Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coast to Coast: Day 20: Macon, GA - Beaufort, SC. Tuesday, May 27, 2014

     As soon as the clock struck 9, I called Capital City Cycles and asked if they could fix my bike. They said that they had worked on older bikes with my kind of tension bolts before, but they always had issues with them. Then I tried calling D & A Cycles. The call kept dropping, but I finally managed to get ahold of them.

     The shop said that they could fix my bike, and that they would call me back a half an hour later. 26 minutes passed (not that I was counting), and they called me back. They said the tow truck was picking up two other bikes first, and that they would pick me up at 10:30.

     I had an hour to wait for the tow truck, so I had a chat with two middle aged men outside the hotel who were visibly uncomfortable with the location. As expected, they were forced to stay in the hotel because their vehicles had broken down nearby. No one stays in the Palm Tree Inn Extended Stay by choice.

     The first man was crazy. He was the type of crazy where he had at one point lived a normal life, but then stress ripped him apart. He talked in a heavy Chicago accent. I could tell his memory was fried because he kept asking me how I managed to end up in Macon Georgia.

“So what brings you here?” 

“I’m on a cross country tour of the United States, and my bike broke down”.

     Fifteen minutes later:

“So how did you end up at this hotel?”
“I’m on a cross country tour of the United States, and my bike broke down”.

     Another fifteen minutes later:

“So really, why are you in Macon Georgia? It’s ok. You can tell me”.
“I’m on a cross country tour of the United States, and my bike broke down”.

     As the many conversations repeated themselves, they would always close with the following statement:

“Yeah, I’m originally from Chicago. I was there for 32 years and I did security work, but there were a lot of problems. I moved to Florida to live with my mother, but there were a lot of problems, so I moved to Kansas for five years... But there were a lot of problems”.

     From what I gathered, he had an old green chevy pickup truck that had a dead battery, and he couldn’t get it started. The closest, cheap place he could find was this dump of a hotel. He was also originally from Chicago.

     The second guy seemed much less nervous, maybe because he was a bit more sane. He talked like Boomhauer from the T.V. show King of the Hill. That is, he talked very quickly with very little sense. I could make out most of what he was saying though, and at least I was having different conversations with him. His late model Dodge Charger was having engine issues, but luckily, it was still under warranty. He just had to wait for a tow truck. He asked me if I had enough money to get home. I said I did. Both men told me that they had social security checks coming within a few days, so they weren’t going to be stuck in Macon for too much longer.

     At exactly 10:27, the tow truck arrived, my bike was fixed to the trailer, and we headed to D & A Cycles. I didn’t have to wait too long at the repair shop to get my motorcycle fixed. There were plenty of “gun on premises” signs which made me feel safer. At least none of the gang members from the hotel would be here. The shop owner informed me that I simply needed a new chain, and the sprockets were fine. I was soon on my way.

     The ride to Beaufort was short and sweet. It was just over 200 miles away and the weather was nice. I hated the Georgia roads that messed up my chain length in the first place, but once I was in South Carolina they became silky smooth.

     I was feeling very nostalgic once I reached Beaufort. My family used to have a summer home down there which I visited every summer. This was the place I learned to ride a bicycle, got my first scar, learned to fish and drive a boat. Beaufort was jammed packed full of old memories which I still carried with me.

     The last time I was here it was my 18th birthday. My three best friends and I were celebrating our graduation from high school and enjoying our time together before we went off to college. It was the last time I was in that house before my family sold it the next summer. It seemed only fitting that I finish the biggest accomplishment of my life in this small town, next to graduating high school. But I celebrated that down here too.

     I found a Hampton Inn in downtown Beaufort and got a room for two nights. I really needed to get myself in order, and catch up on food and sleep. I figured that if it took me two days to get from Beaufort to Columbus, I would arrive Friday morning. Friday evening I would make it to my sister’s graduation party. I dropped off my gear, and changed into a swimsuit and a short sleeve shirt. My clothes were dirty, but I would wash them when I got back. I really wanted to touch the water.

     I wasn’t going to make the same mistake touching the water with my boots like I did in California. I rode my bike half an hour to Hunting Island Beach without my boots and the only time on my trip I rode without a helmet. The breeze through my feet felt amazing. It was a sensation I had never experienced before. I made it to the state park and parked my motorcycle, and took the familiar path to the beach next to the lighthouse.

     The sense of accomplishment I experienced at that beach was even greater than the one I felt in San Francisco. Sure, San Francisco was the goal of my journey, but going coast to coast was an even larger undertaking. I finally got the satisfaction I had been looking for my entire journey.

Hunting Island Beach

     I wasn’t at the beach very long. I called my family to tell them I had officially made it coast to coast, and then left. I was going to come back to the beach the next day, so I would have plenty of time to enjoy the water. I made a quick stop at a Chic-fil-a after changing my clothes at the hotel. Chic-fil-a was my favorite fast food restaurant. The nuggets are fried in peanut oil and always tasted delicious. Chic-fil-a is also one of the few places that had waffle fries. I finished dinner quickly and headed back to the hotel for a night’s sleep.

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