Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 11: Southport to Myrtle Beach

Route: Southport, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC
Mileage: 62 miles

We woke up this morning to smells of breakfast!  Our host Michelle really went above and beyond and cooked us up breakfast.  Keegan doesn't function well without coffee, so I got up and got that for him and then went back out and had a lovely conversation with Michelle over about a half a cantaloupe (I seriously ate a whole cantaloupe while I stayed there). She was running off to work, so after she left we debated our departure plan.

Keegan needed about another 30 min to work he said, and truthfully I was so exhausted I couldn't muster the strength to pack up on my own, so I laid down for a min, which turned into me falling asleep again until he was done working.  We then packed up together and got ready to go.  We loaded the bike and went to put on sunscreen when, hark!, we were out!  I quickly Googled the closest pharmacy on our route--a whole 3/4 mile away--would we make it?

Goodbye chickens of Southport!

I ran in to stock up on sunscreen.  Today was the first day I had worn a pair of bike pants I bought on Amazon and had shipped to Jacksonville.  They had said they were UV rated and kept you cool.  When they arrived the tag was entirely in another language, except for the front that said they kept you warm and were windproof.  That sounded super hot, and no mention of SPF.  They had this mesh portion on the thighs, but since they had lied to me about being cool, I was also skeptical that this mesh would keep the UV rays off of my already beat up and sun rashed thighs--so I sprayed sunscreen down my pants and then onto the mesh itself.  Take no prisoners chances.

Armed and ready.

Fun sign heading out of town
We had originally thought leaving at 10am was a good idea because of the forecast as well.  It said it was supposed to be rainy until then.  It was not, it was sunny and burny when we walked outside.  We rode for our typical hour or so and then stopped at a McDonald's for some tea and shade.  I even used one of my sundae vouchers I got when they didn't have ice cream for the McFlurry I ordered!

While we sat there, I got an email from VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), a site you can rent places from, the original Airbnb.  I rented us a cottage in Fernandina Beach for a couple of days coming up, which is super duper special to me.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm a sentimental kind of gal.  My family used to vacation there when I was a kid, my grandparents would take my sister and I along with our mom down there each summer.  I seriously can't wait to go back and show Keegan a tiny slice of my childhood (and prove to him you can find sharks' teeth on the beach!).  The email I received alerted me to the fact that I may have been scammed on my rental.  My heart sank.  I already sent the owner a check for the stay with security deposit and would be out a huge chunk of change, not to mention be place-less for those days.  I immediately called the woman because it didn't seem like a scam because she gave me her number and her assistant's number.  I wasn't able to reach here but left a message and hoped for the best.  We then reapplied and set out on our merry way, or so we thought.

We had only made it about 30-45 min before it started to lightly rain.  About that time my phone rang, and I could tell it was the rental house lady calling me back, so we stopped.  She tried to assure me someone broke into her email account and now she's getting all of these calls.  I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, so I said ok and we will just keep our fingers crossed! Just as I hung up it started to pour.  We quickly put our duffle bag in a trash bag that Becca had given us.  It had been advertised as waterproof ("you can dunk it in a river") but as I'm learning--Amazon lies.  It's lightweight but water-resistant at best.  We put that on, I grabbed my waterproof cover for my phone, Keegan stashed his phone in the pannier, and we continued riding in the storm.  There was really nowhere to go then even if we wanted to.  We were also so hot the idea of putting on rain gear seemed suffocating.  We would just pass out.  So we proceeded to get soaked and pressed onward.

After the rain subsided, the winds got even stronger.  We had hoped being by the coast meant it would be cool (wrong!) and there would be a nice sea breeze.  That sea breeze equated to a pretty insane headwind.  Unfortunately our little Cyclometer tracker seemed to malfunction today, but I don't think we did much better than 12-14mph for the second half  The wind was SO strong.  Exhausted, we finally stopped at a random strip mall that had a coffee shop to take a break.  With luck, that's when another storm hit, so we waited under the awning until that spurt subsided and headed back out again.

When the rain stopped, it got sunny and hot again.  Which meant of course we would get stopped at a swinging bridge with no shade.  We had to just wait and wipe our brows! We also officially made it to our 8th state, South Carolina!!

Rain or shine, it was us against the wind this ride.  Bob Seger should change the lyrics and do a little benefit concert for us when we arrive in Orlando, because it is very clear we will be having headwinds the remainder of our ride.  Keegan said he has never ridden in such a strong headwind for so long.  That's saying something coming from Mr. Alaska!  It was constant, but strong gusts of 35mph or so would come through and it was like we weren't moving, we just couldn't overpower it.  By the end we moaned and laughed our way through, but man, it was unpleasant.

Doesn't do the wind justice 
Leaning trees from the wind

Perhaps you start to get a feel for what we were up against.

Also, we must have passed by at least 10 mini golf establishments on our ride through Myrtle Beach.  I think I shall keep a running montage going... please enjoy some of these fun course themes.

Not mini golf...but for my dad :)
 Today was our shortest ride (only 62 miles) but it was one of the most arduous.  Between the rain and the wind, we arrived at our destination battered and exhausted.  And we just narrowly missed a long thunderstorm that began right after we had arrived--phew!  Just made it!

View from our window, safely indoors!
Tonight we are staying with Prasan and Rush, the grandparents of one of my JA buddies, Arjun.  His wonderful mom, Minal, helped set up the whole thing, so big shout out to Minal, who also will get another shout out in a few days for helping to hook us up for a hotel in GA!  Rockstar status!  We first got ourselves showered and then sat down to some delicious chai tea with them.

Sipping tea, warm and dry inside!
We then did our laundry and both Keegan and I had work to do, which worked out well as Rush had a volleyball game, which they won (he has been playing for 22 years!), and Prasan had a meeting to go to.  I had a conference call for the Juvenile Arthritis Conference, which is where we are headed, so I sat on that call as I tried to look up our route for tomorrow.

When all of us busy beavers were done with our commitments, we sat down to an incredible feast!  Prasan had cooked an absolutely delicious (and super filling!) traditional Indian dinner for us.  I'm writing this laying in bed stuffed (which is good since tomorrow may be a dinner more of the string cheese ilk than this).  We also had such a delightful conversation, what interesting folks!  They used to live in Uganda where Rush was a ranger.  He told us stories of running into a pack of 25 lions, an airplane landing right in front of his store, rainstorms ripping roofs off the neighborhood, keeping bottles of scorpions in the house as antidotes to other scorpion bites--the best counter story we could offer was our police escort over the bridge.  What our trip needs more of is lions!

Before I turn in for the evening, let me leave you with this.  Arjun, Prasan and Rush's grandson, has been lucky enough to achieve remission of his disease. Not many are that lucky, and in fact only about 20-30% of children with JA ever achieve full remission.  This means about 225,000 kids grow up to be like me--a young adult still living with juvenile arthritis.  We need to beat that number way down, and with more research, I know we can!  Please consider donating so we can drive that remission rate up and the number of lives this disease affects way down!

Until tomorrow, my friends!

Clearly something went awry with the Cyclometer.  I promise we biked the whole way from Southport to Myrtle Beach!

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