The next few days could only have been more boring, if I had still been tied to the desk. I was on light duty and Hugo understood what that meant. He didn’t take me on anything with a duration of more than an hour. If something was going to be strenuous or take more than an hour he left me in the truck or in the office. I hated it on one hand and I appreciated it on the other.
I had spend one weekend tied to that trailer, so I did not want to spend another. Friday when Hugo gave me the weekend schedule, I decided to take off for New Holt the next morning.
Hugo was going to take the call, which was no more than carrying the office cell phone. You had to love technology.
By leaving the camper’s electric furnace on auto thermostat, I could keep the night chill away. It came one early and often enough to keep the chill at a minimum. I took a quick shower, and I do mean quick, Saturday morning. It was a cool morning outside, but acceptable in the camper. I hated to leave but I had things to do in New Holt. One was to buy some transportation, since the Toyota had been put in storage. I would only get it back after I was cleared to return home. It could be a few months, if the Greens decided to cooperate and plead, or never if they plead not guilty and the investigation went national. Like it or not, I had to have my own transportation or learn to enjoy wearing the fatigues of a game warden. Yes I had to be in uniform to drive the warden’s pickup.
I hadn’t driven the pick up much, since we had filled it up with gas, so it was still full. The pickup had a extra gas tank built into the system so it would hold over fifty gallons. It kept both tanks full at all times, just in case we had to make a trip. Hauling the boat trailer, which was chained to a tree in the yard, could eat up the gas. There was also a horse trailer, of all things, in the yard. I would be willing to bet that it too would eat into the gas mileage. It was nowhere near aerodynamic.
I drove off Saturday morning with none of those thoughts. I just knew the gas tank was full and I was glad. I was considering what to buy as I drove toward New Hope. I had no idea what choices I would be presented. A convertible or dune buggy maybe.
On the road into New Holt there were a few houses but nothing else. The gps map showed me coming in on a county road, not the one state road. The state road really was an old road that was pretty well traveled before New Holt was cut off by an Interstate. I gleaned that information from listening to Hugo talk. Hugo loved to tell me the history of the area.
New Holt was only a few miles from the Atlantic ocean. It had started life as a cotton warehouse town. Growers brought the cotton to New Holt until a ship arrived at the coastal town of Blane. Blane was larger, several towns like New Holt supplied it with merchandise to be shipped. Those same small towns warehoused goods coming in by ship.
New Holt held cotton for shipment to Europe and manufactured household goods coming from Europe and awaiting distribution to the colonies and later the early states. New Holt was far enough from the Atlantic not to be in as great a storm risk. Well that was the early thinking.
Modern New Holt was no longer made up of warehouses for cotton, but it did hold agricultural production warehouses. One of the new industries was a peanut processing plant. There were huge boilers and roasters exclusively for peanuts. How that one ended up in New Holt was just a guess at that point. Hugo had never heard.
As with any cross roads town there were people who commuted to Blane to work on the less than booming docks. Since New Holt was a river town it had been built on the banks of the Greater Pea River. The Greater Pea wasn’t much of a river. It might be deep where it ran through New Holt but it was narrow. Where Flat bottom barges had once carried cotton to Blane, it was mostly pleasure boats that traveled through New Holt those days.
When one says commercial fishermen what comes to mind is small ocean going boats with big nets. Well the freshwater fishermen of the Greater Pea River used ten to sixteen foot aluminum boats with outboard motors mostly. They strung gill nets along the shallow of the sounds and larger wider parts of the rivers, at night. Then came back to collect them the next day. It was traditionally how it was done in that area. Fresh water commercial fishing had mostly been replaced by fish farming. Still there was a place for small commercial fishermen. Two boats could also seine a portion of the river by stretching a seine net between them. It wasn’t easy but it could be done.
I had been told all this but I had never seen anyone harvesting the rivers with nets. Mostly I had run into pleasure boat fishermen. On that Saturday morning I was mostly interested in other things anyway.
It was after 9AM when I stumbled across what looked like a family style diner in what had once been the downtown section of New Holt. The diner backed up to the river, so it was a few feet from the old dock on the river. Since the dock system was maintained by the state transportation system, it was in good shape. It also was about three feet above the water level most of the time.
I got the tourist view of the river and the dock all for the hometown diner price. I had a late, but full breakfast. It was very good, except for the coffee. which was just awful. The coffee was no worse than anywhere else, but it was still pretty damn bad.
There was no newspaper in the little town of New Holt but there was a city maintained bulletin board in front of the city hall. The waitress told me about it, when I said I was looking for a car. I found that I got a lot of help when in the fatigues of the game warden. It was much better than being a cop, which was better than being Citizen Jane.
After breakfast I walked the hundred yards of waterfront that was the main part of town. After that sort of active street, it became abandoned warehouses and vacant fast food restaurant buildings. Here and there I had spotted a grocery store or a convenience store that sold bread and gas. New Holt was the typical river town of the 1950‘s dead but not ready to give up. The bait shop and diner on the river front might survive well into the new century on the locals and the river traffic. I had my doubts about most of the other enterprises.
When I reached the bulletin board I began looking for a car. There were exactly two listed. One of them was way too expensive for a throw away. If I went home, I would be selling it at a quick sale price. The other one was of even less interest it was way too old to be even a little reliable. Especially for someone living as far off the grid as I was.
Then I came across a index card for the New Holt bike shop. Since I loved my bike back in County Seat, I decided to take a look. First thing I did was to go back to the diner for the truck. While there I sat down to do an assessment of use. I knew I would want to go to the community build up around the one true crossroads. The convenience store had been built there because an old church had been converted to a community center. So kids gathered at the Community center, or across the street at the convenience store. The store sold the older ones beer, They most likely gave it to the younger ones to influence their decision making. Thus had it always been. The community center was used for community meetings of adult clubs in the day time. And community get altogethers when someone or some group went to the effort to arrange it.
So I knew I had to go that far for gas and food products. It was a good eight miles one way to the community center. That was the closest milk and bread. So I had to keep that in mind.
The gps in the truck sent me on a couple of twists and turns before I ended up just outside the downtown, I found myself in front of a house with a large barn type garage beside it. I realized at first glance it was more, and also less than, a conventional bike shop. How could it not be? I asked myself.
I parked my car in one of the four spaces for visitor and went into the building. Sure enough it was filled with kids bicycles and a few adult ones. A couple were new but most showed some signs of wear.
“Hi there I’m Mike,” the youthful looking man in his late twenties, my own age said.
“Mike, I’m Terry I just moved in the area. I’m looking for some transportation.” I said.
“Well that’s interesting. Most people buy a bike for pleasure riding these days,” he said.
“I had one I used for that where I came from, but I didn’t bring it. I also find a need to do a fifteen mile ride at the drop of a hat. So I’m not sure a bike is practical.” I said.
“It probably isn’t for that kind of thing,” he said.
“Well at least you are honest. You could have tried to convince me it would work,” I admitted.
“Would that have worked?” he asked.
“No, I pretty much know how far I can ride a bike,” I said.
“Now how much money have you got to spend,” he asked.
“Cash money, without floating a loan, five hundred dollars,” I said.
“You seem like a nice young lady, so let me give you some advice. You are going to be tempted to go with a Chinese scooter for that kind of money, don’t. They are garbage. You can get a good European one for over a grand or maybe two so that is out. There is another alternative,” he said smiling.
“What is that?” I asked curious to see what the guy my age, with grease under his nails, had up his sleeve.
“Come take a look,” he said turning to walk into the bowels of the garage. I followed him to a set of open stairs that led up to a storage room on the second floor. It had a floor but otherwise was just one open room with no wall or ceiling. He led me to a dusty small black tricycle. “So what do you think?” he asked.
“I think that would be harder to pedal fifteen miles than a bike,” I said. “I also think you might be a bit nuts.”
I should be hurt, but I know things you don’t smart ass. This is a Workman brand tricycle. That is the Mercedes of tricycles. Damn near indestructible.”
“Okay it looks heavy and with enough weight to wear my ass out before I made half of that 15 miles,” I admitted.
“I got a motor kit over here. One that has never been used. It mounts over the front wheel and it is gasoline driven. The kit is 50cc which is way bigger than any other I know about. It would need the workman or something like it to support it. The top speed will be over twenty miles and hour, but you still ain’t going to be setting no records.”