Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 24, 2017, Wednesday. Holly Ridge, NC.

May 23rd, Tuesday, was a down day due to rain.  Between the the rain showers, Daisy and I got out for a few walks probably totaling three miles.  I'm sure she enjoyed the chance to stretch her legs and sniff the scents of a different part of the country.  Eventually and often though, the skies would become dark and threatening and back to our tent we would go.  Camp was pleasant here, just a few miles north and east of Wilmington, beyond where the Business Highway 17 and the main Highway 17 merges once again.

For those of you not familiar with why two highways of the same name exist, towns and cities and subsequent congestion -in the form of traffic controls and busy intersections - grows over time along parts of a highway.  When congestion reaches a certain level, a highway bypass is created to reduce commuter traffic through the growing town.  It is these "business" portions through the towns that I prefer to ride on, when possible, to avoid the high speeds and heavy traffic of the bypasses.  The "business" portions also offer  more areas to pull over, shelter, and wait for a rain shower to pass.

May 24, Wednesday, I would only log 38km traveled (just over 24 miles).  Packing up camp on this day, I noticed a considerable amount of water in our bedding and blankets.  I assume that this water is from condensation for I know of no holes in the floor of my tent, and I take great care to place an extra layer of protection, a large polypropylene tarp, a sort of throw rug for protection against Daisy's nails.  The tarp also serves as an emergency layer for extremely cold night's, of which we have had zero issues with thus far on this tour.

I packed up wet gear for todays ride, including the tent.  (As I write this post (May 25) I am air drying my belongings...gonna be a late start.)

Along the ride, I stopped at a few convenience stores and met with quite a few interested and curious folks.  On my first stop, my rear derailleur fell out of adjustment, causing the chain to hop off the sprocket and ride on the spokes.  Prior to unclipping my cleated shoes from the pedals, and while still coasting, I made an attempt to shift back the derailleur to get the chain back on the sprocket.  A pang of fear and anxiety washed over me as this did not happen.  Immediately I thought of a broken shift cable for which I have no replacement.  It would later prove to be simply out of adjustment.  I'm losing gears and will soon be forced to tune up my transmission and shifters.

I met too many folks today to peck out on my cell phone, on this tiny keyboard with my fat thumbs, to share with you here on this post, but one lady in particular, as I was encountering this chain issue is most memorable.  She said, "It is as though we were meant to meet!  OMG!"

She bought me a coffee and told me how she enjoys being self sufficient, living off the "grid", and living off the land and sharing produce with local businesses and families up and down the highway.  She went on to say how just the day before, her grandson of 7 years told her of a news broadcast about a fellow riding a bike, with a dog, and "lots of American flags".

She was, we both were, moved considerably by this coincidence and chance encounter.  We took selfies together and parted ways.

Towards the end of my ride, my chain is squealing like an old garage sale special.  The rains from recent days, the sand from beaches and camps have finally removed all traces of lube that were freshly applied at the start of this tour.  As a matter of fact, prior to the recent rains, I hit 800+ kilometers.  That's just over 500 miles!

Along the route, I acquired a following vehicle with strobing emergency warning lights.  I believe that the vehicle was from State Farm, an emergency roadside assistance vehicle that for 7 miles that I know of, followed us, providing a safe zone from oncoming traffic from our rear.

As I entered the town of Holly Ridge, a family met us at the highway's edge by their mail boxes, flagging me down to pull over.  I obliged and was met with an unexpected and quite warm welcome.  We shared a few stories, each of us giving thanks, and they sent us off with a kind care package of traveling necessities.  We took selfies too!  They, Bonnie as I would later learn, also confirmed that we should have no problem with making camp for the night at the local firehouse, and included an offer to shelter in their yard if the firehouse didn't work out.

With squeaking chain we parted ways, Daisy barking goodbyes as we pulled away.  I pulled into Holly Ridge Tire and noticed the crews changing oil in a vehicle.  After I caught my breath, I asked for some used oil for my protesting chain.  They gave me a small, perfect travel size, bottle of oil.

I stopped a final time at a convenience store to pick up a beer to enjoy after setting up camp when Bonnie appeared and suggested that I stay at the Holly Ridge VFW Post  9983 just down the road.  She made some calls while I mapped out the route.  We both agreed that the VFW is where we would go.

I arrived at the VFW Post 9983 and immediately started to set camp, again in a race to beat the rains.  I would have to dry Daisy before putting her in the tent.  The rains got us just a little bit, but not too bad.  It was close.

Bonnie and her husband Martin showed up and treated me to dinner and drinks.  The VFW welcomed us with open arms.

To all the folks we met today and on this entire tour, thank you for your kindness, generosity, and sharing a moment of your time with us.  Thank y'all!

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