Hank – I heated some water for tea and oatmeal this morning. There is no place to eat for quite a few miles. We have provisions even though the cupboard has some empty spots on the shelves. The wind was blowing hard and cool when we pushed our bikes out of the room. We got back on the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway (NC Highway 12 and then US Hwy 70) and rode to its end. Today’s destination was Morehead City.
Our route twisted and turned so the strong winds pushed us from behind or chilled us from either side. The temp was 51 but the wind chill would take it down to 36. I wore my rain jacket to stay warm.
We made good time and covered 42 miles in just under four hours. We had three miles to the hotel but decided to have a late lunch first. We ended up going to the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant. I thought, “What an unusual name.”
We were seated and I got an unsweetened ice tea while Kathy, feeling chilled more than me, ordered a hot tea. A small plate of hush puppies was set before us. Kathy ordered the corn and crab chowder and fish tacos. I got a veggie platter consisting of a sweet potato, steamed broccoli, and green beans. The sweet potato was prepared with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It tasted a lot like a cinnamon roll–delicious.
At the end of our meal an elderly gentleman using a walker to get around stopped by our table to ask how we enjoyed our meal. And we came to know John Tunnell, a local icon.
John will be 88 years old on Dec 12 if, as he says, God allows him to. He’s worked at the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant for 70 years, starting out shucking oysters there near the end of WWII. But there was a two-year interruption in his employment when he served in the US Marines during the Korean Conflict. He was a cook and he spent much of his time stationed about 10 miles from home, except for a three-month deployment to Puerto Rico. He said it was more of a vacation but you can’t be sure of that because if there’s anything John doesn’t do it’s draw attention to himself.
What makes John a local icon besides working there for 70 years is that he remembers so much about everyone he’s met, everything anyone has done, and everything that has happened in his lifetime. He’s called “The Memory Man”.
We told him about our adventure and he was very impressed by what we’ve accomplished so far and what we hope to do. The restaurant has a lot of photographs on the walls. John would point one out and tell us all about the person and/or event being depicted. We exchanged business cards, ours being the one with our web site. He doesn’t have a computer but he said his daughter does and she could pull up our site. There’s a book about John for sale in the restaurant. The book relates the author’s difficulty in getting John to talk about himself and how John would rather tell stories about everyone else. Now Kathy and I are part of John’s stories. He started telling people about us while we were still there.
John decided we should have a copy of his book. He wrote a nice note for us and signed it. He is truly a wonderful person to know. What a treat to have come to this restaurant and meet him. Meeting people like John is the best part of this adventure.
After leaving the restaurant we stopped by a grocery store and got some food for tonight and tomorrow. We have some bad weather coming tomorrow. Thunderstorms and 20+mph headwinds are in the forecast so we’re sitting tomorrow out and staying in the hotel two days. On Friday we ride to Camp Lejeune and get our Semper Fi fix. For dinner we had cheese and crackers, celery and carrots, and wine. How could it be any better, right?
Kathy – Well our 45 miles today turned out well. It was flat and cold with temps ranging in the 30’s with the wind chill as a cold front is moving through the area. It was also very windy, 20 mph winds with gust in the mid 30’s. This helped us out at times with a nice tailwind to push us along. At other times it was a hinderance when it turned into a strong headwind and left us working hard to push through the miles. The roads were relatively quiet until we got to Davis, N.C. Then traffic picked up which created difficultly for us because there was with no shoulder to give us any buffer from the traffic. Most folks were great and moved over to give us space when passing. There was an occasional one that got close to us but not close enough to cause any damage to us. I wish these folks would ride a bike in traffic to see how it feels being so close to the cars. Maybe it would help them to understand and move over as they pass cyclist. We stopped cycling in Morehead City, N. C.
We enjoyed going to through the wildlife refuge on our way to the hotel today. We planned on a hotel tonight because a lot of rain and thunderstorms are heading our way tonight. We didn’t want to take any chances with the weather after yesterday morning’s fiasco.
Our best times today were the ride itself and relaxing and meeting John. What a wonderful guy! We really enjoyed our time with him and looking forward to reading his book. Taking tomorrow off riding since thunderstorms are in the forecast with high winds. After seven days of riding a day off is a good thing. Met more amazing people today and seen more beautiful sites. Life is good.
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