i’ve been on the road since saturday on another epic reporting safari that will end in borneo on sept 6. last night pulled into charleston, west virginia, having driven down from pittsburgh with front brakes shot and making that metal to metal grating sound. so while waiting for new pads and rotors i mosey down to a big river in back of a truck stop and there are two guys sitting on the bank drinking beer. one of them has a bicycle, an obvious d.w.i. biker who lost his driving license. he’s 54 and introduces himself as rebel ray inc. i say we all need to get our asses incorporated before they’re incorporated for us. the other guy is 30 with baseball cap on backward scared, paranoid eyes. i ask them what the river’s called and rebel ray says kenawa. i ask how it’s spelt and he said i don’t know. never was any good at spellin, i play them pennsylvania turnpiks blues on my guitalele, which i had brought to work on my song for the elephants, and they love it. boy you shur can pick, rebel ray tells me.
back on mccorkle road three grimy young teen runaway boys are sitting on the curb with their thumbs out. tom and huck all over again.
everybody around here is real friendly. the folks at the aspen suites couldn’t be nicer. their phone was out so it took an hour to find the place because nobody had heard of it but once i got there it was great.
and west virginia is one of the poorest least educated states in the union.