Our first night in Florida topped the night behind a Wal Mart, the night on top of Sandia Crest and the multiple nights behind “No Trespassing” signs as the most memorable night of our trip.
“Stopping!” Ken called. “There is something wrong with my trailer wheel.” I steered my bike into the grass beside the road. Ken leaned over his trailer, and felt the wheel. “There aren’t any broken spokes,” he mused. He pushed his bike forward and produced a terrible jarring sound. Wendy came to help.
“It’s seized up,” she said. “We’ll have to take it to a bike store.” We lifted Ken’s trailer, so that he could move his bike forward. On the other side of the road was a massive, yet delicately manicured graveyard. On our side, a convenient pullout and a trailhead. We rested our bikes against the railings of a boardwalk. It seemed the ideal place to “stealth camp”. It was getting late, and it didn’t look like we’d be able to get Ken’s wheel fixed and still make it to the nearest campsite.
Ken removed the tire, and strapped it on to Wendy’s bike. Ken remained with our gear while Wendy and I cycled off. Yet the bike shop couldn’t fix our problems. The wheel was completely busted and they didn’t carry any more of that size. Luckily another store across town had what we needed. A job for the morning. We cycled back to the trailhead.
A few shiny cars were parked in the pullout, and two men loitered at the top of the boardwalk. “It’s kind of weird, “Ken told us. “Many of these people don’t look like hikers, they look more like movie stars. Anyways, we should wait till these people are gone before we roll out our sleeping bags on the boardwalk.”
Through a gap in the thick forest I could see the boardwalk winding down a steep slope towards the sea. I walked down in search of a more secluded site. But all I saw were people sitting on the railings, looking out to sea. It was overcast, with no sunset to watch. Strange. I turned around and walked back with a spring in my step, eager to get away from the strange people. As I bent over a bag, digging out food, a silver sports car cruised in. A young man stepped out. He was clad entirely in black, from his shiny shoes, to his long leather jacket and his dark glasses. His hair was the same colour as his shoe polish. Only his skin was white.
“I can’t believe that I didn’t clue into it earlier,” whispered Ken. “There’s some major drug dealing going on down there.” It was getting dark now and there was nowhere to go.
Except a graveyard. Wendy and I walked over to ask for help at the funeral home. Stepping through the doors was like striding into a different atmosphere. Soft music drifted from an expensive stereo, and vases with roses lined the sills of stain glass windows. Two men in immaculate charcoal gray suits said polite farewells to well dressed mourners.. Engraved on a plaque was “Dignity Memorial”. I looked over at Wendy. Her hair was dirty and tussled and a smear of bike grease underlined her scruffiness. I must have looked just as untidy. I guess we didn’t fit.