We started at dark thirty today in order to get in line at the Cedar Island Ferry. Unlike the Hatteras Ferry, this one only runs a few times every day, because it takes a little longer to get there. The first ferry leaves at 7:30am, but the second one doesn’t get leave port until 10:30. At this time of the year, they stay pretty full in the early hours, so if you want to get on the boat, you better get in line.
Each way, the crossing takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes over mostly calm water. I imagine when the weather isn’t nice it can get pretty choppy, but today, it was gorgeous.
We sat in line with the big vehicles, but we were fully positioned and locked in on the ferry by 7:35, and we eased away from the dock only a couple of minutes later. As soon as I could, I opened the windows, let the salt air blast through the RV, and then stepped out to explore a little. I had 2 hours to kill after all and not much cell reception.
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Meidad as soon as we crossed over to the mainland. His adventure was over, at least for a time, and he headed back to Asheville and his family. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that he volunteered this week to make sure that I was physically okay. His passion, emotional support, and delicious food were truly invaluable.
The ferry eased into the port, and the smaller cars to the starboard side were released first. The dock workers motivated drivers like they were driving cattle through stocks. “Yah!” And “Git” were probably not sounds they were actually making, but it certainly wouldn’t have been out of context. It took about 5 minutes to unload the entire other side of the ferry, when they started pointing at us in the longer trucks and RVs. In a couple of noisy, bouncy, head bumping jumps, we were off the vessel and onto land just slightly above sea level. Chuck pulled off to the right side of the road as soon as he could, in front of the “Welcome to Down East” sign, and I jumped out.
Meidad gave us all one last hug goodbye, with promises to meet up with us later on the trail, and he sped off taking the fastest route back to I-40 West, where the City of Asheville and his children waited for him at the other end of the state.
I waved again, pointed my nose west, left Cedar Island, and started running towards slightly different geography.
Jumping from coast to “coastal plains” immediately apparent. I was still on Highway 12, but it wasn’t like the Outer Banks not exactly. There was lots of reedy vegetation that separated the road from water, with little in between. There were no beaches or docks. There were some banks where smaller fishing boats, canoes and kayaks could slide into the water. Beyond that there was little usable (read, land that could be built on), aside from what was already standing, and even that seemed to be tenuous. Everything about the experience reminded me of the South Carolina Low Country – something straight out of a Pat Conroy novel. Perhaps a bit of a Louisiana/Mississippi bayou flavor flavor as well. Of course that could have been heavily influenced by the John Grisham book that I was listening to.
There were fishing boats, and old houses that seemed to be standing up only long enough to allow me to take a picture with my phone. The few residential areas that I encountered had a feeling of quiet and maybe a little distrust. Since I didn’t actually see living creatures other than seagulls and a car every 30 minutes to an hour, I can’t say that anyone was truly distrustful, but that was just a feeling I got.
The only elevation changes were the 3 bridges over waterways over and around Core Sound. They were not exactly nose-bleed heights, but they gave me a little different perspective over the landscape for brief interludes, and then I had some easier downhills for a bit. Dean met me every 3-4 miles depending on how slow or fast I was going, and made sure I had water and fuel, but otherwise left me to my thoughts.
I made it to the Town of Davis about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It was late enough so that Chuck could get somebody to look at the RV’s generator and check in with the Davis Baptist Church – local trail angels for Mountains To Sea Trail Hikers. When Chuck first got there, he asked for help with the generator and they said, “Ask Mack. He knows everybody. Go ask at the Convenience Store. They’ll know how to find him.”
So, Chuck found him. He really did seem to know everybody, too. Mack Overby made a couple of telephone calls and within minutes, a small engine repair technician showed up at the church to see what he could do. Unfortunately, the location and the of the generator underneath the RV made it challenging for the repairman to figure out how to work on it, and we couldn’t get it fixed right away. Mack had another solution, though – across the street from the church was Davis Shore Sportsman’s Lodge, with several beds, a kitchen, laundry facilities and a pool table. It was empty, it was clean and Mack said we could stay there for free. I almost cried. My first dose of “trail magic” came within the first week. I have never lost my faith in people to do good things, but this certainly bolstered my confidence that some folks can be awesome.
Davis, North Carolina is more than just a town. It is part of a community on several islands. I would have completely missed that fact, had I not run the 20 miles or so from the dock on Cedar Island. All of the towns in this part of Carteret County are tiny islands connected by road or ferries. Davis, itself is a coastal village that sprang from Davis Island because where the municipality lies happens the be the largest single land mass in that area.
The island was named for the Davis family and specifically, Joseph Davis, bought the island around 1723. A few more generations of the Davis family owned the island until the Civil War. Family members stayed on the island as residents and hunting guides. The last official owner of the island was “Robert Lee Humber of Greenville, NC, was the last owner of the Island, and was a descendant of Benjamin Davis through his son Archibald Davis”. Somehow the island came back to the Davis family after many years.
After we accepted Mack’s super generous offer to stay at the lodge, I headed for the shower, and came out a new man, and ready to greet another friend who had just rolled into town.
David McConkey, of the Change Islands in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, flew to Raleigh, and rented a car to meet us in Davis. The plan is for Dave to camp and run with me for 3 days, and I can’t wait. In my opinion, there is no better time to learn about and truly explore a person than to run with them for several hours. Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how that went. Tonight, it’s time for food, stretching and rest.
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it,
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated, —
Begin it, and the work will be completed!”