Lane's USA 2009
Well, as all of you know who are
following this in "real time", it's been awhile since my last update,
which was on May 8th. It is now May 19th and I'm 11 days and uncounted
photos behind. I'm currently in Annapolis, MD (actually Pasadena, a
nearby town on the Magothy River), and I resume riding tomorrow. Today
is for laundry, cleanup, and reorganization before I head for New York
city after 6 lay days.
Last you heard we were in Vero Beach, FL for a lay day prior to riding
250 miles to Jacksonville, from which Lynn would fly back home. This
relatively uneventful day did reveal one interesting factoid: There is
surf in Florida. It is NORTH of Cape Canaveral. I hadn't thought about
it before, but summer surf in Florida comes from the southeast, driven
by the southeast trade winds, and in the southern half of Florida it is
blocked by the Bahamas island group. Duh.
Well, not quite. Cocoa Beach, which is just south of Canaveral, calls
itself the Surfing Capital of Florida. Maybe in winter it is, when
storm-driven NE to E swells occur. It was pretty flat when we rode
Since Canaveral (Kennedy Space Center) is off limits to driving, we
swung inland just south of the Cape, bypassed KSC (which we'd toured in
1994) and the urbanized Daytona area (we'd been there too), and
returned to the coast at Ormond Beach. The coast looked different here
. . .
. . . and there was actual rideable surf! Lots of it, with no
surfers. This three foot break would have been crowded in SoCal.
Somewhat north of there we came across Matanzas Inlet:
Now, in Florida there are inlets, and there are Inlets. The latter are
dredged so larger boats can use them. This one is not -- which doesn't
mean boats don't use it; but its use is limited to small, fast, shallow
vessels which can wait for a lull in the surf and then dash through.
Here's a satellite view of this inlet. The "navigable" pass, on this
particular day, is in the upper right. With storms, this pass may shift
around -- so much so that no one bothers to mark it with buoys.
Let me zoom in on that pass for you:
It's just to the left of and beyond the two waders, and the channel
snakes in right around them. It is instructive to realize that, while
you or I would be unlikely to attempt this pass in anything but an
outboard-powered skiff, for a couple centuries this pass was used by
commercial fishermen in sailboats.
We reached our hotel in Jacksonville uneventfully, and were rewarded
with yet another swimming pool, in which we submerged gratefully.
Our hotel was a stone's throw from Jacksonville Airport,
so Lynn was able to take a hotel shuttle to the terminal at 6:30 am,
leaving me free to extend my ride beyond my preplanned destination of
Savannah, and to "smell a few roses" along the way. After making a
hotel reservation in Mt Pleasant, SC (halfway to Morehead City, my
Monday destination), I headed out slowly, taking rural roads. In so
doing, I passed through a number of small southern towns. How small?
Here's a taste:
The countryside here oscillates from low-lying forest to barely
lower-lying salt marsh. This is because the coastline in this region is
indented westward (the center of the indent is at St. Mary's River
which marks the Florida-Georgia border), which causes about a 3x tidal
amplification in this area, to around nine feet, leading to very large
inland estuarial areas that separate the relatively sparse hummocks of
land that are high enough to stay dry *most* of the time. Only in the
salt marshes can you see anything, because the forests are dense. It
looks like this.
As the morning passed it was time for a late breakfast, so I stopped for a breakfast sandwich at a Burger King, the only open restaurant
for 50 miles on a Sunday morning in the rural South. The sandwich came
in a paper bag. The bag had on it an interesting little bit of
corporate "green washing":
They say this because the bag is made from recycled paper. Or is it?
Now, reflect. Anyone who knows anything about paper manufacturing will
tell you that making bags from recycled paper is "resource neutral",
i.e. just as polluting as new paper. What it *does* do is reduce
But wait. Do you really WANT to reduce landfill if what you are burying
is a) biodegradeable, and b) loaded with carbon? Carbon that was split
off by the plant from carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas),
releasing OXYGEN in the process? I mean, paper is greenhouse gas in
solid form, and what you *want* to do is BURY IT AND GROW MORE
TREES!!!! Because (ahem) paper is made from pulp pines that are grown
on tree farms! Which cover the landscape in the South. This is a
RENEWABLE RESOURCE, people, the environmental Holy Grail. Good for the
local economy too. Can you say "economic stimulus"?
(For these insights I'm indebted to my very good friend David
Russell, a brilliant guy who is also godfather to my children.)
OK, onward. At about this point I realized two things:1) If I kept
crawling northward on rural highways I was unlikely to arrive in Mt.
Pleasant before dark, and 2) If I were to speed up I'd have time
to visit the Ships Of The Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah, which I had
enjoyed once before in 1994. So I crossed this bridge into Brunswick,
GA . . .
. . . got back on I-95, high-tailed it into Savannah, and found
out that the museum, which had a nearly identical sign out on the
sidewalk (I didn't notice the "William Scarborough House" in small
print) . . .
. . . was not in the historic colonial-era waterfront warehouse
district where I left it in 1994. It was here:
Wow. I guess we've come up in the world -- although, literally
speaking, the old warehouse district museum *was* four stories high.
This one is two, plus a basement, all filled with maritime memorabilia:
Conveniently, there was off-street parking on the premises, which I
discovered AFTER putting $1.50 in a street meter and then being told by
a passer-by that there was no parking fee on Sunday. So I moved to the
bike to the (free) tree-shaded lot and entered through the garden.
Nice digs. No photos were allowed inside, so I cannot show you the many
excellent ship models inside, all at a scale of 3/8" = one foot (i.e.
0.03125x life size, or 3.1%), which, for the larger ships, made for
some HUGE models. The Titanic, for example was 27.6 feet long and
filled the center of a room.
From there I took the fastest roads possible to and through Charleston
to Mt. Pleasant, in the rain (oh joy), passing along the way a
multitude of small private side roads and driveways that provided a
nice example of what it must have been like to travel through this
forest in colonial days.
As you look at this photo, bear in mind that there was no way to travel
any significant distance on land in this area without running into
water. The land is riddled with estuarial creeks and rivers that cannot
be forded. They can only be crossed with a bridge or ferry, and given
the size of bridge to which the colonists were likely limited, they
either had to go WAY inland (where the rivers are small) or use a
ferry. It must have been maddening to explore. You can see why
boat travel was prevalent. The rivers go darn near everywhere.
My job this day was simply to get to the home of our
cruising friends from 2005, Bob and Barb Thomas in Morehead City, and I
rode with that primary intent. Since it was raining most of the way, I
rode with the secondary intent not to get too wet. This meant
maintaining a goodly but not excessive speed, so as to stay in the wind
shadow of the windshield and fairing but not to go so fast that a skid
would be either likely or lethal. 50-60 mph is nice. I did stop for one
photo op just before the first rain hit me. This is what oncoming rain
looks like in the southeast lowlands.
I got to Morehead City just in time to a) miss the street I was
supposed to turn on, b) get lost, c) stop on a side street to check my
iPhone's GPS, and d) while stopped and completely vulnerable, to get
dumped on by the biggest cloudburst of the day -- with my gloves off
and my iPhone in my hand, all of which I would have avoided had I not
missed the turn. Crikey!
I got there after the cloudburst, and was greeted by this lovely little
home in a quiet neighborhood a stone's throw from the water.
My family and I stayed with Bob and Barb in 2005 when we came through
on Wind Song, and I just love their place. It is small, cozy, and
"people-sized", like a boat, inexpensive, energy-effiecient, and easy
to maintain, which leaves you with more money to spend on other things,
like motorcycles, boats, and adventure! I lost count of the small boats
Bob has floating around the back yard and garage -- five at least, not
counting their 42 foot Colvin-designed steel cruising schooner which is
berthed a block away. The inside of the house is as cute as it can be,
with their many mementos of cruising displayed everywhere . . .
. . . and one memento of their days riding around North Carolina
on/in their Russian Ural motorcycle with sidecar.
OK, yes, the model is of an Indian, not a Ural, but when they found it
in a shop in Italy, all ten inches of it, they couldn't pass it up and
somehow found a place for it in their luggage. Very sweet, like they
While I was there we talked a lot about returning to the Bahamas, which
I plan to do in Fall 2010 and they would very much like to as well.
Pending resolution of their job commitments, it seems possible they
could make it that year as well, which would be just plain lovely.
By the way, that "coffee table" in front of them is a lobster trap.
Look around the room and see what else relates to boating.