Terry Landreth, Liza, Dee, Lisa and Virginia. And Waffles.
This little bike adventure has been graced by so many kindnesses, big and small. Today we were embraced by kind acts from three brand-new friends.
Gift 1: Liza, a neighbor friend of Virginia’s, picked us up at 6:30 am in her tricked-out van. Our bikes were resting comfortably in the carpeted back, tied to hooks on the van walls. Liza drove us through the Starbucks window for lattes and then on to the waterfront in St. Mary’s, Georgia, allowing us to avoid miles of road construction heading out of Amelia Island. So we started our ride right where the ferry (that Phil Scanlan and others are working to get running again) would have dropped us off from Fernandina Beach. Liza felt like an instant, hilarious friend. She drove off last night with our bikes pre-loaded in her van, calling out to her husband, “Terry, how much do you think we can get for these bikes?” I loved her energy. The icing on the cake was that she brought Waffles along for the ride. The big fluff ball of a puppy sat for part of the time on the back seat between me and Virginia (who is joining us for three days of riding to Savannah) with his head in my lap. Swoon. I am missing Amos and Juno, my own pooches, so badly I can barely think about it, so I was a happy camper to ride along, one hand holding coffee and the other petting a sweet pup.
Gift 2: Waiting for us in St. Mary’s was Terry Landreth, a longtime East Coast Greenway champion and owner of Camden Bikes in town. He plugged in the address of our final destination in Brunswick today and then led us for the whole 57-mile ride. He began with a quick pedal through his charming town, pointing out local historic sites and waving to every car that passed — it’s clear he loves his community and knows just about everyone there. We saw a brand-new Greenway segment right downtown and watchedpeople starting to queue up for the ferry to Cumberland Island.
We made a quick stop at Terry’s shop (the only gold-level bicycle friendly business in Georgia!) a few miles outside of town. Because, never pass up another bathroom stop when you’ve just had a latte. Then we rode, enjoying the beautiful Greenway segment in Woodbine, including a boardwalk along the Satilla River. At one point Terry spotted a cyclist far up the road and sprinted ahead to see who it was; soon Joseph, a 19-year-old riding a folding bike and bound for Pennsylvania, had joined our tour. Like Virginia says, the day had a Forrest Gump quality to it, like there might be 20 of us by the afternoon, rolling into Brunswick, Terry leading us all.
Terry made sure we didn’t miss this photo opp just after the Woodbine greenway section
It was a great treat to leave the navigation to someone else all day. Terry is a fabulous bike guide, pointing out sights and stopping at two convenience stores for bathrooms and cold drinks. He understood my bridge issues (the B word) enough to route us into Brunswick in a way that avoided the mammoth Rt. 17 bridge into town. We hugged our newest friend goodbye and he rode back a few miles to find his wife, waiting to celebrate Mother’s Day. Thanks for sharing him, Darlene!
Gift 3: Rita! Thanks to a call that Stefanie, an earlier end-to-end rider, put out for hosting us, Rita contacted us last week to offer her house in Brunswick for dinner and overnight stay. We took showers tonight and then sat in her kitchen as she made bowls full of food, the tasty innards for tacos that thoughtfully suited Dee, our vegetarian, and Virginia, our gluten-free guest rider. We talked and laughed with her and felt like friends in less than 10 minutes, I think. Rita says one of her daughters claims her mom picks up strays (Rita saw Stefanie on the road last spring with a thunderstorm brewing, went and got a truck and brought her home). I say Rita is spreading good karma that is going to come back to her in spades.
So we head off to sleep tonight with full bellies and full hearts. There’s no way to properly thank all the people who are helping us along the way, including eight sets of people who are staying with my dogs at the river in North Carolina through June. I can only gain inspiration from Liza, Terry, and Rita and remember to help others similarly when I can. Cheers y’all.