Back to Day 27

7 PM

At Henry’s Steak and Seafood in Kitty Hawk. Today was our first 60 mile day, tomorrow will be another one. The difference is that tomorrow will probably be scenic ocean front, while today was another Highway from Hell day.

We started the day with a mediocre continental breakfast at our B&B. There were two guys eating with us, and they were watching a classic car auction on TV. One of them is very into monster trucks, specifically Grave Digger. He was very excited to hear where we were riding today, because supposedly we were going to pass The Digger Dungeon on rte. 158. Which we didn’t. Bummer.

So after a little food, no coffee, and the longest discussion I’ve ever had about monster trucks, we set off out of Elizabeth City. We ended up, almost immediately, on rte. 158, which is a major road. And to make it worse, they are doing construction on it. So we had to cross a bridge against traffic, and crawl back and forth across the road looking for the shoulder or any other place where we wouldn’t get ourselves killed.

We were not on the ACA route at that point, since it doesn’t go through Elizabeth City. We thought maybe we’d just stay on 158 all the way to Kitty Hawk and save some miles. But 158 just kept getting worse, more traffic, higher speed, and narrower shoulder. So we added 8 miles to our route and got off on rte. 34.

Route 34 was very nice – all 8 miles of it – but then it put us on 168, which was really no better than 158, so we figure we added the 8 miles for nothing. Meanwhile, there was nowhere to really stop, so we didn’t. Then 168 turned back into 158, with the fast traffic and narrow shoulder. When it went over a narrow bridge with jersey barriers and no shoulder, I almost lost it. To give Dana credit, he did not call me a wimp. (He almost did, but he controlled himself. Good boy!) This is what I look like terrified on a bridge:


Then we got on a side road that paralleled 158, which was better, but by that point my nerves were shot and our butts were killing us. Our first butt break was at around mile 30, when we got to a McDonald’s at the intersection of the nice side road and 158. About butt breaks… we need them. And we should take one every 10-15 miles. And we don’t, because we are dumb asses. Even if we can’t find a place with real chairs, even if we aren’t feeling sore yet, we need to take them. I figure by the time we get to Key West, we might have this figured out. Meanwhile, we will both get sore and hungry and cranky, like two toddlers who missed their naps.

We had a lovely butt break at McDonald’s – cheeseburgers, fries, soda and a shared mocha frappe. There were 2 little girls at the next table having Happy Meals, and I asked the older one about her toy – a How to Train Your Dragon 2 Frisbee. She told me she hadn’t seen the second movie yet, but she’d seen the first. I told her I hadn’t seen either, so she invited me to her house to watch it. I turned to Dana and said “Go on without me. I’m going to her house to watch movies.” It was a light moment. Today needed more light moments.

After our gourmet lunch, we took another side road which eventually dumped us back onto 158. The next 9 miles of 158 weren’t too bad – our butts were rested, and we had cheeseburger power in our muscles. But then we got to the 3 mile long Wright Memorial Bridge to Kitty Hawk, which has no shoulder. So we crossed to the northbound side, which has a wider shoulder, and started our 3 mile walk over the intracoastal waterway.


We saw what we think is an osprey’s nest:


And we saw some gulls:


[Note: As we learned from Bob of Birding with Bob fame, there is no such thing as a seagull. There are many kinds of gulls, but none are called seagulls. So I am smart enough to know this isn’t a seagull, but not smart enough to know what it actually is.]

Along the way, we saw lots of things that fell off of cars – mostly tools, lawn chairs, and pool noodles. And our headset batteries died, so we couldn’t talk, just push into the headwind, sand blowing in our faces, examining broken plastic and rusty nails. When we FINALLY got into Kitty Hawk, we again had to ride on 158. But first we sat on the grass and argued about whether we should spend any time tomorrow actually seeing Kitty Hawk.

It’s that biking vs. touring thing again. Dana thinks that, with 60 miles to cover tomorrow, we shouldn’t waste time. I think that if I’m in Kitty Hawk, I should at least see some of Wright Brothers stuff. But then we realized we were sitting in sand spurs, so after Dana pulled one out of my finger, we got up and kept riding another 5 miles, almost out of Kitty Hawk, to our hotel.

The road we were on – thankfully not 158 – looks a lot like Hampton Beach, but with pelicans. I like pelicans.

At the hotel we started looking at maps, and realized that the Wright Brothers Memorial is actually right here, on our route tomorrow, so I can see it, and it will add zero miles to our day. And there is a Duck Donuts here, too, so we’re very excited. We like ducks, we like donuts, and we are constantly starving. Sounds like a plan!

On to Day 29