Thursday, September 08, 2005

Character Building, Part 2

From the public library in Elroy, Wisconsin...

As I left off, I was facing the quandary of whether to keep going or stop in Frontenac. One thing that made the decision easier for me was when I remembered that the next campsite down 61 (20 miles south in Wabasha) was also about 5 miles inland. As I reached the gate for Frontenac State Park, I saw...the office was closed! Hurrah! Yeah, I should have "self checked in", but after the days I was having and the money I was losing, saving $11 for camping was a relief. As long as I vamoosed by 9am (when they reopened) I would be fine.

Of course I had to get to the sites first. And that's when I was confronted with the longest, steepest hill I think they have in this area. Too beat to bike, I walked my loaded bike uphill. It seemed like forever. At least when I got to the top I was greeted with a great view of the Mississippi Valley. And with the sun starting to set, I got intensely lonely and sad.

I'm a weird mix of loner-introvert and social-extrovert. I generally like to be around other people, have friends, hang out. My life's been like that for the last 10 years. But there's the loner part of me, honed from my childhood when I was the fat, nerdy kid lacking in friends. In high school I didn't have a clique to fit in (not even punk rock!) so as a consequence I had no friends. Though I didn't like it, I got used to being by myself. So that makes it easier for me to do things like solo trips. But at times like this, after the stress of the last two days, I wish I had someone to talk to. And I was realizing I wouldn't have that at least for another week until I got to Madison. It's times like this where I feel like I'm the only person on earth.

But there were still people around. I chose to use the regular campsites rather than the out-back ones tucked into the woods for that reason. I might not talk to the people ensconed in their RVs watching DVDs, but at least there was people around. (Besides, the out-back sites didn't have a view!) Plus, it was close to the showers and I definitely needed one. I set up camp, showered, ate, and went to sleep, hoping for a better day.

Day 3 (Tues 9/6) started out wet. At 2am I was awoken to rain. Light rain, I thought. Hopefully it doesn't get worse. And of course it did. Soon it was a downpour and I was hoping that my tent, a $20 chain-department-store special, would withstand the weather. And thankfully it did, mostly. Some water got through the zipper at the front, and there was some drip from the top (water must have gotten under the rainflap).

I awoke around 7, showered, and took down my soggy tent. (Ick.) Today I decided to play it smart and actually put on sunblock. Like a dunce, I hadn't the last two days, which surely helped my heat and sun exhaustion. As I was leaving at a li'l after 9 I ran into the ranger. Ack! Fortunately all he asked me was where I was going.

I felt fresh and invigorated for day three, hoping my bike troubles were behind me as I sailed south on US 61 toward Wabasha, MN. Little did I know I was in for my hardest day yet...

Part 3 coming soon!

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