Settle down! Settle down! For I am about to tell you a story. A story of woe; one that features the phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time” on at least one occasion.
The day was Sunday. I had just come back from Waterloo after running some errands. The weather earlier in the day was unsettled, ominous, and yet full of variety - at various times, it would be sunny and warm; while during others there would be giant claps of thunder and sheets of lightning.
One of the errands that I was on in Waterloo was picking up some new shoes. These particular shoes are well suited to being out on a trail. The sun was shining and warm and I decided that a walk was in order. However, I didn’t just want to do any walk; I wanted to grab a new geocache. I happened to find one in the local cemetery, and this was perfect. The cemetery is located fairly close to my house; just on the other side of a forested area with an array of trails with a river running through it.
I slid on my new shoes, grabbed my GPS device of choice, and was on my way. I was wearing typical clothing - a simple shirt with a collar and a few buttons; some cargo pants; and my ubiquitous headgear. The sun was warmed and it seemed like a good idea at the time to head out.
I had often frequented these trails while I was in highschool - they were a great place to go biking or exploring, and I had gotten to know them fairly well. I did need to cross the river to get to the cemetery, though, so I was heading in the direction of a bridge. I could hear the wind in the trees and the river flowing along. The bridge was further along than I had remembered it, but it was certainly the bridge of my memory. I crossed it and entered the manicured lawn of the cemetery, making a B-line for the cache location.
It was placed on a small hill near a large tombstone, and I began looking for it. It was a microcache, and so was likely the size of a film canister (or even smaller - some are simply a few sheets of paper in a plastic bag). As I was searching, I noticed that it was getting dark. This was particularly strange as it was about 2:00 in the afternoon. I looked up, and saw that black clouds had covered the once-warm sun. Then, as if on queue, I heard the crack of thunder. The leaves were rustling particularly furiously - there was simply one conclusion; rain was approaching and rapidly.
I abandoned the search for the cache and looked around me. I was near the back of the cemetery - there was quite a walk to the front gate. Besides that, there wasn’t much in the way of shelter if I took the “urban” route back by taking the streets. My old route was certainly trusty, but the bridge was further out of my way than I was comfortable with. I decided that the only thing to do was to head back into the forest and take the second bridge across the river. Considering my current position, this would be a much more direct route.
The rain was coming in fast and hard (that’s what she said). I was standing there in the middle of the cemetery, feeling the early droplets of rain, entirely exposed to the elements. More concerning to me at this immediate juncture, however, was my GPS device. Considering that neither my short-sleeved shirt nor my cargo pants were waterproofed, I was concerned. I realized that I had to act fast and I started scouring the cemetery. My options were somewhat limited - I certainly didn’t want to disturb a grave, but there isn’t much in the way of material left out in the middle of a cemetery. I found a few garbage cans but they contained nothing promising from my initial glance. I did, however, spy a water spigot with a shopping bag around it. The bag appeared to be serving no particular purpose, and seemed ideal for my needs save one thing - it was absolutely drenched from the rain earlier in the day.
I did what anyone would have done; I flipped the bag inside out and began rubbing it all over my still dry shirt, attempting to make it dry enough to protect my electronic gizmo from the elements. It certainly wasn’t pretty - it was damp inside, but the rain was approaching and I knew things would only get worse before they got better. Little did I realize just how much worse they would get.
I wanted to get under some trees, so to escape the rain I headed down a narrow footpath which those much more knowledgeable than I had certainly travelled. It was hard-packed dirt, and was following beside a dry riverbed. I continued along it, as it was heading towards the river. When the path met the river, it followed along the edge and headed in the direction of the second bridge. My luck was finally starting to change!
I set off at a decisive clip, as the rain was beginning in earnest. At some points, the path would shrink to something so narrow that I had to hold my hands above my head to move through more easily. At other points it would wind through the forest and along gnarled roots. It was around this point that I started to think that this path just might not have been made by people more knowledgeable than I.
I also noticed something else - the second bridge was much further along than I had thought. This was an absolute downpour that I had found myself in, and I was absolutely drenched. I couldn’t have been more wet if I’d jumped into a pool. Remember how the path was hard packed dirt? Well, it wasn’t any longer. Now, it was a mud-based version of a slip-n’-slide, complete with giant puddles interspersed. Some of these were deep enough that when I went through them the water was a fair bit above my ankle.
The path, it seemed, was an absolutely horrible idea. I had been following it in a thunderstorm, perilously close to a river, as it was covered in mud with giant puddles, and leaving me one slip away from disaster. I was, of course, running along trying to get this ordeal finished as soon as possible. This was about the point at which I came to a disturbing conclusion - there was no second bridge.
I had just spent the last half hour rushing along a trail to nowhere, leading me further and further away from my home. Suddenly, following the river seemed like a terrible idea, and I was looking for a way out, away, towards any sign of civilization available to me.
Thankfully, I saw the backs of some houses. Some really, really nice houses, and I bounded towards them. Running through tall grass and deep puddles, I was just happy that I’d be on some kind of a roadway eventually. This being on the edge of the city, I was blessed with a lack of fences, but I was also cursed with the fact that I probably looked like a drowned animal crawling out of a giant mud pit - probably not the sort of thing that the people who own nice houses wanted to see. I was practicing my, “Look, I’m just trying to get to the road, leave me alone” speech as I walked through their massive, manicured backyards. Luckily, the people who own nice houses also seem to be the kind of people who are smart enough to not be out in the middle of a thunderstorm, and I was left to my own devices.
I finally hit the road at the edge of town. Across the street were farmer’s fields. There was no sidewalk to speak of, so I splashed my way down the shoulder of the road (at this point, I didn’t think hitting a few more puddles would make a difference). As I was walking along, I noticed that the rain seemed to be letting up, until the only droplets I saw falling were off the brim of my baseball cap. I continued my slow trudge home.
If you would like a general idea of how horribly far off my path was, when I started my adventure I was heading in a more or less northerly direction. When I arrived back home, I was coming from the south - I had, essentially, gone all the way around so that I could approach from behind. When I arrived home, I started cleaning myself off. I could literally wring water out of my clothing.
Oh, and the GPS? Even though I was worried about it the whole way home, it still works perfectly! WOO!
So that is why I hate rain. And my hometown. And the lack of a rain jacket store in the cemetery.