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Worst place you have ever slept

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Worst place you have ever slept

Old 03-28-16, 01:26 PM
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bikenh
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Worst place you have ever slept

Okay I'll take BlarneyHammer's post to the next level. What is the worst place you have ever camped while on a bike trip.

for me it has been a build up over three separate trips. In 2012 I got into central IL and spent the night in a ballpark in Auburn(I think that is the right name of the town) and the ballpark sits just beside the railroad tracks. I had been following the railroad tracks all day long heading down south and never saw a single train. As I got into the campsite around sunset I hopped into one of the dugouts and as I was setting up camp a train came through. I come to realize this might not be the best location. I stuck with it and fortunately only had that and one other train come through before I fell asleep and then shortly after I woke up in the morning the first train of the day came through. Not so bad...then.

2013, I got into Painsville, OH and decided to camp out for the night at the Kiwanis ballpark. It was a riverfront ballpark. Everything would seem fine except right across the river were railroad tracks. Every hour on the half hour a train went through all night long. Not the best nights sleep to say the least...but...then.

This past summer both of the first two days of the trip didn't go quite as planned. I was going to ride from NH down to Annapolis straight through non-stop. I was kinda wanting to be in town before the storm front moved through but that wasn't going to happen. The first I camped along the Appalachian Trail in western CT and the next day I spent time sitting out thunderstorms in NJ for a 20 minutes on the first storm and then 1.5 hours on the late afternoon storm. I was going to ride the second day through and get in Annapolis early on Wednesday morning until things weren't going quite as planned, as usual. I pulled into Easton, PA around sunset and stopped by and grabbed supper and hopped online at McDonalds. I did the math and realized I had enough time that I could wait until the next day and make it a 180+ mile hop on down to Annapolis the next day...I rode 183 miles on day one of the trip. I looked around on satellite imagery and saw a park not far from the McDonalds and decided to check it out. I left about 10:45PM and headed for the park and decided to stay there. I saw a couple of rather weird structures. I should have known better from the get go but for some dumb reason it didn't compute as to what I was seeing. I found where I wanted to camp and setup camp, minus the tent. As I went to lay down, around 11:15-11:30PM I was looking overhead at one of the structure I was laying underneath off. It was about 50-70 feet overhead and it looked like a walkway except something didn't seem quite right. I had the one directly over top of me and another one of them about 100 feet behind me. As I started to get comfortable I heard a noise. After a few more seconds and hearing the noise again I knew it wasn't a walkway I was laying underneath...rather it was a train trestle. The missing boards all of sudden made complete sense. That would be the first of countless trains overnight. Only had one that went on the tracks directly above me but they were going through pretty much one every 20-30 minutes the entire night. I had maybe 2 hours of total crap sleep that night. I did get paid a visit by ???the cops??? but they never saw me since I didn't have the tent setup. I got up in the morning at the crack of dawn and busted out of the campsite and didn't even bother to grab breakfast until way later. I just wanted the heck away from that place. Yeah, I did pull into Annapolis around sunset that night, 187 mile later.

It still would have to go down as probably the worst nights sleep I've had while on a bike trip.

What's your worst night?
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Old 03-28-16, 04:26 PM
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A description of a bad night's sleep during a Duluth, MN to Kingston, ON ride during the summer of '14:

I rolled into Stirling as the sun was going down. I made the decision to stop there. Where ON-8 seemed to become the main street of town there was a convenience store that I designated as my supper provisioning spot. There wasn't much to choose from and I ended up with a bowl of instant noodles. I tried to supplement the poor dinner with a cold beer but the proprietress informed me that unlike in the States, beer was not sold in convenience stores in Ontario. I wanted to say they sell beer at the Quebec version of Mac's, called Couche Tard, but held my tongue. Perhaps she viewed Quebec as a foreign country as well. I asked both her and her son whether they knew of any discreet hammocking spots in Stirling. I think I might have been labeled a homeless person as a result of that question. When I said I'd been riding from Duluth and would soon reach my truck in Kingston, the son said he was relieved to know that I wasn't homeless. The fact that I was riding such a long distance by bicycle puzzled both of them. They were not the first people to express a lack of comprehension. Many times I was asked if I was trying to raise money for some cause. I suppose in the popular imagination someone doesn't do something such as I was doing for mere enjoyment. Either that, or they expect that if it is being done for enjoyment one should be contributing to some greater cause in order to legitimize the experience.

They told me there was a storm coming and I should get a room for the night. I was even advised to get a cab and drive to Belleville. I said I'd slept through plenty of rainstorms and that I would be fine. The son finally gave up trying to convince me otherwise and said I would find a town park at the other end of the main street and could probably find a place to string up the hammock down there. He said I would be fine. No one would object. I wasn't sure how reliable that assessment was. The only park I found contained a picnicing area with a large play structure and ball field. There was a junior men's fastpitch softball game being played under the lights. I chose a spot quite far back from the ballfield under a picnic pavillion. I cooked my supper and tried to calculate the likelihood of being asked to leave once I set up my hammock. I made the decision to sleep on the concrete floor of the pavillion. I reasoned I would be able to keep a much lower profile that way.

There was a pretty strong wind blowing through the pavillion from south to north. I was set up on the northernmost end. It was a fairly large structure which was big enough to hold three picnic tables. I had trouble keeping my hold on things as they were regularly being blown off the table and sent flying. All the while a light rain would start and then stop. It never rained so hard or steadily that the softball game was called and that eventually ended. A few spectators trooped by as the field cleared and the lights were turned off. I decided to erect a windbreak using my hammock tarp. I strung it up east and west between pavillion supports and guyed it out sideways from the table to the north and to the south with a single tent stake that I wedged into a seam between the concrete pads.

I was sleeping underneath the northernmost table and my tarp was pitched so that it sheltered me from most of the wind blowing in from the far end of the pavillion. As the night progressed the rain intensified and the wind, if anything, increased in force. It seemed like the remnants of a tropical storm were blowing through town. I regretted being so dismissive of the convenience store owner's son's concern about the weather I would be facing. Perhaps the news channels had been harping about this storm. I woke quite frequently and looked at the steadily shrinking amount of dry pavillion floor. The wind driven rain was slowly creating a puddle that stretched northward with small dry spots under mine and the nearest picnic table. At about five a.m. I got out of my sleeping bag and took a picture of the set up showing just how little, but just enough, dry concrete remained where I was lying. It never got any worse than that and the rain and wind died down as the sun came up. At about 6 a.m. I got up for good, dressed, packed, and rode off in search of breakfast.

No one had ever come by or noted my presence that I was aware of. I probably would have been more comfortable stringing the hammock up between a couple of the pavillion support posts and would not have been noticed if I had. It had been the most uncomfortable night's sleep of the trip but since it was the last night before being back in my own bed at home it wasn't intolerable.
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Old 03-28-16, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I pulled into Easton, PA around sunset and stopped by and grabbed supper and hopped online at McDonalds. I did the math and realized I had enough time that I could wait until the next day and make it a 180+ mile hop on down to Annapolis the next day...I rode 183 miles on day one of the trip. I looked around on satellite imagery and saw a park not far from the McDonalds and decided to check it out. I left about 10:45PM and headed for the park and decided to stay there. I saw a couple of rather weird structures. I should have known better from the get go but for some dumb reason it didn't compute as to what I was seeing. I found where I wanted to camp and setup camp, minus the tent. As I went to lay down, around 11:15-11:30PM I was looking overhead at one of the structure I was laying underneath off. It was about 50-70 feet overhead and it looked like a walkway except something didn't seem quite right. I had the one directly over top of me and another one of them about 100 feet behind me. As I started to get comfortable I heard a noise. After a few more seconds and hearing the noise again I knew it wasn't a walkway I was laying underneath...rather it was a train trestle. The missing boards all of sudden made complete sense. That would be the first of countless trains overnight. Only had one that went on the tracks directly above me but they were going through pretty much one every 20-30 minutes the entire night.

Heh. Sleeping under the busy Lehigh Line was not the best decision.

I really liked Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood on the GAP, but the train noise was a bit much at times:


Turn your computer speakers up to get the realistic effect.

Later in that cross-PA trip I thought I couldn't make my intended state park overnight because some locals told me the 6 mile climb was hard and it was going to be dusk in a bit. Stupidly, I believed them. I decided to stay at a private campground that was so very close to the PA turnpike. Trucks here jake braking all night coming down a hill. I got very little uninterrupted sleep. The next morning I did the climb only to find that it was not hard at all and the state park I would have stayed at was serene.
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Old 03-28-16, 09:29 PM
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Restroom of a freeway rest area when I didn't have a tent, and there was nowhere else to get out of the cold wind. That was a seriously hard floor....
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Old 03-28-16, 09:42 PM
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My worst place I slept wasn't bad by virtue of the quality of the amenities or anything like that, it's that I shouldn't have stopped to sleep. I was riding north on hwy 395 in eastern Oregon on my way to a family event, running a little late as usual, in Spokane, WA. There was a tremendous south wind propelling our tandem along at a glorious speed. As the sun set, we sheltered on the lee side of a rest stop building. When we woke up in the morning, the wind was fiercely from the north and would remains so until we arrived at our destination.
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Old 03-29-16, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post

I really liked Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood on the GAP, but the train noise was a bit much at times
+1, a couple of those nites on the GAP were ridiculous, so many trains and just across the river and apparently they were obligated to let that whistle go each time as they came thru.

Also was touring in the south in April 2011 in the midst of that extreme tornado outbreak , had a couple nights that I thought my tent and I were about to reenact Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
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Old 03-29-16, 12:52 AM
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In my non-running 1966 Pontiac Tempest, stuffed with my things after it was towed to a friend's house, where I slept sitting in the seat for one night before my dad picked me up and took me back to my parents home while I looked for a new apartment.

I know it wasn't a bike trip but it wouldn't move unless I put pedals on it anyway.
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Old 03-29-16, 01:59 AM
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Does it have to be about bicycling?

My worst night was probably a "day hike" up French Pete Creek. Looking at the maps, it appeared as if I could hike to the top of the hill, 1/4 mile down the road, and pick up another trail back down, although I noticed that not all the maps showed the second trail.

I got to the top, found the trail, and started back down... a bit late. And not long into the hike back down I lost the trail in a meadow. I knew all I needed to do was go down. But, it also got dark, and I realized that it wasn't safe to go down the mountain after dark.

So, since it was a "day hike", I wasn't at all prepared for a night. I just put on a second T-Shirt. Covered myself with leaves, and slept. It actually wasn't bad, but there wasn't anything else to do either. The next morning at daylight I was able to look around, and there were enough cliffs and steep spots that I was glad that I had slept up on the mountain.
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Old 03-29-16, 03:24 AM
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Old 03-29-16, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
+1, a couple of those nites on the GAP were ridiculous, so many trains and just across the river and apparently they were obligated to let that whistle go each time as they came thru.
Yes. Federal law requires a certain horn patter and every public grade crossing unless what's called a "Quiet Zone" has been established. Establishing one often requires modifications, such as adding crossing gates, at the expense of the municipality. That can get expensive, which is why you don't find so many. There are at last two crossings in Rockwood. The train heard in the video is the Amtrak train from D.C.
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Old 03-29-16, 05:09 AM
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Two campgrounds in Germany spring to mind ... and several hotels in the US. Or actually, they were probably motels, not hotels.


A night (or more accurately, about 3 hours one night) on a train platform, right next to the trains, during the PBP in 2007 was also a rather rough night. Nothing quite like the feeling you're going to be sucked off the platform when a European fast train roars past.
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Old 03-29-16, 09:16 AM
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A friend and I made the mistake of camping at truck stop. We stopped for a shower and because it was late in the day, we thought, naively, what better place to stay. After securing the manager's permission we set up our tents in the grassy border surrounding the huge concrete parking area in what we thought was the optimal location. Bad mistake- even in the summer truckers run their diesel engines all night long. Some run loud gasoline powered electric generators which are downright devilish when you are trying to sleep. The cacophony absolutely pervaded what little sleep I got that night. My friend even got up around 2:00 am and purchased a pair of head phones which he thought might give some relief. In any event, lesson learned though; never will I camp at a truck stop.
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Old 03-29-16, 09:38 AM
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The Rott (red) River in Eastern Bavaria, because overnight the storm caused the river to rise and flood out my Campsite.
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Old 03-29-16, 07:35 PM
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Threw my sleeping bag and mat down under an awning inside a compound in Italy one night and was awakened by hundreds of rats crawling over me. I pulled my sleeping bag over my head to keep them out. In the AM I saw I was sleeping on a ledge overlooking a dump. Another time, trying to get over a pass in Switzerland I got caught in a snow storm and had to take shelter under some stacked up bags of concrete. The dumbest place I ever camped was on a beautiful lake on my way back into Alaska. I was too tired to scout the area when I stopped after 60mi of hills. When I awoke I saw I had camped right on a very well travelled bear trail and the tree next to my tent had been torn up by a very large grizzly. That morning I was coasting downhill when a good sized grizzly came across the road, forcing me to actually brake (really hard) to avoid running right into him. I'm not sure if he even saw me.
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Old 03-29-16, 08:07 PM
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I've never had to endure horrible noise or weather (or rats!), but I slept near old gutted out old buildings (scavengers rip out anything that isn't wood or drywall) in the deserts of California and Nevada (along the lines of the highways being basically endless, and deciding to stop at a landmark that might block wind or sun if I desired) and could never decide if that was a good idea or a plainly awful idea- either way, I was terrified all night and I have never decided if it was rational or not. I don't think I want to encounter the other kind of people that might stop there. OTOH is just picking any old spot a few dozen yards off a highway in the middle of nowhere any better or worse?

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Old 03-30-16, 04:14 PM
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Funny I've camped at two trucks stops.. Even stranger both of them were the first year. I didn't find them that bad. The second one would have been better if I hadn't had been in a cemetery the night before and was constantly bothered until mid pre-dawn AM hours by what I think was a skunk. If I would have had a normal nights sleep at the cemetery than the next night I would have been in a much better mood when I went to bed and that would have helped things dramatically. I would sleep at a truck stop again. Actually now that I think about I did sleep next door to one in 2014. Didn't set up the tent and instead camped out under the stars which turn to light rain around 3AM so I scurried back over and spent the rest of the night awake inside the truck stop.
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Old 03-30-16, 06:53 PM
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My answer is some RV park/campground in the Yukon. Normally it wouldn't be bad, I could see the place being nice if it's sunny out. Only problem was it rained all night, and something about the location and the soil caused the place to turn into a lake. Not just my site either; the entire campground was 70-80% covered in water.

This was the Yukon, so it wasn't warm, either. I'm convinced it's impossible to be cold, wet, and happy all at the same time.
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Old 04-03-16, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I pulled into Easton, PA around sunset and stopped by and grabbed supper and hopped online at McDonalds. I did the math and realized I had enough time that I could wait until the next day and make it a 180+ mile hop on down to Annapolis the next day...I rode 183 miles on day one of the trip. I looked around on satellite imagery and saw a park not far from the McDonalds and decided to check it out. I left about 10:45PM and headed for the park and decided to stay there. I saw a couple of rather weird structures. I should have known better from the get go but for some dumb reason it didn't compute as to what I was seeing. I found where I wanted to camp and setup camp, minus the tent. As I went to lay down, around 11:15-11:30PM I was looking overhead at one of the structure I was laying underneath off. It was about 50-70 feet overhead and it looked like a walkway except something didn't seem quite right. I had the one directly over top of me and another one of them about 100 feet behind me. As I started to get comfortable I heard a noise. After a few more seconds and hearing the noise again I knew it wasn't a walkway I was laying underneath...rather it was a train trestle. The missing boards all of sudden made complete sense. That would be the first of countless trains overnight. Only had one that went on the tracks directly above me but they were going through pretty much one every 20-30 minutes the entire night. I had maybe 2 hours of total crap sleep that night. I did get paid a visit by ???the cops??? but they never saw me since I didn't have the tent setup. I got up in the morning at the crack of dawn and busted out of the campsite and didn't even bother to grab breakfast until way later. I just wanted the heck away from that place. What's your worst night?
I live on the other side of the river up on the hill. The coal trains go through there every night. There are three different railroad tracks there.
I feel your pain.

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Old 04-05-16, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by digibud View Post
Threw my sleeping bag and mat down under an awning inside a compound in Italy one night and was awakened by hundreds of rats crawling over me. I pulled my sleeping bag over my head to keep them out. In the AM I saw I was sleeping on a ledge overlooking a dump. ......
You win!!! I was going to post about train horns and my night. Seems rather boring after reading your post.
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Old 04-05-16, 06:58 PM
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Old 04-05-16, 08:24 PM
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When I toured Scotland I rode into the night looking for a good spot to wild camp. I was totally spent and kept going far too long looking for something decent. I failed. It was dark, so I just went into the nearest field with some cover. When I awoke I discovered that I was in a good deal of sheep excrement, but it was dried up and not quite as bad as it sounds.
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Old 02-06-17, 10:39 PM
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I don't think I have ever had a good night's sleep on a bike tour. Ever. I think I am probably borderline insomniac to begin with. Even when I hotel-ed it one night, we found an unacceptably large number of roaches, and decided to set the tent up in the room. I still couldn't sleep because I could hear the little bastards laying eggs on the outside of the tent. I kid you not.

Another time I was biking with a guy who considered himself an animal rights activist. But after day 5 of being raided by raccoons, he was chucking rocks at them all night.
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Old 02-07-17, 02:13 AM
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In the alps

Once, while crossing a not-super high pass in the alps I got caught at night with no shelter in some bitter cold. I was heading home and had no tent. I found a bunch of construction bags of concrete and made a wind shelter and A frame that just fit me and my sleeping bag and I crawled in to get out of the cold. I huddled there for quite a while, falling asleep a bit till I heard a car come and was able to get a ride.
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Old 02-07-17, 06:57 AM
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I have generally not minded many of the places that I have camped. The ones where folks complain about traffic or train noise have never bothered me. I often read about how bad the traffic or train noise was in a given place and think back trying unsuccessfully to remember a problem. Sometimes when I was with my daughter at the site I'll ask her if she remembers a problem there and the answer is usually, "No, I slept like a baby there".

I guess if I had to pick camps that I disliked, I can come up with a few.

The first was Jerry Johnson Campground (2007). They removed all the trees because they were a hazard because root rot made them especially vulnerable to falling. The sites were grown up and there were pretty much no places that you weren't pitching the tent on big bumpy roots. The result was an ugly uncomfortable site.

The second wasn't a bad site other than the lack of running water, in fact the site was pretty nice. The problem was a ranger that was a complete jerk, on a power trip, and seemed to be at war with bicyclists. I am convinced that he was trying to bait me into an argument or even physical violence just so he could throw us out. I didn't take the bait, but he kept trying. We were nothing but cordial and cooperative and he just kept trying to provoke a fight. Other than that one instance, I have never had an issue with the rangers anywhere in hundreds of stays in parks, only cordial and friendly exchanges. So it was kind of a shock to me. Others I spoke with had reported similar issues there, and there were a few mentions of a problem on Yelp at the time. I think there was a sign that said they were looking to hire a new ranger so I hope he was replaced quickly. That was at Kirk Creek camp on the PCH in 2011. My understanding is that there is a different and supposedly very nice person running the campground now and these problems are no longer an issue.

We did have a night in Missouri where we were kept up with a siege of raccoons, but that was our own fault because we and others there were careless about our food.

There were other times when we were bothered by loud neighbors, but I think it was only twice in hundreds of nights that it really impacted my sleep.

Last edited by staehpj1; 02-07-17 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 02-07-17, 07:03 AM
  #25  
mev
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Campground in Provincetown, MA without a tent but with lots of mosquitoes.

Original plan was to cycle from Boston to Orleans youth hostel, stay overnight and ride to P-town the next morning. However, I arrived in Orleans by 1pm. It was a hot afternoon and the hostel wouldn't open until 5pm.

Hence, I rode on to P-town figuring I might sleep on the beach. I had only a thin nylon "sleep sack" for hostel use.

As I came to P-town I saw signs saying, no sleeping on the beach, $50 fine. Decided it might be better to try a campground instead. When I went to the first campground, they somehow asked if I had a tent. I answered truthfully and was told I couldn't stay without a tent.

Not to worry, there was a second campground near town. I cycled over and was very careful not to mention a tent. I looking at the site map and selected a site off on edge of the campground. I then went into town until almost dark.

Thought I was pretty clever having outsmarted the system. However, I was barely in the sleep sack when I discovered my secluded site wasn't far from a marshy site with lots of mosquitoes. I could pull the sleep sack over my head to stop buzzing but the material was thin enough they could also bite through it.

I didn't sleep much, but somehow lasted long enough until first light around 5am or so, but quickly departed after that. Went to beach on North coast and lo and behold saw several people sleeping on the beach. If only I had known.

Later that morning, caught up with some sleep under a shady pier while waiting for afternoon ferry to board.
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