Riding across the Intracoastal Waterway to Vilano Beach from St. Augustine
May 12, 2018
We were sitting around the dinner table looking at photos tonight at our friend Virginia’s house. She has moved from New York City to Amelia Island, where she spent her summers as a kid. She hosted us overnight on our drive down to Key West a week ago, and again these last two nights as we enjoyed our first day off. Dee was air-dropping us photos from the past week on her phone and I realized that we are going to have to start taking photos of street signs or other identifying information to help us remember where we were — the days and places and stretches of pretty greenway are starting to blend together. Or melt together in the mid-day sun...
We had another good ride on Friday, 56 miles — a much needed light day. We had a similar mix all morning of oceanfront and Waterway as the day before. In tony Ponte Vedra, the traffic was backed up in the southbound lane, probably for a golf tournament at Sawgrass. We were ready for mid-morning coffee by then, but clearly two sweaty cyclists with zinc oxide on their lips and helmet hair weren’t quite the right patrons for this resort. No matter, we found the Bold Bean on the outskirts of Jacksonville. Extra bonus: A LensCrafters store was right next door, so Dee got her sunglasses tightened and cleaned by a kind woman who came out to look at our bikes and wish us well on the trip.
Iced latte and oatmeal cookie in air conditioning: Mid-morning refueling.
The last 15 miles of the ride were our most stunning in all of Florida. In Mayport we took the ferry across the St. John’s River ($1 for cyclists) to Fort George Island. We picked up snacks at the Circle K and had a picnic in a pavilion overlooking the river. A protected greenway took us from Little Talbot to Big Talbot Islands with sweeping views of inlets, bright white sand, and fields of grass and wildflowers. There were a few motorboats anchored on the beaches off in the distance but it all had a wild, undiscovered feel. Dee stopped to talk with a park ranger as we left Little Talbot and he offered a few helpful pointers, like how to pick up the greenway through Big Talbot just off a parking lot. We told him about our trip and he got a wistful look. “I wish I could go with you,” he said, not entirely joking.
We were downright giddy to arrive on Amelia Island and cruise the winding Greenway trails, under trees draped in Spanish moss, to reach Virginia’s house. So many pleasures, beginning with taking a shower without also having to wash our day’s clothes and wring them out, instead dropping them in her washing machine.
Today Andrew, a friend of Virginia’s, gave our bikes a good once over, cleaning and lubing the chains, checking the brakes, etc. Then we met Phil Scanlan and his fiancée Judy for a wonderful lunch by the beach. Phil is a super Greenway ambassador and the powerhouse behind the beautiful trail network on Amelia Island. We loved his stories of working with local and state officials in New Jersey on water pollution, volunteer advocacy that prepared him well for organizing and leading efforts on Amelia. The island’s trails are now recognized as a distinctive feature helping to set it apart from other Florida destinations. Phil is a great example of the many local champions, Florida to Maine, who help the East Coast Greenway continue to grow.
It’s on to Georgia tomorrow! But first a few tallies as we wrap up Florida:
Miles since Key West: 596
Days of riding : 8
Wildlife spotted: Roosters and chickens (free range all over Key West), turtles, deer, bunnies, pelicans, ibis, sand hill cranes, armadillos (dead on the road shoulder), dolphin, manatees (only the concrete kind, holding a mailbox, all up and down Route 1)
Terry, Liza, Dee, Lisa and Virginia. And Waffles.
May 13, 2018
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 watched people 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 re-commit to helping others similarly when I can. Cheers y’all.
Dee took this stunning shot of the Altamaha River as we approached Darien in the morning.
Coincidence and synchronicity are both defined as “striking occurrences of two or more events at one time.” The difference is that coincidence is perceived as chance or luck while synchronicity implies the presence of a deeper intelligence at work.
May 15, 2018
Synchronicity, then! I like the idea of a deeper intelligence at work as we make our way steadily north up the East Coast. Thanks to that deeper presence — and the good part about Facebook — my first-ever boyfriend, Charlie Finnegan from Wellesley High, now living in Rhode Island, and our crew were in southern coastal Georgia at the same time. Charlie and his wife, Linda, came to St. Simons Island for a few days to celebrate their daughter Olivia’s graduation from University of South Carolina. So, thanks to the marvels of Google, Dee found a sweet breakfast place in Darien to meet. We had a beautiful sunrise ride there, riding over creeks and marshes and rivers (see Dee’s stunning shot above).
Karla (another Wellesley High pal) please note: I put on sneakers for the forecast of rain (that never really came).
It was fun catching up with the Finnegans and, to be honest, soaking up a few “you rode how far?!” Charlie and I had reconnected some 20 years ago, pre-Facebook, when my kids were little and we lived in Mystic, CT, and my new friend Kim had grown up best friends with Linda. How cool is that? Linda said something sweet as we were wrapping up breakfast. I was talking to her about how fun it is to travel by bike, and how doable it is, how Bob had just taken his first bike trip with me last year and loved it. We — Finnegans and us — are at the wonderful age when, with any financial cushion at all, we can start to daydream about retiring, or at least cutting back on work, and Linda seemed intrigued. (Charlie loves to bike, he’s training for another MS 150 next month inRhode Island; Dee has done two with him and I joined them for one.) “Maybe there’s a reason we met for breakfast,” she told me. A reason or a deeper presence — I love to think of inspiring someone to start bike touring.
Enjoying a nice stretch of greenway out of Darien. I ride so fast with my 50 pounds of panniers and all that Dee couldn’t catch me in focus.
Water and bathroom stop where we gave some locals plenty to talk about
After lunch at Angie’s Diner in Midway, Dee met a family’s baby parrot. With the surname of Bird, she feels an affinity for winged creatures.
The rest of our miles, 66 in total to Richmond Hill, flew by in a blur. I don’t know how to explain it but they were effortless, even when we had to balance on the shoulder of Route 17 in the narrow space between the grass and a rumble strip. (“Shake and bake” is what Virginia’s biking friends call riding on rough roads and rumble strips.)
After fine dining (hey, they have a salad bar!) at the travel stop restaurant near our Holiday Inn, we had another sweet dose of synchronicity to end our day. We had been talking about watching Forrest Gump ever since Virginia laughed about how Joseph joining our ride on Sunday reminded her of all the people who joined Forrest as he started running across the U.S. When you get to be our age (Dee and me, not young Virginia) you can barely remember movie scenes, much less the story. I wish you could have seen us in our hotel room fumbling over how we could play Netflix from our phones on the TV. I’m playing a YouTube how-to video where the guy is talking about cables that we don’t have while Dee is clicking around with the remote. Then, miracle of miracles: Dee types in Forrest Gump and the movie was playing on one of the 87 channels on the TV, at 7:45 — just 10 minutes away!
The movie holds up after all these years, go watch it again. Tom Hanks is brilliant. And much of it was shot in Savannah, where are headed now. Coincidence? I think not.
Drowned rats enjoying our temporary home at the Sentient Bean coffee house in Savannah before we could go to our AirBnb
May 15, 2018
Today was our last day of playing with Virginia, which makes me a little sad. This is the fourth bike trip I’ve done with her — we rode for a week in Vermont, the FANY (Five Hundred miles Across New York), and a week’s ride in N.C. Virginia adds levity, kindness, great snacks, and today some good and thoughtful conversation to the mix.
We were mostly tourists today on what was almost a day off. We had just 20 miles to get to Savannah. They included a little stretch of Greenway, the Chief O.F. Love Trail, that gave us a small break from Route 17. The forecast was ominous but we were lucky, only getting dumped on as we rolled into the city. After drying out a bit at the coffee shop and checking into our Airbnb, we walked a mile or so to the river through Savannah’s charming squares and city streets, admiring the architecture and gorgeous old trees. Inspired by last night’s screening, we staged our own Forrest Gump photo in one of the squares.
We had dinner with Brent Buice, the South Carolina and Georgia coordinator for the East Coast Greenway. He lives in Savannah and told us a bit about the local landscape, both political and physical. His review of our route still to come was a little bleak — plenty of busy roads with minimal shoulders. His region features the best and the worst of the Greenway, he says, from rough state highways to a few beautiful trails. We talked about the uphill battle that it can be to convince some cities and counties of the value of the greenway even when we can point to beloved, successful examples in other communities.
I like working with Brent — he tells it like it is and keeps his good humor. Waiting for us to get to the restaurant tonight, he was talking with some teachers who work with his wife about us and our trip. “Oh!” they called out when we showed up, “you’re the bad ass women!” Brent suggests we get that tattoo when we finish the ride. He gets us.
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.
Dee on the West Ashley Greenway approaching Charleston
May 17, 2018
Today’s 75 miles were bookended by greenway segments: we left Beaufort on the Spanish Moss Trail, for maybe 10 miles, and approached Charleston on the 7-mile West Ashley Greenway. Each delightful, each a combination of paved stretches and stone dust or dirt segments. In between we had a whole lot of the infamous Route 17, with tiny to no shoulders as trucks and cars flew by us. A few precious side roads helped break up the tension of highway riding, which requires great concentration and great trust that cars and trucks see you and don’t want to hit you.
We are facing a forecast of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow. It’s overdue; we’ve had remarkable good fortune with weather so far that can’t last forever.
Today was was the luckiest, weather wise. We pulled off Route 17 into a gas station/general store at around 32 miles for our first break. We grabbed coffee and sat at a booth, doing our usual rest-stop scans of our phones for the route map, texts, and emails. I looked up after about 10 minutes to see rain suddenly pouring in buckets while we sat inside dry and our bikes were under a roof. The timing was incredible — if we had left there just five minutes earlier we would have had no shelter — and not even a shoulder to stop on — for miles and miles.
Eight or so motorcyclists soon joined us to wait out the rain. They were traveling the opposite direction, headed to Savannah, and were equally caught by surprise. I went to ask a couple of them talking about the forecast and one woman, Dathel, asked me about my leather bike seat. Turns out she is a cyclist as well and has done GOBA (Great Ohio Bike Adventure) while Dee and I have done XOBA (Cross Ohio). We traded a few stories and a couple of the guys asked us about our trip. Another woman shared her Twizzlers with us. After about 20 minutes one of the guys called out, “It stopped!” and we were off. Dee and I agreed that we learned something from the exchange — that motorcyclists can be nice, intelligent, fun people.
Biker chicks waiting out the rain
Early morning start from Charleston gave us this pre-dawn view from the stunning Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River
Just as was forecast, we rode in the rain this morning. But it was less than an hour, and it was a steady but not driving rain and we were on some quieter roads as we left Charleston. It spit again a few times in the early afternoon but, all things considered, we got off pretty easy.
Up until she retired from teaching at Providence College last year, Dee commuted by bike, 7 miles each way, in rain and snow and whatever else Rhode Island threw at her. I, on the other hand, am a fair-weather bike commuter, jumping in my Prius if the temps aren’t climbing out of the 40s or if thunderstorms are forecast. So voluntarily riding in the rain, as it looks like we will be doing the next few days, takes me a bit out of my comfort zone. But the truth is, it’s not so bad. Especially if the days are warm like they have been inSouth Carolina. Our bags are Ortlieb, the best name in waterproof bike luggage, so we don’t have to worry about our stuff. We move along and the rain becomes part of the rhythm and then — if you’re lucky, like we were today — you and your clothes dry out as you ride once the rain stops.
Years ago at UMass, my friend Joan and I planned my first long bike ride. We wanted to ride from Amherst to her sister Ann’s in Simsbury, CT, following the Pioneer Valley. We took care of logistics like planning the route, and I think I bought a paper map and a handlebar bag. Then the morning of our ride came and it was pouring. It poured all day, as I remember. We laughed about that for miles as we rode — all that planning and we never even considered it might rain on us!
At our first rest stop today, Bucks Hall Landing state park on the Intracoastal Waterway
Along with avoiding heavy rain, we got nice breaks today off of Route 17, most of them well marked with East Coast Greenway signs. One such break took us into McClellanville, where we stopped for a snack at Boats ‘n Hoagies and met its friendly owner. That was the only little village to speak of; otherwise we passed miles of not much. There was the occasional antebellum plantation in the middle of nowhere, grand old homes and tree-lined drives right out of Gone With the Wind. Then there were the occasional miles of soft dirt road running through timber forests, complete with vicious horseflies. We would have taken a plantation photo or two but stopping meant risking more blood loss from the flies.
Dee leaving what we shall call Horsefly Alley; not our favorite riding surface but the Konas did fine.
We ended the day riding over an enormous bridge (yay for me!) into Georgetown. After checking in to our beautiful AirBnb and cleaning up, we walked into town. There’s a sort of 1950s feel to Front Street but with plenty of life — a handful of restaurants to choose from, a coffee shop where the owner let us in just as he was closing, a pretty boardwalk along the river. What appealed to me most was that it feels like a real downtown for people who live there, not for tourists. We learned that the city has always hosted industry, from indigo and rice during slavery to shipping, paper mills (it was the home of International Paper’s largest mill in the world at one point) and a steel mill.
Lee and Paul, our AirBnb hosts, moved to Georgetown from Maine and bought this stunning home
The boardwalk in downtown Georgetown. Note the big grey clouds, we hear they are hanging with us through the weekend.
Today marked the beginning of our third week of riding. By Sunday we will have hit 1,000 miles and our fourth state. I never expected this adventure to feel like it was flying by so quickly. We’ve gotten into enough of a routine where we may ride for 30 miles in the mornings before stopping for a rest break and snacks. I remember commuting seven miles to the office this spring and wondering if I could even ride 15 miles without needing to stop. So I certainly feel stronger. My quads have stopped feeling like I just ran a half marathon. My private parts no longer balk at sitting on a bike seat for seven hours. Meanwhile Dee just is strong, as I’ve said; she’s not normal.
We are buoyed by so many of you following along, cheering and encouraging us. It’s fun to share the adventure and feel that we so many of you are right here with us. Thanks for reading!
Beginning of the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway, early into the all-day rain
May 19, 2018
When you find yourself shivering and drenched at the Harley-Davidson store in Myrtle Beach during Bike Week and no one wants to help you, so you pull back out onto the highway and Dee spots the Greenway, just to your left, so you start pedaling madly and the rain comes down still harder — all you can do is laugh. Which we did, madly, for a few blocks.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll start at the beginning. Our host Paul rose early at our Airbnb this morning to brew us some coffee. He opened his garage for us to get our bikes and yikes, my back tire was flat. He watched us go about our flat-fixing business but at one point, as I’m trying to align the new tube on the wheel and can’t see well through my reading glasses, I realized that his hands were stronger and more adept and I let him finish the task. (And made sure I noted his kindness, over and above the call of duty, in our AirBnb review.)
We probably thought the flat tire constituted our adventure for the day. Nope. We rode off in steady drizzle, over two bridges and 10 miles out to Pawleys Island. We pulled into a Lowe’s Foods grocery store hoping for breakfast and coffee and found even better: free coffee, a little area with WiFi and bar stools where we could sit and watch our bikes, and Wendy, who graciously made us sandwiches (not standard practice) and then came to talk with us about our trip.
Dee, happy with her breakfast sandwich, FREE coffee, and WiFi station
Wendy, our personal chef
Well nourished, we headed back out into the rain and Route 17. But we soon found a greenway segment, the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway, offering quiet and freedom from hugging the highway’s white line. It kept raining but the sights were distracting — funny names for seafood restaurants along Business 17, crazy flooded streets along the beachfront in Garden City and Surfside Beach. When we saw a sign announcing we were entering Myrtle Beach, I called out to Dee to pull into the cover of a little shopping strip so I could check our map. Myrtle Beach is the first city to complete all of its segment of the East Coast Greenway and I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss riding on it.
As I was fumbling with the map on my phone, my fingers too wet to make it work right, the rain started bucketing. I suggested we wait it out a bit, but the rain just got harder. We stood under the small awning of the shops staring out across Business 17, where the puddles were growing to flood stage, to a Harley Davidson shop. Its parking lot was full of pickup trucks, just part of the massive crowds of bikers flocking to the Myrtle beach area for the annual bike week.
Important background information: On that dreadful day in Florida when we were battling heat and headwinds and high miles (the night I went to bed thinking this whole trip might be over my head), we had stopped in to meet John Robson in his Sebastian Inlet surf and bike shop. One of us kidded about how he could drive his big black van in front of us the last 20 miles to block the wind, then he kidded that he had a bike rack, he could just drive us. Ha ha ha, we all laughed, of course we didn’t want to cheat and get a ride. But the next morning, when I was starting to feel human again, Dee and I established that we would have been fine with accepting a ride at that point — each of us thought the other wouldn’t want that. Before I left the office back in April, Debbie urged me to be sensible about things and not be one of those EDIers: the folks who insist they must ride Every Damn Inch.
So, back to the bucketing rain and flooded streets and us getting cold and all.... We tried asking in the pawn shop beside us if anyone with a truck would like $20 to drive us 25 miles up the road to North Myrtle Beach. A few men tried to help but their trucks were full. One woman dismissed us with “We all have to work,” with classist undertones that I’d also heard a few days earlier in rural South Carolina. (I had leaned my bike against a cart of ice bags and the delivery guy moved it, saying “some of us have work to do” before catching himself with something like, “you probably worked too, to earn your time off.”)
So we made our way across the flooded, busy road to the gang hanging out under an awning at the motorcycle store. We thought we’d try the truck idea again, only to get weird stares amidst the cigarette smoke and cracks about how we needed a motor on those things. I looked at the map one more time and thought we were close to the Greenway, so we pulled past the flooded drive, trying to cross the highway again. Dee spotted the nicely paved greenway just to our left, hiding behind a large RV parked on the shoulder. Hallelujah and praise be those blue and green Greenway signs! We sped along, grateful to be moving just to get a little warmer. The skies were letting loose and the puddles were ankle deep and growing, but we just laughed hysterically. “Stupid is as stupid does!” I yelled out to Dee, some of the wisdom we gained this week from Forrest Gump.
We followed the Greenway, happy for the signs and no traffic stress but still getting wetter and colder, and hungry. As we neared 45 miles, with 15 still to go to the Hampton Inn, we pulled up to a Del Webb real estate sales office with a front porch overhang to check the map. Dee went inside to ask about the nearest coffee shop, and the kind women sitting at the front counter invited us in. They had a Keurig machine and all the coffee pods we could want, they said. So we came inside, dripping water with every step. We made coffee and used their nice restroom. One of the women asked if we might want snacks, they had baskets of them. I looked at her like a five-year-old street kid: Yes, please! I’m getting better at asking for favors and accepting gifts on this trip; our needs are so simple yet urgent.
So we stood in the heavily air-conditioned reception area, too wet to sit on their chairs, and inhaled coffee and peanut butter crackers. We chatted with the women about real estate in Myrtle Beach and scrutinized the rest of our route. It was a series of zig zags, crossing Route 17 while trying to avoid it. A couple had strolled in during this time and joined the conversation, telling us more about Bike Week and conferring on our route. With great resolve, we finally gathered up our things, took a photo with the ladies, and headed back out to our bikes and wet rain jackets.
Just minutes before we would have pedaled away, the man came out, looked at me and asked, “Are you dead set on finishing your ride? Because I have a truck, we could easily drive you and the bikes.”
I looked past him to Dee, at the other end of the terrace, who had whipped her head around and held up a big thumbs up. Unanimous, then. “Yes, we would LOVE a ride,” I told him, almost dropping to my knees in gratitude. He said he mentioned the idea inside but told the Del Webb women that we probably were the kind of cyclists who would want to finish the ride. Luckily we had told the women about our Harley Davidson experience so they knew better.
And so Wayne and Brenda became our latest trail angels. We stashed our bikes in the back of Wayne’s beautiful truck and climbed into the comfortable back seat of the cab, complete with plush large white towels they just happened to have on hand for going to the gym and which served to mop up some of our dripping and warm us like blankets. Wayne showed us some of the mega-luxe Grande Dunes neighborhood where they live before driving on to North Myrtle. We watched the crazy, rain-drenched traffic on 17, which we would have had to navigate. We didn’t even have to tell Wayne how to get to the Hampton Inn. Brenda showed us photos of her two boys and beautiful grandchildren and told us about all the cities they’ve lived in around the country.
There’s nothing like a hotel at the end of a long, chilling day with the promise of a hot shower, dry clothes, and a bottomless coffee pot. All those things make us happy, but we are also glowing with the warmth of so many kind deeds today, so many thoughtful people.
Including my brother and sister-in-law, who have agreed to pick us up tomorrow in the face of another all-day rain forecast. Here’s to not signing up for the EDI club. Because stupid is as stupid does, you know?
Our Del Webb angels, offering us shelter, coffee, and snacks.
Wayne and Brenda, our rescuer heroes.