Lisa Watts, communications manager for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, is taking two months to ride the Greenway, south to north, with her friend Deirdre Bird. Lisa is sending occasional reports from the Greenway. She had planned to return home to Durham by Amtrak but she is enjoying the ride so much that she may turn around in Maine and start riding south.
Our days keep growing more varied the farther north we ride. Our three days in Georgia began in St. Marys — a charming, historic riverfront town made all the more appealing by Terry Landreth, a local bike shop owner and Greenway ambassador who gave up his Mother's Day Sunday to ride with us. Terry led us to Brunswick, a quiet town with large green parks and stately old trees reminiscent of Savannah. We stopped the next day for breakfast in the charming town of Darien, then rode on to Richmond Hill, a suburb of Savannah. We were glad for a short ride the next day so we could take the afternoon to walk through Savannah and enjoy its squares, coffee shops, and stately homes.
The South Carolina state line came quickly the next morning. As Brent Buice, Greenway coordinator for Georgia and South Carolina told us, South Carolina offers the best and worst of the East Coast Greenway. We had long stretches of riding on a narrow shoulder of Highway 17, trusting that cars and trucks didn't want to hit us. But we also had the scenic Spanish Moss Trail through Beaufort — a personal favorite, with views of marsh and rivers — and the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway in Murrells Inlet and 12 miles of Greenway through Myrtle Beach.
As soon as we passed the North Carolina state line sign, we encountered a strange phenomenon: a hill! Until then our only climbs had been over bridges. A day west of Wilmington we found soft rolling hills; they turned to true hills as we hit the Raleigh and Triangle region. Favorite discoveries in North Carolina include the gracious elegance of the Elizabethtown Inn in tiny Elizabethtown, the newly revived downtown streets of Fayetteville, and the quiet country roads between those cities.
Our favorite day to date, hands down, was our ride from Clayton to Raleigh, Cary, and Durham — the heart of the Triangle region. I've known that it's the most developed metropolitan region along the East Coast Greenway, but it takes a day's ride to appreciate what that really means. Beautiful greenway paths meander along rivers, under lush tree canopies, and through parks while connecting thriving communities and city centers. Dave Connelly, another devoted Greenway ambassador, led us for most of the day's ride and pointed out one more segment, miles of brand-new boardwalk, that will soon close the last gap in Cary. We rode nearly 70 miles that day and no more than 7 or 8 miles were on the road; it's a remarkable greenway network and highly recommended.
We'll send monthly updates on East Coast Greenway progress and people.
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