Can you imagine, or do you remember what it was like the first time that your flight descended toward a Hawaiian Island, or the first time you received a foreign stamp in your passport? Perhaps you can relate to the feeling of opening that uniquely wrapped packaging that gave away the identity of a gift that you’d desired for a very long time. You hold back a smile that you know will soon be beyond your control.
That’s me with the East Coast.
I intended to ride straight for Jacksonville Beach on Interstate 10 to complete my ‘Coast-to-Coast’ leg. I had planned to let my toes play in the warm Floridian sand ’til dusk. But, excited as I was about seeing the eastern seaboard for the very first time, something inside told me to wait a little longer. So, with plenty of hours left of daylight travel, I pressed on, making a beveled bypass starting north around Jacksonville.
Instead of pulling over every 90 miles for gas, I began pulling over every 30 miles to check the chain. It was definitely making its last few times around the block. A couple of links would not give up their kinks, no matter how much I lubricated them or tried to manipulate their stiff-necked way.
I prayed several times that the chain would not break at full speed. I slowed down considerably on the northbound highway through Georgia, stopping for lunch in Savannah.
I continued north on I-95, admiring the trees and topography of the southeast. I began to think that the plantations had an odd smell about them. Everywhere I went, it smelled like rotten eggs, or perhaps some sort of burning sulfer. I’d wondered if it was some sort of insecticide or agricultural treatment for the orchards.
Finally, I saw my opportunity to see and feel the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in my life. I hung a right on highway 521 to U.S. Route 17, aka The Georgetown Highway. I passed through Greeleyville, Andrews, and Georgetown before continuing north to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The smell of rotten eggs increased and I wondered what could possibly cause such a smell. Highway 17 merged onto 501, “King’s Highway.” I turned right onto 10th Street and came to a dead end at the beach. The bike died.
I pushed the “Green Machine” from Mr. Joe White Avenue (formerly 10th Street) which was named after a man, his bike, and his smile. I continued to wheel it across N. Ocean Street to the Golden Villa Motel. I went in and asked the clerk for a room. There was no room at the inn. I asked for permission to park for an hour while I tried to figure out what was wrong with the motorcycle. He declined. I pushed the bike to a metered parking lot down the street, removed the luggage and dug for tools to probe and troubleshoot.
The sun was setting over a South Carolina skyline. For the first time in my life, I saw an ocean sunset without the horizon being the emphasis, and that was okay. It made me look forward to the sunrise, hopefully from my tent on the beach.
With a little daylight left, I continued to tinker with the bike to see if I could find the problem. When I uncovered the battery, I discovered the source of the sulfuric odor. The battery was fried! The realization that I was not going to resolve the mechanical issue set in; I walked away from the bike down a newly installed boardwalk, and made a couple calls while I scoped a spot to set up the tent. That is, until I learned that it is a federal offense to camp on the beach. I walked down to the water, pulled Carrie’s rock out of my pocket, and dunked it in the Atlantic as I dialed my phone.
My first call was to Carrie. She’s such an awesome girlfriend and a prayer warrior. She made me smile about my situation. My second call was to check in with my family back in Seattle. I wondered what it was like on the other end to hear, “I’m broken down on the other side of the country and really happy about it.” My third call was for a tow truck.
Thank God, I had purchased AAA’s RV package for roadside assistance just prior to beginning these “S-Miles Across America!” The dispatcher said that the driver would get to me within the hour. It was two-and-a-half, but what did I care? I was at the beach; it was warm and balmy; there were tons of happy people around; and I was in heaven!
While Dave quickly and methodically loaded the ZRX onto his flatbed tow truck, I continued to watch and listen as thrill seekers shot skyward on the Sling Shot across the street. I asked Dave how he liked working on this strip and he replied, “Its hard work especially during bike week, but my job makes me happy.”
Fourteen miles northwest, in Conway, South Carolina, RED-LINE Powersports sat back 100 yards from Highway 501. It was after 10 p.m.; I was getting tired, but more than that, I was hungry.
I pulled the gear off of the bike and looked for the best place to stow my stuff while I went to hunt for food. To the right of the chain-linked gate, the fluorescent lights illuminated the side of the motorcycle sales center. To the left, there was a grassy corral where a dozen wave-runners rested. I threw the bags and tent over the three-foot, hand-split wood fence. I ducked between the rails and carried everything to the middle of jet-ski circle and pitched the tent. I strategically placed it to look as if it were a part of the display. I stowed the stuff inside and walked a half mile to Buffalo Wild Wings.
Another extraordinary karaoke effort was being made by the locals at the open-mic. I “bellied-up,” had another burger and brew before sauntering back to the nylon dome for “lights-out.”
I woke just before sunrise, broke camp, and took the battery to the Auto Zone, a block away passing the “Grand Strand” Nissan Dealer and the Pancake House. Sure enough, the guys at the Auto Zone confirmed the fried battery. I bought a new one and was told that it requires a 24-hour charge – they don’t come “ready-to-ride.” The clerk began to charge it immediately, and I left to grab a stack of short cakes. When the Kawi shop opened, I got them started on a new chain.
A gentleman was picking up his wave-runner and overheard that I wanted to kill my time at the beach. He was too kind and offered me a ride.
As I relaxed on Myrtle Beach, I received a call from a friend and past client of mine. He told me that he and his wife wanted to look at a new home. I got hold of an outstanding agent in my home office and they all went shopping.
This was the third real estate call that I received in 24 hours and I was feeling anxious about getting back to work . . . for a minute. Then the waves and vacationers quickly helped me to chill. After all, I had help on the ground in Seattle, a bike in the shop, and a special delivery still many miles ahead of me.
Continue reading CHAPTER SEVEN – Special Delivery, Obamassiah and Flying Home.