Tuesday, July 29, 2008

(Day 1) Superstition defeated…for now

Friday, July 04, 2008
Day 1
Charlotte, NC to Franklin, NC

What’s the last thing a superstitious person would want to see 2 minutes into a 3 to 4 week cross-country trip? A black cat running in front of your path? Yes, that happened to me less than half a mile from my house with only 4,999.5 miles to go. What a great way to start my journey… let the adventures begin… clean, innocent and naïve:

I’ll admit that the reality of it all had some butterflies in my stomach this morning. Staying at home would have been easy to do. But at 6:48am on July 4th 2008, I set off in search of the Pacific Ocean… from North Carolina… on my dirt bike.

My 77 year old neighbor got up early to wave me off, but other than that, it was just a typical holiday morning, no traffic and a relatively quiet, suburban city setting. I passed a few neighbors who were totally oblivious to my destination. I wonder if all of the luggage I had on the bike this time had them curious?

After passing the black cat’s path and driving past a few friends’ houses (just so I could say their home was in my path), I was itching to get out of the city. I’ve seen all this stuff before and it almost felt like I’d never see anything new.

I intentionally set my initial route through South Carolina to get some “cheap” gas:

And, eventually made it somewhere “new”:

First gravel road:

Then came the first surprise:

Cowpens National Battlefield, sweet. Had I paid more attention in history classes, I would have known right off the bat that this was a revolutionary war battleground. But I had to do a little inspecting to find out:

It was Independence Day and I didn’t even plan this to be in my route. Even better, this was actually a turning point in the war that “spirited up the people”. It actually put a little spirit in me as well by finding such a cool park. However, it was disappointing not to see many people there; but it was 9am, so maybe the crowd came later. I’ll have to go back when I get home and soak it all in, you can really get into a trance looking at the battlefield:

After 3 hours of riding, I’m back in North Carolina, I’m getting nowhere:

I get a kick out of crossing interstates. It’s like a mini-milestone in this unique adventure; I go under I-26 here… on gravel:

This looked pretty cool:

I did a little patchwork for my rear bag to keep the exhaust from burning it, seems to be holding up well at this point:

I found some good roads, but they didn’t go anywhere and I had to reroute:

Rain was in the area and I was getting sprinkled on when I saw this on my radar:

Not wanting to get wet on the first day and seeing bunch of sheds in the area, I decided to press my luck and hide under the next one I saw. It looked like the storm would pass through anyway. So, I drove up this guy’s driveway:

Meet Cliff, a handyman specializing in cabinetry and tiling. He also owns about 30 acres in the foothills of NC where he has some cattle, chicken and a few cats. He let me park my bike in his shed:

Before I even gave Cliff my name or sat down, he was asking questions about text messages and explaining his 401k options. I told Cliff he wouldn’t be getting a $50 credit on his phone bill if he forwarded his text message to 10 other people and agreed with him on his 401k decisions. We talked about how gas prices are affecting his farm and how illegal aliens are hurting his labor rate. It was really peaceful out there and I could have rolled out a hammock and spent another couple days on the farm, but the rain passed and I was back at it:

Another impassable “road”.

Brewing company!? Cool, let’s go get a beer:

It turned out to be some golf club type place, and I’m sure there was no seat at the bar for the guy with boots, helmet and armor. Later on, I finally find signs of the 4th of July:

I’m not sure which town this was but it seemed nice. Not long afterwards I start to get closer to my destination for Day 1, Franklin, NC:

Not much going on, but I did take advantage of the public restrooms :)

Now it was time to find fellow ADV inmate, Foster. Early in my planning phase, I was scoping out the tent space thread and saw that Foster was right in my path going towards the TAT. So I shot Foster an email and he was all game. Cool guy:

Not only did Foster (Steve) provide premium tent space:

..he and his wife also provided dinner:

Pork chops, string beans, grilled zucchini, potato salad and rolls! This is how you travel across the country! Steve lives a lot like how I would like to live: On an awesome plot of land in the suburbs of a small town eating healthy meals and making life simple. I also got a hot shower, a place to change my oil and a nice porch to download my pictures and gps tracks on. Thanks, Foster, for opening your home to me, especially on a holiday. Much appreciated. This TAT adventure is too easy! But wait, there’s a problem with my rear duffle bag and exhaust pipe:

Hmm, that’s not going to work. Something to think about overnight…

Later on, I also discover that my GPS routes for the entire trip were not exactly right and I wasn’t able to figure out why.

Oh, and another thing I had to think about was the whole bear country factor. As I was on the porch downloading some pictures, I hear Steve say from behind the house, “If you want to see a bear you better get your ass out here!” Moose:

…one of Steve’s dogs, spotted a bear and was letting everyone know we all had a visitor (ol’ Moose was a talkative fellow anyway, but he wasn’t crying wolf this time). I just missed the seeing the bear, but I was surely thinking about him most of the night as I was camping within his range…

Tomorrow’s agenda includes picking up the TAT in Sparta, TN and camping in Rock Island State Park, Tennessee. I would have to find a solution to keep my bags from burning on the exhaust and figure out why my GPS routes were off… or I could just be eaten by a bear tonight and not have to worry about it. I did cross the black cat’s path this morning…

Total mileage: 252 miles
Daily mileage: 252 miles
Wildlife observed: 2 black snakes, 2 deer, just missed seeing a bear
Favorite Sight: Cowpens National Battlefield
Favorite Scent: Pork chops!
Favorite Sound: Small stream by the campsite
Favorite Taste: Grilled zucchini
Favorite Feel: Sitting on the porch, comfortable outdoor furniture rocks!
Ailments: None

1 comment:

Betty Jo said...

Your pictures are wonderful and the narrative is so interesting. Take care.
Betty Jo