Taking care of No. 1 and No. 2 for the Crew required an unnatural combination of control and luck. Team FARA’s mentor, Lee “Fuzzy” Mitchell, did the math for us early on in the planning process and declared that the capacity of the RV could only accommodate the needs of the four Riders. The Crew would have to make do with whatever external facilities that they might encounter. For me and others, this more often meant everything from dashing behind the odd bush in the desert to offroad rock outcroppings, strategically placed guard rails but sometimes a gas station or convenience store would be encountered at just the right time. Locals who came out to see the passing spectacle of our Riders exchanges at the edge of their rural driveways were a rarer but most welcome event for the Crew.
Crew members were always grateful for these opportunities for relief whether natural or odd coincidence. In the more urban areas, this required both discretion and good judgment, but we appreciated the graciousness that we encountered. One memorable case occurred late in the Race as we approached the final stretches into Annapolis. The RV had settled in for brief stop to coordinate a rendezvous with the vans for the next exchange of resting for exhausted Riders. The RV pulled into an independent convenience store along the highway and I popped out to dash into the little store. The modest store was stacked to the ceiling with the usual water, beer and other beverages along with snacks. But a quick scan of the premises found no restroom. Ugh! The proprietor, a middle aged woman behind the counter recognized my dilemma immediately and with the sweep of her hand she said, “Please, use my bathroom” and she pointed toward a closed door marked: Private: Employees only.
With a quick thank you, I pushed open the door to a darkened room equipped with a small kitchen, a cot in the corner and an open door to a waiting toilet. I flipped on the light and closed the toilet door behind me. Ah!!! Relief of No. 2 and mission accomplished. I rose to flush the toilet only to see the water rise ever so slowly. And rise. And rise. With each millimeter of the rising tide, my relief was displaced by panic. Was I going to reward this gracious woman with a mess in her private facility?! At last the rising stopped and the water level receded to previous levels. But the contents of my deposit remained. Well maybe a second flush will do the job. A slow swirl and a rising tide removed only a fraction. This would not do. I grabbed the plumber’s “helper” next to the toilet and furiously plunged hoping to free a clogged line. A third flush and the slow swirl removed more of my deposit and only a fourth flush cleared the bowl.
Emerging from the Private quarters, I cautioned a fellow Crew mate – “Careful.” As I passed the store keeper, I expressed my thanks and she responded – “You are most welcome. I know that you have traveled so far. Many others in the Race have already stopped by. Sorry but it flushes very slowly.” Indeed!