Much has changed since we left Houston at the end of March.
Our lowest latitude to date was in Fort Clark Springs, near Brackettville, Texas (29° 18′ 22″ N) and we are quickly approaching what may be our farthest point north on this trip, Missoula, Montana (46° 52′ 20″ N).
So much, and at the same time, so little has changed. The random acts of kindness continue. Road surprises (filling the grab bag of prizes for future Flat Fund winners) regularly find us.
By moving north we thought we had escaped the heat. For a while that worked until we hit a few 100+°F (37+°C) around Bozeman, Montana.
Thankfully, water has become more plentiful. It is still surprising to see volumes of water flowing past us thinking back to the southern states where water is so dear and rivers run dry. As water became more plentiful, plants became much less defensive. Except for wild rose and berry bushes, plants no longer have thorns or spines waiting to impale us or cause flats. Grasses with knife sharp edges, hoping for a taste of blood, have dwindled.
In a change for the worse, mosquitoes are back in full force. After leaving the Houston area and travelling through the drier parts of the country, we were mostly gloriously free of the little blood suckers. They started appearing with increasing counts and regularity sometime in Wyoming.
With a singular exception, I have an extreme dislike for these insects or at least half of their population. This aversion borders on psychosis. The following statement will probably get this site blocked by your work internet content filters, generate hate mail from various women’s groups, or have you scrambling for the definition. I am a mosquito misogynist.
I have been in places (luckily not on this trip) where the mosquitoes are so thick that the walls of the tent appear black with their bodies, the volume of the high pitched whine of the their wings is deafening and thousands of proboscides pierce the tent walls in search of blood.
With particular joy one evening, I was hunting down a handful of mosquitoes that managed to follow us into the tent. I was clapping my hands together to smash their little soft bodies while manically laughing like a B movie villan, when I sharply inhaled and one landed on my uvula.
In a panic, I began coughing while pondering what one does with a mosquito bite on the dangly ball in the back of the throat. Is it possible that the uvula can become itchy? If so, how does one go about scratching a bitten gully whopper?
As kids, to seek relief, we would use our finger nails to make an cross on a mosquito bite. I pondered the bizarre looks of passers-by as stuffed my hands into the mouth, trying to pin down the fleshy lobe.
Luckily, the coughing managed to dislodge the mosquito but not before I inadvertently bit down on my little tormentor. The small crunch was unexpected but I was relieved at the lack of metallic taste, indicating that my uvula was unmolested.
Thankfully, I was able to wash out the taste out of my mouth with a bottle of cider which we providentially found rolling around the parking lot of a grocery store that morning. A great tonic for what ailed me.