Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 57: Norovirus and Dinosaurs

May 3: When I went down for breakfast, the place was once again packed with thru-hikers. The hotel must have had 50 thru-hikers staying there and I kind of wondered where they all came from because I hadn't realized there were so many of them so close to me on the trail!

But one hiker I met told me a story of woe--he'd gotten sick. Diarrhea and vomiting kind of sick. I'd heard of norovirus outbreaks hitting the trail in recent years and his symptoms matched that 100%. Proudfoot, the poor guy, was among the first hikers to suffer this fate this season. He was feeling better today, but the day before was a pretty awful one for him.

I backed slowly away. He might have been on the upswing, but I didn't know how contagious he was and had no reason to take any chances.

After breakfast, I planned to do laundry. First, I needed some detergent. I walked over to the gas station convenience store next door, but they were out. Then I walked to the gas station convenience store on the other side of the hotel, but they too were out. The fellow manning the front desk said that they had some the day before but that there was a run on it. A run on laundry detergent?

I finally crossed the busy Highway 220 to yet another gas station convenience store which did have laundry detergent, but only in a giant bottle that was about 100 times more than I actually needed. I took a pass and thought about my next step. Where else could I get laundry detergent?

Hitting up all of the nearby convenience stores wasn't a total waste of my time. I did pick up a small bottle of hand sanitizer that could be hung from the exterior of my pack. If people were getting norovirus on the trail, I wanted to start using it a lot more!

Back at the hotel, I riffled through the hiker boxes near the front desk but came up empty. Then I walked over to the laundry facilities just to make sure I knew where they were and... look at that! Previous hikers had left behind extra laundry detergent free for the taking right there with the laundry! Why didn't I think to check that first?

I rushed back to my room to pick up all of my dirty clothes and back to the laundry machines. When I arrived, I met Elliot who was in the process of moving his clothes from the washer to the dryer. He told me another horrifying story of getting violently sick the day before and although he was feeling better today, was taking an unplanned zero day to make sure it was out of his system. He also said there were a couple of other hikers at a shelter who were throwing up and likely infected with the norovirus. Good grief, all of this happened since yesterday?!

The alley to the laundry facilities was rather narrow and we needed to pass each other, but I did so without accidentally bumping into Elliot. He was kind enough to give me all of the room he could not wanting to infect me with anything. I threw my clothes in the washer, followed by detergent and when I got back to my room, immediately used the hand sanitizer. I didn't know what all Elliot had touched in the laundry room, but I couldn't be too careful!

I returned later to move my clothes from the washer to dryer, then from the dryer to the room, each time using the hand sanitizer between visits to the laundry room.

After laundry was done, I dressed up nicely. I had a date! Well, okay, not a real date, but a couple of days earlier I'd gotten a message from Dinosaur who I had first met while thru-hiking the PCT. She lived in the nearby town of Roanoke and when she found out I was thru-hiking the AT and nearby, she said she wanted to meet up and take me out for lunch. Which I had no problem with! There was a restaurant in a nearby town that she wanted to try but had expressed concern that maybe it was "too nice" for a thru-hiker. She didn't know I had a secret weapon, however: a tie.

So I put on my collared shirt (now freshly laundered!), tucked it into my pants and put on my tie and waited for her to arrive. She arrived and I was surprised to see her looking more like a thru-hiker than I did! Definitely very informal! She seemed just as surprised at my own formality. =)

Then she told me that the restaurant she had been considering was closed on Sunday (it was Sunday) and we couldn't go even if we wanted to. Thus, presumably, the reason for her much more utilitarian outfit. (And maybe she didn't want to outshine me too much!)

But no worries, I told her. I took off the tie and pulled out my shirt that had been neatly tucked into my pants. "I'm ready for anything," I told her. =)

We decided to go across the street to Rancho Viejo, a Mexican restaurant that I'd been eying since the day I arrived. It had a patio that looked so pleasant to sit out on and I wanted to sit out on the patio. We chatted for a couple of hours catching up (I hadn't seen her in five years, after all!). She told me about some of the inside workings of the ATC (where she worked), and I filled her in on some of the happenings on the trail. (She was very interested in the norovirus outbreak that was apparently in progress.)

Eventually she had to get back to her own life and left me at the hotel where I could continue my working ways.

Later in the afternoon, I walked over to Krogers to resupply my food for the upcoming several days. I was a little surprised to see that I had walked almost 10K steps without even trying. Running around that morning looking for detergent certainly added up to a few steps, and back and forth to the laundry room a few times helped as well. Walking to and from Krogers and all over the store added more steps. When I arrived back at the hotel, I was still a few hundred steps short of my daily goal, so I walked back to one of the convenience stores and picked up snacks to eat for dinner. By the time I returned to my room, I had my 10K steps.

So I stayed in my room for the rest of the night. Just working.... I had to crank out as many of these blog posts as I could before I hit the trail the next morning!

This was the only photo I took all day. That's Dinosaur on the left, just in case it wasn't obvious, and me on the right. =) Out on the patio of the Mexican restaurant--it was a great day for patio dining!

1 comment:

Crystal R said...

Norovirus is sooo contagious.. lots and lots of hand washing..