Day 26 - more riders and Camp LeJeune detour
The first thing this morning I borrowed the office phone line to deliver
the mail I composed last night. It's nice to have the option available.
The ride out of Surf City was tough, because I was riding into a headwind
for about an hour. Someone said "It's like an uphill with no downhill."
Fortunately it became a side wind as the road turned north. I noticed a
motel with a sign proclaiming "$25 a night except weekends and holidays."
I guess no matter where you go, there is always someplace cheaper.
As I approached Camp LeJeune I met two other bicycle tourists - the first
since early in Florida. Larry and Linda are headed from Philly to Saint
Augustine, traveling light and staying in hotels. They are following a
route along the coast, but they follow the AC route part of the time.
They highly recommend the outer banks route option, and they said I would
probably have a tailwind the whole way headed north. I declined because
I've done a little riding in the area and the terrain doesn't interest me.
It was really nice to meet someone else doing a bike tour - it makes me
feel less of an oddity. We exchanged addresses and they invited me to
visit if I'm in Philly at the same time as they.
Riding into Camp LeJeune, I must have had a tailwind because I was making
great time. I passed over lots of tank crossings and heard gunfire off
in the distance. Unfortunately, the gunfire meant that the road was closed
because they were firing over the road. The detour took me about 6 miles
out of the way and into a construction area where traffic moved at a snail's
pace. Once off the base, I had to ride for about 5 miles down NC 24, a busy
4 lane, divided highway. It did give me a chance to go to Burger King for
Once I was off the main drag, traffic thinned out and I made good time again.
The pine forests are once again giving way to hardwoods, which pleases me
because I much prefer the shade and beauty of an old oak tree growing at
the edge of a clearing or on the side of the road.
I made it into camp before 4:00, so I had a chance to relax in the shade.
The "17" Family Campground is a great deal at $10 a night, with nicely
tended lawns for putting up tents and old hardwoods for shade. There is
a large creek running through the property, and some people are fishing.
I have noticed that all the rivers and streams in North and South Carolina
have very dark water, so brown you almost can't see through it. I guess
that's because their feedwaters are in the swamps, where decaying trees
and plants contribute to the nutrient content of the water. I don't
think the water is contaminated. I finally understand the old Doobies
tune about "Old Black Water."
Dinner was tomato and turkey sandwiches and carrots and chocolate, all from
last night's shopping trip. I could live pretty cheaply if I could keep
this up. I even have enough snack food left to last me a couple more days.
Today's distance: 57 miles. Trip total: 1178
Going through LeJeune I was passed by a guy on a racing bike. I thought
it would be pretty funny if I caught up to him, loaded down as I was. I
was doing pretty well until the hill; then it was all over.
A couple of dogs chased me this afternoon. I found that if the dog is
ahead of me, I can play chicken with it by riding directly toward it. The
dogs like to chase a biker, but they don't like being chased back.
Day 27 - a camp too far
This morning started beautifully, with cool temps and a nice breeze. I
was travelling through farm country; I recognized corn, hay, cabbage, and
beets, but there were several I didn't know. Then, in the middle of all
this, there was an AT&T microwave tower - a major contrast.
I was riding along and a Gary (on a motorcycle) pulled up next to me and
asked about my trip. We went through the usual questions, and then he
asked me if I couldn't get sponsorship for the trip or use it to raise
money for charity. I said I didn't want to be tied to someone else's
plan, and I'm doing the trip for purely selfish reasons. Then he said
it sounded like I was doing a "Phaedrus." Was I the last to read "Zen
And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?" Everyone else seems to have
read it. Phaedrus was sort of the alter ego of the main character, who
was biking across the US on a journey of self-discovery.
I said that ZAMM was one of the inspirations for my trip, but not the
only one. I wanted to do the trip before I read ZAMM or saw "Forest
As I approached New Bern, I came across the first middle class housing
development I have seen since Florida. The houses all appeared to be
well built on nicely landscaped plots - the same type you see going up
all around Atlanta. It stood out in my mind because I have passed
through so many areas with trailers on plots with junk strewn around.
I paused for lunch at a convenience store on the other side of New Bern,
and that turned out to be a mistake. My next major landmark was the
ferry at Aurora, which I missed by 30 minutes. The really bad part was
that the next ferry didn't leave for 2 hours! I had to wait around for
the next one, and during that time I picked 5 ticks off my legs.
On the ferry a guy came up and asked about my trip. I didn't get his
name, but he does club bicycle rides on weekends, and he had a copy of
the latest Bicycling Magazine. I flipped through it and found a 6 page
article on Adventure Cycling. AC are the folks who did the maps I am
using, and this year marks their 20th anniversary. (It's also the 220th
anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in case
you weren't paying attention.) I will probably purchase a copy of the
Bicycling issue at the next bike shop I'm in.
The worst part of taking the late ferry was that I didn't get off of it
until 5:30 pm. That meant I wouldn't get into camp until at least 6:00,
which didn't leave as much time as I like to unwind before bed. It gets
worse. When I got to the campground, the woman there said it had been
closed for 2 years. She said Goose Creek State Park would be a nice
alternative, and that it was very cheap and had nice facilities. I headed
on, only stopping to grab some groceries in Bath.
I rode to Goose Creek and found that they only have primitive camping,
with no showers. Plus the deerflies are worse than mosquitoes. The
park ranger came by to sign me in and I found that the site is $5 a night.
I know I'm being cheap, but that seems a lot for nothing more than a
picnic table. There weren't even bathrooms - only "pit toilets." Plus
the ticks are bad. The ranger told me North Carolina is famous for
deerflies and ticks. Thanks.
It's hot. I wiped myself down with a wet washcloth (better than nothing),
and I'm lying naked in my tent to keep cool. I hope I don't get any
ticks where the sun don't shine.
All in all, it was a pretty good day. I rode 78 miles (!) for a trip
total of 1256.
Ticks, mosquitoes, and deer flies make a pretty lethal combination. It's
not much fun having dinner like that.
It's funny how almost the whole day can go well, but if I'm feeling lousy
at bedtime, it makes the whole day seem bad.
As I was getting off the ferry, one of the employees asked me about the
trip. His was the first northern accent I have heard, and I almost couldn't
understand him. He asked if I would be in SoCal by fall, and I thought he
said "far." Time to re-tune the ears.
Day 28 - 4 weeks. Who'd have thought?
This morning I wanted to get out of camp early, to avoid biting creatures.
So, I turned on the drill sargeant voice in the back of my head. It sounds
like the drill sargeant from "Gomer Pyle." "Come on maggot! Move it, move
it! I don't see you moving!" It worked because I was on the road at 7:35,
and I didn't get out of bed until 6:30.
The two basic rules of life from Lazarus Long are: Never miss an opportunity
to eat and drink; and never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself. I made
the mistake of breaking the second rule, much to my regret. Someone wrote
a book titled "How to Shit in the Woods." It's required reading for bears,
but I hadn't read it. I was riding with an uncontrollable urge, and no
facilities for at least 5 miles in any direction. So I pulled off the side
of the road and went into the woods. Mosquitoes have no shame; they will
bite you in places you can't even see, when you are the most helpless to
stop them. I'll never break rule 2 again.
I started the morning with a headwind, but I hoped I would leave it behind
as the road turned. Unfortunately, the headwind seemed to follow me. I
rode with it all day. This was my first experience with a continuous
headwind; I had hoped to avoid them until I was at least to Kansas. The
problem with a headwind is that it doesn't stay still. It's hard to pace
yourself with constantly changing conditions. At least it was cool.
I narrowly missed a band of thunder clouds that passed to the northeast
of me. I just got a sprinkling. But the clouds stayed most of the day.
I passed through Plymouth (not the famous one), and I got the impression
of a dieing town. Lots of shops were boarded over, and the place had a
run-down appearance. Perhaps I just went through the bad section of town.
Just outside Plymouth I came to a "Bicycle Route Detour" sign. It wanted
me to do a 69 mile detour with no maps and no info on lodging or food. I
knew that it was just to avoid a 4 mile bridge over Albemarle Sound, so I
decided to chance it.
The Albemarle Sound bridge has decent shoulders, but the railing is low
and the cross winds can be fierce. There's a bicycle warning sign at the
entrance to the bridge. I figured if things got too hairy, I could walk
my bike. It would be better than a 69 mile detour. The ride was over-
rated, because I made with no hint of a problem. I even made good time,
because the bridge was crosswise to the headwind I fought all day.
I'm in the Sandy Point Beach campground, which has minimal facilities, but
charges like a KOA - $19. I tried calling the local motels, but got no
answer or "We're closed." At least I got a hot shower.
Bonnie and Kathy came over from next door to ask about my bike and my trip.
They were intrigued to know why anyone would do a trip like this. Laurie
asked "Why are you doing the trip?" and "What are you looking for?" That's
quite different from what most people ask: "Why would you want to do that?"
My answers were simple. I spent most of my life doing what I thought other
people expected of me, and this is the first thing I wanted to do for myself.
And I am looking to find who I am, what I am capable of, and what I want to
do when I grow up.
Bonnie just came over with a plate of food: pasta salad, potato, and corn
on the cob. There are nice people here.
Today's mileage: 57. Trip total 1313. Lubed chain
It has become impossible to find the off-brand fig newtons and Moon Pies.
What kind of convenience store doesn't carry Moon Pies. I may be in hell.
I have to find new staple foods without dairy products.
This morning I stopped at a farm to ask what crop they were growing. Doug
answered "fluke-leaf tobacco." Doug told me a little about the types of
tobacco grown in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. I couldn't
tell how old he was, in his 20's or 30's, but he seems very happy at his
I've noticed that younger people generally drive faster, and older people
generally drive slower. I know I used to drive pretty fast. How do older
people lose their sense of urgency? Or do they gain an awareness that
things go at their natural pace and there's no need to rush?
Geese arrangements. Several times I have seen arrangements of geese statues
in people's yards. The first couple of times, I had to look closely to be
sure they weren't real. Once I stopped by a flock of geese around a pond,
and it took me a minute or two before I realized they were real.
Road bumps. Because of the longer winters, many roads here have cracks
running across their width, and a depression at each crack. The result is
that I get a double bump when I cross one. They're not bad if I'm riding
fast, but when I'm slowed by a headwind, they're very annoying. It's like
having someone hit you in the head every 5 seconds with 2 nerf bats. They
don't hurt, but they keep you on edge.
Changes last made on: Fri May 31 18:05:42 1996