To Merchants Millpond SP 93km
To Roanoke Rapids 106km
It keeps happening.... I've just eaten pancakes with maple syrup, and home fries, ($5.35), and a hot chocolate, ($2), and am ready to pay, $7.35 in hand. But no.... The "check" is $8.34..... I've forgotten about tax, and let's not forget 15% to 20% tip....... Yet again, a cheap breakfast costs over $10........ Damn dumb foreigner. I'm south of the Mason Dixon Line (Google it, because it's significant), and I'm staying. If I was from the "north" I'd be referred to as a "damn yankie". I'm in Southern USA, and "things are different down here boy....." I cycle through a very small town, at a quiet road junction. There's a Garage, and a General store, and on the veranda of the store are four old fellahs "chawing down"... watching the world go by, chewing tobacco, and spitting into a spitoon .... honestly..... I would have taken a photo, but I'm not sure they would have appreciated the phone in their faces.....
Last night I slept in a swamp, in bear country. There is signage everywhere telling me how to react if I'm confronted...... "don't play dead". I won't. Fiona will be flying......
I met a Southern Deputy Sheriff. I couldn't find my Warmshowers host. No answer on his phones, and no response to messages. Ah ha. A Sheriff's office. Maybe they can help. "Don't know anyone by that name boy. Are they in goal? Why do you want them? Even if I did, I wouldn't tell you where they live. No I will not phone them, even if your phone is not working. No hotels in this area boy. You have to leave now, this office is closing. Yep I know it's getting dark, that's why I'm going home. Git boy, I got stuff to do....." Thank goodness for the comraderie and support of the Fire and EMT community. A couple of nights later, I was hosted by a lovely couple, and he was a Sheriff's Deputy. He was horrified by my experience.
The Fire and EMT crew send me to a breakfast spot about 5 miles down the road. The chef greets me. "Gidday mate. You must be that kiwi, kicking around on his bicycle." His daughter visits NZ regularly. Loves NZers and the good weed.... He is a Lord of the Rings fan, and can't wait to visit...... to try the weed.
There are so many run down homes in this area. Ramshackle clapboard houses, Trailer homes, and relocatables, and then suddenly, a row of southern mansions. All are lived in. There are few garages. Every building has half a dozen vehicles sitting around it, from the newest, cleanest (detailed) present ride, probably a big "pickup", to rusty old derelicts, that have sat unused for 20 years. I'm cycling through the history of American Automobiles.
I'm also cycling through some amazing countryside. Green, clean and refreshing. It's Spring. Lots of growth, and lots of new life. I see turtles in the swamps, sitting on logs. When I stop to take photos, they quickly slip into the water. I've seen ground hogs, whistling frogs, possums, beaver, squirrels, loads of Deer, and heaps of birds of prey.... huge birds, with amazing wing spans, that have no fear of a lone cyclist. I'm feeling really close to nature, as many of the roads are really quiet, so I get right up close to the wildlife. Fantastic.
I'm hearing lots of opinions, and getting them without any prodding. It seems a lone cyclist is someone people can speak to freely, sounding out their views without consequence:
- Donald Trump is going to make America great again... ( They really belief this)
- I've no longer got any faith in politicians. They've ruined America for the ordinary person, while lining their own pockets.
- I no longer have respect for the military and veterans. Why is America spending so much money, fighting and killing people overseas. They're no threat to us, and meanwhile, people here in the USA are poor and suffering.
- No one in America is poor. They've all got a pick up and an I Pad. They're not poor. - I've signed up to join the Marines. I want to be a full time firefighter, but hopefully can get the training in the Marines, or afterwards through the GI Bill.
- Who would vote for Trump? A multi millionaire who has made his money, working with rich corporates, out of ordinary people. Do people really think he has had a change of heart, and as President, will work for the good of the people..... I don't think so.
There is so much going on here. Almost too much to take in. Perhaps it's because, for the first time in a long time, I can understand most of what is being said around me. My mind is whirling. I'm soaking it all in. I'm in the USA. I thought I knew the USA, but I'm learning, everyday. Everyday there is a WOW.