Shallotte to Jacksonville, NC
On Thursday, Dallas and I progressed immensely compared to the previous two days. We rose from our camp site around 8 or 9am and left after sharing some Reese’s peanut butter cups and an apple for breakfast. We were on paved roads for no more than 5 or 6 miles before Garmin directed us to turn onto yet another dirt road. Dallas questioned whether we should follow these directions or if we should go 7 miles out of the way and stay on paved roads. He was out of water, so I gave him one of my bottles and figured that we’d be back on paved roads and close to a gas station by the time we ran out of water.
An hour later we were still on desolate, unpaved roads, and not a single car had passed us. The only signs of any human activity for 15 miles or so were the tire tracks in the dried mud and a cigarette carton that had been discarded in the middle of the road. We stopped to eat some of our food a few miles before finally reaching a paved road. After a few more miles of riding on pavement, we came to Dale’s convenience store.
We were relieved to find a place where we could fill up our water bottles, and each of us bought 2 cold drinks as well. Sitting at a table in the air-conditioned store, a local man started talking to Dallas about the route we were taking. As we were getting ready to leave, he offered to give us a ride as far as he could in the direction he was going while heading back to work. We gratefully accepted, and he ended up driving us a few miles further than his turn towards work, saving us about 10 miles altogether.
With 18 miles of riding behind us and an extra 10 miles headway thanks to the ride, reaching Jacksonville that night was beginning to seem realistic. We still needed some real food, so we rode another 20 or 30 miles to the next town, which was Burgaw. There was a laundromat conveniently across the street from the Courthouse Cafe, where we set up shop for a few hours. While waiting for laundry, I got in touch with Eve, a couchsurfer who was out of town for the summer, but graciously gave us her husband’s phone number and said that he could host us.
When we finally left Burgaw, it was after 6pm. Jacksonville was still 35 miles away, and we had 2 hours before sunset. Dallas and I flew for 35 miles down route 53 East, keeping a speed of 18-20 miles per hour and only stopping twice before arriving at Eric and Eve’s home just before dark. Eric greeted us and treated us with great hospitality, offering us food and even cutting a mango for us. A shower and futon to sleep on was a welcome change from camping in the tent, which has become rather sandy and buggy over the past 2 weeks.