In the words of Professor X, “Van-glorious.” It’s a beautiful morning. Overnight rain and thunder have brought a freshness to day 6. Rick is rolling out with me. We’re heading north on 17 and there’s not much wind. More humidity than usually but gorgeous riding. Nice 3 foot paved and maintained shoulder. It’s a feeling I haven’t really felt in a while. “Oh shit, I love riding my bike again.” Rick and I talk about lots of things. Traffic is thin and moves over for us. I like comparing cars and guns. Drawing the similarities on how we hand out driver licenses and firearms with almost zero due regard. The exact thing you’re supposed to have with these two deadly creations. “Cars don’t kill people, people in cars kill people”, I say. Rick agrees, “like guns”. The problem with writing dialog is that I wanna just write our exact conversation but I’m too busy listening and speaking to type. Maybe I had a recorder, but then I’d look like either a reporter or a cop and I’m definitely neither of those two things. We get 20 early miles in, non headwinds mean tailwinds at this point in my life and I feel fine. Doing 17 mph on 17; using my touring gear for the first time, still gingerly with the hamstring. I’m surely grateful to Rick, I really should list the ways he’s helped me out before I thank him profusely and we part ways:
- Met me 25 miles west of his house and made the ride instantly better by providing company.
- Navigated and marshaled me through the city of Charleston; he offered a tour, I chose to beat the rain back to his house — which we did.
- Offered up a spare bed when it became clear that camping in his gorgeous backyard would mean getting wet.
- Allowed me to do some laundry.
- Offered some of his dinner.
- Gave me some CBD balm.
- Cleaned my chain.
- Offered breakfast; I accept a banana.
- Rode out 20 miles east with me the next morning.
Solo rides allow me to make friends with new people who many times are different. Rick is from the same part of the country, which means a lot when you travel. Even in such a small subculture of long distance riders, I can still appreciate our small differences alongside our multitude of mutualities. His hospitality and generosity is truly inspiring.
Back out on my own and I’m back at the circle k. My dude Damon would not call this one robust. It ain’t bad. Electrolytes and trail mix. My man comes walking out to grab a bag of ice from the ice box my Raleigh Sojourn is currently using as a kickstand – he’s got the classic red neck look and appeal. Camo trucker hat that hipsters somewhere would kill for. Maybe everywhere. Kill kill kill. There’s no trucker truck here though. One wouldnt even fit in this tiny lil thang. He does have with a million dollar yard style manicured white beard though. Odd. It sorta clashes with his look — and the rest of him doesn’t even look that old. Like if the architect in The Matrix found the fountain of youth and it didn’t keep your hair from turning gray. Hopes and prayers that he was named him after that actor who played him in The Matrix, but this dude doesn’t look like a Helmut to me. Really doesn’t. Nah, my money is that this redneck architect’s name is Clem – mainly because I bet he either went to or loves Clemson or he didn’t and hates Clemson. Dudes last name might be Son for all I know. I dunno. He looks at my rig and says “Man, I saw you way back on 17”. And again, I see no big rig truck, I answer “yeah, I’ve been on it for a while now… since Jacksonville.” Homies jaw drops. “Jacksonville?! Really?! That’s a haul, man.” “Yeah, I’m headed to DC and getting on a train.” I like Clem. I kinda wish he’d bring up remainder and anomalies. Maybe we would or wouldn’t along on Facebook if I went onto that wasteland that is the worst part of America, (think about that if you’re reading this via some leftover Facebook linkup — it might mean we’re dead to each other in that world. Still cool, just dead, Friends) yet we get along just swell at the circle k talking about basics of what matter. Great days. Being safe. Enjoying shit. Fuck yeah Clem Son, rock on with your bad self. It’s humid as fuck and the ice cooler is getting busy with customers, so I roll out. 30 miles of wilderness ahead.
Santigold on blast and i cross not not one but the Santee Rivers and with one turn I’m back on quiet back roads again. Ferns ferns ferns. Love them. They are everywhere. I get the vibe that love me too, so it’s us and them. Until I come up on what appears to the be the set for every southern plantation film ever. Plantation after plantation.
I’m in Georgetown South Carolina. I wonder if there’s a Carolinaville, Georgia. If so I’d don’t go through it. Cute little town. I get an oat milk latte in a consignment shop. There’s a river walk. Yachts and shit. Pocket parks and taverns and a maritime museum. Some lady is coughing hard as tuck while chain smoking. She could be 22 but she looks in rough shape. Smoke. Cough. Smoke cough. I’m thankfully upwind. I pass an ice a cream shop. “Mercantile” store. Yoga. Art. We’re not in plantation land anymore Toto. White people shit everywhere, but it’s the south so it’s still actually plenty of black people around too. My mind wraps itself around itself. There’s a great Chappelle joke in there somehwere. Probably something about “the whites” and “the blacks”. Ask him. I hook up and scarf down a peanut butter and banana with Trail mix burrito.
It’s tempting to stay here with no real destination tonight. Find little town. 60 miles is 60 miles. I have a full on tailwind. No hosts to hook me up with space. And yo, spring break still in full effect — prices just ahead are jacked up. There’s plenty of sunlight and plenty of full Campground and motels ahead of me — all back on the coast… near da beach, boooooyy! I push out and ahead, taking advantage of the weather.
I’m now in a place called The Strand. It’s not. A theatre. It’s an area. Hmmm.
80 some miles in and I’m getting turned away at Huntington Beach State Park. South Carolina does not have a “No turn away” policy for hikers and bicyclists. Even Florida does. Duh. So now I’m walking around the marshwalk in Murrells Inlet. Shit has leveled up. It is Friday night and people are out and getting hammered. Ok it’s like 630pm, but tourists are throwing them back and everyone who’s had more than three is noticing me. Little dogs bark at me and only me. They smell it. I’m just wasting time walking, waiting to commit a crime. I’ve spied a few spots to set up a tent rent free, “illegally”. There’s not a drop of vacancy anywhere and I don’t wanna ride 10 more miles to possibly get turned down again. Some call it ghost camping, some call it stealth camping. I prefer simply “Remote Sleeping”. I hook up the water fill up, use the public restrooms, eat some snacks, hit the spot amongst the tree adjacent to a park, and pop up the palace. Oxford comma and all. Buenos noches.