Location: Microtel, Hamburg, PA
Druid, Not Bad, Aaron, Moses, and I stayed in the hotel room last night. Somehow I got one of the beds to myself. We watched football and Sportscenter all night and I slept well in a bed without anyone else in it. I think it would be my first bed alone on the trail since Stratton, Maine. No, Dalton, Massachusetts. We left the room late and we left it a mess. I tried to consolidate our towels and trash from five mail drops. The room smelled like five hikers when we left for Dunkin’ Donuts and Cabela’s around noon.
Cabela’s wasn’t as crowded on this Monday as it was on Sunday. The carnival atmosphere had disappeared, but the store was still a madhouse, spilling over with merchandise and customers in camouflage, blaze orange hats, and all other kinds of outfits that show the persons hobby or obsession. I put my pack in a shopping cart and joined the throngs of people sorting through bargain bins, eating at the restaurant, admiring the taxidermy, and shooting laser gun rifles at the shooting range upstairs. I immediately found myself in the fishing section, sorting through saltwater fishing lures and spinning the handles on saltwater reels. The feeling of a rod in my hand made me miss fishing even more. Thoughts of fishing a tournament this year turn in my head.
After an hour in the fishing section and examining the fish in the aquarium, I found my way to the Bargain Cave. I tried on a few pairs of trail runners and chose a pair of North Face shoes. Shortly after deciding to buy the shoes, I heard the intercom in the wide open store call Wayward to the front of the store. I found Druid and Not Bad at the entrance. I bought the shoes and a Cabela’s employee shuttled us back to the trail at the pavilion in Port Clinton.
Druid, Not Bad, Plays with Bears, Aaron, Moses, and I spent the afternoon messing around the pavilion in Port Clinton. We put off leaving for the trail and decided to throw the Frisbee, play hockey with trekking poles and a Coke can, and just be lazy. At some point during the afternoon, Moses and Aaron revealed that their parents were trying to get them a room at the Microtel and that we were all welcome to stay. The only catch was that we wouldn’t know until six o’clock whether we would or would not have a room. I decided to wait since they said that chances were good that there would be a room. At 6:00pm, we learned that there would not be a hotel room.
Not Bad and Druid decided that they would still go to Hamburg to watch Monday Night Football at the pub and then return to the pavilion to sleep. I reluctantly agreed to go. As we walked through Port Clinton at dusk, I stopped to announce that I would return to the trail, that I couldn’t stay in town another day and night. Druid and Not Bad, along with everyone else, looked at me solemnly as though I had pulled the cord on the jukebox at their party. I said sorry and turned to the trail, proud that I had made the more responsible decision.
At the point that the trail left the road and entered the woods for a long steep climb, I balked. I took two steps into the dark woods and spun around and headed for the pub and my new friends. I had no interest really in separating from them. I have hiked alone for most of this trip. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t seek company and a different kind of fun now that other south-bounders are nearby. I surprised the group at the pub and we spent a couple hours eating and relaxing. We were able to get a room at the Microtel. The pub is actually attached to the hotel, so sneaking everyone to the room through the back was much easier than last night.
After dinner, I bought a six pack for the room. I iced them down in the ice bucket as we watched television together. Six of us crammed our bodies and gear into the room. Moses and Aaron paid for the room, so I didn’t say anything to anyone when I saw Moses, 17 and a hellion, snake two beers and escape to the hall. The cat was let out of the bag when he returned fifteen minutes later with a hard buzz. His strait-as-an-arrow brother was not happy. Everyone else thought it was pretty funny.