I wake at 5:30 to help with breakfast; Mama T shoos me back to sleep. I wake at 6:30; again, I’m shooed back to bed. So I lounge and I write until I can stay down no more, and I come just in time to eat pancakes and then do dishes. And then the day is my oyster. My relaxing, nothing-to-do-unless-I’m-asked oyster.
I drink a lot of coffee, start coloring a page out of Molasses’s book, eat oreos. Joke with Jackass, when he emerges from the depths of the house. Talk trail and hikers and life with Molasses. People sit and paint rocks for the Magical Manzanita Forest, hang out on the internet. Someone takes Sasha’s authentic iPhone charger and leaves her with a made in China knockoff, and she rages about the maybe-theft and these hikers and this place. And then she rages because literally everyone here mistakes her pinecone tattoo for a pineapple. We muse that she should be called Raging Pineapple, with the peaceful alter-ego Happy Pinecone. She rolls it around on her tongue, but is undecided as to whether or not she likes it enough to keep it.
Tyler is carrying a ukulele, and he knows Wagon Wheel, so I sing while he plays and manage to comport myself well, or at least without embarrassment. There’s a smattering of applause at the end, and Molasses asks me if I know Hey Jealousy. I don’t, but I tell her I’ll learn it, and I set myself to the task between eating the rest of my oreos and coloring and interrogating Still Alive about his latest exploits. He’s always got a story to tell.
It gets hot, so we’re all shifting around the table on the porch to be in the shade. A loud noise like a shot goes off; Tyler clutches his head in pain, but isn’t bleeding. We all look for the source of the shot, and Tyler finds this metal piece near his feet – the top of a lighter. The body of said lighter is some 10 feet away, having bounced off a car in the driveway after exploding in the heat. Turns out combustible gases, when subjected to high temperatures in translucent plastic, can actually combust. I joke that Tyler should be named Lighter Bomb or some such, to lighten the mood, but really I’m just glad he’s okay.
I’ve offered two trail names to folks today alone, and I still don’t have one of my own. Everyone tries to set themselves to the task – it’s been nearly 500 miles, after all – but I’m not in any rush; the right one will find me. I’ll do something or say something or something will happen. It’ll be serendipity. I’ll know.
I help prep for taco salad when it gets dark; there’s a bunch of us talking about blogging which, since I’m there and my blog/interests are kinda like that, turns into a conversation about race. Matt shows me a report of an incident at the store near Hikertown about a week ago, documented on Appalachian Trials, in which a corndog was referred to as a “nigger meal”. Mostly, that’s just confusing – to my knowledge, there’s no stereotype about black people and corndogs? But maybe it comes from “niggardly”, ostensibly meaning cheap, but which is also associated with black people? I don’t know, but I also don’t know as I’m going to spend money at the store now.
Our conversation of a thousand button presses moves into the realm of gun control as we finish dinner. I try to shut it down pretty quickly with an argument about the necessity of a cultural shift before there’s actual change, because there are people riled instead of interested and we’re all supposed to be having a good time. But we’ve definitely covered most of the topics we’re not supposed to cover in mixed company – but if we don’t, how do we listen, how do we learn?
In the midst of the talking and the eating I bite down on my fork wrong and take a sliver out of my tooth. It doesn’t hurt, my tooth just feels sharp and weird. I can’t stop rolling it under my tongue. I know that if it were more serious, it would hurt, but it’s concerning.
When the party breaks up, Blackout continues to interrogate me about things controversial – he likes to hear out disparate opinions before coming to his own conclusions. He’s 19, sure, but that’s a valuable quality at any age, and I like him a lot for it. MAGA – Make America Great Again – is lurking nearby, clearly listening but not making eye contact, and while he occasionally looks like he wants to interject, he keeps it to himself until Jackass and Molasses call me over to talk about tomorrow. When I look over again, he’s swooped down on Blackout, and the two of them are having an intense conversation all their own. I wonder at its contents, but don’t interrupt.
Molasses has been scheming with Mama T about some fun for tomorrow, asks if I want to participate; Jackass tells me stories about Spesh back in the day, when they first met1. I consult with Sasha’s – Raging Pineapple’s? – stepmom about my tooth; it’s either chipped or cracked, but as long as I’m careful, it should hold for the whole trip. Or at least until Chester, where Molasses says maybe there’s a dentist who can hook a dentally-uninsured sister up. Then it’s dishes and breathing in the cooler night air, and the promise of another near-full day at the Casa before neroing out tomorrow evening.
Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Also, Splob is a fantastic artist.]
Start: 478. 2 • End: 478.2 • Day: 0
Notable Accomplishments: Lazed! • Ate! • Colored! O frabjous day!
 He’s apparently mellowed a lot since his early thruhiking days.