I once slept in a storage closet on a train in Vietnam. I once slept on a park bench in Mokpo, Korea. Now I have the pleasure of adding a barn to my list of unusual places I’ve sleep.
The occasion arose on Thursday after I completed a ride from Iona to Baddeck. It was getting later in the day so I started heading east out of town in search of a place to pitch my tent. There was none. On either side of the road there was water or private properties with people at home, so there was nowhere to set up camp. It was damned near dark at this point and I was starting to get a little desperate. It was then that I spied the Auld Farm Inn. The sign on the front lawn said “No Vacancy” but I headed inside anyway, hopeful that the operators would allow me to set my camp somewhere on their grounds.
The Auld Farm Inn is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Jan and Glen Vickers. Upon entering the Inn it was Glen that I met first. When I asked him about a place that I may set up camp, he thought for a moment and then offered me the use of their barn. He seemed a little hesitant as he offered it to me, but when I responded as enthusiastically to the idea as I did he seemed to lose his uncertainty. He led me across the yard from the Inn to their 150 year old barn. And while outwardly I maintained some semblance of decorum, inside I was about to burst with excitement. “I’m going to sleep in a barn,” was all I could think. “I’m going to sleep in a f**king barn!” I don’t have an official bucket list but if I did, sleeping in a barn would be on it.
The barn was beautiful. The floors had recently been renovated as the barn had played host to a couple of wedding receptions. Beyond this the barn was beautifully cared for and maintained with its traditional wood slat exterior walls, open rough beams, and authentic tools and equipment. The coup de gras was the hay bales. There were places where I could see out little spaces between the boards but it had a good roof and it was nice and dry. It was perfect.
A short time later I was visited by Jan. She brought with her four liters of water for my evenings needs. We chatted a little and shared a couple of laughs and then she bid me good night and went on her way. I set up my kitchen next to the fire pit to one side of the barn. I soon had my little stove pumping heat into some rice and beans. After a meal fit for a king, albeit a king of a poor and decrepit kingdom, and with the dishes washed it was time to wash something else: me!
I heated some water, dropped in a little soap, and stripped off to the bare nothing. Adonis Unfurled. The fire pit area wasn’t visible from the Inn, not that it mattered. If anybody could see my little bit of junk from over there then they have truly remarkable eyes, worthy of epic poetry. So there I was, standing in a darkened corner outside a 150 year old barn, naked as the day I was brought into the world, singing to my hearts content, washing out of a pot that had held rice and beans a half an hour before, and wondering, could I be just about the luckiest schmuck in the world?
Washing complete, I put on my freshest dirty clothes, crawled into my sleeping bag, and soon was fast asleep atop some hay bales that I had arranged for a bed. What an incredibly snug and cozy night it was in the Auld Farm Inn barn. A tremendous thank you to Jan and Glen for their compassion and hospitality to a late and weary traveler. The night in your barn will long be amongst my favourite travel stories.
Do not let a flattering woman coax and wheedle you and deceive you; she is after your barn