Sunday, August 30, 1981

70. Williamsburg, Virginia

Day 70:   Sunday, August 30, 1981

I slept in this morning.  I wonder why.  I had planned to rise early and beat all the tourists to Williamsburg, but it was close to 10:00 when I got there.  As it turned out, that was fine.

The Information Center seemed like a good place to start.  It was.  It was there that I met a girl of the opposite sex.  (She was on a bicycle, of course.)  I ended up spending the day with her.  She ended up inviting me to Virginia Beach, Atlanta, and Cleveland.  (She has a summer job as a student physical therapist in Virginia Beach, has a brother in Atlanta, and goes to school in Cleveland.)  That took care of my ride home.  Today, we toured Williamsburg together.

The Capitol
The Capitol.
Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia
from 1699 until 1779.

In 1699, the Virginia capital was changed from Jamestown to Middle Plantation, which was renamed Williamsburgh.  It remained the capital until 1779, when the government moved its offices to Richmond.  After that, Williamsburg declined into a sleepy little town, its buildings decaying.

the Governor's Palace
The Governor's Palace, built in 1722

Then, in 1926, John D. Rockefeller Jr., having become aware of the historical value of the 88 remaining original buildings, set up a $60 million trust fund for the purpose of preserving Williamsburg's historical and cultural heritage.  Today, Colonial Williamsburg is a foundation which owns, maintains, reconstructs, and preserves the original part of the town.

 The Magazine
The Magazine
Bruton Parish Church
The spire of Bruton Parish Church
rises over some formal gardens.

A stringed instrument shop
You can actually buy the stringed instruments made here.
Some of the buildings are open for exhibition; others, such as three of the taverns, are commercial establishments.

In others, colonial crafts are demonstrated.  In one shop, several craftsmen make stringed instruments, using 18th-century tools.  Violins, guitars, lutes, and so on are made to order.  A typical violin requires about 250 hours labor, and sells for $2000 or more.  Other crafts included printing, bookbinding, wigmaking, pewtermaking, and on and on.  The rest of the houses in the historical district, although owned by the foundation, are private residences, usually for C.W. employees.

Colorfully attired
The inmates are colorfully attired,...


Afternoon showers drove away most of the tourists, but I put on my rain gear and stayed around.  In front of Chowning's Tavern, I talked with the porter and two chambermaids.  One was a student at William and Mary College; another had just graduated.  Their costumes are provided and maintained by the organization, and are individually tailored.

...and are quite cheerful,...
Firmly entrenched
...showing no propensity to escape.

On the way out of town, I grabbed a sub and a beer at a deli.  That's why this handwriting is not so good.  But since I'm going to type it up anyway, you won't have to decipher this mess.  So I ain't neat.  Tomorrow, on to Jamestown.

Saturday, August 29, 1981

69. Yorktown, Virginia

Day 69:  Saturday, August 29, 1981
Charles City to Yorktown:  30 miles

We made it!

somewhere out of Charles City
Somewhere before the Colonial Parkway.  Nice!
We awoke at 6:30 this morning and were on the road shortly after 7:00.  Jack left ten minutes ahead of me, and stayed on Route 5 to Williamsburg.  I branched off toward Jamestown, but arrived there before 8:00.  Since nothing opened until 8:30, it was a fruitless diversion.

Colonial Parkway
Colonial Parkway - scenic, but the concrete was rough
Almost.  The Colonial Parkway starts at Jamestown and runs through Williamsburg to Yorktown.  Although the concrete was rough, the ride along the water and across the peninsula between the James and York Rivers was scenic.  I passed at least a dozen bikers headed west - apparently a local group out for a ride.  And a ninth-grader on a new Puch joined me for the ride into Yorktown.

I didn't bother stopping at Williamsburg - that would have consumed half a day, and I wanted to get to Yorktown to meet Jack and Lena.

Two hundred years ago, Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, bringing the Revolutionary War to a victorious close.  Preparations are under way for next month's big bicentennial celebration of the event, and the Visitor Center already has some demonstrations of colonial crafts.  A pewtersmith from a shop in Richmond was demonstrating the casting of pewter, and some members of the Culpeper Minutemen had set up a small encampment in preparation for coming military engagements.  One of them was demonstrating the construction of a Virginia rifle.

End of the trip
Not quite the Atlantic Ocean, but the end of the road for us

Jack rode into town shortly after noon, and Lena found us a couple of hours later.  Jack had his bike disassembled and packed away before we could pose for our victory photo, and neither of us bothered to dip our wheels.  Besides, the Atlantic Ocean proper is still over 50 miles away!

After a celebratory meal at Nick's restaurant, we parted - Jack and Lena home to Florida for the winter, and I to my own devises.  My plans were to take in Williamsburg and Jamestown on Sunday, then head to Newport News or Hampton on Monday for a bus, plane, or train trip home.  But plans have a way of changing.

Cannonball embedded in the wall of a house
Cannonball embedded in the wall
of Ted's grandmother's house
Coming into town, I had thought it would be nice to find a caricaturist to do a picture of Jack and me.  But people like that are more easily found in amusement parks, and Yorktown isn't one yet.  As luck would have it, as I was preparing to leave town, I bumped into a caricaturist who worked at King's Dominion, an amusement park near Richmond.  He was also playing the tourist, and was staying at Yorktown with the grandmother of a friend of his.  He invited me home with him, and we spent a pleasant evening with the old lady, talking about the changes that had occurred since the Sesquicentennial in 1931.  (If my writing is becoming somewhat sloppy, it's probably due to the Michelob that was served with my submarine tomorrow night.)  She was somewhat apprehensive about putting me up for the night, so Ted drove me to the Newport News Camping Park, where I crashed just as soon as we managed to put up my tent in the glow of Ted's headlamps.

Friday, August 28, 1981

68. Charles City, Virginia

Day 68:  Friday, August 28, 1981

Ashland to Charles City:  70 miles

Although we have been out of the mountains for two days now, it didn't really become obvious until today.  The Piedmont Plateau, through which we have been traveling, doesn't seem like much of a plateau at all.  The hills are quite rolling.  Yesterday's ride was through roller coaster hills - not too many long grades.

Today, we left the hills behind.  The land slopes gently down to the sea, with only a minor rise here and there.  We're loafing along, and still shouldn't have any trouble getting in 70 miles to the next campground.

Battlefield Park
Battlefield Park
In June of 1862, General Grant launched the Seven Days' Campaign in an attempt to capture Richmond from the south and east, and end the Civil War.  But the attempt failed, with McClellan's army enduring 15,000 casualties, and the Confederates, 20,000.

The Bikecentennial Trail passes through the Richmond National Battlefield Park, which encompasses the sites of many battles, including Beaver Dam Creek, Cold Harbor, and Malvern Hill.  Still to be seen are the remains of the Union and Confederate trenches.  Numerous national cemeteries containing Union war dead dot the area.  Many of the Confederate dead were buried in Richmond.

Many houses that were built in the nineteenth century have been restored in the Federal style, and new homes are also Federal copies or imitations.  We passed by many historic landmarks today:  the home of John Tyler, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee's mother, and on and on.  Many of these homes have been restored and are open to the public.  One of these is Berkeley Plantation, whose present buildings date from the 1700s.  It is on the bank of the James River, and is famous for a number of things, most of which I have forgotten (one:  Taps, the bugle call, was composed there).  Jack and I rode almost a mile over a rough dirt lane to the house, only to find that tours cost $4.50.  We're both skinflints, and thought this exorbitant - they should have paid us, after biking over that road!  So we bumped back to the highway and continued eastward.

Tenting on the Chickahominy River
The end of the penultimate day (or, more likely, the next morning)
Charles City, population 20, contained less than we had expected.  So we postponed our planned supper until we arrived at the campground on the east bank of the Chickahominy River, twelve miles further.  The river is really a tidal estuary, and so presented us with our first glimpse of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean.  After supper, which happened to be anything that was left in the food bag (vegetable soup with rice, a cucumber, and some cookies), Jack and I posed our bikes for a few shots of the last sunset of the trip.

Thursday, August 27, 1981

67. Ashland, Virginia

Day 67:  Thursday, August 27, 1981
Kents Store to Ashland:  50 miles

Shady little stream
A shady little stream
We awoke as daybreak brought the songs of birds to interrupt the quiet night of the countryside.  An early morning mist, soon to be vanquished by the sun, lay over the fields.  And our friendly dog made himself quite at home in our tent.  We finally lured him from the pasture and closed the gate behind him.

We eased our pace a bit today.  Jack again took the low road (US 250), and took eight hours to go the 50 or so miles to Ashland.  I stuck to the bike route, except for one small shortcut.

As I was leaving Mineral, John (the biker I had met at Monticello) pulled up alongside me.  He was headed farther north, but we rode together for the next seven miles.  It turned out that John and Choo Choo had biked together from Idaho down to the Tetons.

The rest of the trip to Ashland was pleasant, if uneventful.  I passed Scotchtown, the home of Patrick Henry from 1771 to 1778, but didn't tour the house.  By 2:00, I was dragging - probably due to the pace I had set yesterday from Monticello to Kents Store.  The fast ride with John hadn't helped, either, although the path I took with him saved 6½ miles off the regular bike route.

Ashland is a strange little town.  The double-track C&O railroad line runs down the middle of the main street, and the small railroad station is of unusual architecture.  I watched as an Amtrak passenger train zipped through.

Ashland's main street
The railroad tracks bisect Ashland's main street.
Ashland's railroad station
Unusual architecture for a railroad station

Jack had not had a shower in four days - I, in six.  So we opted for a real campground tonight.  It's right next to I-95, south of Ashland, and the chirping of the crickets and cicadas cannot hide the hum of the truck tires on the pavement.  Perhaps the noises will re-accustom me to city sounds.  Ah, home!

Wednesday, August 26, 1981

66. Kents Store, Virginia

Day 66:  Wednesday, August 26, 1981
Waynesboro to Kents Store:  70 miles

Today was a long one, considering the hilly terrain.  And to make it longer, we visited Monticello and spent several hours in Charlottesville.  Not to mention the Cookie Lady.

Five miles' biking from Waynesboro put us back onto the bike route.  Jack then stuck to US 250 into Charlottesville, only a two-hour ride.  I followed the route, and, as happened yesterday, arrived at Charlottesville several hours behind Jack.  The bike route was beautiful, with superb views of the valley and dozens of beautiful old homes.  And the Cookie Lady.

 5 mphThe hill down into Afton was steep.  Rounding a corner, I spied beside the road an old bicycle, equipped with saggy panniers, a Bikecentennial triangle, and a sign:  BIKERS - STOP FOR WATER HERE.  Further instructions told bikers to go inside the house next to the bike and ring the bell for the Cookie Lady.  As I stopped, an old man and a dog came from the garage, and the man introduced himself as Harold, the Cookie Lady's father, and the dog as Curley Joe.  He rang the bell and gave me a tour of the downstairs of the house, which they had made into a kind of hostel for bikers.  Soon the Cookie Lady appeared, and the cookies and lemonade followed.

The Cookie Lady, dad Harold, and Curley Joe
The Cookie Lady, dad Harold, and Curley Joe

June Curry - for that was her name - said it was a shame we had skipped the Blue Ridge Parkway, and told of an easier way to get onto it, down by Lexington.  She was quite upset with Waynesboro's failure to provide a hostel - it seems they send all the AT hikers over to her, and she has trouble handling everybody.  She said the trailer at the Salvation Army store belongs to an AT hiker from up north who moved in to see if she could do anything about getting a hostel started.  So far, apparently a local reporter and the Bikecentennial people have failed miserably.

Before I left, June snapped a Polaroid photo of me.  She has albums of photos of just about everyone who has stopped, and postcards and other items of thanks adorn her walls.  The visit with the Cookie Lady, dad Harold, and Curley Joe was truly one of the high points of the whole trip.

Jack and I were to meet in Charlottesville for lunch.  It was larger than we had expected (about 40,000 population, plus the University of Virginia), and we never found each other.  Also, as it turned out, Jack was leaving town as I was arriving.  Good timing.

University of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson designed buildings at both U-Va and Monticello.

I spent two hours looking for Jack, then decided he had gone on.  After a quick lunch at Hardee's, I headed for Monticello, where the gatekeeper and two bicyclists informed me that I had missed Jack by half an hour!

Monticello is one house to tour, if only for its historic significance.  It is much smaller than I had expected, and the tour was brief, but it was quite interesting.  Once is enough, though.

Monticello - the house is really quite small

While there, I met a biker from Illinois who was also following the TransAmerica Trail - more or less.  John works as a hydrologist for the State of Illinois, and is currently collecting data for a study of the effects of surface mining on water runoff into streams.  The results will be used to help set standards for land reclamation.

I didn't leave Monticello until six pm, and Jack and I were to spend the night at Kents Store, 31 miles away.  Ash Lawn, the home of James Monroe for several years (also designed by Jefferson), was on the way, but I stopped only long enough to look at the outside.  It was nowhere near as impressive as Monticello, being intended to serve as a working farm.

Try as I might, I could average only 12 mph to Kents Store.  I arrived at 8:45, after dark.  Jack had beaten me by over two hours.  Kents Store had a store and a post office, and we made a supper of cold ham and cheese sandwiches.  Luckily, the store stayed open until ten.  A local German shepherd was the most persistent moocher I ever saw - we had to defend our sandwiches bodily.

Kents Store
Kents Store - no, that isn't the store

A pasture beside the store was our campground for the night.  We pitched the tent in the dark and crawled in after guzzling a beer each.  Amazingly, the ground was smoother than it had been at the Salvation Army store.  That and the beer gave us a peaceful night of sound sleep.

Tuesday, August 25, 1981

65. Waynesboro, Virginia

Day 65:  Tuesday, August 25, 1981
Natural Bridge to Waynesboro:  61 miles

Now that we're approaching eastern Virginia with all its historical and tourist attractions, things are starting to happen to us again.

After saying goodbye to Lefty the cigar-chomping mechanic, we coasted into the town of Natural Bridge.  Unfortunately, the whole thing is a big commercial tourist-trap enterprise.  The highway apparently passes right over the natural rock bridge, but big board fences blocked our view.  The admission charge was $3, or $7.85 for the bridge-wax museum-caverns package.  [2013 prices are $21 and $28.]  We decided it wasn't worth it, even though Thomas Jefferson had been the first American owner of the property and George Washington is said to have carved his initials into the rock about 1750.

Lexington's historic downtown area
Lexington's historic downtown area

We stopped in Lexington to do our laundry, and looked around the town a little.  It is an historic town, and the local historic preservation society has done a lot to enhance and preserve the facades of many structures.

The Stonewall Jackson house
The Stonewall Jackson house

General Stonewall Jackson lived here while teaching at VMI.  His house has been restored and is open to the public, but we didn't tour that, either.  As we left town, we rode through the VMI campus.  We didn't see the campus of Washington and Lee University, but it is supposed to be nice.

Jack stayed on US 11 to Steele's Tavern, but I followed the map.  It turned out to be a lot curvier and hillier, but with a good view of the valley.  Unfortunately, a broken spoke and a flat tire delayed me an hour and a half.  On top of that, the zipper on my handlebar bag broke.  Well, I can fix that when I get home.

Then a stop at an old mill took another 45 minutes.  It was a little off the route, but I just happened to spy it down a side road.  Wade's Mill was first built around 1750, then destroyed by fire in the 1870s.  The first Wade bought it in the 1880s, and his great grandson is now restoring it to operating condition.  He intends to produce a stone-ground bread flour, using a mixture of hard and soft wheats, and market it in the Virginia-Maryland-Delaware area at a price competitive with the big flour mills.  It's an ambitious plan, and will take a lot of work to carry off.
In recent years, the mill race had been abandoned, and the mill had been powered by an old Farmall tractor that was still on the ground floor.  But the water wheel had just been freed up, and one of the workers invited me to turn it.  I climbed inside it and made like a guinea pig.  I was soon moving at a trot.  It's amazing how easy it was to turn.  Of course, there was no load on the wheel yet.

Poor Jack - he was stuck waiting two hours for me at Steele's Tavern.  We were going to have lunch there, but the grocery turned out to be a pool hall.  So we moved on.

From Steele's Tavern, the bike route climbs up Mt. Vesuvius to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It's a four-mile 8% grade, and we decided to skip it.  So we took the low road (US 11) to Waynesboro.

There are no campgrounds near Waynesboro, and no facilities in town for hikers or bikers.  We pitched our tent in the yard of the Salvation Army thrift store.  There was a camping trailer there, but nobody was around.  For supper, we biked back up the hill (just a short one) to the Pizza Inn, where we had a pitcher of beer and stuffed ourselves on the $2.99 buffet.  The Pizza Hut next door is taking away all their business.  Too bad - it was a nice place.

Monday, August 24, 1981

64. Natural Bridge,Virginia

Day 64:  Monday, August 24, 1981
Salem to Natural Bridge:  53 miles

We're trying to use up all our food by the end of the trip.  This morning we ran out of pancake flour after only four or five pancakes apiece.  But we had the good fortune to find a doughnut shop right next to the telephone booth I stopped at to call the office.

Norfolk & Western J6 #611
Norfolk & Western J6 #611
at the Virginia Museum of Transportation
It was only ten miles or so to Roanoke, where another of Jack's cousins lives.  We visited for several hours, and wound up having lunch there.  On the way out of town, we spent an hour at Roanoke's transportation museum.  Its emphasis is on railroading, but, unlike the museum in Golden, Colorado, the only live steam it has is in 1½" and 2" scale, and then only several times a year.  It's newer and more attractive, but should really restore some of its full-scale locomotives to working order.  To do that, it would need more space, and it is currently trying to acquire adjacent land.

Jack and I followed US 11 to Troutville to rejoin the Bikecentennial route.  I followed the TA trail up to Natural Bridge, but Jack stayed on US 11, which was smoother and less hilly, although more heavily traveled.

Name this vine!
Name this vine!

We had picked a campground from the route book to spend the night, but there was no campground there.  So we set up our tent next to a gas station.  The mechanic lives there in a motor home, and he supplied us with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden, and some white corn likker.  Two wets of the tongue were plenty for me, but Jack downed a tad more.

The old guy (must have been about 55) was a character.  He's from Louisiana, and used to run a body shop in Baltimore.  But he had enough of that, gave his 22 employees a month's notice, and closed up shop.  Now he does his own mechanicking, gardens, fishes, roams around, and is a lot happier.

After an interesting conversation with Lefty, we stuffed ourselves with macaroni and cheese and vegetables, washed down with beer, orange juice, tomato juice, white lightning, and pop, and then hit the hay.

Sunday, August 23, 1981

63. Salem, Virginia

Day 63:  Sunday, August 23, 1981
Wytheville to Salem:  60 miles

Roadside stream
A roadside stream
I didn't feel like getting up this morning, either.  But then, I rarely do.  I have a built-in inertia that makes me want to keep doing whatever I'm doing.  I guess I have a one-track mind.

Near I-81 about eight miles east of Wytheville, we passed by a stone monument marking the location of the Wilderness Trail.  By 1800, over 60,000 pioneers had traveled over the trail to settle in southwestern Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee since Daniel Boone blazed it only a few years earlier.

Name these flowers!
Name these flowers!

The former N&W station in Salem
The former N&W station in Salem
I think both Jack and I are ready for this trip to end.  We're still dragging a little - Jack a little more than I.  He'll be happy to do 60 miles today.  Right now, we're on the lawn of a Christiansburg school.  Jack's sacked out on his mat, and I'm slurping a milkshake.  And we just had lunch ten miles ago in Radford!  It's another 12 miles or so to Blacksburg, and that will give us our 60 miles.

Jack has another cousin in Roanoke, which is about 30 miles east of here.  He hasn't seen her for 20 years, and can't remember her married name.  He's been trying to call Lena to get the info, but no luck.

log house
Log house by the side of the road
We passed through the little town of Newbern this afternoon.  It's over 200 years old, and has some old log houses and other old buildings, a lot of churches, and no stores.  One of the log houses was in the process of being renovated.

We stopped for the night at Dixie Caverns, about 15 miles west of Roanoke.  A sign said that these are the only caverns in this part of Virginia (whatever that means), but we just camped here.  It was a short day today - only 60 miles or so, but Jack was happy.  We biked back up the road to a restaurant, where a customer told us we had picked the wrong restaurant - the other one served real food.

At the campground, we met a Danish family from near Hamilton, Ontario.  The grandfather must have been in his 80s, and he was originally from Sweden.  Jack told him he'd see him in a couple of years for a Scandinavian tour, and they exchanged addresses.

Saturday, August 22, 1981

62. Wytheville, Virginia

Day 62:  Saturday, August 22, 1981
Damascus to Wytheville:  63 miles

After our 80-mile day yesterday, we were worn out.  Jack awoke at 8:00, but Choo Choo and I didn't want to.  Jack and I tried the Gateway Restaurant for breakfast.  It was nothing to rave about.  We finally made it out of town about 10:00.

Choo Choo takes a break
Choo Choo takes a break

We've already crossed the Appalachians!  It didn't take nearly as long as crossing the Rockies.  Most of the terrain today was rolling, with gentle grades - even though the hills were still a lot bigger than you'll ever see in Michigan.  We had a seven-mile climb this morning, but it was the easiest climb of that length on the trip.

Name these flowers!
Name these flowers!

The route parallels the eastern side of the Appalachian range up to Roanoke, then heads back southeast.  Jack and I are at a KOA tonight.  We paid $3.90 each for a campsite - the highest ever on the trip.  Choo Choo had said this morning that she would stop at Rural Retreat tonight - she probably didn't leave Damascus until noon.

Rural Retreat's railroad station
Rural Retreat's railroad station, long unused

Jack fixed a real conglomeration for supper tonight.  We stopped at a produce market and picked up three green peppers, six pears, eight nectarines, and three ears of corn for $1.87.  So Jack combined the peppers, corn, an onion, some tomato sauce, a pound of sausage (the store was out of hamburger), and some Minute Rice.  The sausage was terrible.

Friday, August 21, 1981

61. Damascus, Virginia

Day 61:  Friday, August 21, 1981
Breaks Interstate Park to Damascus:  80 miles

I awoke at 6:30, beating Jack up once more, for a change.  This was to be a long day - not much lodging would be available until Damascus, 80 miles away - and I wanted to get an early start.  The sky was overcast (red sunrise), and soon after our pancake and sausage breakfast, it began drizzling.  Even though I was up first, Jack was on the road first, at 8:00.  I telephoned Dad to wish him a happy 81st birthday, and by the time I filled up my water bottles and made it out of the park, it was 9:00.  Once again, Choo Choo was left in her tent.

At the park entrance was a good overlook at the rock formations which gave the park its name.  The Clinch River has worn a canyon several hundred feet deep through the layers of shale under the sandstone caps.

We are really into the Appalachians now.  The mountains are higher, up to 3500', and the grades are getting longer.  We climbed two four-mile hills and a two-miler today, with several grades of a mile or so.  The downhill on the second four-miler was tremendous, with good roads and great scenery.  One overlook gave us a beautiful view of Hayter's Gap, through which we would pass ten miles later.

Just a cow
That's not Hayter's Gap - just a cow.

Hayter's Gap?
This must be Hayter's Gap.

In all, the scenery was superb today.  The forests are probably 98% deciduous, in contrast to the west, but they are still beautiful, although they lack that refreshing pine scent.  Grades are shorter and steeper than in the Rockies.  We haven't walked any hills yet (not counting yesterday's washboard), but we're sure thankful for those granny gears.

Damascus has a hostel - sort of.   It's a house that's owned by the Methodist Church, and just sits there and waits for hostelers.  The only people permitted are Bikecentennial bikers and Appalachian Trail hikers (the AT goes right through town).  Once again, we had the place to ourselves.  Just reading comments in the log book from "ikers" over the past season made for an absorbing evening.  A grocery store clerk said she wouldn't recommend eating any place in town except for the Dairy King, but log entries attested to the good food and low prices at the Gateway Restaurant.  But we read that after we gorged ourselves on chicken, french fries, and milk shakes at Dairy King.  Too bad there weren't any AT hikers here tonight.

Thursday, August 20, 1981

60. Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia

Day 60:  Thursday, August 20, 1981
Pippa Passes, Kentucky to Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia:  62 miles

This was our last day in Kentucky - and I'm glad.  Eastern Kentucky is the epitome of Appalachian poverty.  Nowadays, of course, poverty is different from 40 or 50 years ago.  Almost every family has at least one car and a television set.  But there is a very high percentage of people on the dole.  They have no incentive to work.  It's a vicious circle.  Unemployment is high, so they don't look for jobs, and they can't see the sense of an education, so they aren't qualified to do anything, so they wait for government handouts.  Hygiene is poor.  There apparently are no public garbage dumps.  It looks as if everyone chucks the trash out the door into the creek, or into the roadside ditches.  Most of the eastern Kentucky roadsides looked and smelled like garbage dumps.  Neither state nor local government picks up all this trash, either.

When we crossed the line into Virginia, the difference was like night and day.  Virginia's roads are as clean as Michigan's.  The poverty and squalor disappeared.  People took more pride in the homes and yards.  Some of this difference can be attributed to Virginia's greater affluence, but not all of it.  I'm not sure why the disparity is so great.

Huge coal trucks
When we hear one of these coming, we get out of the way!
We had our last taste of coal truck traffic today, and the only stretch of road in the whole trip which we could not ride.  After a stretch of deserted four-lane highway in the middle of nowhere, the road reverted to two narrow lanes.  As we approached a mining area, the truck traffic increased and the road worsened until the pavement disappeared completely.  What was left was sharp rocks and dust, and a steep uphill grade.  Trying to ride was insane, so the three of us pushed our bikes for several miles until we found some sort of pavement again, meanwhile dodging the coal trucks that raised huge clouds of choking dust.

Coal railroad
Several coal mines feed this rail terminus.
The Breaks Park is split between Kentucky and Virginia.  It's a nice park, large, loaded with facilities, and with plenty of hiking trails.  We met some construction workers who come south for the summer and stay in the park - tents are cheaper than motels, they said.

On the road today, we were given the chance to tour a coal mine.  It would have been fascinating.  A motorcyclist happened to own a small mine which employed six men and did about 250 ton/day, and he invited us over.  But we would have had to cross two mountains to get to it, and be there at seven in the morning!  We declined with regrets.

We also met a tobacco farmer who discussed with us some of the techniques and problems of raising and harvesting tobacco.

Wednesday, August 19, 1981

59. Pippa Passes, Kentucky

Day 59:  Wednesday, August 19, 1981
Booneville to Pippa Passes:  74 miles

It was raining this morning when we awoke.  We didn't want to face the cold, cruel world, but we finally forced ourselves out of bed.  Jack didn't want to cook in the rain, so we went downtown to a restaurant.  Choo Choo slept in and missed the rain.  It stopped an hour later.

Six miles out of Booneville, I broke a spoke.   I stopped at a country grocery for repairs, and spent an hour talking with the proprietor.  That gave Choo Choo time to catch up.  Jack had forged on ahead, and we didn't see him until evening.

Kentucky road
A typical road in coal-mining territory

We're really getting into the coal mining country now.  On the roads we're traveling, we can expect to see a coal truck every five minutes or so, each one hauling between 25 and 40 tons.  They haul only from the mines to the railroad loading tipples, but there's still plenty of truck traffic.  We've seen strip mines, in which veins of coal are removed through the side of a hill; deep mining, in which shafts are sunk to the veins; and open mining, where entire hillsides are scraped away to expose the veins.

coal mines
We passed many coal mines

We had several miles of gravel today.  At one time the road may have been paved, but it was a heavily-traveled coal truck route.  Once past the tipple, the pavement resumed.

The valleys between the mountain ridges here in the Appalachians are wide enough for a stream, a road, and a few houses.  Consequently, the towns have one street, and are strung out along the valley, or hollow.  Pippa Passes was like this.  It has only a few hundred people, but it's a college town.  Alice Lloyd College, a four-year institution, is located here.

The old high school used to house an AYH hostel, but it burned down last September.  Temporary quarters were up a side street, in the lower half of a house.  Choo Choo and I met Jack there.  He had taken a flatter and more scenic route, upon the advice of a native.  Even so, he biked 82 miles today, about 6 more than we did.  We were the only occupants of the hostel tonight.  The innkeeper gave us some tomatoes, green beans, peppers, and potatoes, and that did a decent job of supplementing our cold meat sandwiches.

Tuesday, August 18, 1981

58. Booneville, Kentucky

Day 58:  Tuesday, August 18, 1981
Berea to Booneville:  60 miles

Here we are, back on the road again.  We slept in this morning (Choo Choo later than Jack and I, of course), and Lena fixed us pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  We parted about 10:00, Lena taking I-75 south to their home in Florida.  Choo Choo had lost her wallet in Hodgenville, so she stopped at a bank to get her traveler's checks replaced, and I changed a $100 bill and struck up a friendly conversation with a cute teller.

Jack's not too keen on following the Bikecentennial route.  He'd rather travel roads that are on a state map - they're not as hilly.  So we took an alternate route to Booneville, which was about 60 miles away.

Kudzu aplenty
Kudzu aplenty
Hills and curves
And hills and curves

Beautiful Kentucky roadside
Beautiful Kentucky roadside

Eastern Kentucky is much more hilly - we're getting back into the mountains.  Any available space is used to grow either corn or tobacco, with a few cows tossed in here and there.  And lots of litter tossed around all over the place.  Kentucky has the worst trash problem and most ill-maintained roadsides of any state I've seen.  I think I'll write a letter to Gov. John Y. Brown.

Booneville had no place to camp, but the police said that behind the Presbyterian Church was okay.  There wasn't much space to set up tents, but we managed.  After supper, we walked down the street to a dairy bar for dessert and toilet facilities.  Who ever said life's easy?

Monday, August 17, 1981

57. Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Day 57:  Monday, August 17, 1981
Berea and Pleasant Hill:  0 miles!

If yesterday was a rest day with only 30 miles of riding, then today was a super rest day.  We didn't even touch our bicycles.  Instead, we drove to Pleasant Hill, north of Harrodsburg, and spent the day there.

Separate bedrooms
Men and women slept separately, dormitory-style

Separate entrances
Each building had separate entrances for men and women

Uncluttered floors
Floors were kept uncluttered.

Pleasant Hill was one of a score of Shaker settlements in America.  It was most active from 1820 to 1850, and the last Shakers to live there died in 1910.  The lands and buildings are now in the hands of a private organization which began a restoration project in 1960.  Many of the buildings are open to the public, and Shaker arts and crafts are demonstrated.  Admission charge was $3.75, but it was worth it.

A cooper at work
A cooper at work
Shaker-style brooms
You can buy a Shaker-style broom
A Shaker domestic goddess
A Shaker domestic goddess

Choo Choo showed up in camp in the evening.  She had spent a day in Bardstown, and had cycled about 90 miles today.  We met her on the road coming back from Pleasant Hill.

After supper (courtesy of Lena), we were going to watch the perennial Berea play about Appalachian history, but found that it had been canceled this year.  So we contented ourselves with window-shopping in Berea's arts-and-crafts district.