7 Oct 2010, 8:13pm
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the end

yes so i made it. twenty miles from yorktown i met bev and herb, friends of my grandparents and my hosts for the next couple nights, on their own ride on the capital trail between jamestown and the chickahominy river. just east of williamsburg, i ran into paul, who’d arrived in yorktown last night and was headed into town to pack up his bike before his train home tomorrow morning. he told me jason and gregg were still in yorktown, too, staying at an awesome church hostel there. oh i pedaled into town like the fierce and fabulous champion that i am. singing.

ate lunch. ate dessert. got sand in my shoes. told strangers what i’d done. took some photos. waited for jason, gregg, and paul to get back to yorktown so i could see them all one last time. i wish everyone who ever helped me in any tiny way on this trip could have been there to meet me!–but it was amazing just to see the three of them again, to congratulate each other–holy crap, we made it!

bev and herb came to pick me up with balloons(!) and champagne(!!). we took photos by the water. i smiled a lot.

photos from across virginia–


(the lovely quilt on my motel bed my first night in virginia)


(fog in breaks interstate park)

(movin’ forward. have i mentioned that bike route 76/the transam is signed in virginia?? it’s awesome, especially because every road in virginia has at least three different names, i swear, and the name on the map is not always the name on the road sign)


(one of the last 10-mile photos i remembered to take. oh well)


(outside a gas station. yup)


(this is a statue of a cowboy riding a velociraptor. if that’s not an argument for riding your bike across the country, i don’t know what is)


(natural bridge)


(ginny and me at the university of virginia)


(bumpass. tee hee)


(i think route 1 is the atlantic coast route)


(on the door of an awesome coffeeshop in ashland, va)


(last day panda)


(thank you, beautiful legs o’ mine)


(bev)

7 Oct 2010, 7:09pm
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YORKTOWN

hi. i made it! 100 days!

5 Oct 2010, 5:19pm
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gettin’ my kicks on route 76

this library is open until 9pm! but they’ll only give me a half hour of internet. i’m in ashland, va. i think i’m a tiny bit over one hundred miles from yorktown. yup. i felt great today. rode 90-ish miles. still feel pretty great.

blacksburg was awesome–my hosts (heather, chris, and their 2-year-old son dylan) were wonderful and sent me off in the morning with amazing homemade lasagna for lunch. and cookies!

between blacksburg and catawba, i met another eastbound rider–paul from ottawa (or the town that is kind of part of ottawa, except in quebec). we rode together until yesterday, when i stopped in charlottesville after lunch and he rode further. on friday we ended the day in buchanan. on saturday we rode to a campground with a little hostel room between lexington and vesuvius. on the way we stopped at natural bridge, “one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” and paid a ridiculous amount of money ($18) to see it. the price included admission to two cheesy museums–a toy museum (”american history told with toys!”) and a wax museum with a wax version of davinci’s last supper, which is displayed in a special little presentation with a dramatic voiceover telling you about judas’s betrayal and the passion of the christ and so on.

sunday–sunday was the BIG DAY. the BIG HILL DAY. super steep 4-mile hill from vesuvius up to the blue ridge parkway. then 27 miles on the parkway. then the cookie lady. i’d been dreading that hill for thousands of miles–and looking forward to the cookie lady even longer.

well, the hill was not so bad. i got up it. it turned out to be only three and a half miles. i walked some of it–call it weakness if you like; i call it “training for the pct.” heh. the blue ridge parkway was beautiful. the hill down to the cookie lady’s house was a blast.

the cookie lady is june curry, who’s been helping out cyclists since ‘76. she has a “bike house” for cyclists to stay in that is several sizeable rooms FULL of transam memorabilia–photos, postcards, newspaper clippings, t-shirts, you name it. someone wrote their masters thesis (in geography for unc-chapel hill, in 1994) about the transamerica trail–there’s a copy there. oh my gosh, the place was amazing. i think i’ve mentioned that a. and i used to joke that when folks asked us where we were going, we should say “here. this is our destination. we rode from oregon to come here.” well–i rode across the country to get to the cookie lady’s house. to see this museum of the transam and to be a part of it. i just ate it up. and felt so good about the way i am traveling. remembered all the kind people i have met on this trip. the things that have gone wrong and the things that have gone right. and i thought about the end of it coming up and i realized what i’ll be losing. my feelings about ending this trip are all over the place, of course. a lot more about that later, i’m sure.

yesterday we rode to charlottesville, got some pizza for lunch, and said goodbye. i rode to the outskirts of town to stay with ginny and raj (my step-grandma’s sister and her husband). ginny took me back into town to show me around the university of virginia campus, and raj made delicious indian food for dinner. this morning ginny drove me a few miles out of town (she was worried about traffic on the highway) and sent me on my way with a sack lunch complete with juice boxes. i rode and rode and rode. i met a band who’re just finishing up a tour by bike. awesome. awesome awesome awesome. i am almost done.

30 Sep 2010, 10:11am
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ten-mile photos

hello from christiansburg, virginia, and the end of another map section! one map section to go. three hundred and sixty seven point five miles. give or take. i am taking a short day today, from radford (where i stayed with the lees, a kind family i’d heard about from a few other cyclists) to blacksburg (where i’m staying with a couchsurfing host).

i wrote last from haysi, towards the beginning of what i hoped would be a long day. hah! i think i made 28 miles of progress. at the library i met a westbounder named grant who’s headed to san francisco or san diego–he’s never been west of st louis! we ended up getting some pizza down the street and chatting for a good long time. so nice when i’d been feeling lonely! grant also pointed out an excellent shortcut along route 11 that saves thirty-some miles of riding and a whole lot of climbing–and so my 28-mile day didn’t mess up my plans too badly after all. i skipped damascus, but so be it. someday i’ll hike the appalachian trail and go through damascus that way!

slept in a county park outside of council. i set up my tent inside a little playhouse in the playground. cozy enough.

in the morning i rode over some mountains and then hopped on route 11, which is not too hilly and which parallels the interstate most of the way, which means it isn’t too heavily-trafficked either! loved it. still, it was dark by the time i rolled into marion, where i stopped for the night.

yesterday i rejoined the transam route, but not before stopping for second breakfast (I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY) at a country restaurant with a logbook for HIKERS! who sign with their trail names. the last two hikers to come through there were “steamer” and “q-tip.”

running out of time (what else is new). grant told me he takes a photo every 10 miles, no matter where he is, and i thought that was such a cool idea i decided to try it too. here’s my ten-mile photos–except i forget sometimes so some of these are 20-mile photos or 11-mile photos–

27 Sep 2010, 11:22am
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appalachia

some excerpts from my journal–

* 9/15
saw a dead coyote today, roadkilled. in missouri, most of the roadkill was armadillos and frogs. and raccoons–the usual suspect. seen alive today: some frogs, a turtle, a beaver (i think!).

* 9/17
ate for dinner last night:
–breaded & fried catfish
–breaded & fried shrimp
–baked beans
–cole slaw
–tater tots
–lemonade
–apple pie
it was intense.

* 9/17
yesterday morning i startled a herd of deer on my way to the bathroom.

* 9/19
recycling and eating conscientiously with ease–the two things i miss most about portland. [i would like to write more about this when i have a chance!]

* 9/19
people yell stuff at me out their windows sometimes. i am always sort of curious what they’re saying. but they are cowards and i can never hear… it could be “dang grrrl, you totally rock!” for all i know.

* 9/19
“when you are reluctant to change, think of the beauty of autumn” (from a church signboard)

* 9/23
ready to do something sustainable–with my life i mean. that doesn’t take ALL my energy OR leave me restless.

* 9/23
don’t know why i’m stressing so much. i am certainly glad i didn’t have an end date the whole time; it would have driven me absolutely mad (evidently).

* 9/24
it’s not that i have never been away from home for this long–though i think that is also true–it’s that i have never been homeLESS for this long. i have scarcely traveled for ANY length of time without a home to return to, all my things in it, familiar etc. sometimes i get this weird feeling of abstractness when i stop for the night… this patch of ground in kentucky could be ANYWHERE… because it is not HOME, which makes anywhere into somewhere.

* 9/25
appalachians: 1, stacia: also 1? it’s not a zero-sum game. the appalachians win by being really fucking challenging; i win by… rising to the challenge? or dragging myself up them huffing and puffing anyway…

* 9/26
at 11-ish these 3 guys and 2 girls who i guess couldn’t believe there was a tent here [in a county park that a cop had suggested i camp at] woke me up and talked to me for awhile. they were pretty funny and entertaining, so overall i would say that it was a win. but i woke up a million times after that.

* 9/26
kinds of southern baptist churches:
–southern
–general
–regular
–old regular
–missionary
–freewill
–independent
–union southern… or was it union regular?

* 9/26
today was the kind of day for curling up with a cup of hot tea and a good book, not for riding. rain rain rain, cold cold cold, cars goin’ honk honk honk. i am beat. i have eaten a lot of chocolate. the nice thing about cooler weather is chocolate doesn’t melt. i am in virginia. hell yeah. just barely. a mile past the border. at a motel. i was crawling by the time i got here.

* 9/26
i can’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the industry or the region, but it seems to me like the people of this area have kind of a stockholm syndrome situation going on with coal. “friend of coal” is something you see on shop windows, car bumpers, even politicians’ campaign signs. but my understanding is that Big Coal (and to a lesser extent Big Ag) have basically taken this region’s livelihood and health hostage, and the ransom price is… everything. i guess it must be about jobs, right? but coal is by definition a finite resource–eventually those jobs will dry up, whether before or after coal companies have destroyed the area’s every resource–mineral, environmental, human… but what do i know?

* 9/26
i have been feeling bad about the thing i wrote about kentucky stereotypes (making fun of misspelling). seems like in every region the people warn me about the people in the next region, telling me they’re different or not so friendly or you know… and people continue to be just people, usually kind, generous, etc. what do i care if things are misspelled? i knew what they meant, obviously. amusingly, i have at least twice seen graffiti along the lines of “learn to spell mother fucker” spraypainted on the sides of buildings.

* 9/26
the appalachians are way harder than the rockies. i have never worked so hard to go 2.8 miles per hour.

photos–
(just a selection ’cause i’m running out of time again! more here…)


(i was too late for this guy)


(log cathedral in buckhorn, ky. i stopped at a little shop and when i asked to use the bathroom, the guy behind the counter handed me the key to the church and told me to go use the bathroom there. i’m glad, because it was really cool to see this church!)

27 Sep 2010, 10:18am
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virginia

way back in dubois, wyoming, we met a guy who was thru-hiking the continental divide trail with his wife. he told us they sometimes take “weather-induced rest days,” or WeIRD, as in “i feel a little weird today, honey, how about you?” “yeah, me too. let’s go back to sleep.” today i am feeling pretty weird. it’s rainy and foggy and cold. but it was yesterday, too, and it probably will be tomorrow. and i have to make some progress. i was sort of hoping to ride 78 miles today, to damascus–hah! i think i have biked about fifteen miles so far, and i’ve only made ten miles or so of progress. the other miles were accumulated while riding around breaks interstate park in search of a logbook/register that my map told me i ought to sign: “all cyclists are asked to stop in and sign Virginia’s ‘Across State Ride’ book if they have/are going to cycle across Virginia on the TransAm… Documenting the number of cyclists who ride this is important for justification of improvements to the route” etc etc. no one in the park knew what i was talking about except to send me on the next place that might have it. when i finally found it, i discovered that the last person to sign it before me came through over a month ago. maybe half a dozen folks have signed it all year. i think the logbook in that outhouse in the middle of the plains in eastern colorado is a more accurate record of who and how many have ridden the trail.

so yes, i am in virginia.

V for Very Rainy! V for Very Foggy! V for Very Cold!

and of course, V for Virginia! V for Virginia-Yes-That’s-Right-I-Rode-My-Bike-To-Virginia!


(jason put that sticker there, i’m sure)

today, i am mostly tired and homesick. i haven’t had decent (any, really) cell phone reception in a few days and i miss talking to my loved ones. nothing like that and a heavy fog to make you feel alone in the world. it turns out, by the way, that the appalachians are way harder than the rockies.

lots of thoughts to share. gonna try to get the librarians to let me use the internet for awhile longer, but my hour’s almost up…

23 Sep 2010, 12:50pm
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on and on

well, every time i actually add up the miles i have left to go, i am in good shape. at 60 miles a day and one more rest day after today, i actually have 38 miles “in the bank” so to speak that i can cash in if (WHEN!) i need to rest, probably thanks in part to a few shortcuts i’ve taken in the past few days. but here come the appalachians…

i’m in berea, which i love! there is a great little coffeeshop that serves panini and chai! there’s an ecovillage!! bell hooks lives here! there’s a free bluegrass jam tonight! maybe i will bring my ukulele and try to look like i know what i’m doing with it!

anyway, i believe we left off outside of mammoth cave?

the stretch of road between the national park and cave city, ky, is jam-packed with kitschy tourist attractions, with paint that’s been fading since the ’60s. rv parks with bumper cars, a “wildlife” (read: taxidermy) museum, a dinosaur museum, water slides, rock shops, and so on. for example:


(this place was a big bavarian-themed shopping center with a grand total of ONE open shop. plus a “shops for rent” sign and a “for sale” sign for the whole thing. pretty sad)


(i think they are made of concrete. the sign said, “sleep in a wigwam!”)

back into the countryside–


(tobacco drying in a barn)

i was thinking the other day–probably when i caught the stench of a chicken farm (they smell worse than cattle feedlots) or saw a plume of dust/soil tossed into the air by farm equipment–that i am maybe contributing to what michael pollan calls the “supermarket pastoral” genre with my photos of the countryside. like, is it responsible of me to show you how beautiful the country is, without also showing you how ugly it is? i don’t know. y’all should ride your bikes across it and see for yourself. seriously, i am learning way more than i can process while i’m still riding.

i have also started reading a book that was written here in kentucky, purchased by a. in california, and mailed to me here in kentucky–wendell berry’s the unsettling of america. it is very very good. and very very relevant.

anyway.

i think this was in springfield–i was not quite sure how to interpret this mural–your readings? yes, that is obama:

and here’s a whole bunch more quilt squares:


(i have to admit that this particular pattern looks vulgar to me. what is that boy doing exactly?)

these last two are actually in berea, in the “old town artisans village”:

until next time!