Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Southern Hospitality is Real Good, Y'all

It's currently raining and overcast, but luckily, we are warm and dry inside at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina! Since last writing we've been through Asheville and Chimney Rock, NC. We crossed into SC yesterday and arrived in Spartanburg last evening.

Friday we spent poking around the city of Asheville. We checked out the co-op, read the menus at all of the interesting looking restaurants, and ducked into many a shop downtown. We saw some great art. That night we met up with Ben and Pearl, our Warm Showers hosts, at a vegetarian restaurant that everyone had recommended to us.

On Saturday we went to a discount grocery store - quite a dangerous endeavor given that we have to carry everything we buy - and then took an afternoon kayak trip on the French Broad River with Ben. We'd hoped to both kayak past the Biltmore Estate and then make it in time to see the bike co-op in Asheville, but it wasn't in the cards. For dinner we ate a southern meal of eggs, biscuits with gravy, kale and onions, and sweet potato homefries downtown and then headed to a local bar for some local brew and bluegrass music. Because we were so in the moment in Asheville, we kind of forgot to take photos! Here's our lone one:

Sunday was a gorgeous day. We didn't set out on the road until midday, but once we did, we rode predominantly on route 76 east, towards Lake Lure. We passed through Hickory Nut Gap, where we happened upon a local man named Gary who showed us around the historic Shellies Inn, that served as a stopping point for travelers over the gap from 1834 to 1909. We filled our water bottles from the spring there and got some great views.

We cycled past Chimney Rock and were planning on camping in the Lake Lure/Chimney Rock area. The sites we came upon though were all for RVs! We scoped out a local park thinking we could tuck our tent towards the margin, but realized it was right by a police station - so we went to ask if that would be ok. It wasn't - but the police did suggest asking the nearby Baptist Church if we could pitch our tent in their yard. We did, and and they agreed. Just 15 minutes later or so as we were setting up camp in the area they had indicated, (by a little house that they also owned), the pastor drove up with a set of keys in his hands. He told us that "he just couldn't stand the thought of anyone sleeping in the cold", and so we could stay inside the house that night. He turned on the heat and let us use the shower and stove etc. Yet again, we are blown away by people's generosity and hospitality!

Here's a haiku to describe our feelings:

we are well-cared for
so much generosity
the world is too good

On Monday we made our way from Chimney Rock towards Spartanburg. The day was pretty uneventful until the afternoon, when we took a bit of a spill. None of the roads in South Carolina seem to have shoulders, so we were riding pretty close to the white line. At one point along Route 9 the pavement sort of crumbled away. Emily's tire went off the road, and she ended up flying over the handlebars when she turned left to try and correct and resume road riding. Luckily, only scraps and bruises came of it, and an EMT happened to be right behind us to shower her in hydrogen peroxide and wrap her up with gauze!

Emily all bandaged up

Also, if a fall had to happen, it was great timing. We were only a few miles from Spartanburg where our host Shelley, who works at Upstate Forever and is involved in Partners for Active Living, lives. She contacted us when she read about our trip through the Rail to Trail newsletter. She then connected us with Converse college, which is also taking really good care of us.

Emily, Margaret, and Shelley

That night that we got to listen to an amazing woman, Dr. Katherine Jeter, speak on campus about "designing your lifestyle", (essentially, how does one accomplish goals they aspire to). One of her accomplishments that impressed us in particular, was that she rode 70 miles in a day on her 70th birthday and raised over $70,000 for charity to do it! She emphasized that a large part of getting something done is setting a date and telling people of your plans so that you're held accountable. How true! Our own take on that is that it's not even necessary to know exactly what you're getting yourself into. If you set the date, you have to launch in just like we did for our tour...and we sure are figuring it out along the way!

Katherine and Emily

Speaking at Converse College! What?

We plan to head out tomorrow morning and hope for sunnier weather! The rough plan is the head east, stop at Congaree National Park en route and find our way to Charleston, and then Savannah!


  1. Thanks for the nice mention. Meeting you two has made my week, my season, and maybe my year! How marvelous that we would come together with the same message for the leadership students at Converse last night. Will love following you on your way.
    All God's blessings, kj

  2. EMILY!!! I had bookmarked this page long ago and stumbled upon it tonight. I've read the whole thing now....WOW! I can't say much else other than "wow" AND that you can warm shower at my house when you come back to B'ton! Seems like you are having a blast. I'll keep up with the reading more now that I've rediscovered your blog. yay Emily!

  3. Beautiful cycling in Spartanburg this morning and...

    Autumn leaves falling.
    Dazzling colors surround me.
    My heart tap dances.

    Be safe and have fun, kj