Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Motel Camping in State Regulated Wilderness

Day 5 - Sept. 20, 2016 - Columbus, GA > Indian Springs State Park

Econolodge served as a great reminder of why I shouldn't take camping for granted.  The air conditioning was nice, don't get me wrong, but the whole place just felt like, well, people.  And people are kinda the opposite of nature.

When I first opened the door to my room, I found a sheetless mattress angled awkwardly on top of a cheap box spring.  The next room they gave me had sheets, as well as a broken toilet seat and a fridge that dumped cold air out of a broken door (which I promptly unplugged).  People done been here.  Mhm.

At least it had a continental breakfast.  I was going to need to load up if I was planning on riding over 100 miles to Indian Springs State Park.  What Econo lacked in fresh fruit, I made up for in mini lemon poppy muffins, everything bagels, reconstituted OJ, and burnt coffee.  I'd say I easily got my $2 worth.

Cooled down, cleaned off, and carbed up, I was ready for the start of the northward leg of my journey.  As I started on my way out of Columbus, I was extremely excited to note that the humidity level had dropped markedly.  I didn't know if it was a temporary thing or if it the dog days were done, but I was going to enjoy it for what it was.  After four days of miserably damp air, this dryness could've been the precursor to a 100 year drought and I'd still have been thankful.  My rash was even more thankful.  I'd named him Bumpy.

Not too much to report from the road, other than a large bug getting lodged in my eye near sundown.  This was the one draw back to evening riding.  I wore sunglasses all day long, unwittingly protecting myself from airborne bug assaults while wittingly protecting myself from UV assaults.  Once the sun had started to set, I pulled off my shades, and sure as shit, a bug went flying directly into my right eye.  I quickly slammed Tibor to a halt and frantically tried to pull the critter out while standing along the side of the road.  A minute or so later, a Jeep pulled over, the driver concerned for the safety of the cyclist desperately pawing at his eyeball.  After a quick check-in, the driver went back into their Jeep, came back with a Q-Tip, and pulled that bug out of the inside corner of my eye.  What can I say?  Eye always rel-eye on the k-eye-ndess of strangers.  Eye.

After 102 miles and 3,700' of climbing, I reached Indian Springs around 11pm.  Not too bad for someone as pokey as myself.  The campground was closed due to the late hour, so I sidestepped the gate and checked out the map of the grounds.  I found a site close to a shower and headed off.  Passing through, I could see that the State Park was mostly vacant, with the occasional RV-occupied site.  This late in the season I wouldn't likely be running into many people, especially not after the sun set and the bugs came out.  As much as I loathe mosquitoes, they at least serve that purpose well.

This is the photo they have up for "Camping" on the Indian Springs website... (Courtesy of

I found my spot and pulled in, leaning my fully loaded bike against the picnic table while I started to make a quick, late night dinner of bagged noodles.  Moments later, a light went on in the RV to the left of the showers.  A few moments after that, the door of the RV swung open and a large man in his mid-40s lumbered down the little stairs and came across the road to my camp, flashlight in hand.  I guessed that he really liked noodles.

I was wrong.  He didn't care about my noodles, he cared about what the hell I was doing coming into camp so damn late.  Assuming he was the campground host, because who else would imagine running over to a new camper and grilling them in the middle of the night, I told him that I had been riding all day and that this was the fastest I could get here.  I added that it usually isn't a problem since I make very little noise, what with my bicycle being human powered.  He eyed me very suspiciously and then asked where my friend was.  Confused, I told him I didn't have any friends, well, not that I didn't have any friends, just that I didn't arrive with any friends nor would any friends be joining me.  I was riding solo.  He said he was going to have to talk to the campground hosts to see if I could stay.  Who the F was this guy if he wasn't the campground host?

After a quick call to the hosts from his camper, he came back to let me know I could stay but that I had to pay the hosts in the morning.  Losing a bit of his gruff edge, he explained that when I'd ridden in, I'd awoken his wife (I have no idea how this is possible).  She then woke him up and told him that two motorcycles had pulled into camp and that she wanted him to come over to investigate.  I'm assuming that once he walked over and found neither a motorcycle nor a second rider, he started to question the concerns of his wife.  He said he was going back to bed and that I needed to make sure to keep it down so I didn't wake his wife anymore.  I didn't know how to get to a lower decibel, as that would dip into the range of anti-sound.

I didn't know if this was any better than the Econolodge.  Motels, for better or worse, don't act like they're something they're not.  They're cheap, dirty, and reek of people, some of which are there for unsavory reasons (see Day 3).  It's just what they are, and if I get something better than that, it's a pleasant surprise.  State Parks, on the other hand, are supposed to provide connections to nature.  Fresh air, open space, and the white noise of nighttime cricket chatter.  So when I get to a State Park and find that my neighbors, who are in the safety and comfort of their mobile motel room, have the audacity to question my intentions as I roll in with no more than can fit on my bike, it kinda gets me riled up.  Here they are, telling themselves they're campers getting in touch with nature, but they're really just a bunch of scared little suburbanites so far removed from real danger that they need to whip up imaginary scares in order to feel like they're living.  Kinda made me wish a murderer would show up in the middle of the night.  Jerk-ass RV people.

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