Day 10

September 13th, 2010

I awoke at 11:15pm.  “Neil! There’s a raccoon on the picnic table!” He was after our tightly-wrapped bag of garbage, which usually doesn’t attract critters in most campgrounds.  Ok, pain-in-the-ass raccoon made me get up, hop on the bike, and take the trash to the dumpster.  But when I got back, he wasn’t done.  “Neil!  He’s at your bike!  He’s humping your pannier!”  Then, wham!  Down goes the bike.  And the raccoon, not scared in the least, just took that as an opportunity to get a better angle.  Ok, get up again, shoo off the raccoon, which takes some doing as he isn’t even particularly scared of bricks thrown at him, and take all the food out of my panniers, put it in a bag and hang it from the hooks-on-poles provided for such a purpose.  That ought to do it.  For most raccoons.  But not this guy.  He STILL went back to attack my panniers!  So I got up for a third time, and hung all my panniers from the hook, while Dennis did the same with his bag.  Finally, I think the raccoon gave up.  That was the hardest-working fatass raccoon I’ve ever seen.

Today’s ride was about putting in the miles.  Last evening after dinner I recalled that a gentleman we had talked with earlier in the day had casually mentioned “…and if you’d applied for a permit a week in advance, you could ride through Camp Lejeune, and take 5 miles off your trip!”  Hmm, I think our route already assumed we were riding through Camp Lejeune (and why not, since, though I learned the road was closed to civilian traffic in 2007, mapping services will happily route you that way).  Since we certainly didn’t have any permits, this news actually added 5 miles to our trip (well, 6.  Drivers always underestimate!)

On the road that bypasses the Marine base, I saw a higher density of barber shops than I’ve seen anywhere in my life.  I assumed (from the movies) that haircuts were a free service provided on base, but maybe the 3rd-party guys add a flair to military cuts that the Marine barber just doesn’t have in him.  Beyond that, the only real clues that we were near a military base were a couple of genuine Humvees that passed us, and a cool twin-prop plane flying overhead.

Later in the day, we delivered a glancing blow to the BAC (Big-Ass City) of Wilmington, NC.  It’s probably the first BAC we’d been in since New York.  Its BAC qualification indicators include an Ethan Allen store, crazy traffic at 2pm, an Indian restaurant, and perhaps the largest bike shop I’ve ever seen.  We stocked up on several items at the last, including a water bottle cage for me, to replace one that now needs two tie-wraps to hold it together.

Due to our neverending streak of weather luck, the north wind and drier air helped us cover the 88 (again!) miles in near-record time, and we made it into Carolina Beach State Park with the sun still a few hours from meeting the horizon.  Yesterday at the coffee shop while I was flipping through a National Geographic, I coincidentally noticed in an article about carnivorous plants that Venus Flytraps grow naturally in exactly one part of the world: the region within 90 miles of Wilmington, NC.  Huh, who knew?  So today, we took a short hike on the park’s Flytrap Trail, but unfortunately didn’t spot any.  Oh well, like I said on my ride through Yellowstone, I don’t actually need to *see* a Grizzly; the knowledge that he is out there, and we are sharing the same environment, is enough of a thrill.  And so it is also with the mighty Venus Flytrap. Ok, maybe it’s not quite the same.  But still, it’s a plant, that eats animals! Madness!!

2 Responses to “Day 10”

  1. Steve M. Says:

    You should hitch that racoon to your bike and make him work for his food/trash!

  2. Louise Gregie Says:

    I’m surprised the bold raccoon hasn’t yet met it’s demise. Did your panniers get damaged in the attack? Who isn’t fascinated with the idea of seeing a Venus Flytrap. Interesting factoid about it’s habitat.