Although it was past midnight, the sand was still warm and soothing to stroll on. God sprinkled His confectioners sugar across the blue velvet night sky. He even light a couple stars up real bright and cast em across the cosmos. Their tail’s glow faded quickly but that moment will be with us for a lifetime.
1:15 am. “Dispatch. There is a house fire in progress on Barnacle Rd. Station 2 report. Crossroads are US703 and Watercolor Way. Paramedics en route.” Nothing like being woken up by a PA system and siren. I slip my shoes on and was handed a yellow reflective FIRE RESCUE vest. We take the tower truck. It’s ladder extends 104 feet and needs to be hydraulically anchored before extended.
The fire truck has unique brakes that assist it decelerating. Not sure how they work entirely but it feels like some external force is pulling on the engine while a low grumble growls and makes the truck hum like a tuning fork. FD on the scene within 4 minutes.
We stopped at a Catholic church on the road to play a scrimmage soccer game with some Hispanics but it was too late. Filled up the water bottles and had cookies/bread/bagels donated. There is a memorial on the wall of all the congregation’s service members that are abroad.
Sam was a police chief for over 20 years in Jersey. He spoke about his son a lot, you could tell he really cares about his family and moved to Florida to be closer. Nate then patched a flat in the Harley Davidson store a block down the street while I sat on hogs and ‘vrrrm”ed with my mouth, turned the bike until the kickstand hit and looked back at my bike. Mine has a better motor.
North Carolina has an unwelcoming party for bikers. Dogs that aren’t leased to their homes will chase you down the street. Do we look like mailmen? 4 mile stretch
of unpaved asphalt. You stay classy Shallotte, NC.
Welcome to the bro-asis. Close your eyes and imagine, wait if you close your eyes then the story is over….Picture REEF & Billabong vomiting every surf-ernalia
onto the walls, stolen street signs like “SHADY ave” & “HOOKER st” are at the cross section of the ‘pad’ and the ‘bed’. On the end of the futon is a
massage chair-apist which I sat on for an hour. Christmas lights year round. Three stories including a widow’s walk on the roof that is sublime for watching the waves
and the sunset. Every tenant is young, tan, and accustomed to ‘Bath Salt Life’ (a spin-off sticker they made after the zombie outbreak). Tom, our host, introduced me
to surfer jargon like “get pitted”. I dusted off my surfer vernacular and dropped a “tubular” and “kowabunga”…probably should have left those phrases in the 70’s.
I had the ‘fajitarrito’ and Nate chowed down on the ‘double bypass’ with guacamole dip at Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn. It is decorated like Tijuana Flats (graffiti on the walls and decorated ceiling tiles). Every employee has a visible tattoo. Wasabi & mango salsa among other unique salsas in the self-serve bar.
Several times during the night I rolled onto a spring or woke up drenched in sweat craving water. It was difficult to dream of anything. I wanted to dream of
being at the foot of the falls. Standing on top the rushing water looking straight up hundreds of feet and seeing Nate. Thousands of roaring gallons below Nate.
We made it. Why is he on top and I’m down below?
Judi In Wonderland has a bright and promising future ahead. If not an accomplished writer and world traveler she could make a living behind the stove at a diner.
No disrepect! Hashbrowns in coconut oil, sunny side up eggs, ginger/apple/carrot juice was like going on a first date. It ended well and left a great taste in
my mouth. I asked her what adjective she would like me to use to describe her. “Bubbly” she said. Coincidentally I already had “effervescent” chosen. Synonymous.
Good luck travelling around the world. (There is a map in her bathroom with circles around all the places she desires to go to and penciled in areas on those
she has already seen)
We left behind schedule, as if we have one, with a full stomach and a full tupperware of peanut sauce for future meals. Back track 701 to Black River Rd to Church
and over the bridges. Stopping to smell the roses which were overpowered by the distant paper plant’s exhaust. The wind carried it over miles. The wind pushed us
Onto the Redneck Riviera.
US17 is a tricky road. One on side you have unrelenting traffic. Their only concern is how close can they get to you without smearing. On
the other side is a low soft shoulder ready to swallow you whole if you get a flat or veer too close. Luckily, Nate and I are as balanced as scales and haven’t tipped
yet. Not to say one of us hasn’t fallen off. *Nate* 3 times. Each time was in a stationary position. Until the weight of his bike and the unwillingness of his shoe
to unclip landed him.
Hog Heaven. Finally, a place where we can speak some Spanish! Feels like home. Reina de Mexico not only donated but encouraged us and shared a warm hug and a sweet
smile. It was a southern buffet. A bit spicy for my taste. Beat Nate in the ring-on-a-string.
Not a lot to see on the road today. We passed a gigantic statue of a horse biting another horse. Turns out there are public gardens behind it with more massive statues
and a rich history of the Gullah culture along with their Gichi language. Forgot the name of the garden and the artist. Can’t miss the entrance though.
I am sorry for not remembering to take a photo outside your Thai restaurant kind lady who fed us chicken fried rice.
We don’t ALWAYS have a place to stay. Typically we do though. Through CouchSurfing. Tonight is a different story. I planned on staying at a friend’s house in North Myrtle but she is a flight attendant and had to work unexpectedly. No biggy. Let’s grab a bite at the first free standing Jersey Mike’s and ask around for a floor under a roof. The two employees offered a hypothetical couch, not saying they didn’t own one, just that they already had 7 people “surfing” in their home. Pretty sure they have a meth lab running in their home though. Both had many tattoos and facial piercings. I’m not one to assume the disposition of inked and poked people but when they are as spacey followed by tweaky employees as these guys, your mind wanders.
Two locals, one young one our age, said “we’ll ask mom” if we can stay. We beat them to their house by 20 minutes (Nate even had a flat rear, he seems to have a lot of those lol). So out comes an active marine member who is drunk and gives marines a TERRIBLE name. Swearing and bellicose towards us, it may be worth it to stick around for a free bed or worse yet a blog entry. He went through several Corona Lights before the two we met before arrived. The one our age is a corpsman (enlisted member of a medical unit) at the same fort as Mr. Inebriated. My soul wasn’t sitting comfortably with any of this situation. Lord guide us, let Your will be done and provide us shelter. Let us sleep under the shadow of your wings and have rest.
Saw a some ladies sitting on a porch on our way to the bungalow. They can’t house us but direct us to a “christian” camp & retreat. It is in quotations because I thought the body of Christ would be supportive of one another in such a time of need. When our need is a primal as a hard floor with covering over our heads. Of which they have dozens of vacant dorms. We speak with the grounds keeper and he defends against OUR stabs with smiles and chuckles. Irked, drained, and now disgruntled we try to speak with the organizer directly but he doesn’t answer…although SECONDS before he did when the grounds keeper called. Our flesh was getting too much control of our spirit and it took a breather/reflection to recall all the times the Lord has provided for us already.
Like a pinball we bumped to another location searching for a bed to sleep in. The sun is setting and church is getting out. The entire congregation passes us to get to their cars. One family seems kind and willing to provide. Nate has a heated dispute with a pastor. The pastor is trying to bump us to a homeless shelter they are “partnered with”….how many of the homeless men are in the congregation tonight sir?….The kind family’s children tugged on their father’s shirt and said with pure hearts “WWJD daddy?” and “Let them sleep in my bed, I’ll take the floor daddy”. Mom was another story, she was hesitant from the start. Of course, two strangers dressed strangely seems…well you would be apprehensive letting two youngens into your home. The officer and security guard pulled the parents aside and actually warned them against us. Persuaded them NOT to let us sleep there! I chuckled at what God was doing. He revealed to me what I would do in the situation: I would let in a stranger abruptly without prayer and might be in the line of danger doing so BUT with checking my spirit and a brother’s advice I could then discern to welcome or send the stranger. Do all things through prayer and supplication. The father jumped in to the scenario too quickly and the mother didn’t even dip her feet, no middle ground could be made. We shook the dust from our feet and tried our hardest to sincerely bless them in prayer.
Next step. Purchase camping equipment. Pitch tent close by. Return supplies in morning. Thank you Terry for stepping in and reminding us about our great fire departments. Chief Mike arranged us to be housed in Station 2 in North Myrtle Beach.
Profile: Brian Childress. Body builder size. His heart must be as large as his biceps. Extremely humble and willing to serve. Made us dinner and breakfast like a brother. Every story he shared ended with a smile. “At the end of the day, a fireman’s duty is to help those in need” He knows that family is the most important value in the world. At home he loves his wife and kids and at work he loves his fellow firefighters. You spend 1/3 of your life with these guys, it bonds your hearts to one another.
They shared stories about accidents where bodies were flung from windshields maybe to watch Nate and I cringe during the detailed account of their mangled faces. I asked questions about the tools they use and what to do in circumstances like a stopped heart (cool the body as quickly as possible with ice packs) or a cat stuck in a tree (have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree? just wait for it to come down!).
Our beds were tucked into the back of the station with a private bathroom. Leftover fireworks lit the sky outside. Mi casa es su casa. Nate and I had a pull up contest, raced to 20 pull ups. Tie. He should have won.
Friday the 13th is free Chick-Fil-A day. Dress up like a cow and get whatever you want. We forgot our cow costumes at home so I let Nate ride me in like I was in his
herd. It was utterly ridiculous. LOL
Four lanes merge onto one bridge. I-95 on steroids. A bike path is accessible only if you ‘start at GO’, which we didn’t. We started on the first of the four overpasses and took a
shortcut over downtown and across six lanes of bustling traffic. Once you answer three questions correctly and slay the bridge troll you must lift your 80lbs bike
over a guard rail. Thankfully, some cyclist willing to lend a helping hand was descending as we were approaching the concrete partition. Sorry for slowing your descent.
I hate when I have to slow down. Ever get into the groove and someone cuts the music? Or start dreaming and get woken up while in mid-flight? That’s what going from 30 to
zero feels like.
Randall at Mike’s Bikes provided a chain breaker tool and some loose chain links. Cleaned our gears and filled our tires. Not to mention his service in the armed forces.
Justin bought us Starbucks and Heather bought us a Starbucks gift card. They have the best restrooms to whistle in. The acoustics are better than an opera house.
Georgetown is not a pretty city. It’s too manly to be attractive. The paper and steel factories that side the river scream “INDUSTRY”. Empty boat slips along the banks.
Collapsed buildings with fire damage across from city hall suggest misplaced funds or a lack of concern for tourism. Factory workers climbed stairs visible from the street.
Even if the town got a facelift, the smoot on it’s face would conceal it.
Judi introduced Jax, her dog, and then sat us down to a post-shower meal. Pasta with peanut sauce and a light salad. First time having wine this trip. We tried to finish
earlier rather than later because the comedy show at Limpin’ Janes started already. “Excuse me for being a dirty hippie” she said sarcasstically. “If something is messy
just tell yourself that your host is ‘artistic'”
Never steal the spotlight! The door to the sitting area is behind the makeshift stage so anyone who comes late turns heads. Thankfully, the comedian said I was late because
I just finished my Pantene commercial. When I sat next to a balding gentleman he commented on me renting out my hair to those less fortunate (pointing to chrome-dome).
We got mic time, a few laughs, and few more donations. Called it a night afterwards.
Awoke at Melody’s on the floor under the kitchen table. How did I get here? Oh yea, I chose to sleep here. It was between that and snuggling with Nate. Spending all day with him is one thing, spending all night with him is another. My mouth was dry. Our bodies have turned on the boosters and crave nutrients and water constantly. Ice water requires more energy to move through your system but is more refreshing than tap. I say burn the extra calories, we don’t need em.
Our radio interview with Kevin Rolston on 95.5 went really well. Nate surprised me with a self-deprecating joke I haven’t heard yet. After we hung up the phone (wonder if the next generation will understand that phrase) we turned to finish packing our panniers and embark. Door is locked. Windows shut. Host is asleep. Called her five times, no response. Resort to knocking, no avail. A few loud pounds gets her downstairs. Off by 10. An hour and a half behind schedule. In the words of Parker Coffin, “sometimes i bike 50 miles. When ya do 80 just put your head down and pedal”.
Stopped at IHOP. Waitress’s father suffered from post war illness. He past. The girls pooled their tips and made a generous giving which I in turn wanted to reciprocate in a tip but that would defeat the purpose of free meals.
ALL WAITERS READING THIS: I hope you are not disappointed in our choice not to tip. We do outside this bike trip. Our donations don’t go to meals or hotel rooms. They go directly to the WWP. Every buck.
I never feel like hopping after leaving IHOP. They must put opiates in the syrup because my eyes were closing while riding. Thank you again for the filling meal.
The road plays tricks on your mind. Not mirages of an oasis or the whisper of your name in the reeds…it makes Nate and I speak in heavy southern accents. Nate’s draw is slower than molasses pouring from the can and he can hold out his vowels as thin and long as the viscous liquid can drip. I on the other hand am a rambler. My fictitious dog, Chester, and I have been hunting all around the world. I’m sure y’all are familiarized with moose. Them those little rascals that scamper across the floor and get chased by cats. Whatcha do is place a cube of American cheese, no other cheese can get-er-done, on a moose trap and wait for em to….WHACK! Chester don’t go eatin the bait, weez huntin moose… now where was I?
Surprisingly we carried on our banter for 15 miles to Flagler Beach.
Stopped at the Disabled American Veterans. Thank you serivcemen and women for your time and bravery. We pray this ride reminds America how integral our soldiers are to out freedom and the risk they take while serving.
Their pier’s planks are memorials for loved ones that have passed. Very touching to read and we tried to walk gingerly over them so our cleat didn’t damage the dremeled engravings.
Deposited over $250 collected over the past two days. We spoke to the employees of the branch and they gave us over one hundred smackaroons! I wished they had done that so we didn’t have to wait in line to make another deposit.
Lost my sunglasses somewhere along the journey. Called previous stops but…I took Nate’s. He doesn’t like them.
Publix donated 5 cans of tuna in olive oil (much better than water because you don’t drain it and it is much more moist).
Wrestling an alligator is close to the top of our list. Behind trapping a bear and jumping off a bridge (this one is actually the most demanding because our bikes must be supervised. The bear and alligator thing is just awaiting first contact). Alligator Farm. Perfect. Let’s wrestle some gators. What?! Spectators can’t wrestle them 😦 Dana, an employee that just got off work was rollerblading home, we gave her a flyer.
Bridge of Lions entering into St. Augustine had a bike first, car second rule. The sun sat atop Flagler College’s zenith. Horse drawn hansoms towed tourist towards taverns. The city breathed. A fresh breath. Castillo de San Marcos still stood after withstanding four centuries AND Debby.
Conrad and April shared their pasta with us when we arrived. Shared stories of India, south America, and eastern Asia in the living room. Showed us the maps of where they have been which were displayed by color coordinated push pins. They are participating in a 1870 or 1780 reenactment soon so his saber, conquistador steel helmet, bayonet, and hatchet were on the floor. She teaches the history behind the circulation of spices in exploration and sells her own dried and wet spices in vials. What’s this? Dana from earlier wants to show Nate and I around town? Conrad and April are ok to leave a hidden key while receive a guided tour of the city at midnight.