Friday, May 21st – Wilmington, NC to Columbus, MS
Day 1 of the trip to Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. I left home shortly after 6 a.m. and enjoyed a beautiful morning ride, especially along the section of NC Highway 130 between Highway 74 and I-95. I was surprised that I was able to ride for almost 3-1/2 hours, until I decided to stop in Lexington, SC (a bit west of Columbia) for breakfast. Unfortunately, the ride turned damp when I reached the Augusta, Georgia area. I was able to take an exit from the interstate and find a pull-off. I just managed to don my rain gear before the skies opened up. After the initial downpour, I enjoyed on-and-off light rain until just before reaching Atlanta. After taking I-20 through Atlanta, I continued another 45 miles or so until I reached Villa Rica, GA, where I stopped for gas and lunch. As I prepared to leave Villa Rica, I noticed a storm line was approaching. By the time I started to pull out of the parking lot, the wind picked up to 30 or 40 miles per hour and the lightning was striking all around me. I quickly drove done the road about a half mile and dived under the canopy of a service station. The storm was quite severe, so I waited it out for about a half hour before resuming the ride (in light-to-moderate rain). I cleared the rain before reaching Birmingham, but even so, the skies remained threatening for the remainder of the day's ride. Sunny skies finally prevailed after I left Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the final 50 mile ride to Columbus, Mississippi. I rolled into the Days Inn around 7:15 CDT (Columbus being in the central time zone). All told, 689 miles and about 13 hours!