No, it is not what you think. I did not get to make acquaintances with the toilet due to ingesting something strange. But let’s start at the beginning.
Around 1:30 I was woken up by the sound of distant thunders that was becoming louder and louder. In a split second I was wide awake and went outside my tent to investigate the situation. A typical story for my US days. It’s about to rain. Luckily I made my camp next to a fire station that has a roof in front of the entrance. Great, I can relocate and keep my tent dry and also save myself from the morning packing of a wet tent with having to dry it during the midday break. It’s a done deal, I quickly take all the heavy stuff out of my tent, pick up the pegs, take the tent and move it under the roof. I also move all the rest of my equipment and also take care of Lou so that he is sheltered as well. Satisfied that I managed to make the move in time I smoke a cigarette and go inside the tent in hope of catching some sleep.
It does not take 10 minutes when I hear the first raindrops on a corrugated metal roof. They are becoming louder and louder until a loud rumble muffles them up. Since the noise does not stop I take a peek out of the tent. There is a waterfall just next to the tent. It seems that the gutter is clogged and all that water that is pouring from the sky is hitting the floor just next to my tent. In less than three minutes there is a huge puddle next to me. I have to pack, urgently! I’m saving the inner part of the tent (flysheet is already soaked) and all that is inside. As I’m rushing I begin to realize I’m losing this battle with water since it is all around me. Somehow I managed to save some stuff (liner for the sleeping bag which I use for sleeping and a thick woolen sweater that serves as a pillow). The rest is soaked apart from the water-resistant paniers for the bike.
Looking at the situation at hand I come across a brilliant idea and I start to collect rain water into my dishes. As I’m running low on water with collecting rain water I will be able to make myself coffee in the morning. At least let’s make something useful of this rain since it has already deprived me of my sleeping plans. The fact that I have managed to get something positive from this situation, I consider as a small mental victory.
As the storm passes I find myself a mere 1m2 of dry space under the whole roof. I rearrange the paniers that are all around me so that I can get an improvised rest and tired, I fall asleep. I still have about 2 hours until morning which is at 4h. And they get interrupted by another storm that takes this last m2 away from me.
I hit the road just before 7h with Lou looking like a Christmas tree with all the clothes and the tent hanging from him in order to dry out. Need to take advantage of the day while it is still cool and fresh and I can cycle.
Turning the pedals I decide that my today’s goal will be finding a fixed roof over my head to sleep and for which I will not have to pay. So I pedal and slowly but surely I aproach Kosciuskko, MS that I have set as a final destination of my today’s cycling. They have a welcome center there where I will be able to stop, unpack and spread all my stuff to dry outside while I will be in a nicely air conditioned interior enjoying some cool tap water. Afterwards we will somehow manage to find a roof over my head for the night.
At 14:30 all sweaty and exhausted from the heat, but at the same time satisfied that I have made it, I pull over in front of the welcome center. Inside there is Jerry, a man close to 70 that works as a volunteer here. We talk a little while I cool myself with some cold water and my equipment is drying outside. He provides me also with some hot water for some instant coffee which I take outside where I sit down under a fan and enjoy my cigarette. While I wait for the equipment to dry and I will be able to set off in search of a roof over my head for tonight, I sit and read a book.
Around 16h the equipment is dry and it has cooled down enough for me to go in search of a roof over my head. From reliable sources I know that sometimes a fire department is a good place to shelter for night so I go inside and ask Jerry where I can find a fire station. Obviously I explain why I’m looking for it and at the same time I ask him if he knows of any alternative place for my shelter for the night. He suggests a porch in the back of the welcome center. It looks quite decent (true, again open roof, but much bigger than last night and the floor is made of wood with cracks between the boards which means there cannot be a puddle even if the gutter is clogged). Apart from a place to sleep I also get all night access to a very clean and tidy restroom. Only Jimmy, the caretaker has to agree. I accept the offer and we wait for Jimmy (also a man close to 70) to come around 17h. He’s OK with the arrangement and in the given situation I think it would be rude to “run away” and go ask the firemen. So I stay here.
Enjoying the moment of my little triumph as I have managed to get a free roof over my head and in so achieving my morning plan, another brilliant idea crosses my mind. Since outside is nevertheless hot and humid and the restroom is nicely air conditioned and opened only for me, what if I spend the night inside? I ask Jimmy and he does not seem to find a reason why not.
So I spend a night at my own private air conditioned restroom. With a roof over my head!
With a Smile, until next time!
Nice and dry 🙂