Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 25, 2016. Ocean Isle, NC to Pawley's Island, SC. 76 miles.

We lined up this morning with the best of intentions--I found a route that utilized the East Coast Greenway, a series of bike routes from Maine to Florida, mostly keeping us off the highway. Here we are on our last day riding together: Tom, Diana, me, Kathie, Fred and Dennis.

We rode through the small town of Calabash, and soon we were at the state line. We were disappointed that the sign was so plain, but photographed it anyway. Kathie took photos of all the Michiganders, and then I photographed her with her phone.

Then we crossed the road and photographed the North Carolina sign, since we missed it on the way into the state. (We were on the freeway and could not stop).

Right after the state line we found Bill and Doris at the Welcome Center on Hwy 17. We got some good information there and headed out once more. We were on Highway 17 for 3 miles and it was not pretty--4 lane divided highway with a lot of traffic. We managed to get over to the left to make our turn safely and were glad to get off that road!

We encountered a drawbridge over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, but made it across with no issues. Bill and Doris got caught with a bridge opening just behind us. Bill found a place for lunch with a big enough parking lot for the rig, so we met him there. That was no easy feat in the resort town of Myrtle Beach! When we stopped for lunch I found that my phone was dead, so I gave it to Bill to charge in the truck.

There was evidence of the hurricane here, and some of the marquees on the restaurants and hotels had messages to Matthew. We were on Ocean Blvd when I stopped to take a photo of some of the sand they scraped off the street (there were many such piles). I checked my map then, to make sure we would not miss Atlantic Ave and ride miles out of our way. When I looked up all the other riders were out of sight! I rode to Atlantic and waited for them, but I did not know if they had turned or not. Finally I went on by myself. Remember, I had no phone, not a good way to ride!

I found the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway and thought I had it made. It starts alongside the business loop of Hwy 17 in Murrell's Inlet, and enters the north end of  Huntington Beach State Park right before the business loop ends, dumping all traffic back onto the main highway. It was lonely out there--I did not see another person on the path! (I had gone around some orange cones to get on the path).

When the path intersected the vehicle entrance to the park I found the gates to the street locked closed and the path taped off in both directions. I could see a large tree down over the path... had I not been alone I would have carried my bike past the downed tree and continued on the path, but I thought of the snakes and other creatures that might be in that forest (within a closed park) and went around the vehicle gate and out of the park.

I rode the narrow shoulder of Hwy 17 for several miles and then noticed a Litchfield property on the left side of the highway. I crossed to the left turn lane, entered the property and asked if there was a better way to get to Pawley's Island on a bicycle, The man at the desk told me to cross to the other side of the highway (again) and go into the subdivision "a little ways" then turn left and left again to come out at the light where the road to Pawley's Island goes down to the coast. I took his advice (anything to get off that road). It was a 5-mile detour. 

I was the first to arrive at Litchfield Inn--the others had missed the turn at Atlantic and ridden miles out of their way. By the time I had us all checked in the rest of the riders had arrived. We all met on our balcony and this is the view from there.

We shared drinks and snacks on the balcony and all raised a glass (or paper cup) to one another for a ride well done. Later we had dinner on site. We love this place! And we're happy to be here, if a little sad that this part of the adventure is done.

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