Beer Garden Pool Hall
Beaufort, North Carolina
That night I camped in a pine forest just off the highway. The rays of
the setting sun on the fallen pine needles created a mellow
atmosphere, but in the middle of the night the rains came. With water dripping from my tent seams, I was faced with the stomach-churning dilemma– put my rain suit on and pull up camp, or, lie in my tent as it slowly fills up with water. Past experience had taught me that the latter alternative was a drag, but while I was pondering my decision, my tent fell in on me. The ground was soft to begin with, and with the rain, it was not a surprising outcome. After I packed up my soaked equipment and made my way back to the highway in the dark, I buckled down for what would be a long, lonely, wet, hike until dawn. At first, I walked my bike, but a fear of snakes and gators making their way across the two to three inches of water on the road convinced me to mount up and ride.
I came to a small town. On the edge of it was shelter–a
coin-operated car wash. I got out of my wet clothes and spread out all my wet gear. I even managed a couple hours of uncomfortable sleep (well maybe an hour). 7 a.m. found me packing up my still wet gear (but not as wet), and heading north. 9 a.m. found me sitting under an abandoned fruit stand, waiting out the downpour. 1 p.m. found me miserable, wet, and hungry. I had had it. I was only a half days ride from where I would board the ferry for the outer banks.
The forecast was 70% chance of rain for the next two days, and, on the outer banks I wouldn’t find much shelter, so I checked myself into Mike’s– Beaufort’s hotel– the best $10. I ever spent.
Inside my room I spread out my wet gear, and then jumped in the
shower—the best shower of my life. Beaufort was a small coastal town. It had no Laundromat, and, since it was Sunday, there was no place to buy beer. As I was discovering that fact, however, I happened upon a small pool hall that, through the window at least, appeared to be serving liquid refreshment. When I walked inside, the heads of the all black clientele turned in my direction, and the place got very quiet. I looked at the black bartender and ordered a draft. The atmosphere was uptight until the guy on the adjacent barstool turned to me and said, “What’s happening brother!” Everything seemed to return to normal after that. I stayed for a couple of beers and then went back to my hotel and ate a dinner of fresh caught flounder in the downstairs restaurant (a treat to myself).
Back in my hotel room, the TV weatherman told me that 3.4 inches of rain had fallen in the last twenty-four hours and more was expected. Another disheartening piece of news was the bug bites that covered my arms, hands, and legs. I was beginning to feel as if this whole trip was a bad idea. I was not out to martyr myself. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I decided to enjoy myself while I could. With my bag of potato chips by my side, let it rain; who cares!
I settled in for a night of TV in my warm comfortable room.