"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, April 30, 2009

4/30/09: Corbin City, NJ-Wendy

Chris and I got a relatively early jump on the day. The idea was to make our way as far north as we could, with a minimalist goal of May's Landing by Saturday. This would give us two days to go the nearly 20-miles or, hopefully, much further with a ride. Chris's mom was planning to pick us up Saturday, and had an offer from Ken to get a ride if we could get anywhere on I-95. Thus we had set simple "goals" of getting as far as possible to shorten her drive or, if we were very lucky, hooking up with Ken somewhere around Philadelphia or Trenton. Unfortunately, we were also coming to accept that rides were unlikely, at best, in New Jersey.

This was the first day of consistent walking since we had shut it down because of my heel, and we kept up a surprisingly good pace. Since the shoes had broken in quite a bit now, the heel was repairing itself nicely, and I had lightened up, we were moving more quickly than the week before.

We stopped for some supplies, then quickly found the ever- present Wawa... which, with its coffee and cheap(er) smokes, was becoming my favorite stop. Stop we did.

While reclined against the wall outside, we were approached by a bearded, tattooed character who slid along side, crossed his arms, and asked "What are you two up to?", as if he recognized something.

Tom was a biker who also ran a moving company. He looked to be in his 50's, and had a beard that would impress both the saltiest biker and biggest ZZ Top fan. He & his wife, Rita, were driving to Cape May with their teenage son for Rita's birthday, and running into us had delayed things a bit!

The conversation went on for quite a while considering the venue, with Rita both reminding Tom that they had things to do AND taking part at the same time! It was comical, and obvious that the four of us got along famously! Too bad that they were going the other way, we could have talked until Anchorage. I loved these two!

We lingered at the Wawa for nearly two hours not feeling the urge to accomplish much, despite our "goals", and had a nice pace for the day. Tuckahoe was next after a rest or two and a hike thru a nature preserve. On the way thru this little village, we pondered buying a converted short- bus that had been converted to an RV, much like the veggie bus. Something fitting about the fact that it was a...short- bus.

Corbin City begins across a drawbridge from Tuckahoe, and is barely a town. I had stopped on the other side (if it has "sides") to get rain gear handy, when out of the antique store we had parked in front of walked a pair of elderly ladies who were curious about the creatures mingling outside. After a nice chat, they pointed out the Corbin Cafe just up the road, which they suggested as a place to refill water before the "nothingness" further up 50.

We were greeted with what I sensed as suspicious curiosity as we lumbered in asking the bartender if we could please fill up the water bag. The suspicion quickly melted away as the 3 or 4 patrons learned that we had found their little town after traveling from New Mexico and Colorado. Corbin Cafe is the typical small- town dive I love, and I liked that it had "Corbin" in the title, as I could easily see my late- friend, Michael Corbin, loving the place!

We stayed for what I thought was a surprisingly long time chatting, and when we finally pulled ourselves away to find our ground for the night, Keith came after us carrying the Coke bottle I was using for spare water. I had left it sitting at the bar, and along with the forgotten water came an offer for beers if we chose to come back inside. That sounded damn good.

Two beers turned into us buying dinner, which of course turned into more beer. After an hour, we had an invitation to camp in the bartender's backyard, and the bar had begun to fill up for the Thursday night pool league. The bartender's name was Wendy, and thru the course of the night we met her boyfriend, Avery, as well as her daughter, Tiffanni, who were playing in the league. After two or three hours, the accommodations had been upgraded to Wendy's camper trailer: A bed!

Chris and I both had a grand time with the notion that all this had come about by simply stopping in to a place most would ignore to ask for water. We had also intentionally suspended frugality for the night concluding that it was worth the money to have a little genuine interaction with people. We were right. We had a great time. Everyone at the bar was unbelievably nice. They all knew each others names. And each others business. Keith had even put together a sort of care package: snack foods, along with packets of tuna and Spam. It was quite the gesture.  

I received a call from Ken early in the evening, saying that he was in Richmond, VA but would be driving through the night to try to make Boston by 7am. It was obvious that we were going to miss him, but I'm not sure we ever held out anything other than a faint glimmer of hope from the beginning. The topic had only rarely come up during the day.

After several beers, many conversations, several attempted playings of the Soggy Bottom Boys on the jukebox, and another full meal for Chris, Wendy and Avery were ready to head home at about 11:30. That was perfect, since both of us were fading fast. Wendy lives in Tuckahoe, about a mile down the road we'd just walked, and once there we were quickly shown to the camper accompanied by a not so- subtle hint to "leave it as we found it!" I love direct people! Once my head hit a real pillow, it was no time at all until I was out.