Day 1 !!! (July 12th): SURFSIDE
 <- PROLOGUE Predicted Dist. & Time:  300 mi. / 5:15  -------------------------  Actual Dist. & Time:  291 mi. / 5:00 NEXT DAY -> 

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On the “Prologue” page, I said that I might be “not a little sad” about the prospect of leaving Surfside Beach.

Folks, make that read “very sad”.

In the actual event, it just wasn’t easy to do.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, I had been so busy with preparations -- itinerary planning, campground & lodging arrangements, equipment purchases, ongoing modifications to the bike and trailer, etc. -- I suppose I wasn’t fully aware of what the true impact of leaving would be. As the moment approached, however, that impact began to loom large, and it was very emotional. Departure was a reminder of the downward spiral of my previous life, which had once featured a wife, stepchildren, home and career. And leaving the Myrtle Beach area itself, where I had been able to re-connect with my mother, aunts and uncles, cousins, and many of their friends, and to enjoy some wonderful social gatherings and get-togethers associated with them, had its own significant elements of disappointment.

I awoke at 8 AM (after going to “sleep” at 5 AM) with the goal of being underway by about noon or so. DID NOT HAPPEN. I mean, it seemed like I had the trailer about 90% packed in the first hour…but then the little things started to take over…things that defy easy placement or safe storage…or things that require other things to be located and readied before being loaded themselves...or…well, you get the picture. After all the shouting, crying and teeth-gnashing, I didn’t pull out of there until nearly four o’clock in the PM! Listen, pal, next time you put together a six-week, 7,000 mile cross-country motorcycle camping trip, let me in on your secret for being more efficient about your departure.

The trailer had been jam-packed – I don’t want to think about how badly its weight might be torturing the bike's newly-installed clutch plates -- but it seemed to be riding well, and it was to further improve with subsequent inflation of the tires later on. The next issue was the route that the Garmin C320 GPS had selected for me, which saw me battling my way through not one, but two town centers on the way to the highway I needed. I knew there had to be a better, practically parallel route nearby, but not having fully researched it on-line, I was stuck with the route I was on because I had little leeway in terms of travel time. So after first being sad, then excited, and then annoyed (with the route), it didn’t help when I became tired and started to yawn almost uncontrollably with two hundred miles left to go. What do you do then? Start singing aloud, doing random math problems, taking pictures of clouds at a refueling stop. Y’know, the usual.

Another thing that had contributed to the annoyance and tiredness was probably the fact that I was going relatively slow. The trailer manufacturer’s guidelines suggested a limit of 55 MPH for the thing, possibly because of the tires but most likely because of the hub bearing size. Having checked around with Local Experts (my tire guy, a trailer guy), we had concluded that 65 was probably OK, as long as I was to check the bearing lubrication periodically, which I had planned on doing anyway. People, let me say this: if you’ve read this far, then you know that 65 MPH just does not get it done for The Chief (tm). I had little old ladies, tractor trailers and even a few RV’s zooming by me…each an additional reminder that the situation was not to change for the next 1.5 months…

Fortunately, on the back roads, the bike/trailer combo handled about as well as the bike alone, so I was able to make up some time once I got off the highway. And the back roads in this area were gorgeous, snaking around Lake Lure and its seemingly never-ending assortment of fingers and inlets into the hilly terrain.

Night #1 was to see me stay at the Hickory Nut Falls Campground, a cute little place, well-run by very friendly folks, perfectly located right on the Rocky Broad River and just up the road from the entrance to Chimney Rock Park. In fact, the view from my tent was of the Rock itself! TRUTH IN WEBSITING: the pictures from atop the Rock were taken during my last visit here three years back; because of my late departure, I didn’t arrive here until about 9 PM, which naturally meant I would not have time to visit the park at all.

It also meant that you could open the file with the label, “How NOT To Set Up Your First-Ever Campsite”. Point is, I was doing said set-up in the dark. My LED headlamp came up big as I was shuttling crap I’d never use back and forth into the tent, trying to keep the bugs out (while the screen’s zipper was undone) by turning the headlamp off and hoping the critters would flock over to the lantern I left burning on the picnic table a few yards away.

I managed to get the tent erected – and it managed to stay upright all night long – in very reasonable fashion, considering. It may not have looked like much, but for me it was home! Having followed sage advice to transport the bedding inside a laundry bag containing a Bounce fabric softening insert, I am convinced that I had the cleanest-smelling sheets in the entire joint.

Because I had only slept for about eight hours in the previous sixty, it was a treat to prepare to turn in at only 11 PM (after the previous two “nights” of 5 AM and 3 AM). If, for whatever reason my body was not ready to slumber, it was a situation to be easily remedied by a newly-discovered favorite, the Crown Royal Cask No. 16, aged in cognac barrels for smoothness.

Good night!

Au Revoir!

Packed Trailer


Waterfront Living

View From The Tent

A View From Atop The Rock

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Inside the Tent!

Cask No. 16