Cinco de Mayo
The morning brought the saddest sight I have yet had on this trip. Two miles south of David City I spotted a dead possum ahead. Nothing unusual, after nearly 2000 miles I've become inured to the ubiquitous carnage on our nation's busier highways. The little gray rat I noticed squeaking a few feet away managed to turn my blood cold. For the tiny mammal was no rat - the corpse in front of me was a mother. Two other babies had also somehow survived the collision and become orphaned, an almost certainly fatal condition given their young age. With no cel signal I could do little and my hopes of a passing sheriff's car were in vain. Not the best way to start a day.
I traveled west towards Rising City under a cloud, which only dissipated when I met Rick Grubaugh. A Remax Realtor returning home from an open house, Rick stopped to chat - as a big supporter of a local leukemia foundation he was a big fan of the idea behind my walk. He had previously lived in Rising City and immediately hit the phone book trying to find somewhere for me to stay in the town. It took several tries, but his persistence paid off and I was promised a safe spot at the park there.
I made town by two and headed to the Wetlands Bar and Grill for some grub. Done early for once I was able to befriend Jodi, the bartender, as well as several customers, Joe, Paul and Kelly Eller, and Nancy. Mary came in later to take over from Jodi and offered to do my laundry at her place down the street.
During my many verbal exchanges with the fine folks there I learned I am in the middle of Nebraska's tornado alley, not a shocker considering the nightly thunder and lightning shows and huge swings in temperature. I also learned my best defense is jumping in a ditch. Armed with that knowledge I've never felt safer.
I left the Wetlands at seven to set up my mobile home under the city's water tower. The wind had other ideas. As I completed the dome and prepared to stake everything down, a massive gust turned me and the tent into a kite. As I struggled to remain planted on solid ground, the lady next door invited me to stay at her home. Her son, along with some friends, had previously promised to help, but I, being an idiot, had refused. I'd gotten nature's point by that time and accepted her kind offer to escape the nasty weather's upcoming nocturnal return.
Once in her home I was immediately put into a somewhat awkward position. "I don't know if I feel comfortable with you in the house with my husband gone..." was followed by, "I can't have you outside in the storm though." Before I could ask what the third option was she explained her inconsistency and lack of an inner monologue, saying, "I'm a little bit drunk."
Shortly thereafter my discomfort returned when I was asked not to take anything. I kindly explained that the flat screen probably wouldn't fit in my pack and would be hard to carry to San Francisco. She seemed reassured.
Yet after the fits and starts of our first few minutes she and her son did everything possible to make me comfortable. Food, refreshment, a hot shower, a warm bed, and even a massage chair, what amounted to a spa treatment for the tired hiker. In Rising City we've found an early front runner for nicest city in Nebraska.
13 miles/1940 total miles