This was a great day because 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was a mess of a day, mostly because it involved us trying to ride our bikes on dirt/sand roads in attempt to escape South Carolina’s inhospitable highway system. But it wasn’t all bad!
We ate breakfast at the #1 rated bagel joint in Mount Pleasant, and it is called (no joke) Joey Bag-A-Donuts. There’s nothing really to say about it other than pointing out its name, which is spectacular, and it was delicious. Unfortunately from the moment we left Joey Bag-A-Donuts’s parking lot through most of the 75 miles we rode, we were on Route 17 just because there is no other road to take you up the coast. It’s a miserable road to ride on, lacking any shoulder and chock full of cars, trucks and trailers. Evidently it’s already “high season” in South Carolina, meaning tourism is in full force and the world of RVers is out in full force.
We noticed signs for the “East Coast Greenway” and thought that sounded exciting, and learned that its (supposedly) a trail of paths and roads that are bike friendly that go up the entire east coast. So when we got fed up with Rt. 17, which happened a lot, we tried to take detours onto the Greenway whenever possible. The problem is that, at least in this state, the Greenway seems to not be fully developed and the road would frequently stop being paved and turn to a miserable dirt/sand combination. We tried to ride ahead on the dirt/sand at one point and both fell over within the first 500 yards, before turning around and getting back on Rt. 17. Ick.
The major town of the day was Georgetown, which turned out to be an industrial town where we got mediocre Reuben sandwiches and outstanding ice cream.
There are hunks of peanut butter in this ice cream
We rolled into Huntington Beach State Park shortly after 6pm, but the guy at the entrance booth said all the camping was full. It never occurred to us that this would happen on a random Monday night, in fact all the parks before this one that we had called to check on availability had laughed at us before saying “uh yeah, we have room for you.” We sweet talked the guy into letting us check in with the camping ranger, and prepared a whole sympathy-inducing speech to convince her to let us camp on some free spot of grass. She was unimpressed with our efforts. By this point is was 6:45, and if we truly couldn’t camp there we had to get moving in order to make it to the next camp ground, 16 miles north, before dark. We pleaded with her, saying that we would go to the camp sites and just ask people there if they would be willing to share their plot with us, and she stone faced us and responded “the park will not allow that.” We resigned to ride the last 16 miles as fast as we could, and were on our way out of the park, when another ranger flagged us down and said that the Campground Host (an RVer who lives on the campground for an extended period of time and helps maintain the campground) had heard about us and would let us camp next to her RV! We were very relieved and grateful, and spent a lovely night in Huntington Beach.
We had big plans for our day off in Charleston, including sleeping in, drinking coffee for hours and not riding bikes. We accomplished all of that while we watched 5 episodes of Scandal (thereby finishing the series up to its current point) and ate an entire box of cereal, all without leaving a 30 ft. radius in Mark and Jenn’s super comfy home. Fortunately for everyone they weren’t there to witness all of these accomplishments, they were at their jobs like regular people. It was very glorious.
Luxuriating, within our 30 foot radius
We did manage to leave their house that day and joined them for an evening out on the town, which went until late and was thoroughly enjoyable. Charleston is a great place and we were glad to get to hang there!
When we woke up on Sunday, the 4th, we were feeling antsy and excited to start our trek up the East coast so we left our cushy room in Charleston and got back on our bikes. The route we chose leaving the city was beautiful, taking us straight through downtown Charleston and over a few bridges that gave us views of the city as well as the bay. Going over one, however, we managed to get on the 1.5 foot raised shoulder going the wrong way, had to walk our bikes over the bridge and then scamper across to the correct side in the brief break in traffic. Whoops.
Bike spandex and movie popcorn
It was all going so smoothly until about 20 miles out, where we suddenly (I’ll take the blame for this but use “we” and “our” to make Madeleine share my blame) realized that we were really tired, and feeling less of a fire under our asses because we had reached the east coast. So after a quick roadside strategy session we decided to throw away our plans of 70 miles that day and go to the movies instead! There was one 2 miles away, so we loaded up on candy and popcorn and saw “Draft Day”, the one about the NFL draft starring Kevin Costner. It was so bad. Really, a terrible movie. But it was incredibly luxurious to go to the movie theater, and we will definitely do so again on this trip and hopefully see a better movie.
Camping that night at a local KOA Campground was nice as always, we even had a nice little pond to look out on as we ate our PB&J.