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When I see the sun rise
autumn leaves

I was in the restaurant business for most of my life and if I saw the sun rise back then it was because I was still up. My roommate on Folly Beach, Paulie, worked at the same restaurant as me. It was an insane little place right on the Folly River called the Folly Marina. 

A lot of nights after work, Paulie and I would make the rounds on Folly and end up back at our house across the street from the ocean. It wasn’t uncommon for a crowd to follow us home. We’d listen to music and laugh deep into the night. We had an amazing group of friends back then. 

Everybody would usually be gone before it got light out. Paulie is a chef so he’d cook us breakfast just as the first signs of dawn were showing at the edge of the sky. After we ate, sometimes we’d grab our baseball gloves and walk across the street to the beach and shag flies for a while before turning in for the night in the broad daylight.

I think about those days a lot lately because these days I see the sun come up pretty much every morning. I set my alarm for 4 a.m. so I can get some coffee in me and be on my bicycle by 5 a.m. 

I never dreamed in a million years that I’d be the guy who gets up that early for any reason at all, much less to ride a bicycle, but I had knee replacement surgery a couple of years ago and I seem to get around better when I ride in the morning.

I’ve been doing this for months now and I can honestly say it’s the best part of my entire day. The temperature is cooler at daybreak and the sunrises are incredible. 

There’s not much traffic around that time of day and I have blinking lights on my bike to make me more visible. I’ve stumbled upon a route that’s challenging and beautiful. I get some beautiful pictures and some great exercise.

My ride takes me past Pepper Branch Park and I always stop for a few minutes to listen to the water falling over the dam. I see a great blue heron there every morning. I don’t know if it’s a male or a female so sometimes I call it Sharon the Heron and other times it’s Faron the Heron. 

I’m not the only nut job up that early for exercise. I come across a few other people walking and jogging and we always wave to each other. I always wonder why they’re up so early and I suppose they wonder the same thing about me.

It's a routine I enjoy and it's a far cry from how my life used to be when I saw the sun rise from the other end of the spectrum.

Standard reporter Chris Simones can be reached at