Just under an inch of rain fell on Wilmington last night. Morning was damp and chilly.
On the way out of the motel, Jeffrey was stopped by George Elliot (spelling unknown, no relation to Mary Anne Evans), who said he was a TV reporter and weatherman. We had a long talk about the Ride and HRF. Mr. Elliot regretted not knowing about us earlier; it was too late to do a local news story. Jeffrey thanked him for his good wishes.
Wilmington is beautiful and historic. There are poignant bits:
And offensive bits – nothing wrong with historic statues, but why glorify as “Scholar Patriot Statesman Christian” traitors who argued for and fought for the right to enslave human beings, to (as Lincoln said) “[wring] their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces”:
Mrs. (pronounced “Miz”) Denise was passing by.
Jeffrey asked her whether any monument in the city is accompanied by an apology for what those honored people did to enslave others. She said, not so far as she knows. She said the locals are very sweet, but like all people, they have different sides. She preferred to talk about next week’s Azalea Festival. And she said she would ask God to watch over us on the road.
We crossed the Cape Fear River on a high bridge, and the Brunswick River on a low bridge. Then we headed southwest. Most of the roads had no shoulders, or shoulders made impassable by rumble strips; on the trike, straddling this wide strip would leave the drive wheel rumbling, and there is no room within the shoulder for even a bicycle on either side of the rumble strip.
Occasional stretches of wide, smooth shoulders were under construction – an obstacle course.
Most drivers were courteous. A few were aggressive, blasting horns or gunning their engines next to us. Some called out encouragement; others were unintelligible but their tone suggests they wanted us off the road.
We stopped at a Brunswick County park and met Lori, a parks worker who has lived in the area all her life. She handed Jeffrey some cash so he could buy something to eat; he told her he would donate her gift to HRF, which she said is his choice to make. Her friend Elbert added a few more dollars to her gift. Lori said Jeffrey could take her photo, but she wants to be anonymous. To honor her wish, we added dark glasses and a Groucho Marx mustache so she is movie-star incognito; for equality’s sake, we did the same to Jeffrey.
We pedaled about 50 miles to reach the South Carolina line.
People here sure do take their Christianity seriously!
They also put rumble strips everywhere. On SC Route 90, a cop chirped his siren at us and asked Jeffrey to ride even farther to the right. Jeffrey pointed out that the rumble strip made it impossible to comply. The cop – who had a metal piercing (this is not your daddy’s South Carolina!) – said he just wanted everyone to be safe, and sped off. This was not helpful. Few drivers seemed impatient with our progress, lining up until they could pass us entirely in the opposite lane. As for the bad apples in this barrel, maybe more “share the road” signs would remind them that cyclists belong.
In Popular, SC, we met Rea and Dorthea (photo courtesy of Marilyn). And there’s Marilyn with Jeffrey.
Dorthea and Marilyn asked questions about the Ride. They don’t like what is done to people who flee persecution and end up in immigration jail, nor to people who come here to work. As Dorthea said, if people want to work and they’re not hurting anyone, we should leave them alone.
Marilyn was particularly happy to meet Jeffrey. She retired from a job in Connecticut and moved to South Carolina to take care of her mother. She was glad to talk with someone who understands where she came from. Jeffrey too liked talking with a fellow Yankee (in his case by birth, in hers by adoption; she was born in Charleston).
More rumble strips. More trucks. And then, quiet, picturesque Conway and its Spanish moss.