WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Finishers Wander 9 - Georgetown, Delaware
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 20:33:20 -0700

    Dark cloud or silver lining? Dark of night or golden sunrise? Adversity again. Bad enough it was Saturday, but there was also some kind of reunion taking place on a nearby island, and a Native Pow Wow in Hatteras, so the morning ferries to the outer banks would be full. Except for the 7 am run. Except that I am more than an hour from the ferry slip and I have to be there 30 minutes before sailing. So I found myself getting out of bed at the same UTC that I would normally go to bed at home: 5 am Eastern, 2 am Pacific.
    A few years ago Warren Harhay wrote a magnificent short story about watching the sun rise from a motorcycle on the road. I won't try to describe it. The transition from night to day is magical on its own. The transition of motorcycle from creature of the night to prowler of the day is something to be experienced. It was a silver lining to awakening in the dark. The nightbirds were still whispering softly, the air was moist and still, the night desk man was excited to have someone to talk to ... but I wasn't there to visit. As I rolled through each successive silent town, the features of the day took shape. Soft mists rose from the warm drainage channels along the road. If a bird flew through the mist, it rent and bent in the passing, as though reaching to be taken along. Finally 6:29, one minute early, I reached the gate, and the sun burst over the horizon, glowing gold on everything.
    Interesting, of all the ferries around the country, these are the only I've known to load motorcycles last. Usually bikes go first.
    The outer banks are like any other seaside resort - too many T-shirt shops, too much clustered in one place, too many people not watching where they are going, and only one small road down the center. It must be hellish in summer. But now some 4 hours after getting up, I can finally stop for breakfast (close to lunchtime) and I see signs for Orcacoke Style clam chowder. I'm from New England. CC is white. Folks in New York think (Manhattan style) CC is red. What's Orcacoke style? Clear broth, made primarily with clam juice. As the chef said, clam chowda should taste like clams. Yum, I think.
    Actually, I'm glad for the early start because 3 hours of ferry rides would have blown a hole in the day's mileage, but here it is 11 am and I about as far into my miles as I normally would be. A little later I come to the Wright Brothers National Monument at Kill Devil Hills. Decided to pass the traditional canned packaged presentation for people who think important places are a visitor center. Instead, I spent a minute or two on a dune, face into the wind, wondering what Orv and Wilb would think of today. Ironic, here is the place of first sustained flight and there is no airport anywhere nearby. I suppose it is a matter of perception - Dr. flash says of old Orville and Wilbur: They weren't the first to fly, they just were the first not to crash.
    (Later I was told there IS a local airport nearby. My erroneous information came from the gate guard at the Wright Monument!)
    Speaking of "first flight", Kill Devil Hills and neighbor Kitty Hawk both claim to be "it". And so do a lot of other things, like First Flight Ice cream, First Flight Car Wash, First Flight Harley Davidson. (bite tongue. bite harder.) Is it really necessary to 'me too' totally unrelated items? I mean, is First Flight Ice Cream really going to taste better than Second Flight?
    The outer banks eventually give way to the shore plantations, then in no time it is Virginia. The southern portion of my trip is over, I am headed north. At least this time I got out of Virginia without anything unpleasant. It seems every trip through Virginia has had some one thing go wrong, but maybe the finishers wander ended that. Perhaps the problem has been of the different language spoken there. As mentioned, I am from New England, where if you ask "Do you have <item>" the answer will be a curt yes or no. Fully responsive, no waste. Whereas in Virginia, the answer is "I'm terribly sorry, we used to have a complete stock but yesterday Bubba's aunt Tillie came in to buy 7 of them for Junior and we haven't reordered yet, but I can assure you we will get them as soon as Mabel gets back from her trip to the convention in Covington where they are displaying the new model. Yall come back." Full of information I don't need or want and never directly answered. (Rebecca keeps telling me that's Southern politeness.) So - I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled to the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel toll booth and asked how much. No wasted effort, "Tin" (10). No smile either. She could make it in New England.
    On the Virginia side of the Maryland border there is a large dixie flag sign emblazoned with THIS IS DIXIE The South Stops Here. What's all that about?
    Speaking of signs, since it was only 6 miles down the road, I went out of my way (this is a wander after all) to go to the end of US50 in Ocean City. Then I turned around and looked for "the sign". It is there! I can't tell you how many times I've passed the sign "Ocean City MD 3073 miles" in West Sacramento where US50 begins and wondered about the other end. It's there! "Sacramento 3073". You know how you keep saying to yourself 'one of these days I'm gonna ...'. This wander has finished another gonna.
    And finally, 2 down, only 2 to go. Delaware was the second of the four missing continental states my K75 hasn't seen.

369 miles, plus about 50 miles by ferry
Morehead City NC12 US158 NC168 I64 US13 US113 US50E US50W MD589 US113 Georgetown
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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