December 7, 2009


Okay, so this is the rundown from Wilmington, NC to Charleston, SC.

After rolling out of Wilmington on the new ride, lots of emotions were running through me. I was happy to have the Peditruck, sad about leaving my 700-pound tank behind, and relieved that Cooper would be safe and enclosed within this new rig. Trying to get a feel for the eighteen extra gears I now had, I must have looked like a fool riding this thing, skipping and jerking the whole way. After I got out of the area and found a field to set up in, I got to thinking about how I was going to arrange everything. I had to consider finding the appropriate weight distribution, while keeping Coop toward the front so he would still have a good view.

The next morning we hit the road after moving around all the cargo. That Tuesday was a damp one, with showers off and on all day. I still hadn't weatherproofed this thing, so everything and everyone was on the soak. With the afternoon approaching, a truck with an empty low-deck trailer drove by, and in a moment of fatigue and mental breakdown, I threw my hands up in a wave, sort of saying to myself, “If only I could get a 10-mile lift to catch up.” The thing was, when I had left that morning I still had some 70 miles to get to Myrtle Beach for the Thanksgiving holiday. That's almost 40 miles a day on a bike that I wasn't used to.

So after my wave and a quick thought, I put my head down and kept on pushing those pedals round and round. A couple minutes later the truck and trailer were pulled over, waiting on our arrival. The driver's name was Rick, and he asked if maybe we needed a lift. All we needed was a 10-mile pick-me-up, just so I wouldn't be killing myself.

I had pedaled over 1,100 miles on the first rickshaw, and the way I sat on it—behind the pedals, not over them—I had really used and worked up the muscles in my calves and butt. Now that I'm seated over the pedals, I have to use more thigh and knee than I've been used to, so I still need to get my legs in shape for this new rickshaw!

Rick agreed to help us as he was heading that way anyway, and was curious to hear of our adventure. We loaded everything up in five minutes, and were on the road. I told him we only needed to get a small lift, and that I didn't need to be in South Myrtle until the next day. Pretty soon I see the Welcome to South Carolina sign, and let him know that this is good enough. He said, “I'm not doing anything. How about I give you a lift to your friend's house, and you tell me more about your trip?”

I had to think that one out for a minute. Accepting the ride would mean skipping more than 50 miles of pedaling, but I figured I had done that amount just riding around in the places I had been the past couple weeks. I gave my friend a ring to make sure it was cool that we were showing up a day early, and he said he was more than happy to have us. So Rick drove Coop, the new ride, and myself right up to the Alford's driveway and dropped us off.

We went out back and started unloading and getting things sorted while waiting for the family to get home. I set up my tent so it could dry out and store what gear I didn't need to take inside. Pretty soon the family was showing up to say their hellos and give out hugs. I got cleaned up and had some nice stories with this great family. I had been in the army with Leroy, and we had gone to Kuwait together. I was twenty years old when we were over there, and Leroy taught me a lot about being a soldier and good person. It was good to catch up with him and laugh our asses off, reminiscing with old stories. Over the next couple days it was mostly relaxing and eating for the two of us as we waited for the big feast.

For Thanksgiving we went over to Leroy's in-laws' house who lived across the street. Sandra's folks cooked up some delicious food—homemade stuffing, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, bread and spreads—while we worked on the turkey, ham, and sweet potato pie. Man, was I stuffed.

The few days following the holiday were spent hanging out with the family and getting the Rick weatherproofed. We went to Home Depot and got the necessary items: bungee cords, zip ties, and gorilla tape. With an old tarp of theirs, and Sandra's ideas, we lined the box to keep out the drops that fall from the sky. On the following Monday we hit the road, making our way to a place called Charleston, SC. I had heard a lot about it on my way down the East Coast. Lots of people kept telling me I would enjoy it down there.

Monday and Tuesday were some easy days of pedaling. We made it south of Georgetown and stopped off at a church to find a spot to set up for that night and all the next day, because the voice coming out of my Radio Shack one-speaker AM/FM radio was letting me know that it was going to be a sloppy 24 hours. Luckily this church had a carport that we were able to set up under, keeping everything dry for the most part, and we were able to move around outside the tent even when it was raining. Its was a good find. Without it, we would have been confined to the tent a majority of the time, and we would have gotten soaked. A tent can hold up to the elements for only so long. As it rained pretty much nonstop for more than 12 hours, the tent would have eventually succumbed and allowed the rain to seep through the fabric.

So after a nice day of rest and some reading, we got back to it on Thursday. We made it to Francis Marion National Forest, which is a huge state park north of Charleston. We made it about halfway through the park when it came time to start looking for that night's camping spot. I saw a sign talking about horse trails, so we took the turn down the muddy gravel road and went on back about a mile to find the sweet spot for the tent. We found this big sand impression with a nice clearing, set up the tent, and gathered some damp pine to hopefully make a fire. Cooked a meal and watched the stars appear.

Later that night we had some unexpected company. A couple of big ol' pickup trucks came back toward our site, drove a little ways down the road, stopped for a couple of minutes, then headed back to us. Since rolling out of Myrtle Beach, I have been a little nervous about some of the backwoods hillbilly whiteboys who lurk around the South. They shined their big ol' coon light at our tent and asked what we were doing. As I emerged from the tent I told them to stop blinding me with their spotlight, and explained that I was traveling around the U.S. with my dog. I was getting a not-so-good vibe from these guys, and Coop must have picked up on the same thing as he came barreling out of the tent, his chest puffed up, throwing out some deep woofs and growls. I grabbed his collar and asked the “Billy Bobs” if they had any more questions. They said no and got moving on out. I didn't sleep so well the rest of the night.

The next morning we got an early jump on it. We had to do over 40 miles to get to Charleston before dark. Pulled onto Kracke St. around 4:30. Let the fun begin!!!

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