Category Archives: New Orleans to Newport

Savannah, GA to Beaufort, SC

I didn’t wake up on Friday until after 11.  While Dallas showered, I ran over to the laundry facilities on the opposite side of the apartment complex to retrieve our laundry from the dryer.  After doing so, I jumped in the pool and swam a few laps before jogging back with our laundry.

Blaine kindly offered to drive us a bit outside of Savannah and into South Carolina so we could get away from the city and have a good start.  We gladly accepted.  Since none of us had eaten yet, I asked Blaine if he wanted to join us for breakfast first, and he suggested we eat in Beaufort, the town where Dallas and I figured we’d spend the night.  If Blaine didn’t mind driving us that far, we weren’t going to complain.  Had we not had a job waiting for us in Newport, we would have enjoyed the bike ride from Savannah to Beaufort, but since we were on a timeline we were more than willing to take rides where we could get them.

Blaine, Dallas and me at Nippy’s in Beaufort

Beaufort is a charming town, complete with its own horse and buggy tours, plenty of good restaurants to choose from, and a picturesque waterfront.  We ate at Nippy’s, which has excellent onion rings, fish and chips, fish tacos and shrimp.  After lunch, we walked to the waterfront and had ice-cream.

Blaine said goodbye to Dallas and me in Beaufort.  Before leaving the town ourselves, we got coffee from Common Ground, where we sat on their porch and contacted our next host in Charleston on WarmShowers.  One last stop before leaving town was Piggly Wiggly for some groceries to hold us over until we reached the next town, which may not be for another 70 miles.

Coffee from the porch of Common Ground

We didn’t get to go very far before the sun started setting, so Dallas and I camped out only 16 miles from where we left in Beaufort.  Thanks to Blaine, we were already a bit farther than we had anticipated getting that day, so now we only have a 56-mile ride instead of 72 miles to Charleston.

A Day in Savannah

Dallas and I took a day to explore Savannah and get some time away from our bikes.  Blaine had class in the morning, so we woke up around 10am, only to find that Blaine had received a text message telling all SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) students to stay inside and not to go anywhere until further notice.  Apparently, a crazy guy with a gun was downtown and had locked himself in one of the restaurants with two hostages.  Since his class was cancelled, Blaine joined us for breakfast at a diner near his home before bringing us downtown.

Enjoying ice-cream at Leopold’s: rose petal and honey almond for me, and lavender and orange blossom for Dallas

Once downtown, we walked to the Savannah Bee Company and then Blaine left us to explore on our own.  We walked along the river and then back to Leopold’s for ice-cream, which was delicious.  It began raining after we left Leopold’s, so we walked/ran to a cafe, where we stayed for the next three or four hours while it thundered and poured.

Blaine had told us about a meet-up for Couchsurfers in Savannah that evening, so we met up with him and about 20 other Couchsurfers, mostly hosts in Savannah, at the Moon River Brewing Companyshortly after 7pm.  We stayed there for a few hours interacting with other members of the couchsurfing community.  One of them was from Florida and was planning a bike tour from Savannah in the next few days.  He had another couchsurfer from France who was staying with him in St Petersburg and decided to leave with him when he started driving up the coast.

Savannah couchsurfers at Moon River Brewing Co.

After departing the couchsurfing meeting, Blaine took us to a secret bar where he flashed a special key to get past the doorman.  Mata Hari is a speakeasy style bar that only allows 200 members at any given time.  The only way you can become a member is if someone who is leaving Savannah gives you their key.  It was a pretty cool place, and we stayed to watch a few sets of Britt Scott’s singing.

It was already after midnight when we got back to Blaine’s apartment, but Dallas and I needed to do laundry, so we put a load in the washer and then watched a movie before going back to switch the clothes to the dryer.

George L. Smith to Savannah

Dallas on a dock in a Cypress Forest

We had great ambitions to make it the 75+ miles to Savannah from the park where we had camped in one day.  After finishing our Mexican leftovers for breakfast and packing up the tent, I led Dallas into a few dead ends trying to find our way out of the park to the beginning of the course Garmin had laid out for us.  The park was really lovely though, so it was nice to see some of it before Dallas led us back to the main road.

A shortcut I thought might take us out of George L. Smith State Park

We stopped after 8 or 9 miles at a gas station to drink coffee and water, and then hit the road again for 18 miles.  Statesboro is another college town, so there were cafes and restaurants other than fast food for us to eat at and rest.  We rinsed off our sandy legs and feet before going into the Sugar Magnolia Bakery for lunch.  The girl at the register was actually from Savannah, and recommended some places for us to check out when we got there.  I contacted some more people on couchsurfing over a chicken salad and lemon square.

We left the bakery and moved on to a coffee shop, The Daily Grind.  While there, I heard from Blaine, one of the couchsurfers in Savannah.  He said he was actually planning to go to Statesboro that day to pick something up and would be able to give us a lift back to Savannah.  Both Dallas and I were relieved that we no longer had to bike another 50 miles to get to our destination that day.  We remained at the Daily Grind, drinking coffee and eating cake until Blaine showed up with his car and bike rack.

After bringing our belongings inside and showering at Blaine’s apartment, Blaine brought us on an extensive driving tour of Savannah and the surrounding islands.  He is an excellent tour guide, and I highly recommend him as a couchsurfing host if you ever happen to find yourself in Savannah without an itinerary or a place to stay.  Blaine showed us most of the town, recommending places to check out the next day.  He brought us to Spanky’s, which was rated by locals as having the best chicken fingers.  After supper, we drove out to Tybee Island and walked around a few of the beaches and fishing areas.

Sandersville to George L. Smith State Park

The Days Inn offered complimentary coffee, plain bagels, instant oatmeal and bananas.  We were hungry again shortly after our departure from the motel.  I was hoping to stop somewhere in Bartow for more food, but we ended up passing through it without seeing any indication of development or even residential occupancy.

Empty dirt roads in Georgia

We stopped to consult our maps, and it looked like next town on our route was Statesboro.  We didn’t think we could make it there by the end of the day, and both of us had run out of water, so Dallas decided it was best to divert our course south to Swainsboro in search of food and water.  The road we chose to ride down was newly paved (unlike many of the dirt roads that had been slowing us down recently), but provided no shade from the hot sun.  Along the way, we did pass by a small cluster of buildings, including a church where we were able to fill up our water bottles from the faucet outside.

When we arrived in Swainsboro, the only appealing restaurant/cafe was closed for the day, and we were once again left with only fast food options.  We stopped at a grocery store first and bought some juice and watermelon to share.  At the checkout, we asked where we could eat that was not fast food, and the cashier told us of a Mexican restaurant further down the main road.  The restaurant, El Valle, had horrible reviews on google, but was still better than fast food.  The slow service gave us an excuse to rest for quite a while.

A herd of cows run with Dallas

From Swainsboro, Dallas and I headed east about 15 miles to George L. Smith State Park. Just before turning down the road to the park, we stopped at a gas station that was about to close.  The woman reopened the doors so we could buy some ice-cream and candy bars, and another woman who was relaxing in a rocking chair on the porch told us to come back tomorrow.

Butterflies along the route

We arrived at the park after dark, and it was difficult to see much of anything.  We passed by an RV park and other various camping facilities to turn onto several dark and subsequently narrower roads, eventually working our way further from any sign of human existence.  The last road was blocked by a metal gate, and from there we turned onto a dirt path.  The site we chose to camp was damp but padded by pine needles.  It had been our longest day of riding since our practice ride from Mandeville, and we fell asleep quite easily.

Cedar Creek to Sandersville

Dallas on a dirt road, somewhere in Cedar Creek

Although the sign in front of the church indicated that they only had services on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month, Dallas and I wanted to leave early in case anyone came by.   After a restless night, we washed off our bikes and our legs with the hose outside, and prepared for a day of riding more than 50 miles (finally).

The first stop was just over 20 miles to Milledgeville, where I had contacted a few couchsurfers the day before.  We had  been thinking we were about ready to stay in a house and get a real shower (and maybe do some laundry), and there were several hosts in Milledgeville, since there was a college there.  We obviously never made it to Milledgeville that night and ended up camping behind the church instead.  We did make it to Milledgeville before noon on Monday, and James, one of the couchsurfers I had contacted, directed us to the bike shop where he worked and let us leave our bikes under the carport while we walked to the Metropolis Cafe for lunch.  It began pouring before we made it to the downtown area, and we took cover under the carport of a dental office just a few blocks away while I contacted James.  The rain didn’t last long, and by the time we arrived at Oconee Outfitters, the sun was shining strongly.

After lunch, Dallas and I went around the corner to Blackbird Coffee, where we shared coffee and lounged on the couch for a few hours, getting some much-needed rest.  Milledgeville has an interesting history, and it would have been nice to stay there a bit longer.  It had been the capital of the Confederate states before the Civil War and was the capital of Georgia from 1804 to 1868.

View from the road – Kaolinite mining?

We finally got moving again around rush hour, which was a bad time to leave the town.  The road Garmin directed us onto was picturesque but hilly and full of blind turns.  Within a mile after turning onto that shoulderless road, we heard the sound of brakes squealing behind us, scaring both of us into riding off the road and onto the grass.  An SUV driver who probably hadn’t been paying attention had likely swerved to avoid us but then had to stop to avoid an oncoming car.  The incident loaded me with a rush of adrenaline that increased our average pace over the next several miles.

Georgia really is a beautiful state, and I must stress again that the people are so friendly and accommodating.  Most of the traffic gave us a wide berth, pulling over at least a full lane wherever possible.  In Sandersville, we were met with even more hospitality and generosity when we stopped to eat dinner.

Dallas and I had been planning to camp out again in Tenille, at a small city park we saw on the map.  Upon arriving in Tenille, we had to ride up a few miles to Sandersville in order to find an open place where we could get food.  The choices in Sandersville were all evil – an array of fast food restaurants including Sonic, Zaxby’s, McDonald’s and Waffle House.  We were hungry and settled on Huddle House, which seemed to offer the widest selection.  After locking out bikes up so we could see them from the window, an older couple at a nearby table started talking to us.  The conversation began like so many of the previous ones, asking us where we came from and where we’re going, commenting on how far it is and warning us to be careful.  The wife did most of the talking, and throughout our meal, she would come over to our table and have something else to say.  Her Georgian accent was really tough for me to understand, and I felt like we weren’t engaging as we could have been, especially since we were preoccupied with consuming the food in front of us.  Towards the end of our meal, she came back and said she had talked to the sheriff, and they were going to watch over us to make sure we stayed safe while we were in Sandersville.  Another boy in the restaurant joined in and recommended Kaolin Park for us to camp that night.  The woman gave us her phone number so we could call her if we got lost trying to find the park.  They offered us a ride there in their truck, but we weren’t quite ready to leave yet.

When we were about done eating, a police officer appeared from somewhere within the restaurant to suggest another place for us to stay.  Apparently, the Days Inn has a program where they let “indigents” stay in their motel for free one night.  While he recognized that we were not “indigents”, he said he would see if he could set us up to stay there.  It turned out that the police officer was our waitress’s husband, and the boy who had suggested Kaolin park for camping was her son.

Dallas on the road

We rode about 2 miles down the road to meet the officer at the police station so he could check our IDs and then rode a few more miles to the Days Inn.  On our way, another patrolman rolled down his window to tell us they were waiting for us.  The first officer met us again at the Days Inn to make sure we arrived safely before driving off.

It was after 11pm by the time we checked into the motel and enjoyed our first shower since leaving Atlanta.  We also seized the opportunity to wash some of our cycling clothes while we had running water, clean our bikes with the motel’s provided rags and re-oil our chains.  The bed was so comfortable that we slept in and had yet another late start to the next day.

Charlie Elliott to Cedar Creek

Lake near our campsite at Charlie Elliott

After another night and morning of rain, we finally emerged from our tent and set off towards the next town.  Our first stop was a gas station, where I tried to phone my step-mom to wish her happy Mother’s Day, but there was no phone service and I kept getting cut off.  Dallas and I shared some tuna and crackers before continuing.  We rode south to Monticello and looked around for a place to eat, but everything in the town was closed.  We ended up eating at Dairy Queen and then riding another half mile out of the way to pick up groceries.

Sign painted on a building in Monticello

We made it to Cedar Creek before dark despite being slowed down by muddy dirt roads and hills. Instead of finding a place in the woods, we set up our tent behind an A.M.E. church.  After setting up, we heard sounds coming from inside the church.  There were no cars outside, but it sounded like someone was dragging a chain, or pulling something heavy up using a chain and pulley system.  The other negative to our location was the bright floodlight that beamed upon our tent all night.  The place honestly creeped me out, especially when I had to leave the tent to pee in the middle of the night and was all alone, surrounded by the cemetery, the dark empty road, and the forest behind the open field where we were camped behind the church, which continued to make strange sounds at 10 or 20 minute intervals.  It also rained intermittently throughout the night.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep that night.

Arabia Mountain to Charlie Elliott

Between Atlanta and Savannah we had spotty if any phone service, and the few nights where we did have internet access we were too exhausted to do anything but pass out after a shower, so I apologize for not updating the blog sooner.

We got a rather late start leaving Arabia Mountain. Despite only going 40 miles the previous day, we were still getting used to traveling and were tired enough to sleep on the ground for almost 12 hours! It was raining in the morning when we woke up, so that didn’t help motivate us to get moving.  We slept in a few more hours while waiting for the rain to subside.  After packing up the tent and finding our way back on the road, we went to a nearby Panera to eat breakfast and use their free wifi. Dallas installed his new brake pads and water bottle cage while I blogged about the previous day.

When we finally hit the road for real it was after 4pm! Fortunately, the sun sets at 8:30 so we had a few hours of riding left. We started getting hungry before we had even ridden 20 miles, so we pulled into what was quite possibly the only option for food in the vicinity: Cowboy’s BBQ. While we didn’t have much of a choice, it was a good one. We split an order of ribs, pulled pork, and smoked turkey with a side salad and sweet potato fries, followed by a bowl of banana pudding and blackberry cobbler.

Once again, everyone who saw us stopped to chat about our trip. It felt kind of silly to admit we had only gone 60 miles since we started two days ago, but people were still impressed. One guy suggested we camp at a site not far from where we were eating, instead of trying to go another 20-30 miles to get to the nature reserve we were hoping to reach before dark. It was a good suggestion, and we ended up riding just a tad out of the way to get to Charlie Elliott, where they had free primitive camping.

A toad near our campsite at Charlie Elliott

It was dusk by the time we got to the campground. Instead of setting up camp amongst the RVs that had already settled in around the various camp sites, we opted to go a short distance down a dirt trail and make our own camp site in the woods away from the people. There were plenty of spiders and moths to contend with, but fortunately not many mosquitoes and no sign of copperheads, about which various people had warned us.

Day 1 from Atlanta

Dallas, Emmaline, and me before leaving Atlanta

Dallas and I did not get as far as we were anticipating the first day, but we did take care of a lot of business that needed to get done.  We woke up around 9am and got ready to leave Emmaline’s house.  After saying goodbye and thank you, we rode just a mile or so to get breakfast at J Christopher.

From there, we rode to the Chase bank where we could get papers notarized – part of the process in obtaining our pedicab licenses for Newport.  The bank was near a grocery store, so we got food afterwards, in addition to some money orders we needed to send for our pedicab licenses.  We tried to mail our papers to Rhode Island from the shipping store that was in the same plaza, but they were closed until 2:30 for a mandatory weekly prayer.  We ended up passing a post office not far from the plaza, so we stopped there to mail away our pedicab license applications and get passport photos taken (also required for the pedicab licenses).  The whole process took forever, since we were kept waiting at the bank, the supermarket and the post office.  I guess Friday afternoon is a popular time for getting errands done.

Dallas and me at Stone Mountain

From the post office, we rode a short distance to Stone Mountain, where we ate our food at a picnic table.  We rode the 5 mile loop around Stone Mountain and emerged along a bike path that ended on Main Street.  There was a bike shop right at that corner, and Dallas was in desperate need of new brake pads.  We waited at the bike shop for quite a while since the owner was out running his own errands.  Leaving the bike shop with new brake pads, a new chain, and a new water bottle cage (all of which Dallas has yet to install on his bicycle), we continued south another 10 miles or so before we had to stop again.  Dallas had gotten something in his eye, and it was bothering him enough that he couldn’t keep riding.

We stopped at a Jamaican restaurant to use the bathroom and hopefully get the foreign object out of Dallas’s eye.  Dallas went inside while I locked up our bikes.  As soon as I entered, the waitress began questioning me about what I wanted to eat.  I didn’t have time to think or look around or anything.  Did I want chicken or fish or pork and how did I want it cooked? It’s fish Friday, so I can have the red snapper fried or curried or steamed…  Umm…I just wanted to wait for Dallas and see what he wanted to do, but he was in the bathroom.  I told her I needed to use the bathroom first, so I went in to wash my hands.  When I came out, Dallas was still trying to fix his eye, and this time both the waitress and the bartender were pressuring me to order something.  I really was more thirsty than anything, but they didn’t have smoothies like their sign outside had advertised and I didn’t think I wanted a beer or rum punch.  I said that I would like to look at a menu and think for a few minutes first, but the bartender answered that she could give me a menu but it wouldn’t mean anything to me.  It’s not like it wasn’t in English.  Dallas finally came back and said I could order whatever while he went next door to buy eye drops at the gas station.  I went with the curried fish.

The entire red snapper (eyes and fins and everything) came out on a large plate with rice and beans and vegetables.  It was actually delicious, and we contemplated ordering more food after we finished the plate.  Dallas finally succeeded in dislodging whatever was stuck in his eye, and we rode around the corner to a mall plaza where we ate ice-cream.  We hadn’t gotten very far, but it was getting late and would be dark in just a few hours.  We decided to head slightly out of the way to get to a nature reserve where we would hopefully find a safe spot to camp.

Lake at Arabia Mountain

Arabia Mountain was beautiful, and we were able to find a wooded trail off the bike path that took us towards a lake.  The area was deserted, so we camped out undisturbed all night and well into the morning.  We were both so exhausted from the day that we passed out shortly after setting up the tent and did not wake up until after 10am!  It was raining when we woke up, so we took our time getting dressed and packing our things up before taking down the tent.

People in Georgia are so nice!  So many people stopped us on our first day of riding, all wanting to know where we were coming from and where we were going.  Everyone who talked to us had questions for us.  A couple who saw our bikes outside tracked us down in the grocery store and asked about our trip.  Another couple outside of the mall stopped their car to take photos with us and ask us the same questions.  We really should get cards or stickers with a web link to pass to people and answer the FAQs.  Maybe a youtube video explaining what we’re doing will be helpful, especially when we start traveling abroad and want to explain ourselves to potential couchsurfing hosts.

Goodbye, New Orleans. Atlanta for the night.

Trang’s truck, with all of our bikes and stuff, before leaving her house in New Orleans

In order to shorten the trip to the Northeast and make it to Newport by the beginning of June, Dallas and I caught a rideshare out to Atlanta with two other girls.  Trang had plenty of space in her truck for our bikes and gear, and the other passenger, Emmaline, graciously offered for us to stay the night at her house when we got to Atlanta.

Dallas drove for the first half of the trip, and Emmaline drove the rest of the way to her house, where her mother greeted us and welcomed us inside.  After Trang continued toward East Atlanta, Dallas and I joined Emmaline for food, coffee, and cake at Cafe Intermezzo.  I must say that their tiramisu is the closest I’ve been able to find to the ones they have at Whole Foods and Rouses.  Delicious!