John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

June 8

While Brenda went for her workout, I thought I would try and catch Rita Brown to check and see how her husband, our friend Bob Ward, was recovering from his serious throat surgery. I was gob-smacked when Bob answered the phone. He had been released from the hospital the day before and I had caught him making a breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs. It was an absolute delight to talk to Bob, who sounded just great and told me that he feels really good, considering what he's been through. What a great start to the day!

Brenda returned from the gym and offered to give me a haircut as I had dug the clippers out of the rooftop carrier. She did a fabulous job and after showers and clean up, we drove down to the beach for lunch. We checked out a couple of spots before we settled on Nibils on the Surfside Beach Pier. Brenda tried the she-crab soup and gave it a major thumbs-up.

We did a bit of shopping and returned to our Resort, where I continued to explore options for parking in Manhattan. I think we'll be OK with a lot I found on-line that takes reservations and allows over-size vehicles. We'll see how that works out.

The rest of our afternoon and evening was taken up with sorting clothes, laundry and packing as well as loading the rooftop carrier and the bikes. Brenda cleaned out the fridge and made one of my favourite meals, "breakfast for dinner"...maybe influenced by Bob's scrambled eggs and toast.

June 9

We had a choice to take a route up the North Carolina Outer Banks (via Cape Hatteras) or the Blue Ridge Parkway across the north of the state into Virginia. In checking the seaside route, I found out that one of the critical ferries was down for repairs and delays could be expected (shades of BC Ferries?), so we opted for the mountain route. Our target for the overnight stay was Hickory, North Carolina.

Traffic was very busy, with it being Saturday and timeshare changeover day in Myrtle Beach. Once we got away from the resort area, we took the more quiet state highways and enjoyed the rural scenery. One thing we noticed was a reduction in road kill; no more armadillos but now we saw several squashed snakes of substantial length.

After nearly 16,000 kilometres, I finally found a day that I felt drowsy driving and turned the wheel over to Brenda for the very first time. She hadn't lost the knack and, after she figured out the cruise controls, we were hauling ass. We passed through Marshville, NC with a large sign proclaiming it as the hometown of Randy Travis. In another amazing coincidence, our I-pod delivered up his "Forever and Ever Amen" on its shuffle play just as we left Marshville.

The heat increased as we drove inland and, at one point, Blue's outside thermometer registered 36°C. We arrived in Hickory around 5:00 pm and easily found a nice hotel. Because of the heat, the hotel pool was crammed with laughing kids and parents while one large family was using the charcoal BBQ for a big poolside feast...just how summer holidays should be. Brenda had her evening workout after our quick grocery shopping for dinner, while I continued to try and keep this journal current.

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