Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day One Hundred-twenty-six, 090704 Ruckersville, VA

Day One Hundred Twenty-six, Date Saturday, July 4, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:25
Distance for the Day: 66.82 miles From BRP SC#10 To Ruckersville, VA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6067 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3276’/622’, Highest: 3283’ Accumulated: 3888’
Speeds: Avg: 9.0 mph, Max: 45.6 mph
Weather: 58° mostly clear, becoming warm and mostly cloudy in the PM
Expenditures: $25

I got up at 6am to the sound of a solitary bird’s call. The wind had quit sometime during the night, and was now calm. After a bit to eat (sausage, PayDay bar, and Pepsi – breakfast of champions!), I had to fight off several large daddy long legs who seemed to like my trike; pulled off 6 of them and there may be a few more. Daddy long leg spiders are poisonous, but their teeth are so small, they can’t penetrate our skin, so I just grabbed ‘em and tossed ‘em away – no big deal. The air temperature was cool enough I had to put on my jacket until I could warm up after cycling a bit. I rolled out at 6:35am and was looking forward to finishing the BRP today (yay!) This was going to be an ‘easy’ day, so I stopped in at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center, the last visitor center I would see along what was left of the northbound BRP, and met a fellow, interested in my trike and trip, whose name I can’t recall but whose picture I took. I continued on, riding past the mile markers, counting down as I went, and when I got to the 1-mile marker, I stopped to take a picture of it with my trike in the background, except, hey! When I checked the picture, my trike wasn’t in it. Where’d my trike go? Oops – I parked it on a slightly sloped bit of grass, and thought it would stay there, but it got rolling when I wasn’t looking, and it ran a few feet further on the grass and turned over on its side (no damage). I put it back into position, put the parking brake on, got the picture, and finished that final mile in a downhill zoom – yeehawww! I arrived at the beginning/end of the BRP at 11am, and was expecting that this, being the northern “start” of the Blue Ridge Parkway, would have some kind of nice presentation like I saw at the south end, by Cherokee. I was just a bit underwhelmed. There was no nice sign saying, “Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway”; there were just a few ratty old buildings that used to be businesses that went out of business, and a non-descript “tourist information office” that was closed. Not even a mini mart to buy a cold soda or ice cream. I checked my computer map, found the route to the Rockfish Gap Outfitters, and forlornly continued on to pick up my shampoo and bug repellent. I had to go down a rather steep and long (1.5 mile) road to get there, so I zoomed down and easily found the store. Too bad they were closed that day; peeking in the windows, they looked like they had lots of cool stuff, and I probably would have gotten something. Oh, well! I found my packages, left them a note of thanks, and went further into Waynesboro to find the Subway sandwich shop that my mapping program said was there (and it was!) I spent from 12:30pm to 2:35pm eating half my sandwich ($10) and writing stuff for my blog, and then hoofed it out of town up that long, uphill grade, back to the beginning of the BRP.

General notes: The Blue Ridge Parkway was just as beautiful as Lynn B said it was, but omigod – it was the toughest, most extended physical challenge so far on this entire trip, with all its seemingly unending supply of tough hills. Now that I’m over it, I’m glad I did it, but while I was on it, I thought more than once about *throttling* Lynn B for suggesting it, but I ultimately have to thank her, instead (thanks, Lynn!) I met a lot of nice people, saw lots of amazing wildlife, beautiful vistas, amazing forests, and interesting historical exhibits; I sweat a *lot* – had to sop all that sweat up and wring it out of my hand towel innumerable times; drank lots of Gatorade, and just generally had a blast, when I wasn’t being tortured by steep grades, hot temperatures, no wind, blazing sun, loud motorcycles, and a face full of gnats.

Moving on! My computer mapping program said I now needed to go NE on Hwy 250, so I found it (right at where the BRP starts), and took it *down*. And I mean, *down*. I dropped from about 1400’ to about 600’ in less than 2 miles, and I broke my best speed record (43 mph) and went to over 45 mph. Man, at those speeds, you really have to use really tightly controlled, small, steady steering movements. Otherwise, things get squirrelly, and it would be easy to flip it. I survived, and began making my way through the rolling terrain of Virginia towards Charlottesville, about 16 miles away. I would stop a few times at mini marts along the way to get some food items and drink ($11). I got to Charlottesville at about 5:30pm, and was navigating my way through town, when a kind of funny thing happened: while going down this street, there was a red light at a t-intersection. I went right through the red, because I had determined that it was completely safe for me to do so, and almost immediately after that, four motorcycle cops roared past me (yipe!) I don’t know if they saw me or not, but if they did, they must have had something more important to do, because they didn’t stop or ticket me. Missed the bullet on that one.
I stopped at 7pm at a Dairy Queen to get my favorite: a small choco malt ($4), when people gathered around my trike. I went outside and answered their questions and chatted with them a bit. I thought this was a pretty friendly group, so I asked if anyone would be willing to let me pitch my tent on their lawn, and Clint S said, “sure!” His house was about 9 miles up the road, so he gave me the address and some instructions on how to get there. He gathered up his family and took off in their car, and I started pedaling that direction, too. I was almost to the first turn point when Clint showed up in a different, open bed truck, and offered to give me a lift the rest of the way to his home (thankyouverymuch!). We put my trike in the back of his truck, and he drove me to his (really nice) house (inexact coordinates: N38 13.310’ W78 23.400’). We chatted more, and I found out he’s an elder with his local church, and a therapist supervisor. (I found out the next day that he was a respiratory therapist supervisor! My sister Bev and her husband Hec are both respiratory therapists, too!) He let me set my tent up on the porch because he said it was predicted to rain that night. He gave me the $0.25 tour of his property (really nice setup), and even let me take a shower (yes!) He surprised his kids by getting some fireworks and I helped by holding the flashlight while he lit them off, and his wife and kids watched in great enjoyment and enthusiasm. You know how kids get when they’re excited – like they’re full of Mexican jumping beans? Also, there were lots of fireflies around. (I want to move to Virginia!) The kids were amazed by my trip thus far, and they contributed bottles of water and an apple for my further travels (thanks, kids!) We said our farewells that evening, because I was going to leave just before they got up, so we wouldn’t see each other in the morning. Beautiful family; really nice home; and they’ve got fireflies. What more could one ask for? Thanks Clint and family! I got to sleep at about 10:30pm – it never did rain that night.

4 comments:

Jim said...

Don - Congratulations for finishing the BRP ... it's a long and grueling but beautiful path for sure. I'm glad to live just below it as I get to ride my bike (a Kawasaki ... ha!) on it whenever I have the time. Most anything we do takes money, time and energy ... and I'm not sure about the priority ... all three are needed for sure. I appreciate your fascination with fireflies as 50 years ago my cousins, brothers and the neighbor kids would catch a bunch and put 'em in glass jars with holes punched in the lids for air ... we'd pretend they were lanterns ... ha! Bet you'd like the Synchronous Fireflies in the Great Smokies ... they all flash at the same time ... check it at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fireflies.htm
Take care, Jim Manring

RobR said...

Don-

Congrats on finishing the BRP-sounds like quite a ride. The first (and only) fireflies I've ever seen were in rural Virginia, at Weegie's family home outside of D. C. I got so excited I ran back in to let everybody know there were !Fireflies! in the backyard. They were a little less overwhelmed than I was...

obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Jim: Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment - I missed it :-/ Thanks for the 'congrats,' it was brutal, but makes for a great story. I've heard of synchronous fireflies, and thought I would see something like it, sometimes, but I think it was probably more by coincidence than design. I'll check that link out - thanks!

Hi Rob: Thanks for the 'congrats' on finishing the BRP. Wouldn't miss it for the world, but would think twice before doing it a second time. Yeah, people who grow up with these wondrous creatures get used to them. To we Californians, they are pure magic!

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