Between Ifjord and Kunes – June 24, 2016
Today’s Miles: 19.6
Total Miles: 80.6
I push through the last few trees and stumble onto the road near Ifjord. I recognize the pavement from six days ago when I wandered a mile down it looking for a good place to hitch to Mehamn. It feels different under my feet now, part of the journey, not some place to stand and wait to begin.
I turn and walk toward the town’s small restaurant a few kilometers away, my feet glad for the flat pavement after days of uneven rock and tundra.
The clouds break into a light rain as I walk. After days of dodging rain, hiding in my tent, walking under an uneven ceiling of grey clouds, suffering through wind-whipped cold, I smile at the falling water and imagine the restaurant’s roof a mile away, a pile of French fries, water droplets racing down panes of glass.
“You’re too late,” I say to the rain.
The grey sky smiles back as I pass a road sign and my eyes catch a bit of tape I missed six days ago.
I was hungry for a ride then, not food. The knife and fork icon was nothing to stare at, to dream about at night. It was only worth a glance before I turned the other way. I never saw the faded tape slapped over it strip by strip, like someone wanted to cover it up, like someone was tired of people expecting a restaurant where one no longer exists.
“No,” I think.
I know it’s gone then. At that moment, I know. But I walk anyway, holding onto that thin bit of hope as hunger growls through my stomach,th and the rain soaks into me.
The faded, dark building strangles any doubt. I stand in the rain looking at it. I plead with it to knock the dust off and come alive in front of me. I yell at my past self for not paying attention six days ago, for giving into the images of what would be waiting on this corner of road, for anticipating.
I beg, plead, and demand.
The building remains as dark and closed as I found it. The rain continues to fall. I stand in the empty parking lot.
There is nothing warm to eat, no glass to watch the rain behind, nothing but road and cold and rain.
Then I find it, a bridge a short way down the road, a flat bit of earth tucked under one side just off the riverbank.
I slip underneath and the dry ground welcomes me. I watch the rain fall as trucks and cars rumble overhead, never knowing that I am there, hiding underneath the road, content and warm like a troll under a bridge.