Stories from a Bike Trip: Part 3

Are you ready for this one? Because I assure you; it’s a good tale! It is a bit long, but I promise, it’s worth it!

(If you are new to my blog, you can check out part one and part two here and here.)

As you may recall from my last bike trip blog posts, I left on this trip immediately after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the South. We also ended up cycling through Hurricane Rita a few weeks later, but that’s a story for another time. Because of the destruction and devastation that these hurricanes caused, we ran into evacuees everywhere. I’m talking hotels, campgrounds, hostels, living out of their cars: everywhere.

I was trying to be a Silhouette Gal πŸ™‚

Β Once we had arrived in the south, our sleeping arrangements had switched from city parks and front yards of kind citizens to paid campgrounds. People in the south were not as hospitable or friendly (no offense!) and we ended up having to find locations where we could ensure our safety. However, because of the hurricanes, it was common to pull into a campground and see a car set up for the long haul: clothesline, elaborate camp kitchen, camping shower, etc. For many, these campgrounds had become their temporary home. Because of this, Steve and I didn’t think anything of the old car with Missouri plates that we noticed parked in our campground in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

However, after we had set up our tent and eaten dinner, the man from the Missouri car came wandering over to our campsite to chat. His name was Vince, and we figured we needed to at least be friendly. After all, he was the only other person in the entire campground: it was just us and him.

Immediately, I was uncomfortable around Vince. His face made me nervous, the way he looked at us through his thick glasses made me nervous, and his general behavior made me really nervous. I kinda chose to walk away under the pretense of washing my face because I did not want to be around him. I figured Steve could deal with him.

Let’s just focus on the beauty of the area, shall we?

However, after 20 minutes, I came back to find Vince still at our site. At this point, I couldn’t really go anywhere else so I sat down and listened in horror as Vince continually tried to push weed, beer and various pills into Steve’s hands. Steve continually denied his offers, but Vince would not stop and was clearly not understanding our discomfort.

And then it got worse.

Vince began telling us a story about how he had been staying at this campground for weeks and during that time, he had met another man. According to Vince, this “man” was sadomasochistic and kept coming into the campground at night to bother people. Vince then went on to detail how he felt the need to “get the meanness out” of this man by torturing him.

Yes, Vince told us he had tortured a man in the campground.

At this point, I can only imagine the look on my face and Steve’s face was covered in pure shock. We told Vince we didn’t want to hear anymore, but he wasn’t listening. Unfortunately, it was now dark and since we couldn’t ride our bikes through the mountainous roads in the dark, we were stuck at this campsite. With Vince.

Vince continued with his story, explaining every detail of how he tortured the man. Then, as if a light bulb went off in his head, he tells us that he still has his torture devices with him. “I’ll run back and get them from my car to show you!” he exclaimed, running towards his site. What, why would we want to see this???

I wore this outfit every single day for four months. Awesome.

As he rummaged around his car a few hundred yards away, another couple pulled up on a motorcycle. We didn’t know them, obviously, but Steve and I both breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, there was at least one other person at this campsite!

The motorcycle couple turned out to be Keith and Lorna. They came over to talk to us while Vince searched through his car for the torture devices. Vince was within hearing distance so we didn’t feel comfortable mentioning to Keith and Lorna that we were miserable, and quite honestly, afraid. However, I’m pretty positive the look on my face said it all.

Vince sauntered back over and laid down his tools on the table: a blowtorch, a knitting needle, fishing hook, etc. He starts mentioning the phrase “prince albert” (if you don’t know what it is, go look it up!) and talking about how he hog tied this “man” and used his tools to torture him. Seriously, Vince was crazy.

At this point, Keith and Lorna realized what was going on in this campsite and decided to leave: Vince was far too gone to feel safe around. Of course, they had a motorcycle with headlights and could drive in the dark. Leaving wasn’t a problem for them. It was, however, for Steve and I.

It was beautiful!

And this is where the kindness of humanity, once again, reared its head up amongst all the ugliness we were experiencing. Keith and Lorna could have taken off and left us at the campground to fend for ourselves. After all, they had only met us 15 minutes prior. Instead, they chose to help us out.

They volunteered to escort us to the next possible area where we could sleep. We discovered that there was an RV park 5 miles down the road, so they hopped on their motorcycle and rode behind us, all the way to the RV park. We used their headlights to guide us, and their physical bike protected us from any oncoming traffic.

Upon arriving at the RV park, Keith went inside to pay for a site and we spoke to Lorna outside. I think their parenting instincts kicked in and they truly wanted to ensure the safety of the silly 20-somethings in front of them. They had us share their camping site, and even cooked us dinner for the night. When Keith realized that Steve’s therma-rest had popped a hole, he generously gave his to Steve, without asking any questions. As he put it, “You need this more than me.”

To date, our altercation with Vince was one of the most terrifying encounters of my life. I would share more details with you, but quite honestly, some of the stuff he said to us is not meant for blog world πŸ™‚ However, Keith and Lorna came along and once again, confirmed that people — for the most part — are good. For every one Vince, there are at least two more awesome people standing in the wings!

I still wonder about this to this day: if Keith and Lorna hadn’t showed up, would you have risked pedaling through dark, windy mountain roads to get away from Vince? Or stayed in the campground and hoped that his scariness was all talk with no action?

What’s the scariest experience you’ve ever had?


  • Reply Janine@ThePurpleGiraffe at

    OH MY GOD! That’s terrifying, I don’t know what I would have done! That’s just crazy. Thank god for Keith and Lorna and the kindness of (some) strangers!

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    Just wanted to let you know that I LOVE these. =)

  • Reply Becky at

    Holy crap. That’s just absolute insanity. I sincerely hope that guy was just absolutely bonkers in his mind rather than actually having tortured some random guy. WOW. That’s just insane. Thank goodness for your new friends! That would’ve been SO scary.

    • Reply Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal at

      He was definitely nuts and his story kept changing. At first, the “man” was a pedophile so that was why Vince wanted to hurt him. Then the “man” was the one torturing him…but then he got the stuff from his car and Steve and I realized how truly far gone he was. Super scary stuff.

  • Reply CentsibleRunner at

    I’m new to your blog and enjoy reading about your adventures!!!
    My heart skipped a few beats and my skin crawled reading your story. But it also made me smile knowing that there are also good people in the world! Please know that Vince is a terrible representation of Missourians….

    Scariest experience was on my honeymoon in Costa Rica, husband and I got our rental car tires slashed… long and scary story….maybe I will do a post on my blog about that!

    • Reply at

      That is very scary – I would read that post! Not that I enjoy benefitting out of your scary experience through an interesting blog post haha

  • Reply Ed at

    Wow that is one crazy story…I was glad to hear the part about the good samaratins helping you both out. It seems these days there is not much of that and I am always glad to hear those stories.

    Sounds like you got some instincts yourself reading Vince like a book their,sounds like Vince should move to Alaska…he would fit in well (sadly its true)…

    • Reply Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal at

      Do you really run into that many strange people up there? Not gonna lie– I watched an episode of Northern Exposure a few weeks back and thought of y’all! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Ed at

      Could I tell ya some stories! LOL There is this one guy that comes off deck, strips to his undies and sprays himself with Lysol….just for starters lol….

  • Reply Ericka @ The Sweet Life at

    Ahh your photos are always amazing. So jealous of this trip. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Katie @ Will Race for Carbs at

    Oh my that is terrifying. I think Keith and Lorna saved you guys. I can’t believe he got his tools out!!! I think I am going to have nightmares!! You really do have amazing stories from the trip and I love the way you tell them. πŸ™‚

  • Reply at

    Oh my gosh! What a scary experience – I give you and Steve props for keeping your cool and not panicking and doing anything that could have “set off” Vince. I think I would have left, pedaling in the dark is so dangerous but it was a “maybe dangerous” thing whereas the campground with Vince seemed to be a “definitely dangerous” situation. Thank God for that couple – and for you and Steve’s bravery!

  • Reply Kara at

    Uh, did you call the cops? Maybe they wanted to know about the dude and his torture devices, especially if he was always hanging out there.

    Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers!

    • Reply Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal at

      This was back in the day so we didn’t have a cell phone so there was no immediate access to call (all of our internet was dial up from public libraries). And as for the next day…. nope. Guess we dropped the ball on that one!

  • Reply *CaNdY FiT* at

    Eeek! That sounds so scary! Thank goodness for the kind strangers you met!

  • Reply Bean at

    Whoa um that is terrifying. But these stories always restore my faith in humanity and the goodness of strangers. They also make me want to bike across the U.S. (um well not so much this story, but the less terrifying ones:)) I am amazed that you did that!

  • Reply lynne at

    Um, holy cow. I’m not sure what I would have done in that situation but you handled it very well. I’m glad Keith and Lorna showed up and decided to help you out!! Man! I have goosebumps imagining that!

  • Reply courtney at

    goodness gracious! so glad those two showed up to help you guys!

  • Reply Suz and Allan at

    How terrifying! I’m so sorry your Southern experience wasn’t what it should have been. If you ever travel back this way I will personally make up for it!

  • Reply Lena @Fit on the Rocks at

    That sounds horrifying. I’m so glad that for each bad situation, you’ve had some gracious people there to help you!

  • Reply Kayla Carruth @ kpLoving It at

    I don’t even think I would thought twice about risking my life on the dark roads to get away from Vince.

  • Reply Jamie at

    Scary!! I’m so glad nothing happened to you! My husband’s aunt and her friend were murdered at a campsite by someone who had a rifle (they were following the Grateful Dead in California) so this story makes me think of that. He didn’t get to meet his aunt since this happened a few years before he was born.

    I would have definitely left, no question about it!

    I’m so glad that they came and helped you guys get to safety!

  • Reply Terzah at

    Wow! I’ve never had anything that scary happen to me. I’m so glad you guys were “saved.” Something like that would have had me hotels for a few nights.

    The scariest thing that ever happened to me involved a peeping tom in my neighborhood in Houston. It’s more a series of little stories, the scariest one being the night I walked home alone from a friend’s place and saw this guy standing in the vacant lot across from my building as I approached. It was 2 a.m. He just stared me all the way into the building. I was young and stupid and didn’t know who he was. Later on, he was caught peering into one of my neighbor’s apartments, and on another night I saw his silhouette against the blinds in my own room (I went and got into my roommate’s bed with her that night). He had all kinds of burglary tools on him when he was finally arrested. The police said it was just a matter of time before he broke in and raped someone.

  • Reply Julie at

    Girl you must make your parents worry a lot! πŸ™‚ That is sooo very scary!

    • Reply Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal at

      Hahah this made me laugh! My mom never asks what I’m doing anymore because she says she is used to it always being “something.” πŸ™‚

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.