I worked my way southwest through Charleston towards the next spot—Savannah, GA. It is a 129-mile ride from one to the other. I wanted to get to Savannah by Friday night or Saturday afternoon. For that to happen, I would have to do 30 to 40-plus miles a day. Since I left Charleston so late, I was only able to go about 10 miles. While working my way out, I took the W. Ashley Greenway trail, which was 7.8 miles of easy, carefree riding. The trail was mostly gravel and dirt/mud, and it had already been raining that day, but the new ride easily worked its way on this path. While the old ride would have struggled in these conditions, the fact that the tires on this new ride are about two inches wide, and it is geared like a mountain bike, made riding on the trail no problem at all.
As we made our way down the path, Coop was able to run free of the harness and leash that he usually has on while running alongside me, and we encountered a young lady and her dog out for a rainy day walk. Cooper trotted up to take a sniff, and ended up getting bombarded with a serious overload of puppy love. Here was Cotton, along with his owner, Daisy. Cotton is a ten-week-old yellow lab that was raring to go. We stopped for a second to say hello to this ball of joy, and tried to pass on some suggestions to this new puppy mommy. She was very interested in our journey. Daisy, please send us some pics of your Cotton ball so I can share him with everyone, and I hope to hear from you about New Orleans. Just a little on down the line, we found a nice secluded spot to set up the tent and get some rest.
The following day showed promise of a good riding day—mostly sunny with a mild breeze. It was just what we needed to get out of this city. See, the thing is, I really liked Charleston, and I was kind of sad to push out of there so soon. I wish I could have kicked around there for about three more days. But with care packages waiting for me in Savannah, I had to get a move on.
Once we got out here on Highway 17, it was a different beast. The wind picked up tremendously, and it was right in our faces. The clouds moved in and the temperature dropped. We only did 20 miles that day before we were able to set up camp next to a building, which had outdoor power outlets and accessible Wi-Fi, so I was able to get out the laptop and do some last minute X-mas shopping. Not really—I'm broke as a joke. Sorry, family. No X-mas presents this year, just like the years before.
So here it is Thursday, and we're still about 100 some miles from our next stop. Once again, the weather was not on our side. I had broke down camp and hit the road without really eating any food, in hopes of getting some pavement behind us first thing in the morning. At around noon I was starving and a little cold, so I swung into the Harvest Moon Grille to get a bite to eat. As I walked in I was greeted by Jocelyn, the GM, who was also the server on the floor that day. She suggested the fried pork chop and broccoli casserole with rice and gravy. It sounded good and hearty, so I was in. While I sat there and waited for my food to arrive, she told me she had seen me earlier and was intrigued in what we had going on. After I finished my meal, a gentleman and his wife got up to leave, and said they had overheard my story and were wondering if they could buy my lunch. Thank you, John, for picking up the tab. After a hot cup of coffee, Jocelyn asked if there was anything else at all that they could get for me or do for me. I hesitated, but then asked if her guys in the kitchen happened to have any fine grit sharpening stones so I could freshen up my knives, which had become a little dull. She ran back to the kitchen, and a few seconds later poked her head out and told me to pull around back. I was excited to put a nice fresh edge on my tools, especially since I had opted against carrying around the heavy weight of a sharpening stone.
As I walked back into the kitchen, I was filled with all those warm and fuzzy feelings from back in the day. Watching the dishwasher unload the most recent order, I could hear the printer buzzing out the next order, and the frozen french fries hitting the scalding hot grease in the fryer. I set up the stone and bowl of water for sharpening. The radio was turned up loud, bumping Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes throughout the kitchen. Hearing the sauté pan hit the burner and grill spit, the plate hitting the pass, and the phrase “order up,” gave me goosebumps. It has been over a year since I turned my back on the food service industry, but those old feelings are starting to creep back up inside me as I meet different people and cook for those nice folks who have put us up on our journey.
After I was done and had some nice sharp blades, I cleaned up my mess and said my thank yous. Pushing on, we only did 20 miles or so. That night I sent an email to our host and hostess in Savannah, telling them I was trying to get to their house in South Savannah by Saturday night, which would mean riding more than 40 miles for each of the next two days. I have only done about 300 hundred miles on this new ride, so my legs still haven't gotten wrapped around it quite yet. On Friday, I put it to the pedals. The day wasn't that great for riding, and I had no shoulder most of the way, which has become more and more common the more south I've ridden down 17.
But we pushed on and did 38 miles by the time that big burning star in the sky started to do is westerly drop. The only problem was, we were in the middle of a residential area with nowhere to set up for the night. Then a pickup pulled up, and a couple of good ol' boys by the names of Gus and David asked me if I'm “pickin' up cans, 'cause if so, we got a shitload of beer cans you can have.” I informed them of my journey, and they were just amazed that some Yankee had the balls to do something like this. They asked me all the normal questions that everyone asks, and when we got to the subject of camping, I informed them that I didn't know where I was going to set up for the night. David gladly offered up a spot in his lawn, next to his trailer. Not about to miss the opportunity to have a place to sleep from a couple of good ol' boys from Beaufort, SC, I got directions and headed that way.
By the time I pulled up, the sun had gone down for the night. Coop and I hopped down and made our way to the garage, where there were some shade tree mechanics hard at work. When we walked up, we were greeted by David and his clan of friends and family. They had a couple of dogs on the run out there: Big Mac, a two-year-old boxer mix; and Ol' Girl, a 13 year old pit mix. Well, Mac and Coop got to playing when Ol' Girl came over and gave a snap at Coop. Coop, being Coop, snapped back. Then Libby, David's wife, spoke for the first time since our arrival: “If that Yankee dog f@#ks up my dogs, I'm gonna f@#k up that Yankee dog!” 'Nuff said, and she went into the trailer. I asked David if it was alright that we were there, and he said he had it under control. He told me to set up my tent and come on in once we got settled.
I set up the tent, fed Coop, and got my bed set up for the night. I was planning on getting up real early and hitting the road before the sun came up to do that last 47 miles or so that was left. When I stepped inside the trailer, I saw David, Libby, and Gus sitting around the table in a cloud of smoke, throwing back some brewskies. I stepped in, was handed a beer, and listened in on the serious trash-talking these three had going on. It was a pretty comical sight. The three of them had known each other for over twenty years, and there was a good bond of friendship there. After a bit, Libby warmed up to me and asked if I was hungry as she started pulling leftovers out of the fridge. Chicken and dumplings, deer meat, corn on the cob, and mashed taters. All very good and very filling. After a couple more beers, and lots and lots of laughs, I made my way back out to my tent and a snoring, warm pup.
We woke up at 6 a.m. and broke down the tent, packed everything up, and got to it before 7. The sun came up at about 7:15, and the rain started at about 7:45. I pulled over to put Coop's rain cover and my rain gear on. When a truck pulled up and asked us where we were headed, I informed him of our goal to get to Savannah by the end of the day. He asked if he could help us achieve that by giving us a lift. Once again I was faced with the choice of cheating or pedaling through. But while I was in Charleston, I had gotten on Google Maps and punched in my old zip code in NYC, then put in Savannah, GA as the destination and searched for walking directions, and it told me that no route was available. So I switched it over and searched for driving directions, and it came back at some 840 miles. When the truck stopped on this raining Saturday morning, I was just shy of 1,400 miles. So there is my justification for accepting the ride.
We got down into Savannah bright and early, and were given time to ride around and watch and listen to this southern town wake up. I swung by the post office, and was truly surprised by the care that was in the packages awaiting my arrival. Thanks, Sarah, Chad, Blue-Eyes, Top-Hat, Sandy, Jackie, and Mia. With all this, I won't have to buy food until after the New Year! Sandy had made a new collar for Coop, using a fabric that had bicycles on it. How fitting! As I cruised through Savannah on my way to Corey and Noel's house, I was just amazed by the trees down here. I love trees. I think they are such an important part of nature, and I find myself getting lost in just looking at them. The trees have gotten more and more beautiful as I have gone south, but there is nothing like the trees in Savannah.
Well, here we are on Sunday morning, and the rain seems to have stopped for now. I'm gonna hop on the trike and go take some pictures of the trees, and see what this town is all about. I push off tomorrow morning, then I have 625 miles or so to get to New Orleans by New Year's Eve. That's 40 miles a day for the next 17 days in a row! Wish me luck.
Till next time,
love and licks,
Sean and Coop