We left Doc Brown’s house on Thursday morning and had breakfast at a local mom and pop joint that she recommended. We got our pancake fix (the addiction has really taken hold at this point and it’s unclear what will happen when the ride ends and we are no longer burning 4000 calories a day on a bike) and headed for Walterboro, SC, home of our next Warm Showers hosts. We stopped in Barnwell, SC for a snack and found a local coffee shop where we stuck up a conversation with the woman working the counter. Her name was Tonya and she was so interested and impressed with our trip that she made us free snack packs with apples, muffins and biscotti. Unbelievable. We hung out with Tonya for a while and swapped stories before heading out again.
Instructions in the bathroom at the breakfast joint in Aiken
Tonya, the magical gift-bearing friend from the Coffee House
We’re considering a career move into posing with signs
We had to stop for around two hours in the middle of the day because it started to pour down rain but eventually it lightened up enough to get back on the road. By the time we made it to Walterboro we were wet and tired and incredibly happy to find that our gracious host, Ron, was ready with a delicious homemade dinner. Ron is a touring cyclist as well and had lots of stories about his own adventures. In his spare time he also makes wine, which we got to try. In the morning he and his wife Debbie made a big, tasty breakfast for us and eventually we hit the road, headed for Charleston. It took a bit longer than expected to get to Charleston because of an unexpected “detour” (reading maps can be hard sometimes) and the fact that South Carolina is the least bike friendly state we’ve encountered on our entire trip. Bike lanes to do exist and, once again, unpaved roads are often the only alternative to the main highway. So we dodged fast-moving vehicles and rode on sandy lanes and finally made it to Charleston. In Charleston we are staying with Sophie’s friend Josh’s brother Mark and his wife Jenn. They were both working on Friday night so Mark lent us his car and we hit the town just the two of us. We found a super delicious dinner spot (where, after all these weeks in The South, we finally had boiled peanuts) and wandered around town after dinner sampling every dessert spot we came across.
Waiting out the mid-afternoon rain
Ron and Debbie, our warm showers hosts in Walterboro
On Monday we woke up at Indian Springs State Park and headed out early. We stopped after 20 miles for a big breakfast and then again after 50 miles to mail our wedding stuff back. We had been carrying it in our pannier bags for two days (dresses, high heels and all) until we finally came across a post office. That night we stayed at another state park where the park hosts warned us of some incoming weather.
Identity crisis at the post office
Luckily it didn’t rain on us overnight but as soon as we hit the road in the morning it started to rain. After 20 miles we came to the first town of the day and stopped for breakfast and to wait out the rain. The folks at the diner we found were very friendly and, like everyone we met in rural Georgia, warned us about the weather. Our waiter had tons of questions for us about our trip. He also asked if Sophie was my daughter. That was a first — and, I desperately hope, a last. The rain held up and we got back on the bikes and headed for Augusta. Riding into Augusta was basically impossible. Like most of The South, Georgia, and particularly more urban areas in Georgia, is not the most bike friendly place. Mapping a way into the downtown area without riding on terrible highways was like solving a maze. We stopped at a Fresh Market (The South’s answer to Whole Foods) to stock up on supplies and figure out where we were going next and, once again, had a million people tell us about the incoming Sharknado and decided that rather than camp we would find a hotel room for the evening. We found a room in the historic downtown district of Augusta, got showered and changed, and headed out to check out the town. We found some good, cheap beers at a couple bars and tasty dinner. When we awoke in the morning, we found that the long-expected storm never really arrived. It was raining a little but nothing like what everyone kept warning us about. The forecast for the day showed yet more rain so we hung out in a local coffee shop for several hours, sipping coffee, reading, chatting and generally enjoying our lazy morning. Finally around 1pm we hit the road, crossing the South Carolina border and rode to Aiken, SC, about 20 miles away. We stopped at the local brewery for a beer and immediately made several new friends, including two guys who bought us a round because we had, “the best legs we’ve seen around here in quite a while.” After our beers we went for a walk around town during which I declared that I liked Aiken and Sophie said, “You like any town with a bakery,” which, I guess, is true. Then we dropped $10 at the local candy shop (Sophie likes any town with a candy shop). Having finished our nutritious lunch of beer and candy, we rode on to our Warm Showers host for the night, Dr. Cindy Brown, a local veterinarian. Doc Brown was an awesome host. She fed us a delicious dinner, full of actual nutritional value, and regaled us with stories of white water canoeing adventures and exotic animal surgeries.
We had a bike path for about 100 yards, which was very exciting
After a super fun and relaxing few days in Atlanta with Sophie’s sister Marisa, we headed down to Peachtree City for my friend Megan’s long-awaited wedding. My college soccer teammates all came to town for the big day and we had an absolute dream of a weekend. We don’t get to see as much of each other as we would like these days so when we do get a chance to get together it is always a really fun time. The wedding was gorgeous and the reception was a blast. Just like the old days, we danced late into the evening and ended the evening with pizza.
Happy to not be wearing spandex, for once
Riding to the ceremony in style
After the late night on Saturday, Sophie and I took our sweet time getting out of the hotel on Sunday morning. Getting back on the bikes was a challenge after five days off (and consecutive nights of partying). Peachtree City has no bike lanes on its roads — instead, there is a system of golf cart paths all over town — so we meandered our way through the suburbs attempting to get back into rural Georgia. Unfortunately, the golf cart paths wind their way through woods and residential neighborhoods and it’s not always easy to tell which way you’re going. Eventually, Sophie totally lost her patience with it and we ended up just riding in the road to get out of town. Shortly thereafter, we discovered that Google and Apple maps do not differentiate between paved and unpaved roads which made for an “adventurous” ride. After 50 miles, several of which were on unpaved roads, we ended the day at a state park and set up camp. Having spent the previous six nights in fairly luxurious accommodations, sleeping in our tent again would take a little getting used to.
Tunnels and golf cart paths for days
One of several unfortunate encounters with dirt roads
About a month ago I got a text message from the guidance counselor at one of the schools with which STOKED works. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of biking from Point A to Point B, but the bigger goal of what we’re doing and why we’re doing sticks with us every day. It’s not about that Point A and Point B, it’s about everything in between: the local roads, the people, the random conversations and explanations of what we’re doing, the local flavors, the hills, and what we can take away from every place we go.
This is us Living Big, in the unusual or unorthodox way that we’re doing it. And we’re working continuously to create that opportunity for the youth of STOKED, where I used to work and a program that is very near and dear to me. Our fundraising effort is currently just below $5,000, which means that we’ve nearly created 10 scholarships for the future class of STOKED and high school graduates. We are so excited about that! But still have a very long way to go of achieving our goal of creating 100 scholarships.
Text message from Ms. Smith
Christine is a special kid and one that I really enjoyed working with at STOKED. For three years I watched her push herself, learn new skills, meet professionals, put her best foot forward. I taught her how to swim and was there when she surfed her first wave in Far Rockaway and gave her a high five when she told me how great she felt because of it. She’s going big places and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to help her get there in whatever small way I could!
Getting this message was a simple reminder of why I loved working for STOKED so much, and why I’m so excited to be working to create this scholarship program. Here’s to making more dreams of living big come true!
My sister, Marisa, has lived in Atlanta for about 10 years and I had somehow never managed to come visit. Ridiculous, but we were excited to be able to schedule in a few days to see what she does and where she does it! Here are the excellent ways we filled our 3 days in Atlanta:
Woke up each morning and had 2+ cups of coffee without having to rush to get on our bikes and ride all day
Had toast, made in a toaster, which is not available at our campsites
Sampled the local beers, a big time hobby of ours, which turned out to be delicious
Went to see the Atlanta Braves play, which turned out to be a boring game but very fun nonetheless
Cook! In a kitchen! And not on a camp stove!
Madeleine joined Pintrest, on the influence of Marisa, and the two of them went to town
Home improvement projects, including putting wheels on a table of Marisa’s
Made ourselves look like people again: haircuts and pedicures
Watched many episodes of Scandal, our not-so-secret-but-kind-of-embarrassing tv fix
Snuggled with Hazel, Marisa’s adorable little doggie
Popcorn, beer and an impressive photo bomb in back
An addition to a local brewery that will be in our next home
All in all it was a grand few days, we had a great time exploring all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods and getting to see Marisa’s digs!