Day 306: Idyll
Trip Start Dec 14, 2011
86Trip End Aug 16, 2013
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But I had slept hardly at all last night - the doors had stayed open and the music had stayed on all night. My glasses were dripping wet from the condensation of my breath under the blanket, and extremities were icicles by the time I woke properly and stumbled from Martin's car. Martin and Florian were still by the fire with the night's other survivors, and they shouted greetings, waving a bottle of vodka in the air enthusiastically
I headed off down the road, following the river and now facing the village and the mountains behind it. A lovely moment. I was glad that I was alone, because I could be a little more intimate with the beautiful surroundings that way. I passed barely anyone on my walk, down one street and up to the waterfall. It wasn't much of a hike, but I climbed at least to the foot of the waterfall where I could see the whole valley laid out beneath me. The air was so fresh and cold here. I stood still, watching and inhaling deeply for a long time.
On the way back down, a little shape came darting out toward me from behind a pile of firewood. It was a kitten. A little fluffy white thing. She was rubbing against my legs and mewing with an impossibly tiny voice. I bent down and picked her up, and she starting suckling on my fingers
I walked back down the main road and found that there were no bakeries or restaurants or grocery stores open. Not entirely surprising on a Sunday in a tiny village. So instead I just walked back in the direction of the campsite and the car. But on the way, another cat! This one walked up to me with its shabby coat and haggard appearance and croaky meow, and I felt compelled to stop and pet her in the same way I had the kitten. I wasn't worried about whether she was going to survive or if she belonged to someone. She had obviously been around for a while. Still, she jumped readily up into my lap and sat purring as I talked to her and scratched under her chin. She reminded me of a cat I had, and I stayed a long time with her maybe for that reason. But eventually it was time to go again. I was hoping to make it to Innsbruck for a little while, and I knew it would only happen if I drove
Martin and Florian were completely out when I got to the car. I pushed Martin aside and got into the driver's seat. It felt weird there, because Martin's car is as British as he is, and I couldn't get over the feeling of being "in the passenger's seat" with the steering wheel in front of me. Even more, the car was manual. I hoped that I wouldn't get confused, shifting with my left hand. But it proved to be pretty simple.
We snaked through town, and suddenly things were wrong. I slammed on my breaks in front of one of the dairy barns. No, no, nothing was wrong with me or the car - rather, I had just passed the automatic milk dispenser that I had passed but never used the last time that I was here. It would be absolutely wrong for me to pass by this thing without getting milk AGAIN! I pulled up on the e-brake and jumped out of the car and towards the prospect of a cold and oh-so-sweet tall glass of fresh milk for breakfast. I stood right there and drank the first plastic cup full of it - a whole half liter in only one big gulp - and went right back for another
Anyway, eventually I wiped the tears from my eyes, tears of enjoyment and tears of deep sorrow when the milk was gone, and started really driving. On the road, the only thing that was a challenge was that I kept trying to ride the left side of the lane. I'm so used to being a certain amount of distance from that side that it was surprisingly challenging. A few people honking at me was enough to learn to hug the right side of the lane from then on.
Then, the engine was revving in spite of anything I was doing. The RPM was increasing, more and more, and I was shouting "MARTIN, WHAT DO I DO?"
Martin jerked awake and said, "mrphuphuph, pump the gas, mpgughugh..."
Well, it worked, my near heart attack notwithstanding. Occasionally it would happen again, but I just pumped the gas and kept on towards Innsbruck.
Something I learned today: Traveling with people is really great and not something I'd want to give up. But taking time to be apart from those people is still important.