Just Before Dusk

I'm in Gainesville and it's day twelve. Everything that has happened within the last twelve days on the road, I realize, haven't been very well documented. So, to fill you in, here's all you need to know: South Carolina looks like Georgia, and Georgia looks like Florida with the exception of a little extra sand and heat. Believe me, I know this to be true because I have spent the last twelve days really absorbing the scenery cycling at about 5 mph. 

Last night I stealth camped just outside of Melrose, Fl. I really hate stealth camping and every time I do it it's hardly a well rested night, because in my idle hours- just before bed and just before the sun begins to sink into the horizon- I'll just lay there restless in my tent, which, by the way, hasn't really had a proper amount of time to air out so the residual stench of compressed sweat, and morning dew, and grass has done quite a good job of funking up the space. It smells sour. ALL. THE. TIME. When I'm on the road cycling for 10-12 hours a day, the only thing I'm thinking about is food and how badly I wish the numbness in my hands would go away. I'm thinking about crotch pains and the itch on my left toe next to that big thumb-toe, or whatever its called, because the day before I stepped into an ant bed and for whatever reason all the ants decided to chow down on that one neighboring toe leaving a small cluster of puss filled blisters that would be too painful to pop even if I tried and too painful to itch even if I tried. So, it's in those idle hours when I'm just lying there restless in my tent getting high off the stench of my own bodily funk that I realize that I am afraid. When I lay there in those idle hours, I'm not feeling the crotch pain. I'm not feeling hunger. I'm not even feeling the itch on my toe next to that big thumb-toe, but probably because at this point I've become immune to insect bites. I'm too exhausted to think of any of those things, but I can't get myself to fall asleep because of the rustling in the woods. Surely, it's just a curious deer wandering close to see what visitor has come to stay for the night. This is the most logical explanation. It's just a possum or a snake or a night owl passing by doing whatever it is that animals do at night. It's definitely not some creep wandering close to stab me in the middle of the night as I sleep- rape me, kill me, or whatever. I imagine what the headline on the news would be in the following weeks after my body has putrified and is hardly recognizable as myself: Cyclist Found In Melrose, Dead. 

Exhaustion has finally taken its toll and I'm finally high enough from my own stench to let my eyes fall shut, laying there in a stinky sauna of sweat and dirt until the next night that I have to pack out and do it all over again. 

Tiffany Pretlow15 Comments