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November 13,2014

By meriwether, Nov 13 2015 12:55PM

Greetings All -

Dawn over Wrightsville Beach was a beauty - hues of red, pink, yellow and gold peeking over the horizon. Good thing too, since North Carolina has gotten its licks in on me this week. I had looked forward to my ride on the Outer Banks, but the incessant rain, clouds and head winds have made NC a bit of a wet slog.

Camping has been a challenge - in fact, haven’t camped much at all - just one night at the Cape Woods campground on Hatteras Island, and of course, it poured during the night. One of my least favorite tasks is packing up wet in the morning. Enter a number of very generous hoteliers and campground hosts - like Cape Woods - who have been helping to support my ride by offering complimentary stays.

The ferry boat rides from Hatteras to Ocracoke, and Ocracoke to Cedar Island, and across the Cape Fear River have been wonderful and relaxing, usually under sunny skies and ocean breezes that invigorate the spirit - a welcome respite that gives my weary legs a rest.

Getting off the ferry on Ocracoke Island, I still had about 14 miles to ride along this narrow barrier island to get to the quaint town of Ocracoke. But to the south of me I could see it coming - dark, roiling clouds that were releasing sheets of rain from the heavens. And then I was in it - drenched through and through, rivulets of precipitation streaming off my helmet - but as quickly as I rode into it, I just as quickly rode out of it. But the soggy damage had been done, and in this environment, it takes forever to dry out.

I spent an extra day on Ocracoke, and it was good, relaxing under some warm sunshine which has been a rare commodity here in the Tar Heel State. In Ocracoke I also met a fine fellow by the name of John Mckenzie, who, after hearing about my journey, invited me to share the hospitality of his 5th wheel trailer . . . and I took him up on it.

My mileages have not been great down the East Coast - usually in the 40 to 50 mile range, and today from Wilmington to Southport, only about 30. So different from 10 years ago on the Lewis and Clark Trail out West when typical days were 60 - 80 miles. And then . . . there was that one day 30 years ago on the last leg of my world tour that I hit 165 miles across Kansas - admittedly with a 30 mph tail wind. And of course, I was 30 years younger then with all my original body parts - the new hip seems to be holding up well, by the way. But if I do make it out west, 40 mile days just won’t do.

I’m actually feeling a bit guilty about riding the coastal flats of tidewater North Carolina. Seems as though I haven’t seen a good size hill in weeks - not that I’m complaining. But then, maybe I paid my dues in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire - and there will be more dues to pay down the road.

Yesterday I worked with Cape Fear Habitat For Humanity, and it was a great crew. We spent the morning putting up the roof trusses, and all went smoothly and quickly. The lady who will be receiving the house once it is done was also on site putting in her “sweat equity” hours, and I’m sure it was a thrill to see her house going up, and to take part in its construction.

After working with Habitat, I took a walk on Wrightsville Beach, and it was one of those moments that stand out . . . a peaceful moment with a perfect combination of sun, surf, sand, and blue sky with the surfers catching their waves while the shadows lengthened.

So many thanks to Holiday Inn in Wrightsville Beach whose General Manager, Ann, extended a stay to me while volunteering with Habitat, as has Ellen at the Riverside Motel in Southport. So kind of these establishments to help out in this way and support my ride!

Also special thanks to some people who have joined my list of donors in supporting Habitat For Humanity and/or Save The Children - Larry Martin, Mike and Cyndy Cotter, and Joe Cotter. I’m now just shy of the $7,000 mark in donations for both charities combined. Thanks to all who have helped me get there.

Here is a link to a spot that WWAY, ABC affiliate in Wilmington, did on my stop there. I wasn’t even aware of it until Courtney Nields at Save The Children sent me the link.

Proceeding On to the other Carolina - guess I have Carolina on my mind . . .

Al Thompson

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