Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Hobo Camping

The views we saw from the trails we rode on were 'bellissimo'. This is the Tuscarawas River near Massillion, Ohio. Leaving early in the morning, we saw geese taking care of their young along the riverbank while our tires were making the constant white noise of crunching gravel. You really do get in a zen type mode while viewing the scenery at 10 miles an hour.

Riding rails to trails is in one word A-W-E-S-O-M-E! The trail usually follows a river, is laid with crushed stone, has no cars on it, sometimes travels through people's back yards so you can critique their tidiness, but best of all there is not much of a grade. The rail lines were built...well, for trains, so the grade can't be much more than 4% or the engines wouldn't be able to pull the train or be able to brake with a steeper pitch. Yay for nearly flat biking!

 Tami tried to piece together as many rail trails as she could. One such section was the Panhandle Trail spanning 29 miles in West Virginia and Ohio. This one was different than any of the other trails that we rode because it was wide open meadows, rolling hills and we had quite a headwind. I felt like I was back in South Dakota! Beautiful though.

My hardest day was our 5th day out. My legs were in better shape, we hadn't done much climbing (except for some hellish brick streets in McKeesport) and we had a long day ahead. But at the end of the long day, a promise of a hotel awaited us. Ahhhh! a hot shower, recharge of my phone and music, laying on a real bed, hot shower, restaurant food and did I mention hot shower?! After 5 days of pumping pedals, I was ready for hot water to cascade over my body and clean all the grit off. We rode long and hard all day (with an awesome stop for a gyro in a shaded courtyard). After 50 miles I was ready to call it a day. We parked in front of the Pitt Hotel in 'downtown' McDonald and I was sort of hoping that this wasn't the right place. Tami went in to check it out and it was the 'pits' for sure. It was a down-and-outer hotel, renting rooms for the week, month or hour. A couple of no hopers came out and said there might be a room available if Randy moved out. They pounded on the window to see if Randy was indeed gone.  We said 'No thanks!', hopped on our bikes and skedaddled out of there faster than you can say "smells like urine!"
We had seen a guy hanging out in front of the fire department, (like a retired fireman who still wanted to see the action but had a bad back and gout so just hung out on a bench waiting for the sirens) so biked over there to tell him we didn't like the Pitt Hotel and to direct us to another, better hotel that didn't smell like pee. He slowly said "Girls, there's no hotel or motel within 10 miles of here." I, for one, was not going to pedal 10 miles out of our way, then 10 miles back the next day. I was spent! So, we had to come up with Plan B really fast. Tami suggested we bike back up to the trail (a mile out of town then UPHILL to the trail!) Woe is me. A tear was trying to make it's way out of my eyeball, but I held it back and quietly said, "OK".
We had to go to the grocery store first to get some fixins for dinner. While Tami went in, I guarded the bikes and scoped out likely people that might invite us in for the night. Finally I spotted one (after dismissing the redneck family and a single guy wearing a wife beater). She was really fit and she drove a big black pickup (in case we needed to haul our bikes). As she walked by I asked her if she knew of any hotels in the area (in a pitiful and weary way). She thought about it and said, no, there's no hotels nearby. But after talking a bit to me, she did offer to take us to the nearest hotel 10 miles away. I almost took her up on it but she didn't offer to come get us the next morning, so, no way Jose. But I did go into the store to use their bathroom (with real plumbing!) to take what we call an Appalachian shower...splash water on your body, rub a bit, wipe off with paper towels. I felt sooo much better.
Another little story: back on day 2 I stupidly left my helmut under the picnic table and a varmint chewed my front foamy thing off, the nice soft piece that makes your helmut rest better on your forehead. It was a mushy mess and I wasn't about to put that icky thing back in my helmut. But there are velcro strips in front and they left little red marks on my forehead which sorta hurt too. So I made a nice little band out of something I had on hand...toilet paper. It worked fine too. But Tami told me later back at Hobo Camp that I had little pieces of toilet paper stuck to my forehead when I walked into the grocery store. I was wondering why people were looking at me oddly. I just thought it was because I had really tight shorts on and my shoes clicked. Thanks Tami! (The next day I upgraded to those blue paper towels you get at gas stations.) 

 Back up the trail we went where camping wasn't allowed. We cooked our noodle glop, hung out for a bit and waited until dusk to set up the tent in case anyone who walked by would later go tell on us. Hobo Camping 'R Us. I blew up Big Aggie, crawled into my sleeping bag, dreaming about hot showers and fluffy duvets.

In the middle of the night, we were awakened by a thundering noise, a bright light and I was skeered to death! No ATV's were allowed on the trail and Yikes, he's (of course it's a he) going to stop in front of our tent, drag us out and kill us! My heart was racing while Tami reached for her pants. I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "Putting on my pants!" Yep, it's better to meet your enemy with your pants on, for sure! Well, the ATV sped by (phew!) but then stopped (eeeeee!), turned around, (eeeeeeeeeeeee!) and I knew for sure we were gonners, Tami with her pants on and me with just my undies on. But ohthankyoujesusjosephandmary, he kept on a goin'. Tami found her headlamp, unzipped the tent and went out to defend the camp. She sat there for 15 minutes (maybe longer cuz I think I fell back to sleep knowing the camp was protected), waiting and waiting. But Jethro Wayne didn't come back.
But a few hours later we heard a car door (the parking lot was just down the hill), heard a female and male voice coming up the trail, getting closer to our site. Who the hell goes walking at 3:30 in the morning on a dark night with rogue ATV's out?!!!! But they passed us by and we fell back to a restless sleep. I was glad when the sun peeked up for the day and that night was over. We packed everything up and were on our sweet way again, not murdered or run over by an ATV.
Tomorrow: Water, water, everywhere.


Diane Eskritt said...

quite a tale Dalis

Anonymous said...

oh outdoor life how wonderful and they are memories to keep for ever with wonderful friends to laugh with in your old age

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