Thursday, 14 November 2013

GEORGIA ON MY MIND

Actually, since my last report from North Carolina, it took some tiime to get to Georgia state. First I had to cycle through another of the Southern states, South Carolina.
From Wilmington NC I cycled South mostly in the vicinity of the Atlantic coast. In this area there is a vast system of rivers, estuaries, and so forth, collectively known as the Inland Waterway. Many boats cruise up and down the SE coast on this passage, so road bridges are either draw-bridges, or very high bridges to let through the sail-boats and larger ships.
Once again, as usual, I spent the nights in some unusual places. When the weather was good it was easy to camp in the woods or such places. When there was a threat of rain I sought shelter, once in a nice wooden shed at a lot which sells sheds (with written permission), and once on a Sunday at a Baptist church gazebo (where the pastor brought me a gift of toothbrush and toothpaste).
There are some pretty cities along this coast, such as the river port in South Carolina, Charleston. The town is a nice small city, with an intersting historical downtown area. The biggest thing in the city is the bridge across the river. I could look across from the bridge to the port, where there were some cargo ships and even a cruise ship. What interested me more was the US naval aircraft carrier on the Northern banks of the river, and like a true spy I took a pic or 2 from a distance (only later did I notice that there is also a large submarine in the picture).
Somewhere close to the state line between North- and South Carolina I met Eric from Charleston, cycling South from New York. He was going all the way to Charleston that day, and suggested that he would have accommodation there for me the following night (although he did not have his own place anymore, he would be staying with a friend for the next week or 2 before carrying on South). Well, the friend had apparently been drunk when he agreed that I could sleep over on the empty floor where Eric also stayed, and he decided that I should be gone early the following morning (and for good measure he kicked his friend, Eric, out as well). I'd gone hungry that night, as I was hardly going to start cooking food under those circumstances (I tried eating raw pasta, but I don't recommend it).
At a non-descript little roadside place called Point South, just North of the Georgia border, I met Coleman. I had been pushing on till late in the day because I needed to get wi-fi, and there was a McDonalds at this place. There, at McDonalds, I found Coleman, wondering where he would spend the night. He is from San Francisco, and had cycled a route close to the one I had taken (only faster). His cycle trip would soon end in Florida, where he was headed. We had a good chat, camped together under the canopy of a derelict gas station, and the next morning he bought me a good breakfast at the Waffle House (another one of the roadside fast food chain outlets).
Spending the night a short distance away from us was Pete from Charleston, on a tandem with his beloved hound. I met him again later that day on his way back to Charleston (day 3 on the bike), admitting that he was going home to re-group, as he may have bitten of more than he could chew.
I crossed the big bridge over another river harbour into Georgia state, at the city of Savannah. This is another picturesque historic city, with lots of tourists and street car tours, etc.
Further South in Georgia were more bridges and harbours, with a large number of car-carrying ships (imports or exports?).
There are plenty of interesting and eccentric people in the towns of the US South. One of them is an old man called Windy (his last name is Briese), who has turned his gas station into an antique shop over the years. He has an eye-catching sign outside, and I went in for a chat and got to sign his visitors book (where there were a number of other South Africans listed as well).
The bridge on my route across the river to Florida was closed for repairs, and I faced at least a day of detouring to get around that. However, a local retired schoolteacher, James Thomason, pulled me over and offered to give me a lift across the Interstate bridge (stopping along the way so I could get a Florida road map at their visitor centre). Daily distances cycled since my last update have been:- Myrtle Beach 100 km; Georgetown (South Carolina) 83 km; Charleston 104 km; Point South 116 km; Hardeeville (Georgia) 46 km; Midway 86 km; Darien 53 km; and Waverley 48 km. The total distance cycled so far on this trip is 119 503 km.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

HALOWEEN DOWN SOUTH

So, from Richmond Virginia I hit the busy Highway 1 South, on the road again after a pleasant but brief respite.
I cycled through some traffic on route 1 South of Richmond, and then through a rather dilapidated (and hillbilly'ish) Petersburg, before getting to open space again. The road was fine from there across into North Carolina state, the 21st state in the USA through which I've cycled in the past few months.
Thankfully, the weather was good - perhaps I am outrunning the approaching Northern winter. I had no need to find a sheltered camp site, and there was plenty of woods and such places to camp. It also gave me a chance to dry my stuff out for a change.
On the outskirts of Raleigh (capital of NC) I met Rob Atkinson, who has just recently started his own bike shop. He gave me directions to the place, and then he gave me a whole lot of things I needed for Old Saartjie (including a set of tyres, and a rear derailleur). There are some strange things going on here in North Carolina, apparently there is an annual "National Hollerin' Contest", and the little place where this occurs is now famous as the "Hollerin' Capital".
I've been seeing the Halloween decorations on sale, and also being set up at people's homes for the past few weeks. When I've asked someone when Halloween takes place, they just laugh at me, thinking I'm joking (obviously everybody knows when Halloween is!). Eventually it happened, and here in Wilmington we all went across Nun street to Cheryl's house for the party. At one stage it was also my job to dish out candy when the kids came around "Tricking and Treating". (A year ago Leana and I were in Mexico for Halloween).
I was supposed to stay with Warmshowers hosts Paul and Phyllis here in Wilmington, but they rented their house out and moved to their sailboat for the start of a 4-month trip the day I arrived (I did meet them, however). Instead I'm staying with their neighbour, David Walker, a very pleasant and interesting man. I'm not quite sure what a "raconteur" is, but David has been referred to as such, and I guess he fits the description. He is an impressive artist, and also a collector of things.
Amongst the things which David collects are houses and cars (and everything else imaginable). He said I'm welcome to stay here as long as I want, just not more than 2 months (and he's serious!). Tonight will be my 4th night here, its been rainy but tomorrow will be clear and cool, so I'll move on.
I've been able to do a few things while I have a secure place to do so, such as working on my bike and, of course, updating this blog!
Daily distances cycled since Richmond have been as follows:- Alberta 96 km; Warrenton 77 km; Franklinton 63 km; Raleigh 66 km; Erwin 67 km; Samson County 77 km; and Wilmington 86 km. The total distance cycled so far in North America is 14 241 km, and the total cycled so far on this trip is 118 867 km.