August 12, 2016 – Sunny, 95 degrees
Miles Today: 92
Miles to Date: 14,429
States to Date: 40
It was impossible to get turned around today – US 52 South for 75 miles, bear right on Alt US 17. I was looking forward to riding through the Francis Marion National Forest, but the tall trees and shady road I imagined was a far cry from the wide highway and mowed shoulders that kept me in full sunshine all day.
I love when a place shifts expectations, and so far, South Carolina is striking in one omission and one addition. South Carolinians appear to be as flag waving as any other Americans, but I have yet to see even one Confederate flag here. That may be one culture war we’ve left behind.
What I have seen instead are unexpected signs of recognition. Towns often cite favorite sons on their ‘welcome to’ signs; often sports stars or media celebrities. Along highway 52 I passed four small towns in a row that heralded their connection to more cerebral pursuits: an astronaut, the first African-American female college president, another college president, and a Nobel Prize winner.
Google Maps for bicycles has a penchant for mapping me on dirt roads. An intriguingly twisty line is not always good as it looks. My hosts for the night live in Del Webb Charleston, an active adult community of serpentine streets, one of multiple developments called Cane Bay that all share one vehicle access, on the far side of my approach. Google offered a route that carved seven miles off the highway. I was skeptical, until it turned out to be the best dirt road of my trip, firm sand reinforced with mesh. It circled the major retention lake of this swamp reshaped into dry land and lagoons. I could have been miles from any human being. Until I came upon a paved bike path that brought me smack into close-packed houses and direct to their street. Sometimes, traveling by bike can be faster than car!