On monday kids had woken themselves up early. As most of the staff struggled to get out of bed, Herb had cooked through most of the day’s eggs and nearly every kid was up and bouncing off the walls. Breakfast was over by 8am. By Today, friday, reality had returned, the 8am alarm went off and the staff had to gently nudge everyone out of bed. “8am guys, time for breakfast.”
Despite sleepy eyes and sluggish responses breakfast was again over fast. There was a small window to work. We wanted to be on the road by 11am and things were still a mess. Piki was repositioning its wheel boxes. Panda had just stripped their wheel off during testing. Nooi was grinding on their hitch and Kablooi’s caster wasn’t turning at all.
We made new casters, balanced carts and tried our best to do full-weight tests.
Then we loaded up our emergency repair kits, snacks, lunches, and med-kits. Today was extra exciting because not only were we going to ride the contraptions we had built for a full 4.5 miles. But we were going to do it alone, without adults. Cell phones set up, emergent contacts established, walkie talkies distributed, and the path laid, we loaded up and set out.
Out on the road repair kit
Making our own sandwiches
The strongest hitch
Windows get installed
Down to the truck we go
And on to the trailer we load
At the drop point a special guest arrives to say hello and wave us off.
Gever give us some last minute advice
Nooi’s spririts are high as they prepare for departure
Piki’s riders settle in with some good books
Kablooi’s riders hunker down.
Blake double checks the repair kit.
With a shove, they are off.
For one very small section of road, we escort the tinkerers in our cars.
And here the story diverges. 4 groups leave each with their own ending. The Piki leave strong, but ultimately walk a huge portion of the track next to their camper. They complete circuit in the shortest time. The Panda team follows close behind, spending nearly the entire time walking and are lucky to have their hitch break only 25 feet from Poplar Beach, the final destination. The Nooi’s hitch starts to grind again and eventually wears through their lashing, leaving them dragging their cart for the last 1/2 mile or so.
The pike roll and walk up
The Panda team drags theirs into place
Nooi fight with ripping chords
The Kablooi how ever have their very own Tinkering School adventure. Approximately 500 yards out of the gate their caster stops functioning entirely. The tinkerers try and correct. A gaggle of collaborators descend. Kindly passerby’s give advice. People in nearby homes offer supplies. Hours pass as struggle and frustrations mount. Then finaly, with a combination of solutions no one could have come up with alone, they take off. For approximately 1 mile they roll as smooth and as fast as anyone else. Then a full mile later, in an attempt to avoid dog poop, they swerve, their hitch gives out and they crash into a field of flowers.
Collaborators try to help
Passerby offers advice
Households offer supplies
We drive around to the Kablooi at Dunes beach and then the final pickup spot at Poplar Beach and do a few loops taking everyone and their bike-campers back to camp. From there we enjoy a big delicious taco/burrito bar and get ready for the evening.
As we get ready for bed, we sturdy up the campers because those who want to, they have the option of sleeping in their bike pulled adventure-wagons for the last evening of camp. And that’s where about half of them are now. Toughing it out, in the cold, at strange angles and on thin matts raveling in a special kind of comfort that can only come from the warm fuzzy internal pride of “I built this.”
The other half are revealing in a special comfort that can only come from the warm and fuzzy nature of “real beds and insulation”.