The incredible backyard of our AirBnb in Beaufort, SC. Off to the left, across the marsh, is the beautiful Spanish Moss Trail, part of the Greenway that brought us into the town.
May 16, 2018
We heard lots of dire warnings about our route today but it turned out to be one of our favorite days of riding. We left Savannah early along with lots of truck drivers pulling their loads into docks along the Savannah River north of town. We crossed over the river and into South Carolina, our third state, onto the infamous Alligator Alley. Those four miles were supposed to feel like 20 because of no shoulder, trucks flying by, and the only escape the marshy side of the road where alligators might indeed hang out. But we had very little traffic and instead enjoyed wide vistas of swamp and creeks, part of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
At about mile 15 we got our second flat of the trip, or “puncture” as Dee calls them. It was her back tire, triply harder to change than the front tire because you have to fit the tire back on around the rear derailleur and cog wheels. We helped each other through it and, even though we would have gladly accepted assistance if anyone driving by had offered, it’s a great satisfaction to fix these things yourself.
Greasy hands but tire repaired, inflated, and fit back on bike.
The rest of our route east and north today was mostly Route 170, typically a busy 4-lane road. We do fine on these, we just ride single file and keep to a shoulder when there is one. But twice today, just as the road noise and work of staying on the thin shoulder were getting old, we hit stretches of Greenway. To suddenly be able to ride side by side on 10-foot paths with no traffic worries is a great treat. Dee laughs at how quickly I can spot the green and blue East Coast Greenway signs, no matter how small. They feel like running into a dear friend, someone who makes your day instantly better. And ending our day today with the Spanish Moss Trail into Beaufort was heavenly. Typically the last five miles of our days are some of the worst miles — we are tired after a long day and then we hit busy commercial strips on the outskirts of a city or town. So to finish on a pretty, quiet trail with our Airbnb just a few blocks off of it was delightful.
The Spanish Moss Trail is officially one of my favorite segments of the East Coast Greenway. At one point it travels through an old brick factory building, renovated into what seems to be space for community events with lights and electricity.
What I think I loved most about today’s ride — besides some tailwinds and only 59 miles and pretty greenways — is that it was truly coastal. We crossed rivers and creeks and marshes, all of them flowing to the ocean a few miles away. The cool breeze carried a salt air smell that means summer to me, happy days. We could have been on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard or the coast of North Carolina — the smell is the same, and it’s magic.
We sat on the porch of a coffee shop in downtown Beaufort early this evening, drinking in the breeze along with some decaf. Talking to Bob on the phone, I told him that I’ve got to work to savor these days, these moments, because they are flying by. In four more days we’ll be in North Carolina already. It’s the trip of a lifetime, truly, so I don’t want it to go so quickly! I have the privilege of doing one of my favorite things for two months, seeing beautiful places and meeting new people, and losing awareness of what day of the week it is.
We took a rest stop earlier on the front steps of a Montessori school about eight miles from Beaufort. It was hot and the porch offered shade and a place to sit. Soon the school’s director came out to talk with us, then offered bathrooms, water, and ice inside. When icy water is one of the most exquisite things you can imagine, life is good.