July 23, 2021

From Gerald R. Lucas

Ride to Red Springs

I left Augusta about 8:30 am and needed to get gas. I stopped after entering South Carolina and filled up the tank. That would be my one of only two stops on the 230-mile ride to Walter’s house in North Carolina. I was not expecting a great ride, based on my experience in South Carolina last summer, going form Greenville to Augusta. The whole area seemed run-down and economically depressed, and there was little scenery to look at. I was also expecting the temperature to get hot by the mid-afternoon, so I wanted to make time this morning.

I’m happy to report that not only were the roads lovely, as I twisted through the state, but the temperature never really got above 85°F for my whole ride. I went through forests, swamps, farmlands, and rural towns, avoiding highways the whole way. I rode on a couple of four-lane arteries, and some narrow connectors, but mostly the roads were curvy, two-laners that I often had all to myself. The BMW R 1200 GS performed flawlessly, and the one tank of fuel got me to my destination.

I stopped once west of Florence at a busy gas station at an I-20 exit. I put my masked-up to use the facilities and grab a drink—but most folks were unmasked, of course. I had a coffee and a rest standing by the GS in the parking lot, and I felt the sun getting warmer. I had covered about 150 miles by that point, but had 85-or-so to go. I toyed with getting on I-20 and cutting my time in half, but I stuck to the back-road plan. I was getting a bit fatigued, and by the time I crossed into NC, I was ready for a long break. I arrived at Walter’s just after 2pm.

Walt had never seen the GS and was impressed with its size (that’s what she said). He compared it to a bull, and I think that fits. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and catching up. Apparently our mutual friend from graduate school, Tom West, and his family visited a couple of weeks ago. I wish I had known: seeing them would have been great. I hate losing touch. I need to try harder to see Tom again.

Walt showed me the campus of the UNC at Pembroke and told me about the area a bit, including the Lumbee nation. I had not heard of them, of course, having never traveled to this part of the state. I am more familiar with the Cherokees in Western NC. The university campus is pretty, comparable to MGA in many ways, including student population. The university is tied to the locale and the history of the Lumbees—the area seemed as expected, a mixture of rural stores and restaurants surround the university at it center—but there are economic and racial struggles associated with the troubled history of the natives. Of course.

We ended the evening watching The Expanse.