Day 22 - a hot day

I woke with the dawn, and I was happy to be on the road as soon as it was
light.  However, there was the problem of the bike being at the bottom of
the embankment.  It was so steep that I couldn't roll, carry, or drag the
bike - and I tried.  I had to unload the back of the bike before I made it
up the hill, and I started the day already tired.  I was moving before
6:30 am.

When you're exhausted, you don't remember many details, so the day seems
to be a blur.  I do remember a few things, though.

There were a lot of motorbikes headed the opposite direction, and I wondered
if they were going to something or from something.  I remember that almost
nobody waved at me or waved back when I waved.  I was riding into the sun,
so I may have missed some.

When I finally reached Conway, the US 701 through town was clogged with
Harleys and other bikes.  I thought I was supposed to turn onto 701, but
I quickly turned off as the traffic started to pass me.  I thought "There's
got to be another way on the back streets."  I discovered that Conway is
a fairly pretty town once you get off the main road.  There were many nice
homes, some from the early part of this century.  This was a major contrast
to all the mobile homes I had seen on US 378 and elsewhere in South Carolina.

Nearly everyone I saw at convenience stores ignored me.  That's quite a
feat when you consider how I look with the overloaded bike, bike shorts,
and baggy T-shirt (dirty from sleeping at the side of the road).  I can 
imagine them thinking "Don't look at him, he might be crazy.  He might ask 
for money."

As I was leaving a convenience store, I passed a black man walking down
the road.
"That's quite a load you got there."
"Yeah, I have more than I need."
"Where you headed?"
"Maine."
"Maine!?  How you going to get to Maine on that thing?"
"Very slowly."

I saw a lot of Missionary Baptist churches.  I could make jokes, but it's
just too easy :-).

I saw another coral/king snake, but this one was dead.  It had wide red
stripes and narrow black and white stripes.  They were like this:
red-black-white-black-red-black-white-black-red...  I'll have to look it up
when I have an encyclopedia handy.

As soon as I reached US 17 near the beach, traffic became very bad.  There
were more motorbikes and beachgoers.  I was happy I chose not to take the
detour through Georgetown onto US 17.

Tonight I'm at the Hughes Family Campground.  They only charge $8 for bikers -
a real bargain.  Unfortunately, they don't have a laundromat, but I have
enough clean clothes to last me a day.  I need a break day, so this looks
like a good place to stay over.

BTW, after I paid for my tent site, I sat down and had some food.  Then I
felt like lying down for a minute on the picnic table bench and woke up an 
hour later.  I think I'll sleep very well tonight.

Today's mileage: 54.  Trip total: 1006.

As I was resting and thinking about the Treet sandwich I would have for
dinner, the couple in the travel trailer next door invited me over to sit
for a spell.  The Wades are from Eden, NC, at the foothills of the Blue
Ridge Mountains, near Virginia.  They are retired and keep this place to
come to for a weekend every now and then.  Mrs. Wade offered me some
leftover fried chicken and beans, and I gladly accepted.  She also made
me a tomato sandwich.  She said she didn't like the food to go to waste,
and they would toss it out when they left in the morning.  Her husband
said she just likes to see people eat because she likes to eat :-).

Day 23 - rest

Today I re-scheduled my trip for the next few weeks, adding in a few
more rest days and shrinking the daily mileage.  I don't want another
day like Saturday.

This was my day to use up the last of my calling card.  I called my
sister, Kaye, and my tai chi teacher, Herb, and talked for a long time.
I think when I have a bad day I want even more to talk to someone about
it.  The pay phone here is annoying, though; it charges a quarter for
every call, even 800 numbers.  

I had to ride to the convenience store up the road for more quarters.
This is the first time I've been on the bike without a load in three
weeks, and I almost fell over.  It was like learning to ride all over
again, because the bike was so incredibly responsive!  I would over-
compensate on every steering motion, so I twitched the front wheel back 
and forth every time I changed directions.

I looked through my books and decided to send a few more pounds home.
My sister can mail them back to me if I run out of things to read.

As I was sitting and reading, Wendy came by to ask if I had seen her
boyfriend's truck (Wendy lives with him at the campground, I guess
year-round).  I said no, and she asked about my trip - the usual
questions.  When I said I was from Atlanta, she said she had a friend
who moved there, "to an area with no blacks."  I didn't know how to
respond.  I thought about saying something stupid, like "I have good
friends who are black" or "Why would anyone want to do that?"  The
conversation would have ended right there.  Instead I said "Yes, there 
are some areas where there are few blacks."  I never know how to respond
to open prejudice like that.  It always shocks me so badly I can't figure
out what to say.  I usually try to back out of the topic without offending
the other person.

What's funny is that otherwise she seemed normal, except I don't think
whe knew where Maine was.  Oh, well...

Like I said, it was a slow, relaxing day.  I could use more days like
this.

Day 24 - an easy day

For once I had an easy day.  I rose aroud 7:00, took a shower (This
seems like such a luxury, starting the day with a shower!), and re-
packed some of my gear.  I had a bunch of books to send home, so I
put them all together with the plan of stopping at the first Post
Office and unloading them.  I didn't hurry, but I was on the road by
8:30.

When I weighed my package at the post office in Shallotte, it was almost
nine pounds!  That makes nearly 22 pounds of gear I have sent home, plus
a pound or two that I left by the wayside.

I made good time to Southport, as if I had a tail wind the whole way.  As
I approached the city I saw Chinese restaurant with a buffet, and I had
to stop.  The food was surprisingly good, but that may be because this is
the first real restaurant I have been to in a week.

I missed the ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher by seconds, so I waited
45 minutes for the next ferry.  There were seagulls hanging around the
drinking fountain, playing "King of the Mountain."  As soon as one gull
would proclaim himself King of the Fountain, another would fly by in a
strafing run to take his place.  I filled the time with birdwatching and
map reading (one of my favorite passtimes these days).

Two of the men working on the ferry were interested in my trip.  They said
they get bicyclists coming through pretty regularly, although I wasa the
only one on this trip.  Some cyclists come back through every year.  I told
them not to expect me this time next year :-).

I missed my turn at Kure Beach, so I rode through the middle of Carolina
Beach.  It's a nice little beach town, with more hotels than gas stations.
This detour didn't add any distance to the trip; I was only headed to the
Carolina Beach State Park.

This is a very nice park, with nicely wooded campsites, showers nearby, and
a very small laundromat at the marina.  They even have a pay phone that
doesn't charge a quarter to call an 800 number.  I used my credit card to
add 60 minutes to my calling card; 60 minutes was the most they would allow,
which seems strange since it was originally a 250 minute card.

I find myself tempted to use every pay phone I pass.  I'm not really very
homesick; I just miss my friends and want to talk to them.  I was never
much for calling when I was in a normal life, partly because I was so
wrapped up in work and my extracurricular activities.  Now that I have
lots of time to myself, I think about my friends a lot and wonder how
they are doing.  Plus I want to tell them what I'm doing and have them
share in my experiences.  Perhaps this is homesickness, after all.  I never
had it before.

I rode 54 miles today, for a total of 1061, according to my odometer.  The
park is fairly cheap at $9 per night.

Images:
I was riding on a back road toward Shallotte and I saw what appeared to be
a very strange looking cat cross the road.  It had a bushy tail, big ears,
and a pointy nose.  I realized as it disappeared that it was a fox!  This
was the first I had seen outside a zoo.
Seagulls playing King of the Mountain at the fountain.  The black birds
just ignored the power play and drank no matter who was on the fountain.
I'm running the computer off of solar cells, on a picnic table, surrounded
by nature.  It's a combination of high and low tech.

Day 25 - Voila!  An American Dream

The raccoons were out last night.  When I was out doing laundry, they ate
most of my fig newtons that I had left on the picnic table.  That was
going to be breakfast!  Over night they came back and took the lid off of
the trash can.  I bet they were disappointed because there was nothing there.
I tried to get a picture of raccoon paw prints; I hope it turns out.

The ride into Wilmington was easy.  It felt like I had a tail wind the
whole way.  As you near town on the back roads there are numerous shops
for refurbishing ships, so there is quite a network of railroad tracks,
and the truck traffic is pretty heavy.  Still, it's not a bad ride.

What goes through you're mind when you're riding?  Sometimes it's a tune,
and some days the tune stays with you all day.  Several days ago the tune
was "Away In A Manger."  I can't explain why.  Today the tune was "American
Dream" - the one that was popular in the late 70's.  It goes like this:
   Voila!  An American dream.
   Yeah, we can travel, girl, without any wings.
   Well, it's as easy as closing your eyes,
   And dream Jamaica is a big neon sign.
Plus my favorite line (I used to live near Augusta):
   It's not that I'm not interested.  You see,
   Augusta, Georgia, is just no place to be.

I decided to find a bike shop because I think my chain is wearing.  I found
the Two Wheeler Dealer, which is one of the best bike shops I have seen.  It
is large enough to have a decent inventory, and it has been in business long
enough that their selection of parts stretches back several years.  They had
the chain I wanted to buy, plus a selection of other good quality chains.
They had an impressive selection of tires, wheels, and old bicycles hanging
from the ceiling.  The owner even had a wrench that fit my Brooks leather
bicycle seat (which I guessed was 13.5 mm).  It turns out that in England
there is another wrench sizing system besides metric and "English."  I forget
the name, but it started with "W".  My seat tension nut is sized 1/2W.

As I neared Surf City ("Here we come!"), I called the local campgrounds to
find the best price.  However, the clouds and wind started coming in so
strong that I decided to wimp out and stay in a hotel.  I stopped at the
Food Lion to pick up dinner, and a very nice man and woman suggested I stay
at Hare's Motor Inn, run by Bill and Joanne Hare.  The price is only so-so
at $35, but the room has a fridge and a stove; and the Hares let me use
their office phone to pick up e-mail.  There's no phone in the room.

The Hares were very interested in my trip.  They once took off with a
motor home to travel across the US, and they had a wonderful time.  They
are fans of the books "Walk Across America" and its sequels.  I had read
"Across China" by the same author, which I liked a great deal.  Although
most people who ask about my trip have the response "I sure wouldn't want
to do that," the Hares think it sounds like a great adventure.

Dinner was steamed broccoli, mini carrots, and ham and tomato sandwiches.
Plus I had some of a bag of dairy-free chocolate chips as a treat. I love 
it when there's a grocery store near the night's resting place.  BTW, did
you know that a small box of raisins has more potassium than 2 quarts of
Gatorade?  Raisins are much cheaper and easier to carry.

I read my e-mail, and it's great to hear from people at work.  Ask 
anyone who is away from home, and they will tell you that letters are
much appreciated.  I was up until 11:30 responding to the mail.

Today's distance: 60 miles.  Trip total: 1121.

Images:
I remember one day recently that I saw a hawk carrying off something.  I
wouldn't have noticed it except there were several other birds following
and getting quite upset.  Hawks are everywhere, but usually they just hover.
I saw several large birds near the road in front of a farm.  I think they
were domesticated turkeys, because they didn't fly away; they just squawked
a bit.  It sure didn't sound like "gobble gobble gobble."



Changes last made on: Fri May 31 18:02:56 1996