Pettigrew State Park, North Carolina

January 3, 2020, Friday: It was a warm night so we slept with the ceiling fan/vent exhausting and awoke to 65 degrees outside and in the low 60s inside.

One final note about Carolina Beach SP that I forgot to mention in the prior post: They close and lock the gate at 6PM. When Jack was checking in, this was mentioned, and when he asked what we might do if we arrive back and find the gate locked, some general arm-waving and vague references to a “driveway” were made, but we never followed up.

When we returned from Michael’s Seafood on our last night at Carolina Beach, it was 6:45. So we wandered around some of the turn-offs from the main road in front of the gate, and at one point ended up turning around in some poor soul’s driveway. 

For the record, if you go past the park entry off Dow Rd. The first right past the Park Road is, indeed, a gravel driveway, but it goes past a house and becomes the cut-through to get behind the gate and into (as well as out of) the park after hours. Sheesh!

Anyway, we left Carolina Beach SP, and en route, we encountered 75 degrees at 10AM, and clear driving the whole way to Pettigrew State Park. The temps were cooling by the time we arrived around 3PM.

Site 13 is in the sun (for solar gain as there is no electric or water at the sites) and nearest to the bathroom (the loop bathhouse remains closed in the winter, but there’s a heated toilet at the ranger’s office). By the way, the folks at the office are incredibly nice). You can get ice when the office is open, and firewood is on the honor system right at the camping loop.

Hal and Dawn (fellow Alto owners) were already there, as were the mosquitoes, which were pretty bad with the wet, warm weather. We put up the screen house and pulled out the Deep Woods Off to save my ankles, still bumpy from bites sustained at Hunting Island. David, Holli, and their dog Digby joined us shortly after we arrived (another Alto-owner family).

First thing, I took the dogs for a walk, and we ended up at the boat launch, where the sun was setting.

In nearby (relatively speaking) Edenton, NC, were additional Alto owners, Karen and Steve, who wanted to come for the birds but didn’t want to de-winterize their camper. Instead, they stayed at a BnB in Edenton, about 35-40 minutes’ drive away. We’d made a reservation in Edenton for us all to gather for dinner at the Edenton Bay Oyster Bar—one of the past registration sites of the Bike NC Spring Ride.

Needing fuel to even make it to Edenton, we googled nearby stations and found the one highlighted didn’t exist. So we had to go farther away from Edenton en route to dinner to get fuel, resulting in our late arrival to the party. Moral: Don’t trust solely on Google in this part of the state.

Very nice dinner—got some excellent seared scallops on risotto, and returned to the camper for a much-needed sleep.

January 4, Saturday: Overnight the rain began and it really pelted down. We were not looking forward to trying to spot migrating birds in the wet, but we all dressed for it and headed out in separate cars, once Karen and Steve got to Pettigrew and joined us around 9:30AM. Despite the rain, the temperature was quite warm. Got away, headed to Mattamuskeet around 10 after deciding that we’d try to find a cafe for lunch rather than packing our lunches along.

During the long drive to the Visitor Center (it’s actually called the “Refuge Headquarters”) on Lake Mattamuskeet, we saw a bunch of American kestrels and kingfishers, and I spotted one perched bald eagle—very wet and unhappy-looking—along the way. We stopped at the informational kiosk at the top of the VC drive to see loads of water birds (mostly ducks) in the wetlands (mergansers, “redheads,” mallards, pintails, herons, egrets, etc.). But in the area pretty far from the road (needed binoculars to see them) were a gang or three of tundra swans—but no snow geese that we could see. And where we’d seen several bald eagles in the wetland on prior trips, we didn’t see any this time.


Strangely, the VC was closed so we not only were unable to speak to any rangers or biologists to get tips on where to find the big flocks of birds, but also couldn’t get the general introduction to what we might see and experience while there—this VC has a great display and lots of information about not only birds but also mammals, fish, trees, etc. Too bad those who hadn’t been there before couldn’t experience that.

So we drove around the opposite (far) side of the primary wetland (slightly closer to the tundra swans) and then headed to lunch. Found Martelle’s Feedhouse in Englehard and had a quite nice and filling (and warm/dry) lunch. Many of the local hunters and residents were there, so we knew it was going to be good. They served all kinds of seafood, Eastern NC BBQ, sandwiches and burgers galore, plates and smalls, and everything you might imagine at a “feedhouse.” I got a pork tenderloin salad that was superb.

We were headed to Pungo Lake, where we’d seen the most of the arctic birds in the past when we saw a white patch on the muddy landscape alongside the road. There seemed to be an access road to get closer, so we took it and got our first close-up look (and listen) of tundra swans.

Unfortunately, we spooked them as we peeked around the tree line, but it was quite breathtaking to see these enormous birds fly and sound the alarm. 

It was still rainy: When the actual rain abated, a fine mist fell steadily. So we retreated back to the cars after watching the enormous birds a while and resumed our trek to Pungo.

In another 40 minutes of driving along state rt. 45, we got to the Pungo Lake preserve, driving in at the south entrance, where the main road takes a sharp turn and the “straight” roadway turns into Pat Road. The pavement turned to mud and the pools and puddles on the road were quite deep and numerous. But at least the rain had stopped.

We saw a huge flock of tundras in a cornfield at the far side of a thin, raised bank of trees and bushes. We pulled the cars onto the verge and all piled out to cross the stubble field and use the line of vegetation as a “blind” to get closer to the swans. We saw several piles of bear poop in the stubble field, just as is the case back home.

As we approached the line of trees, however, we found that there was a deep, moderately wide canal between us and our “blind.” But a couple of us jumped the ditch and were able to take some photos of the swan gang. We stood there in the relative dry watching the birds landing, taking off, and just hanging out.

We thought that, logically speaking, Pat Road should somehow link to Phelps Lake from Pungo as the two are relatively near one another. But bouncing along the mud lane simply landed us in front of a “No Trespassing—Private Property” sign, so we turned around and bounced back to Route 45 North and drove around our elbows (it seemed) to get back to camp.

I took some shots of the sunset as the sky cleared and the rain clouds dispersed.

Everyone elected to eat dinner separately, and although Hal suggested a campfire, he reported that the mosquitoes were ravenous so we all nixed that idea. In our camper, at least, we turned in early.

January 5, Sunday: At 6AM it was 42 both in and outside the camper, so we cranked the furnace and crawled back under the Rumpl blanket. Didn’t get up until late, and Hal and Dawn headed back to NOVA around 9:30 because Hal had to be at work on Monday.

As they were pulling out, Karen and Steve arrived to see what the pulse of the group was. It wasn’t until about 11 that Jack and I decided to pass up the opportunity for more bird-finding in favor of taking more time to hike around with the dogs. Everyone else elected to drive around some more, although the two cars-full went on separate adventures. Karen later reported seeing a bald eagle. David and Holli headed back to Pungo and later reported good sightings of swans, but also snow geese (which I was sorry to miss).

At the end of the campground along the walk to the Plantation is an interesting hollowed-out tree that Jack can stand inside. He held the dogs with him and they were both intent on some sound or smell within (probably a squirrel). Jack himself was unmoved by squirrel scent.


We took the pups along the boardwalk from the Plantation to the ranger’s office, and then along the 2.8-mile trail to Moccasin Overlook. Along the grassy trail, however, we encountered a lot of pooled water, and some dogs we were worried had no invisible fence restraints, so we turned around early. In all, it ended up being about a 2 mile trek.

The wind came up and there was significant chop out on Phelps Lake. But it dried things out a bit as the temperatures began to drop.

Around 2 Alison and Andy showed up from Raleigh, just to see what all the bird-fuss was about, and after chatting a while, they headed off to Pungo also. I loaned them my binoculars and when we saw them again, they reported lots of arctic bird sightings and a very satisfactory trip.

I threw the ball for Mischief for a bit and Holli and David discussed sharing a bonfire and some adult beverages, and we set up for that and had a lovely evening with them and Alison and Andy. We set up behind the trailer on the slight rise where Jack had taken down the screen house, so we were high and dry.


At about 7 the party broke up and Jack and I ate chili and “take and bake” rolls for dinner.

January 6, Monday: Holli and David rolled out of camp around 8:30 and we decided to delay breakfast until we were on the road. Jack had a special mission: to find the butcher who had made the sausages we ate when Edenton was the host site of the Bike NC Spring Ride a few years ago. He had done his research and thought we might have it pegged with directions to get there and an opening time of 10AM.

Tragically, Grandma’s Sausages was out of business. An elderly gent taking the sun in a carport next door to the shop kept trying to sell Jack the business or the building, even though Jack kept insisting that all we wanted were some of Grandma’s sausages. He said his wife used to run the business but had to stop, and now they were trying to sell it.

Sausage-less, we headed along back roads to Ahoskie, NC, where we ate lunch at a Golden Skillet. It was quite the place for “regulars” to gather, and Jack really enjoyed his chicken livers.

We kept to the back roads to NC Rt. 4, which is the Kerr Lake/North Bend Federal Campground road, and we crossed the dam and entered one of our most happy places. While our favorite peninsula was not open in the dead of winter, the loop available to us had a warm shower house sporting private toilet/shower rooms. Site #78 was relatively level so we could leave the truck hitched as we anticipated leaving for home the following morning.

Set up was minimal, so we grilled some bratwursts and re-heated leftover roasted veggies and potatoes for dinner. Then we walked down to the lakeside and watched the sun set as the evening star appeared.

The forecast for back home was for up to an inch or two of snow/sleet/icy mix early Tuesday, so we kept up with John via text and delayed deciding whether to head home the next day (as scheduled) or not.

January 7, Tuesday: The rains came in the night and the deluge continued most of Tuesday. We had only paid for one day as they would not refund if we decided to leave after spending just one night. But the gate attendant said as long as we paid by about 3PM, it was okay to delay our decision. We saw a total of 2 other campers, so there wasn’t any chance someone would come in and kick us out of our site.

At about noon, John texted that they’d gotten a slushy mix that was making driving on the mountain less than ideal. He said if we were to encounter trouble, it would be getting in our driveway.

While it was still pouring down with rain at North Bend, we decided to stay another night, and I walked with the dogs in the deluge to the front gate to give them another $10. The furnace was on when we got back, so my jeans and the dogs were able to dry out in comfort.


We listened to our audiobook, took nice warm showers (knowing that the water at home was turned off) and simply chilled out for the day. The rain stopped around 3PM when the wind whipped up to blow away all the clouds. We fought the wind down to the beach where a previous camper had created some rock-balanced towers that were pretty neat in the back-lit dusk.

January 8, Wednesday: The temperatures dropped like a rock overnight and we quickly broke camp at 34 degrees under a clear, bright sky, as we were surrounded by frosted leaves carpeting the woods. Initiated the 3-ish hour drive home at about 9-9:30, and were able to begin the long process of re-heating our 48-degree home in the mountains by about 2PM on January 8, 2020.

Birdwatching Bonanza

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We got significant unexpected rain in the night, with colder than predicted temps. With our mummy sleeping bags and the propane furnace set on 50 we slept fine. When we got up, it was 32 and the dawn was red and fire-like, but the clouds rolled in, and then rolled away again.

We all walked down to our hoped-for boat launch camping spot, to watch the tundra swans get up off the ice and fly overhead, on their way to the feeding grounds. For the most part, these thousands of swans in a couple of groups were the only birds out there. Some were merely standing on the ice and others were floating in small patches of thawed water. There were also some small, short-necked, dark-colored ducks in patches of water.

Our plan was made while we watched and took pix—we’d use Mike and Barbara’s vehicle that had on-demand four-wheel drive, because we thought we’d be headed out into muddy tracks trying to get to Pungo Lake, and to a spot across Phelps Lake that was recommended to us by the ranger: Cypress Point.

After breakfast and unhitching, we all piled into their car and headed out for the day. Our first stop was Moccasin Point Overlook, which extends into Phelps Lake only a few miles away from Pettigrew. To access the dock, we took a lovely raised walkway through a cypress swamp—where Mike, Barbara, and I had hiked the last time we were here. We did not see the many, many ducks we’d seen last time, but we did see a pair of woodcock, a very bold squirrel, and just enjoyed the walk and the scenery, even though there was quite a lot of snow. In that snow we saw tracks of all sorts of critters, including the deer we later saw in the woods (but I was unable to capture on film).

Next, we drove to Cypress Point (another Phelps Lake overlook), which had a small boat (kayak, canoe) launch area beside the dock. It was a lovely overlook, with benches to enjoy the view—but contrary to what the ranger said, there wasn’t a migratory bird anywhere in sight. We did, however, see two bald eagles. That was special.

By this time, it was about 1PM and Mike was pretty hungry, so we fetched our lunches from the car and sat on the dock to eat. We were all pretty stiff by the time we’d finished, and several of us had sat too close to the melting snow on the step, and got our bums wet. It was a very nice temp, however—maybe in the high 40s—and with little wind we were quite comfortable and relaxed. It was also quite sunny, those AM clouds having dispersed, so by the end of the day, both Barbara and I felt a bit sunburned.

Next, we headed around to another overlook on Phelps Lake: Pocosin Overlook, in the Pocosin Natural Area. There was a strange elevated platform that you accessed via steep, narrow (icy) steps, and when we all climbed up there, far away across the pond, we saw an enormous cloud of white birds lift off and swirl around — it was similar to a murmuration of starlings, but low over the ice/water, no higher than what could be backed by the trees on the far side. It was truly extraordinary.


Trying to get to Pungo Lake is a challenge—many roads are closed seasonally, and there’s simply no easy way to get there. We all though that if Phelps was mostly frozen, then for sure, Pungo would be a sheet of ice (it’s smaller than Phelps) but surrounding Pungo are many open fields, some left unharvested for the birds. So we drove around, trying to get to where we might see the sea of birds we’d captured last year.

One final turn that happened to be along Pat’s Road, where we had ventured last time, and LO! We saw millions and millions of birds, covering the partially-harvested corn fields on either side of a muddy road, out of which another vehicle full of bird watchers emerged as we arrived. So we turned right and met the mud.

Wow. We were breathless. The birds appeared to be in nearly-overlapping but separate groupings of tundra swans at one end and snow geese at the other. While they sometimes seemed to mingle (at least in the air) there seemed to be an agreement among them about whose end was whose. The geese had youngsters with them—we were able to distinguish them because they were gray.

Mike and I walked into the field (followed a bit later by Barbara) but our only photographic options to capture the snow geese were to the west as the sun was setting, and too bright for photos. We took a lot of pix of the swans. Far to the north, we heard hunters, presumably hunting geese or ducks.

We watched and listened for a long time. Jack stayed back by the vehicle, and at one point an enormous gaggle of snow geese flew right over his head, and settled near the road, in another partly-harvested cornfield toward the north (but not near the hunters, rather, still within walking distance of us).

As the sun set and our hopes for a mass fly-off dimmed, we re-gathered at the vehicle. Barbara’s feet were cold, Mike had stepped into a water-filled, snow-covered ditch and his feet were wet, and we were all getting tired and hungry. We had parked with the nose of the vehicle pointing north, along a small, muddy side road, along which lay the field where the geese had settled. So we thought we’d get closer by driving straight along. We were not actually able to see the geese better from that vantage, after all.

A couple of trucks met us, and there was absolutely no where to ease to the side without going into the cultivated field, frozen below with a skim of mud on top. So we backed nearly the whole way out, until a wide grass verge allowed us to pull off for the trucks to get by. The first one passed and waved, and the second one stopped and informed us that this and the other mud road were seasonally closed, even though there were no signs indicating such. So we apologized, wondering if he was a ranger or a hunter, and (since we were on our way out anyway) promised we’d exit post haste.

Then we stopped on the paved road (not closed seasonally) and took some more pix of the geese that were packed right next to the road, madly feeding. I was in the back and the photos I took of the snow geese and their gray youngsters came out blurry since I had to take them through a fixed window. Too bad, because we were very close.

Managed to work our way back toward Pettigrew by “going around our elbows to get to our thumbs” as Jack characterized our route, and since dinner was on our minds, we navigated into Edenton, where we were sure to find a restaurant. A place J&I had gone on one of our NC bicycle rides was the Waterman’s Grille, so we aimed for the downtown/waterfront section and parked. That place was closed for their winter break and clean, so we tried something called Bistro 309. Lovely little place, that it seemed everyone in town was patronizing that night (on a Tuesday?) but we didn’t wait long for a seat or service and had an excellent meal. Drum fish was one of the specials, and everyone got that except yours truly, and I got fried flounder. Everyone’s meals disappeared with a nice glass of wine (except Mike, who was driving) and then we endured the long drive home, tired and well-fed, satisfied, and imagining flocks and flocks of large, raucous, white birds.

Cycle NC Day 3 & Goodbye Edenton

With an early start on our 30-mile finish day, and with the temps in the 50s as we rolled, our final Cycle NC day was simply splendid. Jack saw a long-time friend before we left camp and had a nice chin-wag with Hal, and we still got on the road by about 9. 

We were surprised to be met with significant headwinds, similar to Day 1, but with no storm on the horizon as with Friday. But we maintained an excellent pace, stopped at one rest stop and skipped the second, and found ourselves back in town about 11, but with fewer than our hoped-for 30 miles. 

So we took the suggestion of another friend, who recommended heading to an island right off the Edenton waterfront and having a meander through what was undoubtedly once a plantation. Today, it is mostly agricultural and part of it has been developed into a small neighborhood of high-end homes on the waterfront. Very nicely landscaped and some modest and some more grand homes along winding pavement and lots and lots of birds and squirrels and other neighbors.

Tried to have lunch at the Dairy Freeze place where we had our first lunch in Edenton on Thursday, but they didn’t open until noon, so we headed to the local coffee house for a panini. They had changed their wifi pass word to honor the Cycle NC event, and had put a bicycle outside with some of their additional handmade offerings adorning every inch of it – mostly small knit birds, but other critters, etc.

So we returned to camp through a town emptying of the 800 or 1000 cyclists who’d arrived to temporarily wreak havoc on the little town, and I imagine everyone who worked so hard at the restaurants, inns, private homes, and at the hospitality points of the ride heaved a great sigh of relief. We were so very impressed with how friendly and welcoming and patient everyone was. It was a great event held in a great little town.

Packed and stowed and said goodbye to Edenton ourselves at around 2PM, and headed northward along Route 17 to Virginia, to meet up with our friends, Kerry & Gloria, at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. It was a long, nervous trip through the Dismal Swamp as our fuel gauge slowly dipped toward “E” but we finally found a station we could get into and out of easily, just before we got on Interstate 64 headed (with everyone else in the world it seemed) toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We (very happily) got off the crowded and ever-changing Big Road to head down Rt. 13, also called Shore Drive, straight into VA Beach and our campground.

Gloria and Kerry were already there and set up, and about an hour and a half later, we all decided that dinner was in order, so we re-arranged our car to fit four and headed back into the northern part of VA Beach, where, as we’d come down Shore Drive, Jack and I had seen a cluster of seafood restaurants. 

We ended up at a place called Bubba’s Seafood, but could have gone to the Shellfish Restaurant, or one of the three others right in the neighborhood, right on the water. I took a photo of the restaurant next door to us, but I’m sure the folks eating on the deck at Bubba’s looked the same.

We chose to eat indoors because, believe it or not, it was quite chilly and breezy outside on the water.

Had a very nice meal of shrimp with all the expected go-withs, excellent cocktail sauce, a decent draft beer (called Laughing Crow, out of Pennsylvania – of course, I chose it on its name alone – and it was an IPA to boot), and overall a very good meal for taking a total “flier” on an unknown, obviously very tourist-y place to eat.

Back at First Landing, the four of us each enjoyed a night cap, Jack and I caught up on more of the goings-on back home, and hit the hay.

Cycle NC – Edenton Day Two

Quite a leisurely start to our day today. Rolled up the road around 9:45 AM to find breakfast, and while the Boy Scouts pancake offering was finished, the Rotary folks were still set up in the high school up the road, and man, that was one of the best breakfasts we’ve had in a long time.

The sausage was Colarains links that the folks got from a place called CJ’s just across the river in the next town. Man, was that great sausage! We asked because we hoped we could pick some up to go with us, but since we’re not leaving until tomorrow (Sunday) we figured they’d be closed. Too bad.

Several things I’ve neglected to mention so far: Some poor ghee is dangling from a hammock under a “tent” just down the way from RV City. Jack took a picture of it, but it doesn’t show the hammock itself beneath this stretched thingie. It simply tipped down last night with rain. I wonder how he did in the weather (including thunder and very bright lightning), and what about the mosquitoes after dark?

Another thing I’ve neglected to note are the osprey on their nests all around; and the mocking birds that mimic them. We’ll be riding along and hear one call, and suddenly the call morphs into a totally different bird, and we cuss the mockingbirds for “making us look.”

Finally, there are the frogs we hear serenading our ride along the way in all the damp and wet areas. Tons and tons of frogs. Several of whom we saw squashed on the road during our ride today.

Anyway, we rode the 40-mile route today, which was much the same beginning as the path we pedaled yesterday, but thank goodness the wind was not as fierce. Pavement was better that yesterday, too. Along the route, at one of the rest stops, we saw a tandem bicycle coming in with, in addition to the two people pedaling, two fuzzy mutts in a basket on the front handlebars. It was a hoot and I asked them to let me take their photos before the dogs jumped out.

Later I saw another dog in a drag-along basket. That may be how we take our own doggies along on some of these trips with us: tow them behind the bikes in a carrier. Heavy Chase would be in heaven, but I believe Mischief might be a bit antsy riding and not being able to run.

We rolled back into town and went on a search for some milk for my morning tea (the small amount I’d brought with me went off). Ended up at an old-fashioned drug store with a soda fountain and got a couple of milk shakes to “restore our energy.” They also were kind enough to sell us a cup of milk for .75.

A nice shower later, and we had a beverage back at the camper, caught up on some correspondence, and gave our first tour of the Mr. Blue Roomba Alto. A nice fellow named Ken came over and said he’d been researching Safari Condo trailers and he and his wife were planning a trip to Quebec to see some in person, but hadn’t gotten there yet. “I’ve never been this close to one before” he said.

The rain began again as we were talking Alto, and they ran over to their unit (a “GO” trailer) to batten down the hatches.

Part of our registration included a dinner and social tonight including live music and lousy beer, so we waited in another line (I know you’re surprised about that) for about an hour to get our “free” dinner and a beer that we could not drink. Happily, the rain had stopped by this time. After dinner, we gave another trailer tour while we mapped our timing and route from here to Virginia Beach tomorrow. Seeing that it might take as much as 2 or 2.5 hours to drive up there, we feel sure we can take the 30 mile cycling route and have plenty of time to pack up and roll out of Edenton at a decent hour tomorrow.

  • Ride time: 2:34:26
  • Stopped time: 1:53:27
  • Distance: 40.38 miles
  • Average speed: 15.69 MPH
  • Fastest speed: 23.54 MPH
  • Ascent: 147 ft.
  • Descent: 240 ft.

(I can never figure out how we start and end at the same spot and have such a difference in ascent and descent. Mustn’t it be the same?)

Riding Day

Registration for the Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride did not open until this morning (Friday). Just about every soul in the town arrived at the registration area as we arrived, so we got into line. Happily, we did not stand too long before someone pointed out that there were various lines depending on what letter of the alphabet your last name began with. Jack headed to R and S, while I stood in A – D. In a parking lot. With rain forecast.


Those dark tents in the distance are where we had to be to register
My knees were a bit sore by the time we got our wrist band and t-shirt, and the whole time I was standing there, I was thinking, “If this wait makes us start our ride so late that we get rained on, I’ll be annoyed.”

After that long wait, we jumped on the bikes and wanted to drop off the t-shirts back at Roomba so we wouldn’t have to carry them along, so by the time we finally got rolling down the road (and figured out where the heck we were headed) we realized that we somehow missed breakfast. 

Luckily, at about mile 10 or 12, there was a rest stop serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with fruit and granola/power bars, along with the usual Powerade and water. Even with the early wait I think we hit the first rest stop at about 10AM. But of course, there were more lines for the porta-pots and sustenance. 


Lines for everything are standard operating procedure for these organized rides
We both felt really great during the morning. And the famed headwind for whic this ride is notorious appeared to have gone on vacation. This first day offered 3 routes: a 37-miler, a 59-miler, and a 72-miler. Our original goal was to do the 37 miles, have lunch back in Edenton, arrive at camp well before the expected afternoon rains, and maybe beat some of the enormous crowd to the showers.

But man, we were sailing along those flat roads, hitting 20 mph speeds at a stretch (we are quite pleased when we can sustain a 13 mph average speed along the Blue Ridge Parkway). So, when the signs came up indicating the split of the 59 mile route from the 37 mile route, we thought, “Heck yeah,” and turned right for the longer ride.

Remember, this part of the country is flat. Pancake flat. The wind can tootle along and hit nothing in its path for miles and miles, and roar at you from all different directions at once.


That yellow line you see at the left of the photo is an enormous, beautiful field of mustard flowers, rape seed being the crop grown a lot of places around here. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the field closer, but I was unwilling to stop and start up again in the wind, and it was a crosswind, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking my hand off the handlebars to get my camera.

At mile 30-ish, that old headwind found us, after coming home from vacation. The clouds were rolling in and the wind took our average speed down to 16 mph. In another 5 miles it became worse, average speed = 13.5. We had another rest stop somewhere in there and everyone was a hurtin’ cowboy.

All along this stretch of the ride, the wind buffeted us head-on, then crosswind, then head on again. Since the beginning Jack and I had been trading off being “lead goose” to the other, so the one behind could rest a bit and be drawn along in the one in front’s draft. It’s a great system – except when the wind is coming at you from the side. I felt at times like I was fighting my own bike just to keep it from veering off the road entirely.

We both did pretty well until mile 55, when I simply, totally, popped. I felt that I might not have been drinking enough water, so I “paused” more frequently in the task of incessant pedaling to take swigs of water, and then I wouldn’t be able to catch up with Jack, pedaling strongly away, flying lead goose for no one.

At last we made it back. The things that hurt the most on me were my hands and feet – not the legs nor the place where the bike meets the body. We decided to have a late lunch before getting off the bikes and taking a shower, since a few pb&j sandwiches and a banana or two just weren’t going to cut it. So we rolled into Edenton downtown and stopped at a cafe at about 2:30 for a hamburger. Just as we leaned our bikes against the wall to go inside, the rain began.

It had rained a lot while we were inside, but eased up by the time we were ready to head back to camp, so we rolled home and found all was well around the Roomba homestead. This camping area is somewhat protected from the wind, and the rain had not found its way into any of the openings we’d left to keep things cool. The solar panels had topped off the battery, even with the ceiling fan running on low the whole time we were gone.

We had a bit of a lie-down, and went into town after a bit to get take-away and eat it back at the house so we didn’t have to wait in any more lines (not, at least, until tomorrow). As we finished up our meal of barbecue and beer, the heavens opened up again and we were soothed by the pattering of raindrops on the roof. Early night, and up again tomorrow for another go.

  • Ride time: 3:58:47
  • Stopped time: 1:26:09
  • Distance: 60.32 miles
  • Average speed: 15.16 MPH
  • Fastest speed: 23.30 mph
  • Ascent: 69 feet
  • Descent: 106 feet


Short Stop

First night, about halfway to Bike North Caronlina in Edenton, NC. We stopped at Medoc Mountain State Park near Hollister, NC. The place is nearly empty — Our Alto, an A-Liner, a large cookie-cutter trailer (they all look the same), and a tent. 


Medoc Mountain State Park, North Carolina, site #5
Nice little campground with about 36 spots, well-screened from one another. The bathhouse is clean and offers plenty of privacy and space. Found a tick crawling on me right after setup, however. 

Temperatures are in the mid-seventies, and it’s quite hot in the sun. But we put the sun shield in the Big Front Window, and that truly has made all the difference. With the roof fan venting and a couple of the shade-side windows open a crack, it was extremely tolerable inside. We have electricity, but we’re not “setting up” like normal since we’re leaving for the final leg to Edenton tomorrow morning. 

Chatted with one of the Rangers about the Alto, and gave her a tour. We were surprised to hear that she was somewhat familiar with the brand (from seeing one and then looking it up on the Internet) but she said she’d never been inside one.

The sun slowly sank to steal away the shade under our awning, so we moved around to the back and lounged about some in the gravity chairs, with a nice breeze blowing, until we munched the dinner we’d picked up along the way: chicken salad and crackers. We are unlikely to be able to check in for the ride until later in the day tomorrow. We’ll have a leisurely morning with tea/coffee and yogurt, hit the road and try to get a decent spot to set up without any electricity for the next 3 days of riding and eating seafood. At least the camper area where we’ve been assigned isn’t in the middle of a paved parking lot.

  1. Ride
  2. Eat
  3. Sleep
  4. Ride
  5. Repeat

Hoping for excellent weather, but we’re looking forward to riding along the flatlands for a change no matter what the skies do.