Clinic Stories

Warm Showers

Earlier this year I started biking – bicycling that is - across the country, going over 1000 miles from St. Augustine, FL to Texas. Many people ask, “Where do you sleep?”. It turns out that is the most interesting aspect of the trip. In Florida I was able to stay in small town motels, some decent, some crumbling with homeless guests and prostitution. Talk about room service! Camping out is an option. I carried a tent and sleeping bag, and there are plenty of campgrounds and RV Parks. But the best source of housing is WarmShowers.org.

Warm Showers is a hosting web site for touring cyclists. I stayed in people's homes ala couch surfing, slept under a raised beach house on Dauphin Island, AL, and slept in a backyard shack near Jackson, LA. Better still was the fire station in Bunkie, LA. A fire house makes sense – they have firemen sleep there overnight and have cooking facilities, showers and an enormous garage to stow your bike.

But the best so far is the police station in Franklinton, LA. Officially they allow cyclists to camp behind the police station and to use the kitchen and showers. As it was expected to be below freezing overnight (it got down to 29 degrees and frosted), they let me sleep in the interrogation room. The web site allows you to leave comments. Mine was “If you've never been arrested (like me), this is your chance to spend the night in a police station. They told me to make myself at home and meant it. This was a once in a lifetime experience – I hope.”

Next up is crossing Texas. The highlight for many cyclists is the McDonald Observatory, an astronomical observatory located near Ft. Davis. Operated by the University of Texas at Austin, a mere 450 miles away, it has some of the darkest skies in the continental US and the rumor is that they allow cyclists to camp and come in at night to look through the telescope.

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