A tarp is a device, usually plastic or some other synthetic material, commonly used to cover trucks, keep tents off the ground and build lean-tos. Some tarps are big, others are small, you should be able to find some at your local mall.

Tarps can be used as shelter when camping, if lack of foresight and planning prevents you from bringing proper equipment, such as a tent! Instructions for protecting yourself from the howling wind and driving rain with only a single tarp and some baling twine:

  1. Take the tarp out of your pack. Unfold it.
  2. After the wind blows it away once you have it unfolded, chase it across the field until it becomes entangled in stinging nettle.
  3. Fold the tarp roughly in half. The inside of this fold will become the so-called living area.
  4. Place the folded tarp on the ground. Secure the lower corners of the tarp to trees, pegs, rocks, or wildlife.
  5. Use a stick or tie the corners to a tree to secure the upper half of the tarp up a bit, so it's not directly on your face when you're under it in your sleeping bag.
  6. Since you got kicked out of boyscouts for not being able to tie knots, get your sleeping bag in there and yourself into it so that the whole thing doesn't blow away again!
  7. Proceed to shiver through the night, huddled in your inadequate shelter.

A small town in northern Germany. I was there for about an hour because my father and I missed our commuter train stop and had to get off at the next one to wait for another train to come by going in the opposite direction.

The train station was of the typical, small town design: a rather short platform to board from and a few half-hearted structures representing snack-bar/travel store, ticket booth, and (if I remember correctly) a small post office. All were unmanned.

We did not venture into the town really, for fear of missing a train, but what we saw of it was rather frightening. The town was clean... no trash on the ground. The shop windows shiny, as though polished dutifully on a regular basis. But there was not a soul in sight. No cars in the streets. No people walking home, to work, to lunch... anything! It was a ghost town protected by some unknown, possibly ethereal maintenance crew. We did not even hear the clichéd howl of a distant dog.

Nothing. All was quiet.

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