I actually had the entire week off from work, and we had toyed with various ideas. We had discussed going to Asheville, and I had briefly thought about staying on the road another day or so while Sarah went back home and went to work. Ultimately I didn't really want to be on the road by myself. We had had a nice time and I just wanted to go home.
We had also discussed an early up and out and making a long travel day of it, but we had a great room right on the beach and it seemed like a waste not to take advantage of it. We had an easy morning, I had a sunrise walk on the beach, we had breakfast at the hotel, went out for tasty breakfast beverages, had a nice picture stop, and checked out just minutes from our 11am deadline.
We took US-264 through the Croatan National Wildlife Refuge, and it was almost completely desolate of people and traffic. We traveled hours through the swamp on a very well maintained road and saw almost no one. Once we left the wildlife refuge it was still flat and pretty desolate. Small communities, no gas stations, no restaurants. We almost passed Swan Quarter, but we needed a break, so we turned around. We went through almost every inch of Swan Quarter, including a sudden turn into what looked like a graveyard for old shrimp boats. By which I don't mean small working boats, but large ocean-going working boats, docked one right after the other, in various stages of disrepair. This just popped up so suddenly it was almost spooky, but being on the coast is often like that. You're just feet from water and have no idea until you make a turn and there it is.
We didn't find a single place to eat in Swan Quarter. Not even a gas station with hot dogs on rollers. So we ended up just eating PB & J out of the back of the car at the Swan Quarter ferry landing.
There was one sort of amusing sign. In the middle of the swamp there was a piece of real estate for sale advertising "water access". Um, there is water all around, and I think the problem is more keeping the water out in heavy rains when the swamp floods rather than being able to get to it.
By the time we got to Bath I was pretty scenery-ed out. There had been a lot to pay attention to this week, and my brain was just tired of checking out roadside scenery and doing all the hazard evaluation that just comes along with riding a motorcycle. I was longing for a nice piece of interstate with less cross traffic, no junk in the road, and no interesting houses, boats, and attractions to look at. Plus we have been to Bath before and explored it. Bath was basically a picture stop to verify I'd been on Beaufort County, and time to press on.
From Bath we went to Washington, which was really interesting, but I just didn't have the attention span to appreciate it. It has an older downtown, large prosperous neighborhoods, and a waterfront. We definitely need to go back and check it out sometime at the beginning of a trip and not at the end.
We made a stop in Greenville, and I was about done. It had been a busy ten days, plus an action-filled day of riding. I loaded up on more caffeine than I would care to mention for the trip home. Not so much because I was tired, but because I just couldn't get my brain to focus, and day-dreaming is not a survival tool on a motorcycle.
US-264 was actually 70 MPH speed limit, so we flew back. The Road King is built for the interstate so I let her just run. Sarah says we were doing 85 at times, but something must be wrong with her speedometer. Only an idiot would ride a motorcycle that fast.
We got home about 6:30pm and spent most of the evening unpacking as our adventure ended.
This was one of the best vacations ever. It included the beach, a motorcycle club ride, kids, grandkids, three ferries, and not one minute in the rain suit. No wrecks or even close calls on the bike, and we got to do just about everything I wanted to do.
I have lots of pictures and written memories now to tide me through the aftermath of my surgery, however long that might last.
God is truly generous.
I often reflected during our travels what a top of the food chain experience this was. A condo right on the beach and the best automotive and motorcycling technology that has ever been available. This at a time when most people in the world suffer in poverty and through horrific episodes of violence and disruption. Why are we so fortunate to live in this day and age? I have no honest idea, other than to whom much is given, much is expected. Clearly our sense of gratitude has to expand, as well as our determination to make sure those without our blessings are looked after. How much of this have I earned? Not one bit. How much was I given by a gracious God? Absolutely all of it.