Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Satchel of Soil. An Essay from hIrSch

This is the second of three essays from hIrSch who has been helping out in his ongoing bike ride around the world. In this essay hIrSch explores the topic of sleeping while on the road.

i am often asked what the hardest part of the trip has been and the answer is simple: sleeping.
hIrSch's home sweet home on the road
every morning i wake up wherever it is i am. and i never know where my head will lay at the end of the day. from drainage pipes in patagnia to people's front porches (thank god they never came home!) in norway, i've done it all. most nights in my tent, some nights in barns, one night in a ladie's bathroom (men's room reeked of urine). schools, churches, abandoned houses, fire stations, cemetaries, shacks, cabins, even garbage dumps. yes folks, i dirtbag it.

i camp wild. free camp. stealth it. choose your own apellation. but if there's one thing i won't do, it's pay to sleep (ok, ok, except in central and south america where even i would occassionally splurge on a $3 per night room....). i don't really like showers. i prefer digging my own toilets (much more sanitary when you really think about it....). and hell's bells at the end of the day the last thing i want to be with is a bunch of yahoo's. so forget camping grounds and forget "official" places. just give me some trees and less than a 15 degree slope and i will dirtbag it yesssir!

but it ain't always easy kids.Solitude is an empty campground.

here is a little exercise for you. the next time you are driving, pretend you are on a bike. pretend the sun is setting. pretend you are exhausted (a great feeling...) from eight hours of riding and hauling all your gear behind you in a trailer. pretend you are salivating for your dinner. and pretend you are looking for a place to sleep. now don't just look out in the trees and think that it's easy, that you could just camp anywhere. because, are you sure there is no barbed wire fence in the way? are you sure you can pull and drag and push and curse your fully loaded bike and trailer to wherever it is? are you sure that you are invisible from the road? are you sure that spot is somewhat flat and even doable? now add rain or snow or the constant 30mph winds of patagonia.
yes my friends, sleeping just isn't easy.

but sure sure and yes yes, it can be. i have met some cyclists who hotel it every night. a swipe of a magnetic strip and they have it all. oh and god forgive me for the occassional (and incredible!) envy i have sometimes felt for these wealthy cats. but when it all comes down to it, i prefer my method. they can have their bleached white towels and free soap. i'll take my bag of dirt, thank you! This little camping spot will do

but dear lord sometimes i have ridden and ridden and ridden just praying for pop up. and in the end....sometimes a VERY long always does.

so even though sometimes it can try your patience, this method of travel keeps the dollars in your pockets where they can escape to better and more useful things. i have travelled for 2.5 years. even if i got a cheap hostel room or went to one of those cheesy gawdawful campgrounds just once a week, at say $10 a pop, that would be $1300 clams just for sleeping!!! RIDICULOUS! and even more so ridiculous when you have no income. welcome to my life.

Coming up next is the second half to this essay that dives into the art of dumpster diving.

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