Solo, and Not So Solo

Monday, June 1, 2015

Armed with my trusty compass and handmade panniers held together with binder clips, I set out down the dusty road toward the highway. A half hour later I was on that same short stretch of dusty road, heading back home for my (sister's) tent, forgotten somewhere in the attic.

This was my first solo tour. Just a small trip of a few days riding into the heart of Iowa. The first night I camped at the Amana Colonies, a lone tent amid a sea of RVs. The next morning I ate a huge cinnamon bun at the bakery, bought sunscreen (too late!), and set out again with that oh-so-familiar feeling I get when starting a day of riding. It's a sense of needing to fasten a seatbelt alongside a sense of leaving something behind. That day's ride was all headwind and hills. Fifty miles on not-quite-enough fuel.

I cut the trip short by a day, hitching a ride at the end of the second day with a Subaru overstuffed with camping gear, one of my brothers, and three of his friends. We met up with our sister and her friends and spent the cool last days of May in chilly tents on damp ground.

For me, a kind of tag-along on this well-organized camping trip, it was utterly relaxing. My sister and I put up her tent, unfurled our sleeping bags, and then ate meals other people cooked and took hikes other people planned. While the menfolk went to play disc golf somewhere in town, we went to her house and I relished a hot, clean shower and ran a load of laundry. We took it upon ourselves to do a survey of peony scents on a walk to a nearby coffee shop, where we sat outside on a swing and sipped our chai and coffee. (Camping with non-coffee drinkers is a small price to pay, really, when all you have to do is cook one meal for a crowd, but I do wish that I'd resisted setting aside my tiny espresso pot when making room for the tent.)

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© The Attic at Anderwood Maira Gall.