I Love America Tour: Brunswick Campgrounds.

I have a friend, Michelle, that decided one day to run the Disney marathon. Michelle was not a runner. There was no gym rat in her. But for whatever reason, she decided she wanted to run 26.4 miles. Since that year’s decision, she has run several marathons. I asked her how she did it. How she stayed motivated to keep running when the finish line is miles away?

Michelle said, she does not think about the finish line until she passes it. She focused on one foot in front of the other. According to Michelle, thinking about how close or far the finish line is makes it harder to run the race.

I have not spoken to Michelle in many years. As I come around a corner I believe to be my last for the day, those words float into my head. I’m sucking wind and happy I’ve finally made it to Brunswick. I’m tired and want to just stop at last. Unfortunately, I don’t see a damn thing.

Actually, that is not quite true. I see a port-a-potty, a parking lot, and a boat ramp. There is no campground. No picnic tables, RVs, no gathering of dozens of cyclists. There is, however, a sign that says Brunswick.

I immediately pull up my trail link map. I know for certain that Patrick and Dale are not camping in the parking lot. I’m almost certain they were not talking about a camp site off the trail. Sure enough, the map tells the tale. There are two Brunswicks on the map. The parking lot and a campground a mile or so further down the trail.

I curse like a sailor, get on my bike, and pedal the longest mile I have ever ridden in my life. When I finally see the campground, it is like seeing a pool after being in the desert for four hours. I nearly collapse in relief on my bike.

Brunswick Campgrounds is in West Virginia with over 100 campsites. There are RV spaces, cabins, and a large area for tent camping. Tent camping is 20 dollars a night. They also have shower facilities, food, snack store, and most important for cyclists, a station to wash your bike.

Sounds luxurious, but it really isn’t, but I’ll get to that.

I located my buddies relatively fast. They had struck camp already and saved me a spot next to their tents. Patrick was trying to decide whether to take a shower or wait till later. As he went to go inspect the facilities, I hosed my bike down, then set up my tent.

A true mobile home

If you recall from my “Tent Trials” I’m using a Coleman Sundome tent. It’s a freestanding three-person tent. I’ve only set it up one time. Once, however, is enough to keep me from looking like a total amateur. Glancing around the assemblance of campers, I see a cornicopa of tents and camping set ups. I am curious about all of them and I want to go speak to a few people about thier set up. For some reason, I do not. The notion flouts in my mind, but I take no action on it.

Instead, I hose down my bike. When Patrick returns from the showers, he warns me it's not the Ritz. I’m hot, sweaty, and dusty. I cannot imagine not getting a shower. When I get to the shower facilities, I change my mind. Patrick is correct, but overshot his description. It is not the Ritz, it’s not even Motel Six.

The bathrooms and wash area are not disgusting, but they're not tidy either. The thought that comes to mind is, “hey aren’t we still in the middle a freakin pandemic?” Yea, I know. The mental comment is rich coming from someone that has ignored pretty much every pandemic “restriction or order” on general principle.

Instead of a shower, I opt for a quick wipe down with my wash cloth in most of the important places. I don’t feel clean, but I don’t feel icky either. For now, it will have to do. I will look later in the night when people are sleeping. I rush to my tent, and decide to ride the two miles down the road for a proper meal in town. I meet Patrick and Dale (I swear I’m too embarrassed to text Patrick to see if Dale is the right name. I’m too old to remember) at the Potomac Street Grill.

Sitting back with my trail mates with a drink and talking about each other’s lives it is exactly what I expected and wanted from this endeavor. On the road, in small town America, enjoying the company of newfound friends. I even manage to not bring up politics. That is an accomplishment for me. Not because I love to argue or debate—though I kinda do—but it’s because politics just fascinates me. The pluses or minuses of each side is intellectual candy for me.

It's only 9pm when we get back to camp. I'm a night owl most days, so it is early for me to be turning in. I call my brother to check in on him and send a few texts to friends to let them know I'm still alive. Then I check the showers again. They are still not sanitary enough. I’m being snooty as befits a newbie on a bike tour. I know it, own it, and tell myself it doesn’t matter because there is no one around to impress.

On my way back to my tent, God screws with me and puts a smoking hot black woman in the path in front of me… his sense of humor is so annoying sometimes.

The last time I slept in a tent, I was 12 years old at a National BMX race event in Tom’s River. I remember that being more comfortable without all this high-tech gear I have with me. The self-inflating sleeping pad did not self-inflate. My pillow was not as comfortable as I would have liked. And it was just too damn hot. No, that’s not quite right.

The temperate is around 68 degrees, but it is a misty 68 degrees. My tent is clammy and there is little to no consistent air flow. I have it covered with the rain fly, because I didn’t want to be awakened by rain pouring into my tent. Which was a good call. In the night, it rained. The sounds of the rain hitting the tent were soothing enough to carry me to a fitful, half sleep. I imagined it was the type of sleep soldiers get when deployed in enemy territory.

Morning could not arrive soon enough. I’m not a morning person by nature, but I was up and out of that mist box, called my tent as soon as the sun cracked the darkness. I’m stiff, sticky, and in a foul mood, though I hide it.

Patrick and Dale have broken camp and are ready to hit the road. I ask where their next destination is for camping. Their destination is Sherpardstown. I get Patrick’s phone number to reach out to him later if I decide to stay in the same place.

They take off, and I sort of float through breaking camp. I take my time, repacking everything to redistribute all my gear and take a tip Patrick gave me the night before to heart. Categorizing each type of gear to each pannier and then marking with tape where I have my repair kits and tools. Before, I had everything kind of mixed around.

If I stay at Brunswick in the future, I’ll make reservations for a cabin. They do a brisk business at the location, and that’s in the middle of a pandemic. I shudder to think how busy it would be in normal times. That volume of people makes keeping the shower and bathroom facilities clean enough to be useful impossible.

If I ever own land large enough to serve as a camp ground, I have a basket full of ideas of how to make the campground better and cleaner. Then again, non-owners of stuff always have ideas on what should be done without the work of having to do it and do it at a profit.

I detour into town to get breakfast and wait for the local bike shop to open. I need to top off the air in my tires. My load is too damn heavy and I'm seriously considering mailing some items back home. Rosemont is an interesting town. It is small town America like you see on television. Small shops, many store fronts closed. I cannot help wondering what the heck the people who live here do. What’s the primary job or industry? As I pedal down the town center, back to the trail, I wonder if the residents are dying to get out. Or if they choose to live in Rosemont because they were dying to get away from somewhere else.

It is 9am. I wanted to start the day earlier. I’ve resolved that I’m going to be staying in a hotel or motel later that night. I want a proper shower. It will be a short day since Shepardstown is 17 miles away.

Unfortunately, that would be totally false, thanks to a major mistake I make.

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