The cold is unrelenting, and sleep does not favour us this first night out, so at 4:00 a.m. we decide to take advantage of Walmart’s 24-hour service and get some groceries. The sight of food stirs hunger and from there we find an all night Denny’s and order an early breakfast.
That Ric is overtired is apparent. I suggest we try to at least get some sleep before heading on the road, and we do, pulling out of the parking lot just after 8:00 a.m.
“We might not get very far today,” Ric confesses. “I’ll be taking it slow.”
Okay by me; I am overtired too, and feeling a flare of ME.
We drive a bit and then pull into a rest stop in Salem, Illinois. Ric checks on the car – we’ve been having trouble with a dead battery – and I find a Boost-C smoothie, hoping it will help. The trees still don their autumn regalia here, and there are lovely walking paths.
“What’s it like outside?”
“Warmer, but still cool. I’m going to try and nap again.”
I grab my camera and slip outside. It’s quite beautiful here, just beside the highway, and I am feeling a stir of something inexplicable. The sun peeps out and casts eerie shadows on the trees. My shadow is there too – exaggerated – as if I am part of the woods, or more like, they are a part of me.
Somewhere beyond my sight a bird calls – a hollow, trilling sound that bounces off the trees. Oh, I wish I could see it. Another bird, above me, answers back and I strain to find it but apart from quick darts from limb to limb, it remains anonymous. I wander and snap photos.
A grey squirrel, frozen at my approach, carefully covets found treasure; eyeing me to make sure I have no plans to encroach on his treasure. I assure him that it’s only his photo I am interested in. The rich hues of the stump, the moss, and the surrounding leaves breathe new life into me.
I decide to let Ric sleep undisturbed and take up residence at a picnic table, where the shelter of cover hides me from the birds overhead. I watch a hummingbird go in and out of a hole high up in a bare tree. A woodpecker bobs about the branches of another tree, while a jay flits about. High above, a crow caws its arrival. These are familiars. It is the sweet sound of a songbird that I don’t recognize that intrigues me, but I am too weary to try to capture its image.
There will be plenty of opportunities ahead.
Ric will nap for two hours and then we will eat a quick lunch and head further south. After much deliberation – find another Walmart, stop at a full service RV Park for the night, or go to a hotel – we’ll decide on the pricier option. Hot showers and the chance to warm up take precedence.
We stop in Forest City, Arkansas, adding a little irony to our day, as Forest City is the nickname given to the town we left behind.