Day 38. Sunday, May 28. Day Off in Morehead City, North Carolina

Sunday 28 May 2017

There is not much around our hotel, but a walk through the neighborhood to the Bogue Sound (also part of the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway) was delightful.  Streets are quite and clean and yards are well maintained, full of flowers and decorated with flags.

The wind was wiping off the water, but that did not stop the kids from playing in the water or boats from enjoying the day.

Wishing all, in advance, a very Happy and Thankful Memorial Day!

Day 39. Monday, May 29. Morehead City to Ocracoke, North Carolina

Monday 29 May 2017

Seventy three steamy degrees this morning.

Flags that adorned the homes could barely wave in the thick air.  We were very disappointed in how many people/houses did not display the American flag, but we relished in the homes that were proud and patriotic.  Athough already dripping with sweat after three miles, our legs were not quite warmed up for our hike over the Intercostal.  This would be the first of eleven bridges we would end up crossing today, luckily only three tall ones.  Crossing the waterway and we were in Beaufort, for a “short bit” and then in Down East,“a group of communities east of Beaufort”.  The road we pedaled was the highest piece of land there was.  And since everything was so flat, we could see for miles.  It was an absolutely wonderful ride, churches, small homes and beautiful waterways everywhere; and so quiet, we could even hear the birds singing.

Just before one of our high bridge crossings, we found this on the side of the road and considered taking it the rest of the way home.  But we’d come this far on bicycle, and besides that would be cheating!

The marsh water we biked beside was shallow and crystal clear, small fish running in schools often breaking the water as they fled from a predator.  We’d pedal hard with no stopping (ok, one photo stop) to make the one o’clock ferry, but when we arrived, it was only 10:45; we had just missed the 10:30 sailing.

We stopped at the only only source for food and managed a hot dog and pre-packaged sandwich.  A mile further as we were approaching the ferry stop, this young man yelled at us and said we had to stop.  Not wanting to disappoint, we both enjoyed an ice cream sandwich and then waited for the next ferry.  A little sightseeing as we waited, revealed beautiful flowers and a stunning beach along the Pamlico Sound,vacationers enjoying the gorgeous day.

The crossing from Cedar Islandto Ocracoke is just over two hours; we sat back and enjoyed the ride.

We had a bit of a glitch, when the ramp to get off the ferry, did not want to lower.  A few “stout” workers added their weight and we were off the boat.

Our hotel was a stone’s throw from the dock and a cold drink and calamari were but a shower away.

Ocracoke Village is an absolutely darling, quaint town.  Golf carts rule and bikes and walkers come in second.  About the only cars you see are the ones coming or going to the ferry.  We strolled around the waterfront and though there were a few restaurants within walking distance, there was another that caught our eye, Jason’s Restaurant (their web link is not working).  It was one of The Best restaurant decisions we’ve ever made.  We both had the Seafood Trio, delicious Cobia, amazing Shrimp and THE BEST bar-none Crab Cake…..including anything in Maryland.  The sunset, glowing in the harbor, was the perfect finish to our 49 mile day.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Day 40. Tuesday, May 30. Ocracoke to Rodanthe, North Carolina

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Thunder, lightening and pouring rain roared through Ocracoke this morning.  Thankfully,  with a short ride today, we’d already planned a slightly later start.  At eight o’clock, though the sky was still dark, the rain had stopped and we were off.  Still too early for vacationers to be up, we had the road to ourselves; enjoying the quiet and watching the storm as it went out to sea.  It was a splendid ride as the on-shore breeze moved us along with little effort.  This area north of Ocracoke is but a spit of sand with a road.  A sand dune, from large to non-existent, is all that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Pamlico Sound;can’t imagine what it is like when a storm comes through.

We arrive at the ferry dock 30 minutes early, but just in time to duck undercover before another rain squall hits.  It was still raining when we boarded the ferry.  We had front row seats as we stood on the metal deck of the ferry, watching the lightening around us…..what is wrong with this picture?

Though the distance between the two points of land is approximately two miles, it is almost a 10 mile, hour ride.  It is necessary for the ferry to make a large U around the constantly shifting and shallow shoals of the Hatteras Inlet.

It was still raining when we disembarked from the ferry, but we made a quick stop with friends that were still in Hatteras for the long weekend.  It was great to see Chris and Sonya and their darling cottage, but we did not stay long.

As we pulled away, all that was left of the storm was a wonderful tailwind, cool temperatures and a nice glimpseof Hatteras Village. We sailed up the road, trying to figure a way to go longer and take advantage of the wind, still enjoying the “strange” sights.A tasty lunch break an hour later gave us time to find another motel further up the road.  What we had not taken into consideration is our turn in the road; we now had the wind directly on our shoulder and not back.  So we bit off an additional twenty miles without a wind assist…..Oops!

There were long stretches of unspoiled land,clusters of homes in the different communities and an abandoned or storm damaged amusement park.

Though the day was a bit disjointed with the ferry and original short day turning into 54 miles, our new accommodations were nice and dinner was a short walk away.  Another good day!

Day 41. Wednesday, May 31. Rodanthe to Grandy/Walnut Island, North Carolina

Thursday 1 June 2017

Nine years ago this month, we biked down (and back) to this area to stay with a bunch of crazy friends, as a training ride for our very first bike tour.  Seemed centuries ago, yet can remember it like yesterday.  You would think we would have learned with that first ride, yet here we are. Today, we begin a re-trace of that very first ride.

Early morning is such a lovey time to bike (just a shame you have to wake up to do it);  overcast skies offered relief from the sun on this humid morning.  No one was on the road as we biked past homes hanging to their waterfront perch.    Within a mile we were in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and then Cape Hatteras National Seashore; 20 miles of quiet, we could even hear the small waves on the other side of the dune.  Even without homes being built on top of the dunes, you could still see the wrath of past storms.  In places, no dune remained, but it gave us a chance to catch a glimpse of the serene sea.  At the end of Pea Island is the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.  I remember seeing this from my bicycle for the very first time; talk about scared and intimidated.  This time, we were just happy to not have to climb the new and much taller bridge currently under construction.  This morning’s crossing was much more enjoyable and relaxing, but without shoulders on the bridge, pictures were not possible.  We did manage a picture of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Our first sign of civilization was South Nags Head and we immediately turned on to the beach road.  There seemed to be a lot more homes here than nine years ago, but some of the old classics still remained.Also, the road had been freshly paved with an added ample shoulder for bicycles.

We reached our favorite Outer Banks breakfast stop just before ten.  The forecast for today had been for a very light southwest breeze, but it was only west, a bit more than a breeze and becoming a tiring nuisance.  So after 25+ miles, we needed a rest.  We gobbled down breakfast, before the camera came out and a half an hour later, we are on the road again.  The wind was picking up, but the sky was still overcast and the temperature had yet to reach 80°.  With a nice shoulder to ride, the bike up the beach road was wonderful.  The size of the rental homes were astounding and based by the number of cars parked at many, offered at least ten bedrooms.  Also shocking, was how little sand dune was left in some areas of Kitty Hawk.  Homes that had endured countless storms, hung precariously to what was left of the remaining sandy terrafirma.  By 11:00 and 40 miles pedaled, we reached our original destination for this evening, but since we added 20 miles to yesterday, we wanted to pay it forward today as well; luckily we had found a place to stay further up the road.  A left turn and two miles later, we headed over the Currituck Sound into a direct headwind.  Though it was not a high bridge, it was a brutal two mile pedal into the strong wind.  Once on the mainland, the road turned north, so there was relief from the wind.  We biked past the new waterpark, “supposedly” set to open on June 21 (our bets it is not going to happen), as well as several other interesting businesses.  We went past a vineyard, but with a deep gravel driveway and tired legs, a tasting was out of the question.  However, just short of our hotel, we did manage to stop for our daily ice tea, plus an additional chocolate milk shake.  We did not linger, as we really wanted a shower.  However, when we arrived at our “lodge” no one was anywhere to be found.  An hour earlier, we had talked about heading all the way home with the tailwind we had finally gotten.  Now that we actually might have to do it, it really did not sound that good.  While we waited to check in, we enjoyed the waterfront view and perching Osprey.  It did not take us long to shower and return to socialize with the owner, Barry, and other characters around the bar.  Barry’s Lodge and Restaurant is a colorful place on the Currituck Sound, offering fabulous food and a picture perfect sunset.Sixty two miles closer to home tonight and we are ready!

Day 42. Thursday, June 1. Grandy/Walnut Island, North Carolina to Home/Virginia Beach, Virginia

Friday 2 June 2017

A beautiful, low humidity, clear and cool (74°) morning, perfect way to start the day.  A quick breakfast stop and we were making forward progress by 6:30.  The morning was quiet on this usually very busy road, so the sights we’ve seen many times from a car, we were able to enjoy at a much slower pace.  We did not mind climbing the Intercostal bridge this morning, as we knew this would be the last time before reaching home.  A few last glimpses of the North Carolina countryside and on to the ferry over the Currituck Sound.  Nine years ago on this ferry ride, we were hot and dragging tired; this cool morning was a wonderful treat for our temperament.  And then these two characters were waiting for us at the other end.

 Our homebound escorts had biked less than four miles, when they had to stop to eat.  We calculated that at this rate, it will take us seven hours to bike the remaining 40 miles.  Finally, four hours after we left this morning, we could add to the miles we had already pedaled.

The causeway that connects Knotts Island to Virginia is always pretty, but especially so, this morning.  And at the end, a welcome sight, Virginia Beach and horses.

The wind had changed from west, to northwest to northeast, but our route was no straight line, so sometimes we could feel it and other times not.  But the laughs and general distraction, that Morgan and Kurt provided, and maybe a little drafting assistance, had the miles flying by.

At 50 miles, we stopped at one of our favorite Sunday morning ride, breakfast cafes; turns out they do an excellent lunch, too.  One last little bridge to traverse and we dropped into the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  Though we’ve rode it a million times, it is only fair to show pictures of this tourist strip versus the last several hundred (or so it seems) that we have biked through on this tour.

As we turned west for our last four miles to home, the wind gifted us with a nice push; we practically sprinted home,flying by these guys on the way.  Turned out to be 68 miles to get here and even with an ice cream stop, we made it by 3:00. We could not be happier to be home!

2017 Factoids and Follow-up

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Tampa to Key West to Virginia Beach or The Coastal Social

Although we were plagued by flat tires (four), broken spokes (three) and a frozen gear shifter that cost us four days in a hotel room, we could not have been happier with our bike tour.  A year ago our lives were turned upside down; bicycling the last thing from our minds.  If this is the worst it gets, we’ll take it; needing a bike repair means we are healthy and biking.

Life is good, but God is Greater; so thankful to be here!

1732 Total Miles
    (shortest distance)
42 days total
    (second shortest by days)
includes 9 days of sightseeing, ferry rides and repairs
    (two more than any other trip)
52 miles a day average
close to 5 hours (4:48) a day average on the bike seat

States Covered
23 days in Florida
4 days in Georgia
6 days in South Carolina
8 days in North Carolina
40 miles in Virginia

Thank you to all that followed our blog this year.  A special thanks to those that commented along the way (you really did help in so many ways) and to the three ladies that left welcome smiles on porch for our return.

Also, thank you to ALL for your thoughts and prayers from our last year’s Trip Interrupted!  Who knows if we will do another tour, guess we will all have to wait and see.  In the meantime, we have sunsets to enjoy.