Shooter Waiting for Looter

Although I should really have realised it, it never occured to me that we would see such obvious signs of destruction from Hurrican Irene, which passed through the East coast of America a few weeks ago. The tiny town of Schoharie seemed all but completely destroyed by the storm, and the flooding after. effects.
Every shop and restaurant along Main Street was closed, and gutted of all its merchandise and furnishings. Dust blew throughout the streets from the debris and silt left behind from the floodwaters.
Further on the town of Middleburgh was a similar story, the supermarkets being wiped out from sight, and the few building that were there were closed and empty of wares. The occasional window sprayed tall with a warning against anyone thinking of looting.

The only little convenience store in town of course was doing a roaring trade. Everyone seemed to be rather curious about us, and eager to help (hearing that we were British, they all seemed flustered in trying to find us Earl Grey tea, which we neither asked for nor wanted). But still, the towns were bustling with life, everyone eager and determined to get life back on track as quickly as possible.

We’ve headed just about as far East as we’re going to now, in America, and on this trip as a whole. The ride through the rolling hills around the Catskills has been perfect today- a truly idyllic day of cycling. A nice strong tailwind, and winding quiet roads through the countryside meant that despite our late start, we still managed to finish up before in the early afternoon.
Turning into the town of Cairo (which we found out is pronounced Cay-ro “like the syrup”, not Cairo “like Egypt”), we rolled down Main Street until we saw a sign for the Town Park.
Thinking this may be a nice quiet spot to pitch up for the night, we rolled in, and were rather surprised to find smoke pouring from the pavilion and a crowd of people standing by. It turned out it wasn’t a fire at all, but a fundraiser for the local democratic party, with a big old chicken bbq and bake sale. With 500 odd chickens bbq’ing seductively away, we sat ourselves down nearby. Soon we had offers of food and drink, and even suggestions of camping here for the night.

It turns out that everyone wanted to hear our story, with people praising us and thanking us for making the trip, among murmers of “God bless you for doing this”. Although rather overwhelming, everyone’s kindness was certainly appreciated- especially when Jack and I both were given a whole roast chicken dinner each, and more brownies than even I can bear to think about right now…

In a rather odd set up, the local police station (ie hut slash toilet) seemed to be inside the park. For the first (and last) time in America we did the proper thing and checked that it would be ok to camp. The police officer seemed uncertain, until he found out we were British. To this he simply said “oh cool, well I guess you’re not going to kill anyone”, and pointed to a corner of the field to pitch up.

We have bikesurfers lined up now for our home straight into New York City, due South of here, which is probably a good thing given the definite autumnal weather we have tonight.
In this quiet, small town park, sitting in the spectator stands under a starlit sky on the edge of the football pitch, this will (hopefully) be our last wild camping experience of America, and of the whole year around the World.

I miss it already.

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