As I started in the cold morning from the campsite near the farmer’s field, I reflected on the prior day, and considering the 29 miles completed and the nice time in Morehead City, I gave that day a 3. This day, I was looking forward to the more classic ICW scenery going through bays connected with short canals. The early morning sun began to warm me up, along with the paddling. There was a slight wind from the NNW (from my right), which was fine with me as I was on the lee shore. As I proceeded, I could see ahead that the Bogue Sound was coming to an end. The ICW followed a series of tiny barrier islands and sand bars, and we entered into a beautiful section, and I felt myself relaxing and truly enjoying the paddling. There were a series of inlets with tidal currents, but the scenery was great. I passed marker 225 on the way to Swansboro. I found the town, and paddled to Caspers Marina, where a personable young man named Jake said I could leave my kayak on the beach, and told me where I could get a great breakfast (Jana’s) and a great sandwich to take for dinner (Church Street Deli). I found the old part of the small town very cute, and wished I could stay, but I had more miles to go before this week’s effort would come to an end. The draw to get on towards home is growing all the time. Jake told me about a camp located near a swing bridge on the marine base at Camp Lejeune, and said they have showers and electricity, and I decided that would be a good place to spend the night. (The only problem was that Jake did not mention that you had to be an active or inactive member of the military to stay there).
It was only another 11 miles or so to the camp, so I could afford to take a leisurely paddle down there. As I proceeded in that direction, and entered into the marine base territory, I saw a Osprey jet performing landings and takeoffs, often going over me at less than 400 feet. That plane makes a lot of noise when you are that close! The pilot must have made 20 or so of the maneuvers while I was there on the water. I then passed by on the left a section of “prohibited area” used for target practice, complete with old vehicles and other objects that are used for target practice.
Shortly after mile marker 240, I came to Onslow Beach Camp Ground. I beached Katie and walked into a very neat camp with rows of large RV’s and motor homes parked. I saw a group of men talking, and walked over to them with my skirt and vest on. One of them said nicely, “What helicopter did you land from?” I explained where I had come from, and one of them offered me to take their truck to the office down the road to register, and another offered a bike. So I biked to the office, where they told me that the camp ground was reserved for those with military id, which of course I did not have. They asked me to wait while they discussed the options. I told them I could camp out in the woods, but they asked me to wait. Finally, the manager came out, and said they would make an exception, and allow me to stay one night, just be quiet about it. Elated, I paid the $14 and peddled back to return the bike to the gentleman who lent it to me, and he introduced himself as Bob. I had asked for a pad with one of the small shelters over a picnic table, so I could use two of the posts as my “trees”, and they gave me pad #25. There I put up my tent, hung up my wet things to dry in the fading sun, and went for a shower (GREAT!!!) When I returned to my table, there was a red plastic cup of ice water and a cold pear waiting for me. I knew it was from Bob. He later came over to see if I needed anything from the store (no), and asked whether I would like to join he and his wife Kathy to watch the VP debates. I thanked him and said yes, I would.
After things were organized for the evening, and I was washed and shaved, another family came over to introduce themselves, and later invited me to join them for hamburgers. Even though I had eaten my supper, I joined them for the hot food, and for the company and fellowship. They were a very nice family, looking to find a home in Florida and ultimately, to find a boat to live on, where they could continue to home school their three children.
I joined Bob and Kathy B. in their very nice 2006 motor home that Bob had been washing and polishing that day at 8 PM, and we talked until the start of the debates. I stayed for about 40 minutes, and then said good night to Bob. I found his company very welcoming, and appreciated sharing our histories and stories during the enjoyable time we spent together that day. A former marine and manager at one of the major military equipment manufacturers, he retired around 2004 or 2006. Shortly thereafter, they sold their home and purchased their motor home, and they now travel all around the country, visiting grandchildren and friends, with “home” in western Florida.
The following morning, as I was getting everything ready to push on, Bob asked me to come over for breakfast, where I had cereal and we were able to continue our conversation. There are rare people where you can strike up a friendship in a matter of a few hours, and Bob is one of those special people.
This Thursday had been a great day. I had only gone 22 miles, but with a rating of a 5, I did not mind stopping early so that I could stay at the camp. One more day to go before I reach Surf City, only 20 miles away, where I would stay for a couple of nights in a room and get laundry done and the blogs updated.