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Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to Charleston!


Shortly after meeting Mike (see my previous post), we met a nice fellow named Don, a carpenter and the owner of Don’s Cabinet Shop in Conway, SC. He showed us his workshop, his super cool and one of a kind three-wheeled motorcycle, and his bicycle-converted-hand bike. He also pointed us towards a good camp spot in a cemetery behind a local church. It was a nice camp spot, and Mike, ever the Alaskan at heart, decided to sleep under the stars, sans tent. Sounds like a good idea, except when the temperature gets down to a balmy 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) and you wake up to a blanket of frost!

The modified foot- and hand-bike

Pile of ice/frost on our rain fly. Brrr!

We had a cup of coffee on the way out of town to try to warm up (riding when it’s that cold just plain hurts!). We were also excited to use our HotHands, those little chemical packets you put into your gloves to keep you warm. They work so well! Luckily, the day warmed up to about 70..it’s amazing how the temperature can change so much in just a few hours.

The three of us camped in Francis Marion National Forest about 50-60 miles out of Charleston. Mike was kind enough to share some chocolate and Nutella with us, and definitely inspired us to buy some as soon as possible!

The next morning, we met a nice older couple on our way out of the National Forest - they talked to us about military service, since he had been in the Air Force. Basically, their advice for Ed, a soon-to-be Army lawyer was that the military is what you make of it. If you put a lot in, you’ll get a lot in return. Great advice!
We ran into a couple of trains, and of course Ed got excited. He loves trains. We also ran into a farmer with a huge pig, who seemed to be excited to see us. He waddled over to the fence, grunting and oinking, and looked at us with curious little eyes (the pig, not the farmer). We couldn’t help but laugh.

Oink!

Heading into Charleston, we were enjoying a nice paceline, when POP! Another flat tire for me. This time it was my trailer tire. My trailer was used when we got it, so the tire had completely worn through. Luckily, we had a spare, and Ed and Mike talked up a local aspiring marathoner while I finished changing the tire. I think the flat tire count is about even for Ed and myself now!

No life left for this tire.

We stopped and had some delicious boiled peanuts, a local delicacy, before heading over a super cool double suspension bridge that had just been built over the Ashley river (or was it the Cooper river?), heading into Charleston. It had a dedicated bike/pedestrian pathway, too! Way to go, Charleston!

Boiled peanuts - the local favorite

Bridges are awesome

Mike, contemplating the end of his ride

We stopped at a local restaurant, the Noisy Oyster, for some chow and to celebrate the end of Mike’s ride. The oyster and bacon po-boy was delicious, as was the generous helping of collard greens. Perhaps even more delicious (if that’s possible!) was the 5-layer chocolate cake that was dessert (I'll keep an eye out for this picture... I think it's on my phone). The glorious thing about riding your bike for several months at a time is that you can eat whatever you want. Cake. Donuts. Brownies. Fried chicken. Bring it on!

We headed over to meet Mike’s dad, Mick, who is a caretaker/gardener/jack-of-all-trades at a local Charleston mansion (that old style of architecture that you picture when you think of Southern homes) for a super nice couple, Mr. and Mrs. B. Mick gave us a ride in a car (cars go super fast!) to their house, where we met his wife Shawnee, and had a most excellent dinner of broccoli cheese soup and chicken and some beer. We also got to meet the local wildlife: the dog, the birds, and the crazy neighbors, who materialized out of the woods after an evening deer hunt went stale. Thanks to Mick and Shawnee and Mike for the hospitality; you guys are fantastic!!

Ed making friends with the birds (they pooped on him)

This little guy reminds me of one of the birds I used to have, except not evil

Halford, the sweetest dog ever

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