Murrells Inlet, SC to Mt Pleasant, SC (Via Jamestown)
I woke up this morning at 630 feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. I had scoped out a free campground in the middle of the Francis Marion National forest. The US Forestry website listed the only amenity as a water pump. You can’t beat free and water is my only real requirement so I was perfectly happy with the place. So I pedaled out into the beautiful spring morning. The weather was mostly cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon which sounded lovely as by the afternoon time I’m usually hot, sweaty and covered in road grime.
My first stop for the day was at a gas station about 20 miles down the road where I made myself, you guessed it, second breakfast! While I was preparing my bagel, avocado and mystery meat sandwich this boy and his father walk out from the store and the little guy looks at me, points his finger at my crotch and says, “Look, Papa! He peed his pants!!!!”. He then went into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I looked down at myself and it did indeed look like I had wet myself. You see the weather is starting to get more humid and with the amount of sweat that’s pouring off of my while cycling it just doesn’t have time to evaporate. I did my best Adam Sandler impression and told him “You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants!” Somehow I don’t think his dad thought it was very amusing as he just mumbled an apology and shuffled his kid away. Oh, well. Can’t win over everybody with my good looks and charm 😉
So about an hour later I’m pedaling along down a back country road where you would expect there wouldn’t be a lot of traffic. Well that wasn’t the case at all. There were what seemed like hundreds of logging trucks barreling both directions down the road. It wasn’t really as bad as it sounded as they mostly gave me wide birth but it’s still a bit disconcerting to hear that thunderous VRROOMMMM as they pass by. On this same road I had my next encounter with man’s best friend. Or friend’s I should say. I heard a pack of pups running and barking like mad coming up on my tail. I turned around and it was this beautiful lab and 4 of her not quite full grown puppers. They looked so vicious with their little pupper tongues lolling about. I really, reallyI, wanted to stop and pet them but I didn’t want to be responsible for getting a pack of dogs smushed by one of the trucks screaming down the road. I slowed down and, in my most commanding alpha voice, said “GO HOME!”. They turned back towards their house but that look of betrayal is going to haunt my dreams tonight for sure.
At the 40 mile mark I stopped at a little, run down looking store to get a snack and fill my water bottles up. I got some jerky and a gatorade and the lady asked if there was anything else I needed. I told her I’d do about anything for a pickle and lo and behold she reached under the counter and pulled out a huge, fresh jar. The One True Turtle was smiling down on me this day for sure. I used the bathroom outside to fill my water bottles up. The water smelled really strongly of sulphur but I drank it anyway. It was cold and wet and, really, what choice did I have? We’ll see in the next few days if I get dysentery.
The next 20 miles to my camp went by smooth and fast thanks to this new podcast I found, Cashing in with T.J. Miller. If you’re a fan of his comedy then check it out, it’s hilarious.
I get to the camp and it’s about what I expected, no frills just a few tent spots with fire pits. I start walking around looking for the water pump before I set up camp and I’m oh so glad that I did. Turns out the US Forestry website is about 15 years out of date because the “pump” was just a rusty pipe sticking out of the ground. Some strategic Googling told me that the pump had been removed years ago because of bacterial contamination. So yeah. There I am, in the middle of the forest, with half empty water bottles and no way to fill them up. There isn’t even a lake or stream near me. Lizard Luck strikes again. By some grace of the Almighty Turtle I had 1 bar of service on my phone and was able to locate another campsite. It was another 20 miles away. By this point I was running on fumes, hot, tired and cranky but I just had to buckle down and move on. On the way to the new camp, though, I was able to test out the water tight integrity of my packs as a torrential downpour soaked me about 30 minutes in. It was heaven 🙂
So I finally made it here no worse for wear but I’m a little off course. Still headed in a southerly direction but It’ll take some maneuvering the next few days to get back onto the Atlantic Coast Route. It’s all part of the adventure though. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!