Summer Camp

By Stephen Ewashkiw | July 2, 2013

3408 km so far.

After riding 500 km from Kraków in a little more than one week, we are in the Mazurian Lake District, and taking a day off. Our plan has been to get here, relax, slow down, and enjoy the nature. So today, we hung out at camp.

The Slow Wonder

A tourist brochure we picked up in Pisz explained that several towns around the lakes comprise the Polish Slow Cities movement. It’s been two and a half months since Umbria, the original home of slow, and here we are in its Polish counterpart. We’ll see how this translates over the next few days in the area.

We started off today with a deep clean of our bikes. This took pretty much all morning. It’s amazing all the nooks and crannies where grease, grass seeds, metal shavings, and general grime can get stuck on a bicycle. So much of what we ride over is oil-based: the asphalt, the old tire pieces left by transport trucks, the oil dripped by leaking vehicles, the acrid exhaust pumped out by poorly maintained oil filters, the coal soot falling from the sky… all of this comes home to rest on our cogs, our cables, and our cranks.

Cleaning takes great concentration.

Cleaning takes great concentration.

Despite calls for rain all day it turned out to be beautiful. So we took it slow, as planned. We stuck around the camp, eating, reading, writing, and trying to find and fix the leak in our Big Agnes Q-Core air mattress.

Trying to erase the cycle tourist's tan lines.

Trying to erase the cycle tourist’s tan lines.

While Jane broke for an afternoon nap, which is one of the great luxuries of a day off, I partook in one of the others.

View from Jane's nap, Nowe Guty.

View from Jane’s nap, Nowe Guty.

Mantra, pranayama, and meditation on the dock overlooking the largest lake in Poland, followed by a great asana practice on the grass.

Opera In The Dark

Tonight the storm came. It rolled in as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner (and I had to finish those touches in the start of the downpour), and we sat in the tent watching the season finale of Mad Men as the rain fell. This is what counts as roughing it in 2013, folks.

As the sun set, one of our fellow campers decided the best way to welcome the storm was to sit in his car with the windows open, stereo turned up to 11, and listen to a Best Of Opera CD, while singing along.


It was quite odd, but also a fantastic accompaniment to the thunder, lightning, dark, rolling clouds, and the rain.

Jane’s note: I think one of the pieces on the CD was used in a particularly gory scene in American Psycho, so that really brought out the creep factor.

We settled in for the night, with the operatic accompaniment still going strong, and flashes of lightning so bright that even inside the tent with our eyes closed they were blinding. The rain pounded down with such ferocity it truly felt like the rain might rip through our thin protection at any moment.

But the tent held up to the test, and eventually the rain and the opera subsided and sleep took us over.  

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