I'm up! Up, and unclear as to where I am.

There's a laundromat about 50 feet from the garage where I slept, but I have no quarters, or cash, so I'm off to find some supplies.

Today, I receive new gear. I ordered it back in Superior when it became clear that I would very likely run into many inches of snow in the near future.

There's a restaurant listed on Google, but that has apparently closed permanently. There's also a barber shop that will open later on...I could use a haircut.

It's another 1/2 mile to the main street, and I begin the walk. The town of Kearny has less of a main street, and more of a destination spot. There's an IGA, a Pizza shop, a hotel, a dollar store, a credit union, and an Ace hardware. That's it. This is town.

Superior was the smallest town I'd ever seen, but Kearny topples the title handedly.

My new gear is being shipped to the hotel, which will open at 10, so I've got hours to kill. The diner attached to the hotel is the type of place where people that live in town go to for breakfast just to be social. Everyone knows each other. Everyone already knows what each person is going to order.
Always French Toast when it's available

It would be charming, if I were to be concerned about such things.

The food is decent. Good, even. Not as good as Pine, but good. I'm honestly just happy about the running water and the bathroom.

When the hotel lobby opens, I collect my gear:
1. Waterproof socks.
2. A new shelter
3. New underwear
4. New shoes

So many exciting things.


My old shoes are done. After 500 miles of rough terrain, tread has worn down, and they are literally coming apart at the seams. The new shoes are a fancy new model for 2018, and match my orange color scheme. Sort of. The orange has a little too much red in it actually, but they're close enough.

The new underwear is necessary because the constant running has worn out the cloth between the legs. You can see through the wool at this point, and it's only a matter of time before my skin would rub itself off.

I'm most excited about the new shelter.

I've been growing less satisfied with my tent, especially in places where I can't properly stake it down. In addition, it's very much a 3 season tent, and not sufficient for snow storms.

This new shelter is a 4 season, Gore-tex bivy. Waterproof, snow proof, and wind proof. It's also nearly effortless to set up.

Supposedly.

I start packing my gear, and then I feel it.
The pull to stay. To relax. To not start walking.

I should get back out there. The pull is temporary. It goes away once you're out there.

But.

A new shelter of which I've never set up or read a manual for. New shoes with which my feet have no experience. I still have to send my tent back via the post office. I still have to hit the grocery store.

The hotel is expensive. Particularly expensive for a small town; the Flagstaff hotel was literally half the price.

Maybe I should at least try.

As I'm packing my gear, I ask the girl behind the counter: How much is a night for an Arizona Trail thru-hiker?

She answers.

I state out loud: Hmm. I have $55 allocated for a hotel night. Are there any other options?

I let the weight of the question settle. She looks mildly uncomfortable.

After a moment of silence, she decides to call the owner and ask her.

Whatever you can do, I appreciate it.

I could tell her that it's ok if there's nothing, but I instead let the weight of the request sit with her.

As I'm packing, she sits and tries to make several calls. I finish, and I walk up to the counter.

I...I'm just going to give you the friends and family rate. It's $45 for tonight.

Fantastic.

Sometimes the weight of awkwardness does the job. Most people fear awkwardness.

I do not.

So now I have the time to get comfortable with my near shelter. I can walk around town in my new shoes. I can potentially get a haircut.

It feels a little lazy.

But I have just have good reasons to convince myself it's ok.

-

After doing a reasonable amount of shopping, and another pizza, I head to the barber shop. Two ladies are keeping their voice down and shuffling something behind a counter.

I announce loudly: Are you doing crime over there?

They stop, wide eyed, and look up.

My social gamble paid off, and they start laughing loudly.

"There's no crime! Nothing worth reporting, at least."

She agrees to cut my hair, which effectively is just a shave. She gets is marginally close, but this will be my only haircut for weeks, so I ask if I can use her clippers. She agrees, and I get closer than she's willing, due to the risk of drawing blood. As a result, she doesn't charge me.

We banter about for about 40 minutes before I leave. The interaction leaves me feeling recharged, and I don't feel so lost in the small town of Kearny anymore.

Back at the hotel, I lie on the bed watching Hallmark Christmas movies.

Tomorrow, I will get back to the trail.

Tonight, I bask in the luxury of modern life.