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Damn these time changes. I thought I was getting a move on at 10:00am but by god it was actually 11:00am. Oh well, no schedule to keep right? I have roughed out my weekend and am planning on looping down to south eastern North Carolina and catch the ferry to Ocracoke Island, then Cape Hatteras Island, drive across at Nags Head back to the mainland, up through Norfolk, Chincoteague, and by sunday afternoon arrive in Washington D.C. and stay a day or two with some family friends.
Since much of central North Carolina isn't really interesting at all I took the I-40 over to Raleigh instead of a highway, and there I got onto highway 70 which took me all the way down to Moorhead and then over to the Oracoke Island ferry.
I didn't know how to get ahold of the ferry schedule info so I just showed up and hoped for the best. I unfortunately missed the 3:00pm ferry by 25 minutes so I queued up and hung out on the beach writing postcards to friends and chatting with other folks waiting for the ferry.
I spotted a older retired guy wearing an Oregon t-shirt and struck up a conversation. It turns out that he used to me a motorcycle nut and raced enduros back in the day. We hit it off pretty good and talked for a while. Then some guy maybe in his mid-20s asked if I knew how long the ferry ride was. He was heading out to the island to take a kite surfing class for the weekend. It turns out that he was stationed with his company in Whidbey Island for a bit and we talked about travelling around the U.S.
All in all a pretty bland day. Just more freeway miles under my belt. The east coast of N.C. is quaint in an oregon coast sort of way without the ups and downs, just flat. It's nice, but nothing I havn't seen elsewhere. Though it is quite warm here, like 85 degrees, and there are a number of surfers and jetskiers waiting for the ferry.
And so here I sit next to my motorcycle on the back of the ferry typing in the late afternoon sun. When we land at Ocracoke it will be getting dark and hopefully the campground right outside of town will have camping space available so I don't have to futz around looking for a place to crash for the night.
Yikes! The last 20 minutes of the ferry ride was exciting. The sky to our east turned an ominous gray and lightning was zinging in and out of the clouds chasing us away from the coast towards Ocracoke. It was really cool seeing the weather gather around us. There was actually a circular funnel cloud sort of thing starting up not far from us. Exciting! Just as we docked I heard a loud crack that sounded like someone had accidentally broken a bottle on the deck. Then another one. Uh-oh, that's some BIG hail coming down. I hurriedly slipped into my riding gear and put on my wet weather gloves just as the hail really got going. Chunks of ice about 2/3 of inch in diameter started pummeling me. Thank goodness I was wearing a helmet and gear, but the chunks were still stinging pretty good on the non-padded portions of my arms and legs. As the hail slowed the rain hit. The front of the storm that had been brewing behind us let loose like no other rain storm I've ever been in. It was like having a garden hose run on your head. Even though all my gear was cinched up tight, there was so much water that it was quickly filling my gloves so I held my hands skyward to let the water escape and keep more from entering. It was kind of comfy though, nice 70+ degree water dousing me in a nice warm climate. It really was like taking a shower while clothed. Visibility was nil, actually it was about 5 feet. I saw the car in front of me start up and it began to pull off the ferry. I tried closing my visor as I started riding off the ferry, but I couldn't see anything at all so I left it open. It was liking trying to stare into a shower head. As I inched my way off the slippery wet deck of the ferry and onto land I could barely see the road because it was under 3 inches or so of water. Oh wait, there's a paint arrow, ahh yes some grass at the edge of the road... You get the point. I blindly crept along the main drag in Ocracoke looking for something to pull under and wait for the storm to subside a little bit. I had been planning on camping tonight... so much for that idea. I saw a motel a little ways into town and pulled in to get a room. $64! That's twice what I spent last night, and was the equivalent of 4 to 6 nights camping expenses. Oh well, I had to get out of the onslaught of water and I would definitely need to dry some stuff out now. I checked in and unloaded my gear. My kayak dry bag that held my tent, bed roll, and sleeping bag showed some signs of wetness within its confines. Sure enough, half a cup of water emptied from the bag as I opened it and upended it on the floor. That's how wet it was... half a cup of water through 3 or 4 little pinholes in the bags underside in just 8 minutes time.
Well there you have it, my motto: "There's no adventure without disaster." Luckily the disaster wasn't anything more than a lighter wallet and a bit of wetness.
After hanging my wet stuff up to dry I meandered next door to a seafood restaurant there. Sitting at the table across from me was the guy and his wife I had talked with about motorcycles earlier in the afternoon while waiting for the ferry. We had a good talk over dinner about travel to europe, places to go, places been, my job, where they lived, and on and on. They left before I was finished eating, so I struck up a conversation with a couple sitting behind me. The girl was from Arkansas and the guy was from Pennsylvania. Both of them lived on Ocracoke Island and were pretty funny to talk with. The girl jokingly said that since they lived on Ocracoke they were "Ocracoker's", and seeing by the exceptionally long pinky nail on her left hand she may not have been kidding. The guy was a bit outspoken and dominated much of the conversation with some good loud ejaculations of the f-word mixed in with spouting off about travel, art, and music which was all accompanied by a good amount of hand motions and arm waving. He was entertaining none-the-less. The girl was quite intrigued by my travelling alone on a motorcycle and wanted to hear about my experiences and reasons for doing it. After a bunch of good talk and stomach full of good fresh local seafood, I waddled back to my room and watched a bit of the Weather Channel. Ahhh, far out man. A tornado warning for the eastern North Carolina area including the Outer Banks. Hopefully it'll clear a little bit tomorrow so I can comfortably ride up to Kitty Hawk and then over to the mainland.
Total Mileage for Day: 284
©2003 John Meloy <firstname.lastname@example.org>