As idyllic as stealth camping can sound in theory, sometimes the actuality can be far from it. Running out daylight or energy to keep going can result in being in some less than ideal places when it comes time to lay down for the night. This was one of those nights…
The town we were sleeping in was full of odd characters wandering through the parks well after sunset this coupled with an overwhelmingly present police force made for a fitful night sleep. Once we gave up on the notion of sleeping we moved the several hundred yards back to our dinner cook spot for breakfast. As was the case last night the burgeoning homeless population was wandering early in the morning. We moved on as quickly as our stove would cook and coffee could be drank.
Our bike path luck ends and we are led to the seemingly endless, monotonous US-98. Starting as ranches and ending as tree farms. It is incredible to see so much undeveloped space in a few hundred miles from the big cities.
The skies were dark and cloudy all day, growing darker as we rode along the Nature Coast. Being cooped up in a tent in the rain is never a fun time so we have recently taken to finding churches, municipal parks, or any other accessible venue *with a pavilion*. Riding through what seemed like the middle of nowhere we had no options, until coming across a sign for a Baptist Church down a long sandy road.
Even with the tent secured to the pavilion the winds blew rain under the fly and whipped the nylon walls with a vicious fury. In the morning we decided the skies looked just as hopeless as the day before and we would hunker down until the weather looked a bit more promising. While making lunch we met pastor Paul who officially invited us to stay “as long as we needed”, giving us permission to shelter in the chapel as well as use the other facilities. He said a prayer for us and went about his day.