Jacksonville, NC is the home to Camp Lejeune (Ooo Rah) which, in turn, is home to the US Marine Corps (One, two, three, four, we love Marine Corps). Passing through Jax, NC, was like an escape and evasion exercise. It was necessitated by the easiest route not being accessible to bikes, thus “Turn left at 1.5 miles, right at .5, left at 2.5 . . . “ After escaping Jax it was more of the usual; rural, agricultural.
Adding to the adventure was overcast brought on by impeding thunderstorms. This moderated temperatures and kept sun to a minimum. As I approached Silverdale (one convenience and a vegetable stand the first downpour downpoured. Instead of continuing I stopped just ahead of the atmospheric gush to get a drink. I covered my saddle and stepped into the store. “Excuse me. Do you have a restroom?” Might as well pee when I had the chance. “No.” OK, but I bet behind that door that says “Employees Only” there’s a restroom. Well, I didn’t need to buy more water or Gatorade anyhow. The rain stopped downpouring and I hit the road again.
Swansboro, Cedar Point, and Cape Carteret were unimpressive visually, but I suspect the fishing is good. To my advantage was a suitable for bikes lane and I made good time against the growing dark clouds to the west and southwest. Rain held off and I reached Newport where I needed some local direction to Core Creek. “You might beat the rain,” suggested one of the gentlemen. I didn’t.
One of the guys who gave me directions mentioned “the high rise.” Forty-five minutes later I learned the meaning. In the rain. Heavy rain. Hold your breath or drown rain. No where to hide rain. And lightning right over THERE! And me on the “high rise.” Aren’t you supposed to get as low as possible when there’s lightning? Who wrote this script?
Shortly before the over-the-high-rise-god-it-is-raining-incredibly-hard-rain started I saw a sign. “Core Creek Lodge. Next Left.” There are no lefts on the bridge, so the next left must be down there at sea level. In the blinding rain. Too-fast-for-conditions cars and trucks. Me on a bike. A glance in my mirror suggested (nothing definitive about the view) that nothing was behind me as I clung to my handlebars at 25 mph on the downside of the bridge (Yes, in the rain. Isn’t that dangerous on a bike? Isn’t being near lightning at 500 feet more dangerous?). OK . . . it wasn’t THAT big a deal. I actually slowed on the shoulder, turned my head and confirmed that the road was clear. Seven-tenths mile later I was checking in for a hot shower. No WiFi. No T-Mobile coverage. But, also no tent and a dry bed.
Tomorrow is the dash for the ferry. I am less than 50 miles from the Cedar Island Ferry. I can catch the one o’clock sailing for the 2.25 hour trip. Next sailing is 4. Up early. Drink my meals and get there.