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.
The 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
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.
|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 - 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.