Bike Travelling Tales: The man with the flip flops

Dan

Dan

Have you ever been camping and freaked yourself out at the sounds you hear at night?

Sunset going down at the RV park

That’s us – just about every night. Well, more specifically, that’s Erika.

Setting up camp is a job in my daily routine. It involves unpacking and pitching the tent, inflating the mats and pillows and unrolling the sleeping bags. Before I can do any of this, however, I need to ask Erika “What side do you want to sleep on?” I suppose the idea is if there was a bear, or a wolf, or an ill-wishing human, it would get to me first which would give Erika enough time to flee to safety.

At night in our tent, to say that Erika is jumpy would be an understatement. Having camped around 50-60 nights in our tent now, I’ve just about been woken up for almost every reason you can think of. When this happens, it’s up to me to throw on some clothes, grab a torch and poke around in the pitch darkness for the source of the noise.

One night I was shaken awake. “There’s a bear outside!!”. Turned out to be a squirrel.

“Someone’s shining a light into our tent!” Turned out to be another camper 100 metres away with a really strong torch who was hitting our tent by accident.

“Something’s trying to get into our tent.” Turned out we had set up our tent on top of a gopher mound.

To this day though, nothing caused me to sit up faster than Erika shaking me awake and saying in the quietest whisper “There’s a man with flip flops walking around our tent.” Some drunk person? Another camper who couldn’t find their tent in the dark? An animal making weird sounds? There was lots of thoughts that come to your mind when you hear those words. The loudest thought in my head at the time, however, was that we carry bear mace and a kitchen knife and both were in bags on my bike, which would mean I would have to leave the tent to retrieve them.

So after a while of breathing as quietly as possible and listening, I threw on a shirt, grabbed the torch and jumped out of the tent, hoping to surprise whomever or whatever was stalking our tent before they ran off.

Nothing.

I waited for a few long minutes, standing outside my tent in nothing but my underwear and my inside-out shirt, but, still, nothing. So, we went back to a restless sleep, and were relieved that whoever it was did not return that night.

A few nights later, we discovered the source of the noise. When the wind hits the side of the tent in a very certain direction, it makes a flssshh flssshh sound that is really close to the sound of someone walking in flip flops. Whenever we hear that sound now, we always laugh and say “The guy with the flip flops is back”

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