Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 10: What are you going to do about... clothes

All my clothes are made out of fast drying material, like wool or polyester pile and other synthetics. I don't know if I can give a full rundown of all that I have, because the truth is, I have too much. Three underwear is reasonable, as is two pairs of pants, but I also have a pair of shorts and swimming trunks which seem almost useless. I have three t-shirts, which is probably one too many. A couple of jackets, which is reasonable, but then I don't need the two long-sleeved undershirts I brought. I have two pairs of long underwear, but almost certainly only need one. I had two sets of gloves, but lost one. Then, there is my full suit of gore-tex raingear. I am probably forgetting something.

Oh, yes. Four pairs of socks, of which I've only ever used one. Then there is the quick-drying button-down shirt I got to try to look more when I go into town. But the truth is with all of me so dirty, disheveled, and smelly that doesn't really help much. It's better for me to wear some obvious piece of sports equipment, such as my bicycle helmet or life jacket, and then people categorize me as cyclist or canoeist, instead of homeless, regardless of how much I smell.

I came to this gravel bar fairly early in the afternoon. I don't know why, but the pelicans tend to frequent the kinds of places I like. When I have visited the ocean, I always thought of pelicans as solitary birds, but here they almost always come in groups of three. They seem to spend most of the day doing nothing, and unlike most creatures, are relatively unperturbed by my canoe until I get very close. Then they reluctantly spread their enormous wings, flap them a few times, and glide in ground effect until they are a sufficient distance away.

The pelicans were especially reluctant to leave this gravel bar so I gathered it must be especially good. The last set of clothes I wore were packed somewhere, dirty, so I thrashed them around in this cleaner water, and being bereft of a clothesline, laid them out on the gravel to dry. The air in Alberta is so dry this does not take long, even on the ground.

I at first thought there were no structures in sight, but with my weak binoculars I was able to make out some vaguely industrial-looking building on the top of one of the bluffs. "Oh well," I thought, "if I need binoculars to make out just the building they probably won't care what I'm up to." And with that I took off and washed my shirt, then my pants, and underwear, and then finally splash! All of myself. And I laid back as all my clothes and body dried together in the long summer evening.

Day 10 ended: 50*03.087N, 111*15.466W

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