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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Central City

I dawdled over some old Reader's Digests while doing my laundry, and left St. Paul rather later than I intended. I crossed the Middle Loup River just south of St. Paul, then headed east on Highway 92. The landscape was again rather hilly, with scattered clumps of trees and more hay and pasture than farmland. Within a few miles it flattened out some to gently rolling hills, and there were more cornfields and the like. I made about 12 miles, and stopped for the night on the edge of a pasture about 2 miles south of Palmer (It would have taken me too far out of my way to go into town). I say pasture, because the middle wire of the fence was electrified! I got up at daybreak, and continued east. By this time the hills were gone, and there were fields of corn, with some soybeans and hay. One shady spot where I stopped to rest was the front yard of a local farmer who came out to visit.
He mentioned a few other people who had come by over the last few years on trips of this general sort; some of whom he had helped. He gave me a tape with his collection of Western Songs and poetry: I don't know when I'll get a chance to listen to it, but my Dad is interested in such things. He recommended that I try some Amana 12-grain bread, made by a colony in Iowa, when I can find it. I refilled my canteen and spare water bottle there; a good thing, because I needed it. The sky was clear and the sun out all day for the first time since I began. I reached Central City about sunset, completely exhausted in spite of my many rest breaks, and slept in the city park. This was the furthest distance I have gone in a day.
One of the three people that offered rides, when I declined with thanks, left with the comment. "I understand, I've been there myself". And the conversation with the farmer, as well as with a few others, left me wondering about my habitual expectation of unpleasant responses from my encounters with other people.
Among my various mediations, I've come to the conclusion that I could, and should, so a lot more in the way of being actively friendly toward other people. Since I can remember, I've been somewhat reclusive, waiting for other people to show signs of friendship. But what if friendliness is not an innate, unchangeable character trait, but a collection or pattern of behavior, composed of skills that can be learned? It would do me good, I think, to watch friendly people and see how they do it.
I'm starting to rethink my policy on accepting rides: I haven't decided to change it, yet, but I'm seriously wondering if all those hours I spend just walking couldn't be put to better use talking to people, and if the benefits of going slow are really worth the exhaustion. It's something to think about, anyway.
I didn't see much new in nature sights: I saw quite a few of those red-winged blackbirds. When there's a breeze, they can almost hover over one spot on the ground or even back up, by flying into the wind. A useful technique; I had thought only hummingbirds could hover. Perhaps that means in still air. I hadn't expected to cactus in Nebraska, but there is some: Rather small and stunted compared to what I grew up with in Arizona, but definitely there. Also, I some small spiny plants with leaves that reminded me a lot of the mesquite trees I grew up around.
Next stop is Aurora, Nebraska. I could probably do that stretch in another sunup-to-sundown pull, but it's already too late to start one of those, and I'm not so well-rested that I'm eager for it, so I'll probably report from there tomorrow. There seems to be a big three or four day community event in progress there, which I might catch some of.

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