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Experiences

2015 Gullah Geechee tour ~ throwback pt1

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Hla Win's signature of support for victims and survivors

I woke up this morning not wanting ice water but NEEDING it. This had never happened before and at 2:40am to boot. But something was different. I walked out of my hotel room with ice bucket in hand and headed to the ice machine, filled it and headed  back to my room. Still unsure as to why because I’m tired. very tired.

In the room I picked up the plastic wrapped cup and was about to fill it with water but instead I filled the ice bucket. I needed a long drink. Now I’m realizing why I’m up in the middle of the night. I looked at the clock. I’m going to be up for awhile.

I was trying to make sense of the last two weeks of rising before dawn, cycling all day (at least five hours of the day) and going to bed after midnight. Youth Board Member, Joanna, and I knew that this tour would be different somehow. It had a weird feeling we couldn’t explain associated with it.  It certainly didn’t start off very well for my liking as it took me a couple of days to get into the rhythm of the tour. Each passing hour tried its best to keep me off the rhythm of the ride.  You can see it in the lack of posts I’ve made along the tour and video interviews of the youth in comparison to previous tours. I guess, in that regard, this tour was different. We had our usual share of mis-directions and wrong turns. Miscommunications and wrong words. Shouting instructions so the kids would remain safe and not make unnecessary hurry-jerky moves.  That’s all normal. But we went through the contents of the first First Aid and moved on to the other kits. yes, plural. Bandaid after bandaid was distributed for scrapes and cuts. There were more falls on this tour than I have ever experienced in the last FOUR tours COMBINED. Thankfully, there wasn’t anything to write home about, aside from the fact that I’m telling you that it was a different experience. 

This tour was historic in at least a couple of ways. First, it was the first time the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor was cycled using paths designated by the East Coast Greenway Alliance. Secondly, it was completed by youth! This is the beginning of people using the East Coast Greenway to travel through a culturally rich region where you will be welcomed as FAMILY. I encourage everyone who cycles by bike or travel by car to make the journey to the region. Of course, I recommend travel by bicycle so you won’t miss ANYTHING along the way. Here are some highlights to help you plan your own trip.

  • Leaving Durham our first stop was Erwin, NC and our hosts were the Erwin Fire and Rescue. The carpet could not have been more red as we were treated as dignitaries of the East Coast Greenway (a grand honor, I might add).
  • Next stop was Jones Lake State Park 
  • We were welcomed in grand fashion, once more, in Wilmington, NC by members of St Mathew Lutheran Church who fed us dinner and breakfast. Before that we visited Moore’s Creek Battlefield that had a unique link to the Gullah Geechee corridor.
  • After a stopover in Sunset Beach we had a wonderful stay at Huntington Beach State Park and our first taste of the ocean
  • Bustling Charleston, SC was our next stop with a service learning project with Wings for Kids. In a somber point the youth visited Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where history is still being made. Our normal tours are to places where the history and events are close to 100 yrs old.
  • The historical Penn Center was our home for two days as we took in its rich history
  • A highlight of the tour was our visit to Geechee Kunda Cultural Center where the youth were immersed in Geechee culture and tales of the past
  • A visit to Armstrong, FL treated us to dinner and friendly delights from its residents
  • Upon reaching St Augustine we visited Flagler College and the youth were provided a tour of this wonderful and enchanting “Harry Potter” like school

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