Day 2
April 9th, 2002
Near Dillon, South Carolina

A bright morning sun lit up my tent, and the geese in the river were making too much noise to sleep, but I was moving slow anyway.  I estimated only a 300 mile ride to Norfolk, so was in no need of a early start.  I pulled my sleeping bag up, fluffed up my pillows, and closed my eyes for another 40 winks.  

The air was clean and cool with a sweet scent of pine, and I wanted to savor the morning as long as I could.  I finally stuck my head out of the tent at 7:30am and began to break camp.

I am now in the most dreadful of time zones.  Eastern.  Out west I have no trouble adapting to the time, but on the right coast, its horrible.  The 10 o'clock news comes on at 11, prime time is 7-11, and the cafes and "diners" are packed at the time I normally like to eat.  Eastern folks work 9-5 and not 8-4 like back home.  The whole thing makes no sense to me.  I lived in Virginia till I was 11 years old, and until we moved to Alabama, I never knew what "good time" meant.

I thought about the rain closing in on Alabama the day I left, so called my wife at home for the latest report.  "Hey is it rainin there yet?" "Yeah it started late last night, and will continue most of the day.  Weather Channel says it's in Georgia right now." "Dang, I better get moving then."

I break camp and get the ST loaded, and roll out the campground around 8:30am "crazy time."

I stop at the entrance to open the gate, and the numbers the ranger gave me to the lock aren't working.  I try it again-0936, again no dice.  They are holding me hostage??  I look around but see no one.  The ranger office is locked down tight, they come in at 9am.  NOWAY do they get here a minute earlier, they are state workers.
I guess I am just going to have to sit here till someone can free me.  

I take notice of a park driveway entering the road, and follow it back to a maintenance shed in the pines.  I ride to the shed, take a grassy path to the driveway, successfully going around the gate, and escaping Stalag Pee Dee.  I felt like Steve McQueen in the movie, "The Great Escape".

I get back on SR 9 and make tracks.  It is cool, but warming up quickly.  The sun is burning off the morning mist, and it is looking to be a great day for a ride.  I am confident I can stay ahead of the front in Georgia.

I take SR 9 in Lakeview.  The town is waking up and things are moving. 

Clearing the city, I find myself in scenic Carolina farm country.  I see a farmer moving cows to a new holding area, kids on dirt driveways waiting for school buses.  I keep my speed down at a indicated 65 mph.  In Alabama, speed limits on most 2 lane secondary roads is 60 mph, which really means you can do 70, but in the Carolinas the limit is 55, and I am sure a scofflaw from Alabama would be frowned upon.

Arriving in Dillon, I will take I-95 North (ugh), but not before I stop to check out the king of tacky tourist traps. South of the Border.  I recall stopping at South of the Border with my dad in the early 60s.  Back then it was only a souvenir shop, with a miniature golf course.  Now it covers both sides of the road. It has six restaurants, 3 motels, various rides, night clubs, t shirt shops, and fireworks stands.  The place is covered in pink flamingos, and the architecture is a Mexican motif. A family can get lost for days among its many activities.

If you look up tacky in the dictionary, you will see a picture of South of the Border.

It is still early morning and most of the area is shut down.  I ride the ST through the empty parking lots and take a few pics.  My father would never believe this place now.  South of the Border is located halfway between New England, and Florida.  Mini van drivers are pounded by hundreds of signs on I-95 advertising the area, pleading you to stop, so by the time a guy reaches the exit he HAS to stop, or his kids mutiny.

I saw two couples leaving a restaurant, the guys had on BIG sombreros, their car had New Hampshire plates.  Yankees on vacation will buy anything.

I leave the area on I-95 and join in the north bound fray to New Jersey.  Thankfully, I exited a short time later at U.S. 13 North.

The wind is back.  Flags are flying full out, and once again I am tossed and turned.  Occasional wind gusts snap my head back.  

I ride north on U.S. 13 till I reach a cross roads called Spivey Corner, where I take a break.  This is family run store in direct competition with large gas/mart across the way.  When I walk inside the smell of frying chicken makes me hungry.  I buy Mountain Dew and chips and sit outside on the bench.  When I finished snacking I called my wife at the office and checked on things.  She said it was still raining.

​Spivey Corner, North Carolina
I get back on 13 and continue north through the Carolina countryside.  Dogwoods are blooming and wild flowers dot the road side.  The road bobs and weaves and the riding is fun.

South of Grantham I got stuck in a construction zone and was held up for 20 minutes.  The south bound lane was closed and all traffic was being funneled to the north bound side.  I shut the ST down and waited for the pace truck to come back to escort myself and 7-9 cages.  I didn't really mind, it was beautiful day.

As I followed the pace car, a gust of wind blew a construction guys helmet off.  He was riding one of those big roller vehicles, packing asphalt.

I followed 13 north of Greenville, where I took SR 11.  I could ride 13 all the way to Norfolk, but this route looked more fun.  It proved to be a wise decision.  The route was interesting and scenic. 

At the intersection of state routes 11 and 308, I made a left turn to the Lewiston-Woodville business district.  I had been riding with the light on for some time and went into town looking for gas.

I gassed up, and before leaving I asked a deputy who was talking to some guy, for directions about places to eat-
"go around that corner right yonder, and you'll see a cafe."


Lewiston-Woodville is a tiny, primitive place.  The few open stores in the business district, were not doing much business.  I pulled the ST to the curb of Jay's cafe and sauntered in.  The town was made up mostly of black folks, in fact I was the only white guy in the area, not that I minded, but I was a stranger in town, and all eyes were upon me.  

A friendly, young, black waitress took my order for a burger and fries and then said-

"dang, I thought you were a yankee, till I heard ya talk"

"so why'd ya think that baby?"

"cuz of that fancy motorsickle ya rode in on, and that suit ya got on."

The burger was good, and the tea sweet.  I complimented the cook and announced it was probably going to be the last southern cooked meal I was going to get for awhile.  They wished me luck, and I walked back out squinting in the bright sun till I could get my Oakleys on.
​A lazy looking downtown Lewiston
The day was warm now, so I peeled off the sweatshirt, and stashed away the medium gloves.  I went to a t shirt under the Roadcrafter, and lightweight textile gloves.  Many riders use leather, or deerskin gloves in hot weather.  I prefer a textile glove because they allow my hands to breathe.

SR 11 took me back to U.S. 13 in Ahoskie.  

From Ahoskie, I rode 13 across the state line into Virginia.  I am way ahead of schedule, and will arrive in Norfolk some where around 2pm.

There are many wood frame houses along U.S. 13.  They have been witness to hundreds of thousands of cars riding by on the highway over the years.  These homes looked to be 60 years old.  Many are guarded by large Oak trees.  My old house (picture top of this page) has a BIG Oak tree in the front.  I guess that tree to be 300 years old.  You can see the top of it a mile away.

I enter Suffolk, and as I make a right turn to follow the truck route through town, a local cop falls in behind me.  I crawl at 35 mph through what looks to be the industrial section of town.  I keep watching my mirrors expecting any second to see the light bar flash on, but it never happens.

The remainder of the ride to Norfolk is through urban sprawl, and not a good ride.

I can't wait to return to my old neighborhood, so I decide when I get to Norfolk to ride and check it out.  I was planning on doing so the next day, but I have several hours to kill before my cousin Murray gets home from work.  Now is as good as time as any.

U.S. 13 drops me off on I-264 and I'm not sure what to do next.  I no longer know my way around the Tidewater area.  I will just follow 264 till I see a exit with a road name I recognize.  I can find my way to my old neighborhood, if I can just get close to the area.  I go in the Portsmouth Tunnel and come out of the darkness in downtown, and then see the exit for Tidewater Drive.  Hey! that's where my old school is!  I take it and come down off the interstate.  Nothing looks familiar but I keep following the road, thinking I will eventually come across something I recognize.

A few miles later Christ the King School comes into view.  It is still here in all its glory, and looks pretty much the same.  The playground still has the tree at the end we played tag under.  I find a parking place and turn the ST off.  The old church is now a gym.  I walk in to find teacher, grading papers, while she takes care of the after schoolers.  She tells me the Franciscan nuns that once taught at CTK left over 12 years ago.  All lay teachers now.
​Outside Christ The King Church
I left the gym and went in the school.  The smell is still the same.  The once glassy smooth tile floor is now dull and dusty.  So many memories of this place.  I can't believe it has been 36 years since I was last here.

I walk back out to the ST and crank up.  As I am pulling out of the parking lot, I see the place where I fell and broke my tooth.

It was great seeing CTK again, and very uplifting.

I get back on busy Tidewater Drive and take a left on Lafayette Blvd. I know where I am now.  Tony's Hot Dogs is just down the street.  Home of the best chili dogs you will ever find.  Much has changed here the last 30 years.  The Park and Willard theatres, where I went to the movies as a boy, are gone now.

But Tony's is still here, and I park around back and walk in.  The second I close the door behind me, I am time warped to 1962.  Everything is the same.  A tiny place with bar stools and small tables along the wall.  I can see my dad and I perched on the stools. My dad loved Tony's and it was a real treat back then to get to eat out. I find a stool and sit down.  I am overcome with many memories.  How I wish my father could be with me to share the next few moments.  To talk about things one last time over a hot dog.
​The One and Only- Tony's  Hot Dogs
A older lady asks me what I will have and I order 2 without onions.  I find out she is Tony's widow, and is now running the store.  Tony died about 10 years ago.  I tell her my story, about where I am from, and about how 36 years ago this was my home.  She says the surrounding neighborhood is a bad place now, and to be out of here before dark.

The hot dogs are just like I remembered them.  They have just the right "snap" and the sauce is perfect.  My dad would have been proud.

I get back on the ST, and ride among the houses.  I come across a Norfolk Fire Department station and pull in for a chat.  Station 11 to be exact.  The guys there are warm and hospitable.  They invite me to spend the night, but I decline by saying I have plans.  I had a great visit with them, but its time to go and see my old neighborhood.
​Visiting the brothers at Norfolk Fire Dept. Station 11
 take a short ride down to Robin Hood Drive and I am in my old neighborhood.  Everything looks so different now. The houses are old and not kept.  Yards are high in weeds.  I quickly find my old house and become so overcome with emotion, I have to unsaddle the bike.  I feel 6 years old again, and that any minute my dad is going to pull up in the driveway.

I can see every room inside the house before me.  My family sitting around watching one of the only 3 TV stations we received.  My mother and father sitting on the couch, with my brother and I at their feet.  I look around and then I notice it.  The large, 300 year old Oak tree is GONE.  And judging by the saw dust and dirt, it hasn't been long cut down.  How do you cut down a 300 year old tree?  I am sad, very sad.

I walk up and down both sides of the street.  Touching the places that mean so much to me.  I see the lot where I played football, and flew kites.  I see the houses where my friends lived.  I wonder how many families are still here? What would they think if I walked up to their door?

Back then my world was confined to just the few blocks around my house.  I even had class mates that lived less then a 6 minute bike ride from me, and I never knew they were there.  

I gather myself, and saddle back up.  I ride to every landmark I ever knew in this place.  I've done what I said I would do-return to my roots on my bike, and having done it, I can now return to my life in Alabama.  Which by the way, vastly improved the day we arrived.

I called Murray and said I was on my way to Chesapeake, he gave me a few last minute directions and said he would be waiting for me.

I got on I-64 and made quick work of the ride into Chesapeake, arriving just a little after dark.  Somehow I got lost and pulled into fire station 12 for directions.  The brothers there were polite and helpful, and quickly got me straightened out.

I pulled into my cousins driveway at 830pm having covered 377 miles for the day.  The last 100 of it in the Tidewater area.

I have a nice social gathering with my cousin and we chat away the night.  One of his daughters and fiancé drop by to see me.  The last time I saw her she was 2 years old.

Things begin to break up about 11pm and I pull out the couch bed and go to sleep.  It was awesome day, one I will always remember.