Day 3 . . .
Morning came as crisp and clean as the morning before. Our breakfast was a feast, knowing this was the last day, and there was no sense in hanging onto the bounty of food that we brought with us. We spent time walking the beach again, and took Marty to see the lighthouse.
As noon rolled around, we began to pack ourselves up. I took a little extra care, making sure I could fit everything I needed into my backpack. We loaded up Uffy, with special attention that my pack would be where I could get to it easily, especially considering that the ride would now have four instead of three.
As we rode, Marty asked why we had to be sure that my backpack was easily accessible. I explained that it was my intention to walk back. I just wanted to ride enough to get out of the wilderness and onto some more traveled roads. I let Smed know that I thought a good place to let me out was the airbase marker just on the edge of the island.
Now if you go looking at a map, Beaufort is about 30 miles from Hunting Island State Park, but is still about 120 miles from home. Back then, there were only so many roads, and straight lines were not in anyone’s plans it seems. You literally had to drive in great arcs to traverse some places, and the island was one of those places. All the more reason for relying on Uffy to get me close to the edge of the island before I started my trek.
After a little less than an hour, the back roads being slow, we passed back through Frogmore and entered the lower edge of Beaufort, and came to the burger chain. No one was hungry, though we did go in to get something to drink, and to take some time to be able to talk in quiet while looking at each other. Talking in a car is fine, but it is nice to be able to see people’s faces. Marty, though I had known her for only half a day, seemed most concerned and tried to talk me out of my quest. I guess that was the mother in her. Smed and Corn questioned me too, making sure I wanted to give this a try. Smed said, “It’s going to be really weird driving off and leaving you here.” I patted my pocket. “I have money, if I need help, I’ll get help. I’ll be fine.”
We got back in Uffy and drove a mile or so to the airbase marker and a road sign that read, “Home, 121 miles.” At the time, in 1974, Beaufort was the edge of nowhere. There was the airbase, and enough shops and homes to support it. Its main purpose, other than the airbase, was to be a rest stop for traffic that would continue on toward the coast and the main coastal drag that ran northeast to southwest. These days, Beaufort is one of many tourist traps, having grown a hundred times its size from back then, as its roads lead to a host of key locations, like southwest to Hilton Head, and northeast to Myrtle Beach. But back then, that little fast food chain sat on the edge of nothing.
Smed pulled Uffy over at the airbase marker. I climbed out with my backpack. Everyone, except Corn, gave me a hug. Corn just wasn’t a hugger. Then everyone wished me good luck. Smed, Marty, and Corn climbed into Uffy and the bright orange beast puffed to life and headed down the road with arms waving out of her windows. I looked at the road ahead of me. There was nothing but land and a road. One long, straight road leading to forested land for as far as the eye could see. I shouldered my back pack.