Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Touring Series: A Night At The Old Barn

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

When I returned home from this tour I wrote a rough draft manuscript of about half of the trip. It is 27 pages of hand written stuff, front and back, and this is what I will be posting to begin with. You'll be able to identify the 1994 manuscript material by my using italics to post it here. After the manuscript information ends, the rest of the story will be picked up from memories written down in 2008. That will appear as regular text here. As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant.

This was actually an old barn, but not just any old barn. No! It was a huge, immense old barn, three stories high, and long enough to store all the cows that three average farmers might have today. There was a long ramp made of earth that led us to the second story from the west. Inside we saw a rental and souvenir shop for cyclists and campers. There was an office also, and further down a long central hallway there was a restaurant. I noticed a staircase going up to the third storey. After we found out where we could camp, we went around the north side of the barn to the east end. There was another long, low building there that was modern, and much newer than the rest. This housed a pool and a bike rental shop. We found our camping spot, and in the fading light we set our tents up for the first time.

I had a traditional two man "pup" tent borrowed from Steve. Steve was using a more modern backpacker type tent, two man size with an alcove. Troy had a single man, backpacking style tent also borrowed from Steve. It reminded me of a coffin. Even though my tent was heavier, I was glad I didn't get the tent Troy was using after I saw it.

Troy on the left, Steve with his backside to the camera. Just before we left the next day, I believe.
Our camping area was back in a wooded corner of the campground on top of a hill. It was very agreeable to all of us. We found out our "neighbors" were actually from Cedar Falls! They gave us enthusiastic approval on our plans to go to Canada. It made me think of that "small world" saying!

We settled in and drank our beer purchased at the little store inside the Old Barn. We made our supper from dehydrated dinners that we packed. We found this, and all subsequent dehydrated fare, to be most excellent. We all shared in carrying the food load, but Steve carried a stove and fuel to cook with. Both Steve and Troy had their own backpacker type silverware, but I had none. guessed it! I borrowed again!

After the meal, we all wandered down to find the showers located on the lower level of the barn which was exposed on the west end of the hill which it was built in to. This was originally where the cows were let in for milking. Now it is where they let in the humans for cleaning, and sleeping, and eating. The showers were located in the east end, the hostel in the middle, and the vending machines in the west end. The west end also housed a laundry and a place to use phones or watch T.V. So, I showered, got a soda out of a vending machine, used the phone, and took my weary body back to my tent where I slept very well!

 I will say that in this story, I forgot to add that Steve and Troy were a bit skeptical that I would be of much use the following day, due to this day being my first century and all. There was some discussion that evening about a plan of attack concerning my certain demise the following day. Troy suggesting that a regimen of stretching before and after sleeping would help, while Steve was just pretty much convinced I would be toast! In the final analysis, there wasn't much to be concerned about, but at this point, all three of us were seriously doubtful I would go very far the next day.

Looking back now I have to say that it is odd that I have no recollection whatsoever of setting up that borrowed tent nor of tearing it down. I do recall that it was well after sundown before we hit the hay. That was not only a long ride for the first day, but it was just a long day, period! Keep in mind that I awoke for this day in 1994 at 4:30am and as I say, it was very late when we went to sleep.

Also odd- We had no alarm clock for the next day, yet we would wake up every day quite early and get to going. Finally, with no cell phones or radios, or anything to "connect" with, you had zero idea of what was going on in the world. That's a very unusual situation these days for anyone!

Next: Day Two: The Stonemason Of Petersen

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