Day Fifteen: Hot Along the Pamlico River
Distance: 71.7 mi.
Song of the Day: Tame Impala — Enders Toi
7:30AM: Lethargic pack dampened by mosquito fears, rising much harder with 30 buggers angling to stab you with their mouths. Four miles back to the marina, spill over into Magic Beans cafe parking lot. Smoothie time! Turns out barista is also a cyclist, journeyed the Southern Tier route from North Carolina to San Diego in her youth, warns us about the climbing temperatures we’ll fine in June.
Today’s ride looks strenuous as 9:30 Okracoke ferry ride won’t deposit us on US mainland until 12:15. Can we ride 60 miles and make Washington NC by sundown?
1PM: Initial twenty miles reveal a new clime, bumpier roads lined with swampy moats run off from sea rise or Pamlico River floods, forests no longer farmer planted pine forests, now natural oak-hickory-pine blend. Spot alligator warning signs (eek!), roadkill weans off possums and beavers towards snakes and armadillos. Roadkill isn’t a skippable sidenote on a serious bike trek, it’s constantly to your right side.
Traffic scant but births a new foe: logging trucks. Nothing to do but grip the brake tops and hug far white line. All four legs feel good, whirring faster than usual, we straight shoot the 28 miles to Belhaven on a single stop in an abandoned gas station, drinking a pedialite mix and knocking off last of sea salted almonds.
Belhaven roughly a four street town woven behind a minor harbor. Everything closed (on Friday afternoon?) and we stop in Jesusland pop-up cafe in the back of a furniture store for cookies, a lemon bar, and “smoothies” (turns out to be terrible smoothie mix + ice.) Refill water and dawn new shammies, find the sign for Bicycle Route 2 and we’re off towards Bath.
I’m listening to a public domain audio recording of John Dewey’s Democracy and Education during long and plain stretches. The following passage struck me today:
The primary condition of growth is immaturity. This may seem to be a mere truism — saying that a being can develop only in some point in which he is undeveloped. But the prefix “im” of the word immaturity means something positive, not a mere void or lack. It is noteworthy that the terms “capacity” and “potentiality” have a double meaning, one sense being negative, the other positive. Capacity may denote mere receptivity, like the capacity of a quart measure. We may mean by potentiality a merely dormant or quiescent state — a capacity to become something different under external influences. But we also mean by capacity an ability, a power; and by potentiality potency, force. Now when we say that immaturity means the possibility of growth, we are not referring to absence of powers which may exist at a later time; we express a force positively present — the ability to develop.
Our tendency to take immaturity as mere lack, and growth as something which fills up the gap between the immature and the mature is due to regarding childhood comparatively, instead of intrinsically. We treat it simply as a privation because we are measuring it by adulthood as a fixed standard. This fixes attention upon what the child has not, and will not have till he becomes a man. This comparative standpoint is legitimate enough for some purposes, but if we make it final, the question arises whether we are not guilty of an overweening presumption. Children, if they could express themselves articulately and sincerely, would tell a different tale; and there is excellent adult authority for the conviction that for certain moral and intellectual purposes adults must become as little children.
The seriousness of the assumption of the negative quality of the possibilities of immaturity is apparent when we reflect that it sets up as an ideal and standard a static end. The fulfillment of growing is taken to mean an accomplished growth: that is to say, an Ungrowth, something which is no longer growing. The futility of the assumption is seen in the fact that every adult resents the imputation of having no further possibilities of growth; and so far as he finds that they are closed to him mourns the fact as evidence of loss, instead of falling back on the achieved as adequate manifestation of power. Why an unequal measure for child and man?
Dewey’s conception of growth is not to be measured by might, prestige, or GDP; it is the active, human capacity for furthering our own humanity, born anew in each generation, not because we inherit the gains of the previous, but because the progress humans have proven capable of carries the promise of a future less inhibited by the wants and restrictions of the past and more open to uninhibited learning through social function. (I’ll develop and clarify this idea further at a later stage.)
This is an understanding of growth I’m interested in learning about, and working towards.
5PM: Tantalize Lizzie with promises of ice cream as we ride into Bath’s obligatory edge-of-town gas stations. But we’re both craving a meal, so we nix ice cream & head to next door diner. Meet Jimmy McCallan, attracted by our bulging packs and alien looks (sun prevention arm socks overheated me, a prefunctory gesture left them drooping on my wrists like frilly aristrocratic bracelets.) Jimmy seyz sanctimoniously “there’s a lot of money in this town, it drives me crazy”, but Bath’s not looking too snobbish in our view of town center; with droopy alcoholic eyes and soft drawl, avers his wife his driving his Jaguar tonight, “I won’t let her touch the Corvette,” even claims he tried to buy the town’s marina, implies he had the money but refused the high price on principle. All I saw him buy were two paper bagged 22oz lagers.
Dinner cheap and delicious: fried catfish & okra, string beans, mac & cheese salad, and a basket of hush puppies on the house!
Bellies full, we slow turn the first of the 19 remaining miles to Washington. Tame Impala record hastens are pace. Legs spring rubber bandish, we push and prod and bob heads to dreampop beats, bikes pointed directly at hazy setting sun.
We arrive in Washington before sundown — 60 miles in 6 hours of riding, a damned good pace for the weight we are carrying!
Muscles like salted jerky with countless dead bugs plastered to polyester jerseys and sunglasses we opt for an Econolodge over the campground. No warm water at last night’s campsite, I myself mastered the art of the cold shower to combat morning torpor and washed anyhow, but cold water is nocuous to Lizzie, who is flatly smelly at this stage. $60 won’t hurt too much, we pull the trigger, shed our bike gear, rush back out for final three mile loop to eat ice cream before 9PM closing in Washington’s small downtown main street.
That’s a day.