June 2, 2006
Okay, today’s word of the day is hills (And one mountain!).
Well, it wasn’t that bad, but today had the most hills I’ve seen yet, and it was a long day, to top it off.
I woke up, packed up, and said goodbye to Jesse and the crew from last night. Later in the day I would see a dead squirrel, and I think it was the one Jesse mentioned running over by accident yesterday. You wouldn’t believe how much roadkill I see over the course of a day… all kinds of birds, snakes, and every small mammal in the book. All these little guys would take over the world if we didn’t have our handy automobiles to keep them in check…
There isn’t much to write about as far as this morning and early afternoon were concerned. It was another hot day through rolling countryside as I gradually made my way toward the mountains. I took a break in Palmyra, filled up with water, and spoke to my mom briefly on the phone. I passed a multi-family yard sale, and stopped for a Coke at a small country store.
In the late afternoon, the sky grew dark and some thunder and lightening made themselves heard. I ducked into a patio near Monticello (The Thomas Jefferson house) when it started to rain, but again it was all bark and no bite! The storm passed and the rain stopped as soon as I had gotten comfortable under a porch with some snacks.
Then I made way into Charlottesville, VA… this looks like a very cool town! There’s a few historic sites in the area, nice countryside just outside town, a college scene, and what looked to be a good little nightlife (I passed two different jazz clubs). It would have been nice to stay the night and check things out, but I knew of nowhere inexpensive to stay in town, and I was set on staying with the famous “Cookie Lady” in Afton tonight.
The terrain became hillier leaving town, and I could finally see the Shenandoahs and the Blue Ridge on the horizon. The mountains drew closer, and as late afternoon turned to evening, I embarked on the toughest climb of this trip thus far – Afton Mountain. The added humidity after the storm and timing at the end of the day made the climb all the more arduous for me.
At last I saw the famous home of June Curry, “The Cookie Lady.” I say famous because she’s been taking in cyclists since 1976 – the inaugural year of the TransAmerica route (Then called Bikecentennial). I was the only rider there for the night, and she talked to me for about an hour out on her porch.
There’s a separate house on the property where the cyclists stay. She can’t make it down there herself so well anymore because of a recent stroke, so I got the verbal tour of the more notable cycling artifacts she has down there, as well as general use of the facilities, what I’d encounter tomorrow, etc. She said things like:
“There’s couches, blankets, and pillows to sleep on so you don’t have to trouble to unpack all your things.”
“There’s a kitchen and lots of food, so be sure to make yourself a good dinner, and don’t forget to pack up some snacks and a good lunch for tomorrow. The Parkway is hilly and there aren’t any stores up there.”
“My friend is taking me into town for breakfast at ten tomorrow – I’m looking forward to it because I haven’t been out in almost two weeks. It’s hard to find friends who will take me to town for errands.”
I didn’t get her picture because she “wasn’t dressed for it,” but I did take a picture inside each of the four rooms of the cyclist’s house. It’s filled with postcards, notes, photos, and creative memorabilia from riders… helmets, shirts, shoes, socks, drawings, poems, and I could go on and on. There’s even the likeness of a cyclist sculpted from a used inner tube, vials of water from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and a “home-made” tandem dating from before 1940.
There is so much to look at here, and so many stories from riders dating back over 30 years. I will sleep well tonight. Life is good.
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Google map route may not be 100% accurate.