Georgia, we barely got to know you at all. We’ve come and gone now, but, as it is at every border, we have a new state to find our way through and get to know before we prematurely leave.
Across the Savannah River is South Carolina, but first is the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, which, for cyclists, is a lot like climbing a mountain to get across a river. The view of Savannah from above helped us to feel less disappointed by the beginning of our exit.
South Carolina, as the sign declares, is apparently full of both smiling faces and beautiful places. We hadn’t seen much terrain, but early into our first day we were already seeing the smiling faces. The road problems that Florida and Georgia had given us were still present, little space on old roads or maybe a tiny shoulder, but we were encouraged when we noticed a change in attitude of the first few locals we came in contact with.
They weren’t really into it in Florida. There were a few military enlists that were excited in Savannah. They said the words “no homo, but you guys are looking really fit.” which felt good, but the reviews from either state hadn’t been overwhelming. Then we started riding through South Carolina.
There isn’t much in the way of sizeable towns between the border and Charleston, but people questioned us about our trip every time we stopped at a highway gas station or new, beautiful place.
So far, we haven’t stopped moving without having someone tell us they like what we’re doing and that they hope we stay safe. We’ve been pulled into conversations that we had no idea were coming and learned more than we planned to know about a few complete strangers.
The weather was cloudy for the most part as well, which was a relief after the heat and sun exposure in the Gulf. Unfortunately the clouds came with a forecast of rain on the one night we were definitely going to be camping before making it to Charleston.
It didn’t even take positive thinking or serious thought before we found a place that seemed fit to cover us from rain. We weren’t sure what the structure used to be when we first got there, but we realized after trespassing that it had been a motel. “Had” being the key word in the sentence. Luckily for us, this building had been out of commission for awhile and we were left with a roof over our heads and a surface to cook ramen on.
The surprise in the morning was that no rain ever came and the sky looked a little clearer than the previous day. We had one new reason to like South Carolina indiscriminately.
That same morning we stopped to fix a tire in front of a Baptist church and had a man park there and welcome us to anything the church could help us with. He said that he felt it was what really being a Christian is supposed to be.
By the time we made it to Charleston that afternoon we were feeling the good vibes and chose to soak it in by getting off the busy road and taking a greenway path that ran to the downtown. Along the way we met a few cyclists that took special interests in our trip. One of which, was a man named Matt who was planning his own short bike tour and offered any help he could provide.
The others were a married couple that showed us the way from the greenway to downtown. With traffic and limited time, we never got their names, but they certainly made the ride more enjoyable.
We ended the day’s ride in to Charleston by immediately riding out of Charleston across another enormous, Southern-city bridge. The town across the river is Mount Pleasant and we had a friend waiting for us on the other side.
This time our ride up the mountain bridge wasn’t devastating, it was more of a triumphant feeling. It was our first site of the town we came to see, and it came complete with a separated bike path, Kony propaganda, confused smiles and a promising aerial view of that new, beautiful place in South Carolina.