Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Beyond the Mississippi

January 18th, 2012

Dixon Correctional Facility. Long line of prisoners shuffling inside the wire. Not shackled but most wearing bright orange woollen hats. Fifty or so. Not a single Caucasian. Later passed by a minibus marked Prisoner Transportation. It stopped by a Baptist Church, small groups in the parking lot assembled for a funeral. On the shoulder two of the Sheriff’s patrol cars, the officers gathered around one. Chatting.

I’d left Lep and Perry’s home earlier. Breakfasting on fresh fruit and grits – coarsely ground corn. Almost immediately gentle rolling hills replacing flat, featureless plains. Gradients perceptible but not unpleasant. Little, bar the prison, to return my thoughts to the road. Instead mulling over what I might do when I returned home. Just a single truck sitting on my tail for a while. Pressing on the horn. Impatient imbecile. Arrogant. He could wait.

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Grand Designs

January 17th, 2012

Grand Designs. Explaining it was a television programme about innovative house building and renovation projects. Exactly the sort of thing they’d just finished doing. For the second time. Lep and Perry having built a similar property on another lot. This time a few additions and modifications. Fine tuning. Open plan living area a little broader. Generous kitchen island. And little details. Shower embedded with smooth pebbles. Desk lamp base a model Penny Farthing. Biker Soap dispenser in the bathroom. Journal for fellow riders to share thoughts with other travellers.

I’d felt a bit jaded when I’d arrived. Irritated. A series of minor incidents. Cafe I’d been recommended. About to leave before my coffee finally arrived. Twenty minutes. But remarkably good food. When it eventually turned up. Even if it wasn’t quite what I’d ordered. Club sandwich rather than salad. "Our menu is somewhat large. Our kitchen and staff are not" said the sign.

Cracked asphalt, major highways rather than minor roads, eventually giving way to better shoulders. Later approached by a man in a gas station. Had someone been "******* with me?" he’d asked. A few uplifting glimmers. Smart new bridge across the Mississippi. Brief encounter with German rider Stefan, heading for California.

Back in the cafe I watched two women enter. Shuffling past uncleared tables. Into the single female restroom. Mother and daughter. Perhaps. Emerging five minutes later. Sidling off out the door. But good conversation over dinner. Huckleberry Finn. Fermented mare’s milk. The works of John Steinbeck. Restorative.

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Cajun pedalers

January 17th, 2012

Ken reaches his stop for the night, staying with fellow cyclists Lep and Perry, as the light fades… Quietly confident he’s got the right place..

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