Ocracoke, NC to Pettigrew State Park, NC; 62 miles
What a day! It was supposed to be a nice, easy 36 miles to the state park. We failed to notice, however, that a few of the roads that Google sent us on were unnamed. The adventure started even earlier though, around 2 am.
The storm that blew in over the Outer Banks the night before caused the power in our motel to go off around 2 am. Sometime later we got cold from the resulting lack of heat, and had to resort to using our sleeping bags to stay warm! In the morning we had to be at the ferry before 7am, and so had to get prepared while it was still dark out. Without the lights we had to pack up using our headlamps in the motel!
The ferry had generator power, so it was still on schedule. The woman selling tickets told us there were 7 inches of standing water in her lawn. Yikes. It took 2.5 hours to ferry back to the North Carolina mainland, and the rain continued. It would continue all day.
We rode for about 2 hours into a strong headwind and rain. Our directions sent us down a road with a sign: ‘road ends 1 mile’. Uh oh. Foolish us, we pushed into the wind anyway, hoping the sign was wrong. It wasn’t – we reached the end of the road and found only a farmhouse and a large building with tractors. We stepped in for directions and met Reed and Randy, two cotton farmers. They invited us in out of the rain and peppered us with questions about life on bikes. Reed even helped us plan a route to the state park we were aiming for, and gave us a new map. Best of all, they gave us a big bag full of raw North Carolina peanuts. I’m not sure how Jason fit the bag into his pannier, but he did.
As we left the rain started again, and we still had a long way to ride. 10 of the remaining miles were on a dirt/sand/gravel road through a wildlife refuge. On another day it would have been beautiful, but on that day it seemed to go on forever, and we were exhausted when we finally reached the edge of the lake we were aiming for.
At the end of the mud road we met a gravel road, and luckily a park ranger who provided us with yet another map to find the campground. We didn’t know it at the time, but there were still 20 miles left to ride. We were already exhausted, but the promise of a picnic table, restroom, and spot for the tent kept us pushing as the temperature dropped.
We arrived at the park at dusk – just in time. The ranger was very nice and helped us find a sheltered campsite. I spent nearly half an hour in the restroom hitting the hand drier over and over to warm up and dry my shoes out.
We were so tired that we didn’t even have energy to read after climbing in the tent. Honestly, we were asleep at 7:30.