Day 37 White Lake, NC to Southport 87 miles 946 feet
I got to Southport early enough to have a First Dinner and a couple of Blue Moons at the Blue Cow Grille, 108 E Moore St, Southport, so I’m writing today’s blog sitting on a shaded porch swing overlooking the river with a pair of singers serenading a lawn party with Jimmy Buffetesque tunes.
It was chilly and the sun was still low in the sky when I pushed off this morning. For nearly 20 miles we would roll along a road through the Bladen Lakes State Forest and adjacent farmland. The predominant traffic was trucks hauling freshly felled trees, from the smell of the forest and the trucks, they were obviously pine trees. Sometimes the trucks passed a bit to close for comfort, but I still preferred when they were going in my direction and their draft sucked me down the road for a couple hundred yards. Trucks approaching from the opposite direction created a blast that stripped my pace or occasionally even stood me up out of the drops. We finally turned off to a much more deserted road were I encountered a very sketchy “used truck lot.” I’m pretty certain that the only value in those trucks is for scrap metal, then again there is probably more rust than metal for scrap.
Many of the embankments along the road were full of wild Black Eyed Susans in full bloom and fall foliage was beginning to spread down to North Carolina.
The route rolled right past the entrance to the Moores Creek National Battlefield, see yesterday’s blog for more information on this Revolutionary War Battle.
The least pleasant section of the ride was for about 10 miles along US 421, a high speed 4 lane highway. The shoulder was more than adequate, but full of loose blacktop rocks and I was constantly sucking exhaust fumes. I was happy at about the 50 mile mark when we turned off the highway and crossed the Cape Fear River into Wilmington.
Wilmington was first settled by Europeans in the early 1720’s and was a prominent port during the Revolutionary War and a vocal opponent of The Stamp Tax Act. During the Civil War, the port at Wilmington was a major base for Confederate forces but ultimately fell to the Union about a month after the fall of Fort Fisher closed the port. No Civil War military operations took place in the city, so many historic homes are still standing. After the Civil War many emancipated blacks settled in Wilmington and made up over 60% of the population and many of the skilled trades. In the 1890’s, blacks rose to prominent positions in the city and it’s politics. During the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, white Democrats killed 100 blacks and overthrew the elected government, replacing it with their own hand picked White Suprematists, the only successful coup d'état in American history.
I asked a local where to grab lunch and he recommended the Copper Penny, 109 Chestnut St, Wilmington. I went with the Southwest Chicken Sandwich, a bit spicy with the jalapeño peppers but perfect after cruising for 50 miles at nearly 20 mph. There was a line out the door by the time I walked out with my sandwich. The route out of town rolled down 5th Street with many elegant historic homes and churches.
The ECG followed the shoreline of Greenfield Lake, interestingly, the houses on the north side were predominately simple bungalows, while the south side was full of many fine estates. The lake was full of life, including many lime green butterflies.
The further south I rode, the more golf communities I rode through. They reminded me of similar communities, AKA “God’s Waiting Room” all over Florida, right down to the lagoons and palm trees. I even rode through a new community under construction, they just can’t seem to build them fast enough.
We crossed over the bridge into Carolina Beach and would ride between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean for about 10 miles till the ferry crossing. The homes now had a Caribbean flair with primary colors and plantation shutters.
Someone even built a small Caribbean beach shack on a very expensive lot.
I made a quick stop at the Fort Fisher Monument which commemorates the Confederates who died trying to defend the fort from Union forces.
I arrived about 20 minutes before the Fort Fisher Ferry to Southport.
The 4 mile crossing took about 30 minutes and dropped me 2 miles from my hotel. My Second Dinner was at the Frying Pan, 319 W Bay St, Southport, a seafood restaurant with a killer view of the Cape Fear River. My salmon was cooked perfectly, the rest of the meal was mediocre.
Eleven states down, 4 more to go.
Feet Climbed 75,729
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina
For more details on my route, see my Strava Link