Downtown Asheville is stinky today. It smells almost as bad as Brusly during sugar-cane season. Or Bourbon Street in the very early morning, before the street-cleaners have come out to work their magic. Here, the streets are soured with the smells of smeared poop and old vomit, and an aura of tee-tee scent just sort of hangs stickily in the humid, misting air. And there’s also that revolting rotted-trash odor that often pervades when you walk past an over-full dumpster after a rain. I held my breath for nearly the entire quarter-mile trek from the parking garage to my office.
I guess this is what happens when the water stops. The City cut off downtown Asheville’s water yesterday morning due to the flooding from Hurricane Frances (the French Broad River several blocks away is well over its banks). I was hoping the boss would tell us to go home (since we had no working terlits), but—thanks in part to an urgent Friday deadline—we had no such luck. Instead, to prevent our bladders from bursting, the City installed several port-a-potties in an underground parking garage down the block.
The port-a-potties didn’t have locks on the doors. There was a man to guard them, though. Just like Dan “stands guard” when I’m using the woods alongside a hiking trail.
Now, I really don’t mind port-a-potties; Lord knows that, with my teeny-tiny bladder and hiking lifestyle, I’ve used enough privies, trees, roadsides, and greasy old gas stations not to be picky about where I go. But it’s a little unsettling to use a port-a-potty when there’s no water with which to wash your hands afterward. Luckily, someone at the office had some of that alcohol gel stuff, so I used that. Just like on the AT.
I did have drinking water, though, which I’d brought from home in three 1-liter Nalgene bottles. So at least I was able to stay hydrated AND contribute my share to the underground port-a-potties.
What I didn’t remember was to bring my lunch (again). None of the restaurants were open, obviously, so I starved all day--except for some miniature Hershey bars I yogi’d from a co-worker.
Rain, mist, privies, Nalgene, yogi-ing, candy bars, and having someone stand guard while I pee … it made me homesick for the trail.
And you know what? When I'm thru-hiking the PCT in a couple of years, if I encounter any of the stinky smells I described above ... well, they'll probably make me homesick for Asheville.