Racing sunset in the wetlands

Racing sunset in the wetlands

posted in: Bicycle Touring | 21

Day 2 (May 1st) finished up well.

I swung into a health food store on my way to Kitty Hawk for some snacks and struck up a conversation with the employees.  They didn’t think my planned camping destination still existed, but recommended a hostel in Kitty Hawk.  While I was chatting storms rolled in so I hung out inside to eat and grabbed a coffee.  They hooked me some day old bakery items before I left!  Breakfast!


I finished up my day on Thursday by riding to Kitty Hawk where I camped at a hostel.  Had a hot shower, washed some clothes, and went to the a nearby food joint for some oysters.


Day 2 Summary
Miles:  41.3 pedaling or pushing bike, 10 riding in 4×4 on the beach
Acts of kindness:  2 – Free ride to the paved road, Free pastries at the food mart!

Day 3, May 2nd

I started the day with a helping of my free pastries and then headed towards the Wright brothers memorial and museum.  The memorial was great.  Cool statues and a huge monument.  I couldn’t help join in with the statues (see below).  After the memorial I rode near the beach and parked at a surf shop where I had a coffee and bagel.  After catching some wifi time I restocked on food being I knew there weren’t many stops in the marshes where I was headed.  Restocked and a happy stomach I headed out, making a quick stop at Jockey’s Ridge before I crossed over to Roanoke Island.

At Roanoke, I toured the museum for the lost colony and an underground railroad memorial.  After having a look around I headed across the long bridge connecting the island to the mainland.  Then began the ride through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.  I knew it was a haul to the next town (Engelhard) but I was going to give it a go.  There were no food stops posted on the map and I was not expecting to find much for camping opportunities.  Plus I wasn’t sure I wanted to camp in a wetland where there were possibly alligators… I didn’t know if there were actually gators but I didn’t care to find out either.  It was pretty late in the day already (too much sight seeing earlier) so I knew I was going to have to keep moving to beat the sunset.

It was a haul indeed.  I saw a few flat areas that might have sufficed for putting up camp for the night, but was going to see how far I could get before I went that route.  At once I saw a nice clearing and thought about stopping, but as I came up to the entrance I saw a lone wolf (red wolf I believe) standing there looking at me.  I decided to keep riding.  As the sun was setting I was finally approaching a clearing and noticed the sky was starting to turn color.  I don’t think I could have timed it better because right as I entered the clearing the sun was just passing below the horizon.  What a sight it was.  It was one of those moments where you feel perfectly content about life, despite tired legs, no camping spot still, and a bug breeding ground that was waiting to feast on you as soon as you stop.

Finally, I spotted lights from Engelhard.  I passed through the town and couldn’t really see a good spot to throw down a tent.  I was just about out of town and decided that behind the Dollar General would be sufficient.  I hastily put up the tent, crawled inside and crashed.

IMG_4411Go Wilbur!  Sculptures reenacting the first powered flight.

IMG_4414Spectators cheering him on.



IMG_4429Orville helping push off / stabilize Wilbur on his takeoff

IMG_4423Or maybe it’s a zombie.

IMG_4426Wilbur is keeping his cool, focused at the task at hand.

IMG_4428My likely reaction if I were on board

IMG_4427Or probably more like this…

IMG_4431Large monument overlooking the area.

IMG_4436Someone offered to take a snap of me.

IMG_4438Where the magic happened.


IMG_4442Quite the improvement after a few practice flights.


IMG_5411Cool!!  The Wright Brothers were cycle mechanics prior to being the first to fly an airplane.

IMG_5412Bike hubs in the launch rail.  Sweet!  They couldn’t use wheels for take off and landing because they did not work on the sand.  I understand this problem all too well.

IMG_4457Jockey Ridge.  This place had some big dunes.


IMG_5415Coffee!  Mmmmm

IMG_4465Roanoke Island

IMG_4466Parked in the wrong spot.  Fire ants.

IMG_4470Site believed to be from the original colony before they scattered to who knows where.

IMG_4472The bridge to mainland.

IMG_4474A loooong bridge

IMG_4476The refuge begins.  As you can see there are lots of great camping options.

IMG_4477Happy Easter?


IMG_4482Wait… say whaaat?  One more reason not to camp around here.




IMG_4496About 20 miles from town I feel my grip in my pedals loosen.  Glad I packed an extra screw!  Immediately retightened all my spd clips.

IMG_4500Farm land ahead!  And what’s up with the sky?

IMG_4511A rewarding view after a long days ride.

IMG_4524Engelhard downtown, a happening place.

Day 3 Summary

Miles: 82
Top Speed: 33.7
Acts of kindness: 1 – As soon as I crossed the bridge from Roanoke I stopped at a pier to throw on my raincoat.  When I stopped a guy on the pier offered my his rain coat, food, water, a place to stay.  I politely declined all of them as I was already set.
Road Kill in my path: Raccoon, 2 possum, turtles, mouse, seagul, canadian goose, and others that I couldn’t make out (for you Jon… This might be the only time since I can tell this will be hard to keep track of)

Day 4, May 3rd

Making this a quick write up.  I need to head out soon to my next destination.  I have a host stay planned in Greenville, NC… about 20 miles to go.  I didn’t resize the images below either.  I’ve gotta spend some time setting up an easier work around.  Maybe tomorrow!

I was up early and moving since I didn’t care to be discovered camping behind the Dollar General.  Any breakfast option in town didn’t seem to be open so I polished off the rest of those pastries.  I didn’t get my water filled up before I left so by the time I got about 20 miles down the rode I was happy to find a school and began looking around.  A cleaning lady saw me and offered me to come in and get some water (THANK YOU!).  Still no food options.  A hot meal was sounding mighty good.  This part of the state the towns are very small it seems… better take any chance to eat and fill up water where I can.  Finally got something to eat and a coffee in Swan Quarter out of a vendor truck and then I was off to Bellhaven (~ 30 miles).  I was given some good camping suggestions in Bellhaven, filled up on water and grabbed something to eat again (I’m always hungry these days).  I stopped in Bath, got more directions and eventually made it to Goose Creek Park and set up camp.  Another long haul.

IMG_4525Whole lotta green!


IMG_4533I probably saw about 200 turtles this day.

IMG_4539I was so glad to have a hot meal.

IMG_4540Whats that?  30 miles to the next town?  Better have some pancakes too.



IMG_4551Dolphins in the canal by Bath.

IMG_4554Bath… oldest town in NC.  Good ice cream too.  I’m told this used to be one of Blackbeard’s stomping grounds.

IMG_4558Well deserved brew at the end of the day.  Very fitting too.

Day 4 Summary

Miles: 88
Top speed: 34
Dogs: 3 – all small little yippers.  They just run along side barking until they get tired.
Acts of kindness:  4 – Let into school to fill up waters, prevented from riding down a dead end from a fisherman, food and camping suggestions in Bellhaven from a guy who actually turned his jeep around to come talk to me, and a free bottle of water from a store clerk when I asked if there was a place I could fill up my water bottles.

IMG_5439Coffee and wi-fi this morning!  Been hard to come across in the wetlands!

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21 Responses

  1. Brad Martin

    Such cool stories Brad! I love reading about the acts of kindness, and the road kill 🙂

  2. Gramma & Grampa K

    Been following right along Brad….good to get your new posting….your a trooper and one Smart cookie for sure!!!!!
    Love you!

  3. Awesome photos, my man! I do hope you rescued that turtle that was kind enough to let you take its photo. And you must be getting soft, because the Brad Ryan I remember definitely would have camped on a bombing range! Looks like there was very little room on that Roanoke Island bridge. Glad you made it across safely.

    I am disappointed not to see any lighthouse photos. With the direction you’re riding in, they’re gong to be much harder to come by.

    • Bradley

      I did give that turtle a free ride across the road! I know, I’m a little bummed I missed the lighthouses. I’ll just have to make another trip out of it I guess! And the mosquitos were probably more scary than the bombing range!

  4. We are enjoying your posts. Glad to hear about the random acts of kindness.
    Love ya!

  5. Tom Jakab

    Awesome read so far Brad. Very entertaining 🙂 Do you have a total mile tally or just your daily totals?

    I hear turtles make good soup. You ever consider packing some of that delishious roadkill on ice for later? 😉

    Have you fixed your stove yet?

    • Bradley

      I’ve been meaning to put together the total tally. Try to do it for my next post. I’ll start adding it to the summary. No stove! Ah!

      • Tom Jakab

        You have a pocket knife right? Whittle a regulator in your down time 😉

  6. Great pics!!! Keep ‘Em coming!!!
    Stove fixed?

  7. Keith Short

    When viewing your photos, I discovered I was born on the 50th anniversary of powered flight. Who knew? Excellent photos and blog. My parents and in-laws are following now also. You are in danger of becoming a celebrity!

    • Bradley

      Thanks Keith! Try to keep some interesting facts in here if I can. You’re putting the pressure on me to keep posting I see.

  8. Jeff Brown

    The Barber Shanty Pop Inn looks like a good place to bed down for the night, did you bring a small axe or saw to cut down trees??
    Great pics from the Wright Brothers.
    Keep trucking, in you case, peddling on Brad

    • Bradley

      Haha I suppose that might have been an option would I have had a chainsaw with me! Peddling away! Thanks Jeff

  9. jean Ryan

    Great pictures, interesting stories. I look forward to them each day. You’ll have stories to tell your grandkids!

  10. Michael Kellerman

    Looking good Brad! Great photos. I see a cable TV host spot in your future.

  11. Paul Phillips

    Awesome stories and pics Brad! The shot of you punching the Orville spectator is priceless!

  12. Yeah Brad! Glad to see the aerospace engineer stopping in Kitty Hawk…did UTAS require this in return for their acceptance of your resignation? 🙂 can’t wait to see more of your adventure…keep on keepin’ on!

    • Bradley

      Haha well I’m not sure there’s such a thing as conditional acceptance of resignation, but sure! It was a fitting start to the trip that’s for sure. See ya in Illinois I’m sure!

  13. Hey Brad- You’re making good progress. I finally made time to catch up with your site. Was hearing good things about it, and it’s all of that & more – great photos, good captions, well done. I really like the end-of-day tallies- especially the acts of kindness (restores faith in people). Wishing you a few random days of tail winds! >Dean

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