I went down to my parent's condo in Garden City, NC for the Myrtle Beach Bike Week in 2000. This was before my accident and desire to hit the continental US on two-wheels, but I thought it made for an interesting story, so here it is.
I was staying the week for Bike Week, but most of my friends weren't going to be at the beach until the second weekend. It was only Monday when I started getting restless, so I decided to shoot up to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and leave on Tuesday. I was thinking it would be a long, single day jaunt up there and back, but I ended up being surprised just how long it would take.
I left early enough in the morning to beat most of the traffic and just casually rode the highways. I am really bad for hitting pawn shops when I am in areas away from home, and his was not any different. When going through Wilmington, NC, I saw a pawn shop, and something told me to stop there. I saw a Marshall 3203 guitar amplifier head, with footswitch, for only $150. These things usually go for $300-$400 on eBay, and I figured I could use a backup, but I had no way to get it to the condo, and they wouldn't bother with shipping it. I decided to leave it there, and I'd figure something out, later. I continued on my way, and since I didn't have a map, I actually stopped for directions, once.
The route I took was going to take me right through Ft Bragg. The scenery is just like any other through the low lands of South Carolina and North Carolina without anything strikingly different to get your attention, but riding through Ft Bragg, and seeing all those tank trails, was really cool. The tank crossing signs were rather interesting, too.
The route to get to the first ferry boat was fairly desolate, but I enjoyed the ride. It was sunny, about 90 degrees, and light fluffy clouds in the sky. When I got to the area to bore the ferry, I discovered that you are supposed to make reservations in advance, so I had to wait in a special line to see if they would have enough space for me once they got all the people with reservations, first. I got there early enough, too early, as I had about a two hour wait to board the ferry. I met a few other people on bikes, and, naturally, conversations evolved around our bikes, where we were from, where we were going, and similar topics. When we reached the island at the southernmost section of the Outer Banks, we had to drive to the other side and catch another ferry. The couple on a dresser Harley and I got caught up in traffic, and some other guys rode ahead of us. We were running late to catch the second ferry, but the guys that rode ahead of us told them to wait for us, and they did. If memory serves me right (I'm writing this four years after the trip), the first ferry ride was about an hour long and the second one was only 30 minutes or so.
Once we actually hit the main road for the Outer Banks, we headed north. I rode with the couple on the dresser. We stopped to see a lighthouse or two, but the ride was fairly uneventful. I was thinking that I'd be able to see a lot of the ocean, like riding up A1A from Saytona Beach to St Augustine in Florida, but most of this road didn't have much of an ocean view. I was a bit disappointed in this, but it was still pretty cool. The speed limits were lower than I'd hoped for, and with the two ferry rides, I wasn't making the distance I had planned. I was not going to make it back in one day. It just wasn't going to happen. The sun was going down, the breeze off the ocean was making temperatures drop, and I was trying to think of a plan for the evening. We stopped at a tourist, welcome center at a park or something, and started to put on some warmer clothing. I asked the couple if they were planning on getting a hotel room in Nag's Head, and I was told they were going to run inland. I told them I was goign to stop at Nag's Head and get a room, and possibly hit some of the tourist attractions in the area before heading back to the Garden City. Once in Nag's Head, we parted ways.
For a lot of driving in fairly desolate area, Nag's Head surprised me with the number of hotels. I got a room at the Comfort Inn just as the sun was disappearing for the evening. I was starving, so I took off down the road and found a Pizza Hut to chow down in. I retired fairly early, after a long, hot shower.
The Weather Channel was showing a chance of rain the evening before, so when I awoke, I wasn't too surprised to the overcast skys. I was hoping to do some sight-seeing at the Wright Brother's Museum in Kitty Hawk and get back home before getting rained on. I drove to the museum, but I had an hour to wait until they opened. I found a small restaurant and got my breakfast. I don't remember the place, but their food was very good and the portions were much more than I could finish. I finished just in time to get to the museum about five minutes after they opened.
There isn't much to the museum. There is a replica of the Wright Brother's glider and plane inside of it. I learned a lot about man's first flight, especially what it took to make it happen. I learned how the Wright Brother's used model wind tunneling to design their wings, and they used the glider in 1902 to evaluate these designs. It was really interesting to see all the research that they used to make a huge paper airplane fly (just kidding....it was much more than that. LOL). Also on the grounds were some of the original buildings, the rail that they used to do their take-offs, and markers showing the distances traveled with each of the first three attempts. It was fairly windy this morning, probably not much unlike that of the day of man's first flight.
There is a huge hill and a monument on the grounds, too, and at the top of the top of the hill is a monument for the Wright Brothers. It looked like a fairly decent hike to the top, and I was feeling lazy and not in the mood to climb it by foot, so.....It was early enough, during the week, and there weren't many people there, so, I actually jumped on the sidewalk and rode my Harley up to the top of the hill to take a few pictures. If I wasn't worried about getting in trouble, I'd have taken a picture of the bike up there. On my way back down, I got a few strange and ticked off looks from a couple walking up the sidewalk and again from a guy in a minivan when i jumped the curb to get back on the perimeter road. It was starting to get really dark north of me, so I shot back on the highway and headed south to Nag's Head. There, I caught highway 64 and headed inland.
Man, am I glad I got a room in Nag's Head the night before. For one, I wouldn't have seen the Wright Brothers museam, but also, because I didn't see a place to get a hotel room until I got inland and was heading south on highway 17. This was a bit of a drive, through swampy marsh area. There were some ditches on either side of the road, in some sections, and I'm not too sure if alligators go that far north, but I could picture that was where some of them may hang out. I recall a really cool, long bridge with a blinking/flashing light in the middle of it. That was pretty cool. With the distance that i had to go to see a hotel, I felt sorry for the couple I was riding with the day before. They probably didn't get a room until after 11pm that night.
The ride back to my folk's condo was non-eventful and the closest thing to rain I saw was a few, very light drizzles for no more than five miles at a time. I was concerned about this because I'd left all of my rain gear at the condo. Oh yeah, as for the Marshall amplifier at the pawn shop?......I ended up riding back up there on the Harley and using bungie cords to strap it to the back of the Harley. I left it at the condo and my parents took it back to their house in Columbia......You know I just couldn't pass up a good deal on guitar equipment. 8)