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Old 05-05-2004, 06:52 PM   #8
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,660
South Carolina - Like Norfolk, but flat...

10th February

Another bright, overcast and cool day. I decide against my initial plan to ride direct to Charleston and hit the back roads, using the GPS as an expensive compass, heading roughly North East. Almost immediately I come across a signpost for Sergeant Jasper Park – it turns out to be a pleasant woodland car park, but there is no explanation as to who Sgt Jasper was. Intriguingly, the sign shows a Union flag crossed with the South Carolina State flag*……



I continue up the back roads, and, on a whim, I head off down a dirt road. At first the going is good, but there has clearly been rain here recently and I feel the heavily laden Adventure sliding a little under me. Nevertheless, 5 miles later I find myself back on tarmac, feeling a little more confident in handling the bike on loose surfaces.



Near Holly Hill (the site of a Civil War battle) I stop and take a picture of an Episcopalian church, nestling prettily amongst the Spanish Moss.



These churchs abound in this part of South Carolina, as do Baptist chapels. They are nearly always in immaculate condition, even when in the poorest of neighbourhoods. On Sundays they are very well attended.

Another whimsical moment – I see a sign for a Wildlife Observation Park. I’m slightly bemused by a sub-notice stating that duck hunters must present their licence before starting their shoot – can’t imagine that at Slimbridge somehow…..



I follow the dirt road some 4 miles to the lodge, an empty cabin overlooking a large lake. I sit on a bench on a jetty or a while, relaxing in the complete silence. Feeling very chilled & relaxed, I get back on the bike, and, failing to listen to the sensible inner voices, decide I’ll ride on, rather than turning around.



The track looks like it’ll loop around and join the track I came in on - right? Wrong :(. The track gets progressively rougher and muddier and the bike starts sliding regularly.

I keep going, confidently using my homing pigeon instinct – confidence which proves to be completely misplaced…. As I get further into the woods (these wetlands must cover hundreds of acres), I realise that I’ve lost my bearings and, although I’ve got the GPS, I’ve no idea where the tracks which will lead me back to the entrance are. I hear the distant twang of hillbilly banjos……

Eventually, I retrace my steps, avoiding dropping the bike more by luck, sheer desperation and misuse of the throttle, than by skill. I breathe a sigh of relief as I regain the blacktop and resolve to listen to the sensible voices in future.

As I enter Charleston, I stop and buy a couple of greetings cards and then visit a Post Office to send them to the UK. US Post Offices are quite different from UK ones – they deal almost exclusively with the collection & deliver of mail, rather than the ‘One Stop Shop’ approach of the UK ones. For just over $1.10 I post 2 cards to the UK, First Class. Further on I check out the prices of a couple of cheap (looking) motels, but find them a little expensive for the (rough) neighbourhood they’re situated in. I treat myself to a night in a Best Western ($49 + tax)……

I’ll look at visiting the USS Yorktown tomorrow…..

Edit

*Seems Sgt William Jasper was a hero of the Revolutionary War, killed during an assault on Fort Sullivan near Charleston, after releasing Patriot prisoners in October 1779. So now you know.


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MikeO screwed with this post 02-12-2006 at 03:09 AM
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