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Days 68-71: May 11-14, Avon to Salvo for a few days off!

One of the things we miss most about our lives when we’re not biking across the country is the ability to take a slow morning and really relax over multiple cups of coffee. So, with only 25 miles to go this day, we luxuriated at the coffee shop in Avon for over 2 hours. Then, a quick 25 miles later due to more tailwinds, we arrived in the town of Salvo where we would be staying for several days. At STOKED we have an A+ supporter named Stephen, whose family owns a house in Salvo, and who generously offered it to us for the week! A house? With real beds? And laundry? And a kitchen? ON THE BEACH?! It’s exactly as wonderful as it sounds.

The towns of Salvo, Waves and Rodanthe are all teeny tiny, and exist on a skinny part of the Outer Banks where the entire island is about a 1/2 mile wide. With our days off we watched the NBA playoffs, made many batches of popcorn, eaten lots of fish, slept in, gone for runs on the beach, and other generally engaged in extra relaxing activities. We even both managed to finish our books and start new ones which is impressive since we have both been so mentally exhausted throughout this trip that reading has been nearly impossible.

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Not riding bikes

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Playing one of many games of gin rummy. It doesn’t matter who won (but I did).

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We’re into matching

 

On the last night of our mini-vacation we went out to a local bar and grill right on the water and watched the sunset, enjoyed some tasty local beers and food (including a burger with a crab cake on top!), and watched yet another excellent NBA playoff game. It was a luxurious way to spend a few days, especially considering that we’ve been so used to living in a tent and eating PB&J for dinner. Thank you again and again to Stephen and his family for providing the digs! You’re the best!

 

Day 67: May 10, Beaufort to Avon, NC

This day was to include multiple ferry rides, which is very exciting because that meant we would be making forward progress while not having to peddle our  bikes! We got up at 5:30am and were ready to roll (get it?).

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Sunrise over the campsite

We had to crank out 30 miles to reach the first ferry, which left Cedar Island and took us 2.5 hours out and onto the Outer Banks. Really, riding ferries is quite exciting.

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Enjoying the views

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Madeleine’s hair going vertical

After the first ferry ride, we were on Okracoke Island of the Outer Banks. We were hungry (from all the sitting) and found a local joint on the recommendation of a fellow ferry rider, where we enjoyed the first of many seafood meals of the Outer Banks. But then we had to ride another 15 miles to the second ferry ride of the day, which continued the ferry excitement, over to Hateras Island. This was a shorter ferry ride, less than an hour, but we did make a new friend who was also into bike touring and was eager to hear any tricks of the trade we had picked up. All we could offer in the way of advice was to share the wisdom our gargantuan breakfasts.

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More sight seeing

Then a VERY cool thing happened: we were biking from the ferry to our campsite for the evening, when this girl flagged us down on the side of the road. She said she had seen our jerseys on the ferry, gone to our website, thought it was cool and wanted to make a donation! So she handed me $40! Another example of spontaneous good deeds by strangers met on this trip. It made the last few miles to our campsite in Avon go by extra fast.

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Lizzie, the benevelont fellow ferry rider

 

 

Day 66: May 9, Surf City to Beaufort, NC

This was a great day ┬ábecause we had serious tail winds all day long and wound up going nearly twice as far as we had originally planned. Leaving Surf City we rode 10 miles to a local hot spot called T’s, where we made about 45 friends while having the best pancakes of our entire trip (which is saying something, considering how often we eat them). Our waitress asked what we were doing and while she was telling all of her co workers, most of the diner over heard her, and we gained a good sized following all while eating breakfast!

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Coastal riding

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Lunch dessert

 

We rode alongside the beach for part of the day and along the complicated marsh-filled coast the rest of the day. It was, again, incredibly hot and humid, but because we were able to keep up such a good clip we were happy to put in a long day. We stopped for lunch and frozen yogurt after 50 miles or so, which was where we had planned to stop, but then hopped back on for another 40 miles all the way past Beaufort.

The day ended at a mom-and-pop campground right on on an inlet which was super beautiful. We were tired out from the long day but enjoyed taking in the scenery over our gourmet dinner of peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the third straight night.

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The view from our tent

Day 65: May 8, Southport to Surf City, NC

In the morning in Southport we went out to breakfast with our awesome Warm Showers hosts, Bob and Nancy, before they rode with us to the ferry dock in town so we could cross the Cape Fear River. Another excellent Warm Showers experience, thanks to Bob and Nancy for the hospitality!

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Bob and Nancy, our most excellent hosts

We had a smooth day of riding up the coast of North Carolina and into Wilmington, where we stopped for a few hours at a river side coffee and lunch. It was hot as blazes and the air conditioned break was necessary. We felt motivated to get going again before long, because the winds were somewhat with us and we were planning to camp at a beach state park that night, which sounded beautiful and relaxing. When we got into Surf City we felt that we had deserved a beer, so we researched a local spot and found a bottle shop that had all kinds of intersting things to try. It was run by this guy who looked like aspired to be mistaken for a poster boy for the 1970s hippie movement, walking around the shop barefoot and sporting a homespun tie-dye shirt. The whole experience was excellent.

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DQ ice cream and a beer in Surf City

We got to camp and set up shop, made friends with our neighbors (who later tried to bring us pepperoni pizza, but we had sadly already gone to bed because we keep the schedule of an elderly person), and went for a walk on the beach.

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The NC coast is very lovely

Day 63-64: May 6-7, Huntington Beach to Myrtle Beach to Southport, NC

We purposefully made the ride into Myrtle Beach a short one, only 27 miles, so that we could have the beach day that we’d been dreaming of since leaving San Diego. It turns out Myrtle Beach isn’t quite as nice as we had hoped, it’s more resort-y and less cute town-y than we were looking for, but it was fun nonetheless. When we first got to town and didn’t have a plan we did what we always do and found a coffee shop. The aggressively loud Christian rock radio chased us out before long so we found a cheap motel, put our stuff down and went to the beach! Running into the Atlantic Ocean (see here for video evidence) was cold but excellent, and we got pina colatas to celebrate our arrival on the Atlantic.

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Celebrating

That evening we did the other thing that we always do, and found the local brewery! New South Brewing, located a toasty 30 minute walk from our motel, was delicious and came with complimentary beer infused beef jerky. We made a fun night of it.

We went for an extra swim in the morning, did our laundry and continued north up the coast. It was a lovely day of riding, but very hot, and included long stretches of riding along the coast. Shortly before crossing into North Carolina, South Carolina gave us one more surprise: a tractor in the middle of the sidewalk that we were riding on. We were happy to have a sidewalk, and right when SC threw us bikers a bone, they put a tractor in the middle of it.

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This exemplifies the experience of biking in South Carolina

We crossed a new state line (video evidence here) and eventually cruised into Southport, where we are currently staying at another lovely Warm Showers host. With a dinner of turkey burgers and cookies, we’ll be ready for more tomorrow.