildren. You've got cheeseballs for Pete's sake! You have your hair! The family was remembering the film The Bucket List as they saw it -- starring Clint Eastwood. Then the paterfamilias went on a tear through the rest of film history as he saw it -- The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Shampoo -- all starring Clint Eastwood.

"He is the greatest actor to have walked."

And that is how I will choose to remember today. Falsely and with joy. I woke up early in good health, my clothes were washed by a service, the wind blew me to Wytheville with one gentle pedal, a ticker tape parade was there for my arrival, and two of the area's blondest, chestiest farmgirls spoonfed me cheeseballs on the park lawn where I slept, gratis.

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