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Going to bed under Sunday’s heavy blanket of rain

October 29, 2018

The ToyMac sign reflecting in the wet pavement of the 1200 block of West Broadway Avenue at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

By 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening (October 29th) sheets of rain were falling on the South Granville area of Vancouver. And not just sheets—whole bedspreads and comforters of rain were bouncing up and down on the the black, glazed asphalt of West Broadway Avenue.

At that point I had been sitting in a window seat of the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway for at least two hours, safely separated from the downpour by a thick pane of glass. Within the hour, however, a real pain in the you-know-what of a homeless person had sat down beside me and launched into a series of complaints about the rain.

I was in the restaurant not to avoid the rain so much as to have a snack and charge my laptop, phone and wireless earbuds.

After nearly an hour of my homeless acquaintance’s litany—that he would get “soaked”, that the rain was “the heaviest ever”, that it would “flood the streets” and so forth—I was praying for the LED light on the earbuds to change from red to green, so that I could escape into the quiet of the storm.

As it was, the god of LEDs did not see fit to grant my wish until just after 10 p.m.

My trip back to my parkade went swimmingly thank you

Looking north in the 1200 block of West Broadway at 10:32 p.m.

Stepping out into rain as heavy as it was late Sunday evening has all the feeling of wrongness that taking a cold shower with all your clothes on has and then some.

How well you actually bear up under the daggers of chill water has especially to do with two things: how successfully your outerwear sheds the water and how well you can cope—when and if your outerwear eventually fails to shed the water.

In my case, a hard-shell bike helmet and a Viking Journeyman PVC-coated nylon rain jacket insured that head-to-thigh I would stay bone dry, no matter how much water fell on me. While a complete lack of any other rain-gear meant that the bottom half of my cargo shorts, my socks and eventually my boots would necessarily get soaked, if I was out in the elements long enough.

Within a block of leaving McDonald’s I was acclimatized to the rain and though I was making a beeline for my sleeping spot I began looking for opportunities to photograph the deluge. Unfortunately—waterproof phone aside—out under the open sky the torrential rain proved to be an impenetrable obstacle to taking photos.

By the time I made it under the steel-and-glass awnings on the south side of the 1200 hundred block of West Broadway, the rain was significantly less Old Testament than it had been when I started out two blocks west. As a result I was easily able to take a number of thoroughly average-looking photos of the rain-slicked street and sidewalk.

In reality, the rain was still robust enough that by the time I arrived at my parkade It looked as though I had waded there in thigh-deep water.

In hindsight, it was probably an error on my part not to put on my rain pants.

But getting to my parkade is just the beginning of a process. Bedtime always takes me some time to prepare.

My homeless bedtime routine

First, on a rainy night, there is the matter of letting my bike and trailer drain—always well away from my sleeping spot.

While the bike and trailer shed water at their own pace, I lay out a nine by three square of overlapping sheets of fresh broadsheet newsprint at my sleeping spot. This is for the trailer to sit on top of and continue to drip onto, with an additional tongue of three more sheets of newsprint to sit under the wet bicycle.

Then I remove the waterproof pannier from the bike rack and the wet-dry bag holding my sleeping bag from the trailer and I roll the whole rig onto its bed of newsprint. Finally I use my nearly two-metres of transport chain to securely lock the trailer and bike together.

Next I lay out a picnic-type dropcloth alongside the bike and trailer and roll out my sleeping bag on top of the dropcloth. The pannier becomes the “pillow” at the head of the sleeping bag.

And with minor minor embellishments, this completes my standard bedding arrangements.

Before I slipped into bed Sunday night, I specifically changed out of my wet clothes. I hung the wet clothes up to air dry, laid out fresh socks for the morning and secured my boots against casual theft—after first stuffing them with newsprint to absorb excess moisture overnight.

Once I got down into my sleeping bag the soothing sound of rainfall put me to sleep in minutes. Click the images to enlarge them.

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