Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Riding Between Presidential Towns

I was late for work today. The magnetic pull of the soft cushy bed was too much to overcome. Having slept in nearly a thousand different beds in the last three years (no, I am not kidding), I would rank this one in the top 3%. It had a firm mattress with a cushy pillowtop and four pillows to sleep on and around. As my wakeup call didn’t come with a snooze button option, I just rolled over and caught an extra hour of sleep. Even then it was an effort to get out from under the covers.

I got started at 9:30, but as I don’t have to punch in and out for work everyday, it all worked out. I like being my own boss. I should really give myself a raise for all the hard work I have been doing. I can’t wait until bonus time! The biggest benefit of getting a late start was that it was 20 degrees warmer than when I set out yesterday.

The town of Jacksonville is inextricably entwined with Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corp base (Hey, a military outpost that does not belong to the Air Force). The town had a glut of barbershops to cater to the flattop and crew cut town. Just to reinforce that Jacksonville was a military town, I was constantly being passed by a number of military vehicles throughout the morning, mostly armor plated humvees. My biggest excitement in the military vain was seeing jets taking off. I don’t mean taking off as when they were already airborne, but when they left the tarmac. Those things take off hot. It is a completely different animal than a Cessna or a 747. The speed at which the jets take off is astounding. It was like trying to keep on eye on your buddy’s golf ball when he is hitting off the tee. They are fast.

Similar to the New Orleans area, hotel prices were driven up by a singular customer type. In this case it was visitors to the military base. All the parents/friends of the military personnel come to town to visit, which is evidenced by all the signs that are posted on the fencing surrounding the military base, "Welcome home Private So and So" There were dozens of signs attached to the chain link fence surrounding the base, flapping in the breeze

My left knee was hurting a bit in the morning and was hoping it wasn’t going to continue throughout the day. It was the same pain I had on my 2005 ride when I was nearing Chicago. In 2005, fortunately, the pain disappeared as quickly as it has come. There are many things about my 2005 ride I forget, but that pain in my knee is not among them. It had put thoughts in my head of having to potentially end my ride prematurely. As I had said back then, I would have rather have thrown myself in traffic than have to give up on the ride. Again, I am hoping it doesn’t come to that.

I knew my day of riding would take me through the Croatan National Forest, though I was a bit surprised when I saw a sign indicating that I was leaving the National Forest. I didn’t even realize I had entered it! There need to be some questions asked if I was riding right through he heart of a National Forest and scarcely knew that I was in what was supposed to be an area of natural distinction. I guess that is what I get for staying on a fairly major road. Then again, I tried getting off the main road in Ocala National Forest and wound up coming up on a dirt road.

As the day wore on I had the option to take a ferry across a river tributary. The roads leading to and from the ferry seemed to be out of the way, but more importantly, the route would take me completely around a large city. I had absolutely no interest in having to ride in and out of another large city, especially not when it would involve bridges entering and exiting. The ferry it was. I stopped at the police station to try and get confirmation as to whether the ferry was running, as it was ten miles out of the way. They officer on duty kept saying it was running, but I was able to convince them to call the ferry company directly to make sure. The ferry was running, but only every hour. I had to race the ten miles if I were to make the next one. There was virtually no traffic on the roads leading up to the ferry so even in my haste I found it to be a nice ride.

The ferry ride was so pleasant. It was a nice interlude in my day of riding. I got to sit on the top deck of the ferry and enjoy the view for once without exerting a significant amount of energy. It felt more like play than work.

When I got off the ferry the road was deserted. I was so relaxed and riding slowly along, trying to enjoy the isolation. I was able to swerve all over both lanes of the road without having to worry about being run down. The only thing that brought me back to reality is when I rode past Big Hill Road. Then I thought about it. In Colorado, Big Hill Road might have frightened me, but not in coastal Carolina.

I ended my day in Washington, NC. What is up with the president names? Last night Jacksonville, today Washington. I did a little research and North Carolina has a town or county named after the first seven US presidents. Van Buren ruined the whole thing.

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