8. South Carolina Hospitality

We’re in the process of crossing South Carolina, from southeast (Folly Beach) to

northwest (planning on leaving South Carolina north of Greenville). We’re about halfway across the state, taking a day off of bicycling tomorrow here in Lexington, near the state capital of Columbia. My strongest impression of South Carolina so far is the warmth and friendliness of the people here.

We said goodbye to Scott,Susie, Gunnar and Gabby Saturday morning, May 1, on a brilliant sunny day. We

will surely miss Scott and Susie’s care and feeding, and the comfort of their gorgeous  lakeside home. We’ll also miss Gunnar and Gabby’s affection and playfulness. (And I will miss starting the day with Gabby licking me all over my face.)

The first day’s ride was a challenge, and ended with a bit more testing of our flexibility than we wanted. We knew we were in for some roads that we’d be very uncomfortable on (heavy

traffic, high speeds, little or no shoulder, and rumble strips on the fog line) but we devised a plan that would reduce the risk of danger to us. I won’t bore you with the details, but it worked well; it was slow going, but we stayed safe. Much of the day, though, was on some nice side roads, which allowed us to enjoy the pancake flat roads of the South Carolina low country, the beautiful pine forests, the fields of corn and picked-over cotton, and the accompaniment of song birds.

When we reached our destination of Santee State Park on Lake Marion very late

in the afternoon, we learned that every single campsite of the 200 or so at the park was occupied, and that we could not camp anywhere else in the park. We only had two realistic options, given our level of fatigue and the setting sun: ride back five miles to a motel or camp illegally in the park.

So, of course, we camped illegally in the park.  We found a hiking trail, walked the bikes in along the trail a short distance, veered off into the woods deep enough where we would not be seen, found a beautiful spot on a soft cushion of leaves, and set up our tent.

The next day’s ride was great: mostly flat roads, a nice breeze to keep the humidity at bay, little traffic, and tranquil countryside. And birds. Oh my, the songbirds here. Our birds in Oregon ought to come out here and take some singing lessons.

In the little town of St. Matthews, a man spotted us stopped on the side of the road and drove over to ask if we needed help.  In the span of a 15-minute roadside conversation, he gave us his business card and his personal cell phone number and we gave him our card with the information about our blog, and we have invited him to overnight with us in August when he may be flying into Eugene to play golf for a week over in Bend.  

Our ride ended at a cozy little cabin nestled in 18 wooded acres near Swansea, where we would spend the night with Johnny and Mellody, their

German Shepherd Belle, and their cat Key.  Who are they, you ask? Total strangers when we arrived last night; friends when we said good-bye this morning.

We met them though warmshowers.org, which is a network of bike tourists who open their homes to one another, free of charge. It’s airbnb for bike tourists, without the expense. After Shelly and I took our showers, Johnny and Mellody set a feast before us: roast beef, mashed potatoes, broccoli soufflé, macaroni and cheese, warm bread, and pecan pie with ice cream. We talked into the night.  Shelly and I had the option of either sleeping on their screened porch or pitching our tent on their property.  (Their two-room cabin would not be amenable to us sleeping inside.)  Not wanting to fuss with the tent, we slept on the porch.  This morning, Johnny and Mellody sent us on our way after a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and grits. They also gave us each a gift which we will use the rest of the trip.  They offered to come get us if we get in trouble somewhere along the way in South Carolina, and I have no doubt that they will do exactly that if we call them.

Today’s ride was short but challenging.  The flatlands have given way to rolling hills as we begin our approach to the Appalachian Mountains. The humidity was worse than the hills though. I felt wet whether I was struggling up a hill, coasting down a hill, or just standing on a hill. We reached our destination of Lexington shortly before a ferocious thunderstorm hit town. Torrential rain and wind gusts up to 65 mph, and silver-dollar sized hail reported in the area.

We took shelter on the patio of a Starbucks just a stone’s throw from the motel where we will rest up the next couple of nights. When the storm hit hard, the staff asked us and a couple of other customers out on the patio to come inside, even though indoors was closed for anything but ordering (because of COVID). Before they left, two of the customers came over to talk to us and make sure we would be able make it safely to our destination for the night. They were relieved to hear we were lodging next door.

And, insofar as riding is concerned, the motorists have  mostly been cautious, patient and courteous to us as they maneuvered around us. Only one Asshole Driver in 182 miles. That’s really good. (At that rate, we will only encounter 20.6 AD’s the whole trip.)

South Carolinians. Good people.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Cherell Skelton

    Oh my word!!! I’ve been checking nonstop – anxious to hear about your adventure so far!!! Not so sure that I can say all good, but it sure sounds like the good out weighs the bad!! Sooo glad to hear good things about South Carolinians, because you NEVER know!! Praying nightly for your safety and definitely living through your bravery and determination!!!

  2. Aimee

    You guys are awesome!

  3. Bill

    You guys are my hero’s! I can’t wait to read more postings of your adventures. Faye and I will continue to pray for your safety everyday. I smell a movie in the making.

  4. Ralene

    I was worrying about you when I saw the storms back there. Glad you were able to ride it out safely.

  5. Rachel

    So great to see your journey! Keep the pics and posts coming! Safe travels to you! xo

  6. Amy

    Love your blog, had to catch up tonight. Sounds like your having an awesome time so far and meeting all kinds of interesting people. Read some of your blog to Tim tonight on our phone call. He thought running over ‘literally’ the wild kingdom with your bikes was hilarious 😂

  7. Mike Thurman

    Go! Go! Go! Congratulations on overcoming obstacle after obstacle! Ride on, Shelley and Jens! And stay safe!🙏💕👏🚴‍♂️

  8. Bob P.

    Enjoying following your adventures! Glad SC is treating you well and you’re safe from storms. Story of camping at Santee reminded me of our college camping trip and pitching tents where we weren’t exactly supposed to be. Enjoy!

  9. Pam

    Great blog posts. Almost feel like I am riding along with you two.

  10. Sarah

    I love your writing style. Very descriptive. Sounds so cool!! Enjoy your ride. I’ll be following along. Stay safe.

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