Friday, May 17, 2013

**** Night Not Needed

I was Somewhere west of Buckhannon, WV, wet, cold and bundled in a sleeping bag in a rural bus stop as traffic speeds by on's the best option I have. Since leaving Elkins this morning, I have been soaked and chilled to the bone. I dried myself out and the rain began again. Then this bus shelter appeared. I thought, "Why not?" Just sit it out for a while. The truth is it is wonderful. This sleeping bag is very cozy. I'd never considered the good a bus shelter offers. Lots of cars are passing but none have the curiosity to stop.

This cold rain could persist all day and all night so a warm dry room would be great. Very unpredictable weather. A motel couldn't be more than 15 miles I told myself. And it wasn't. The motel 8 at I-79 was the closest place with a room. "It's Strawberry Festival Time, hotels are full. Half this motel is closed for renovations," the desk clerk (who looked sketchy) said. "There aren't rooms."

A family with a barking dog occupied the room next to the coin laundry which was only important to me because everything I owned was wet. The kids belonging to this room played in the lobby and laundry creating a public housing feel to the place. It felt real. Their adult family members came and went. This didn't appear to be just one night for this family. The kids were curious about traveling on a bike. They had never heard of Vermont or Canada. They hung on the vending machines.

I came to appreciate the sketchy guy on duty at the desk for being kind and patient with theses two kids...where else could they go? Could I be that kind, I wondered. You face yourself when you're on the road in ways that you can ignore when you're at home. Some people can be extraordinarily kind.

I've yet to stay in a motel on this trip that smelled like an Indian Restaurant. I think word has reached Indian
managers because they're all still there but the smells aren't. The $45-$70 rates at these mom and pop's keep me within my $100 per day budget. A shameful amount compared to the $10 per day budget of the Canadian Couple cycling towards Brazil. And I imagine all the ways the kids' parents could blow this monstrous daily amount. My minimalist style still beats $300 and up for fully pampered touring cyclists who carry nothing but themselves and only experience a raindrop until the nearby sag wagon returns them to a **** B&B. Help is never far away for the pampered.

The experience of the road can be destroyed by too much help. You don't want to be a casualty but expecting others to protect and filter your world isn't living. As an international aid worker, I had drivers, translators, and handlers who made sure my assignment was not too much of an adventure. One time, bored and frustrated by this situation, I swam across a river between Slovakia and Hungry. It brought an element of adventure to that trip and made my handlers crazy...oh how I promised to never do that again.

I can peddle down the road and find a place to sleep. I can appreciate and learn from the imperfect as much as I can from a four star night.

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