Sorry we haven't been very diligent bloggers lately, we've been busy climbing over the Appalachians.
One of highlights has been the stunning views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic road built as a make-work project during the Depression, spanning over 400 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The ride up to it and along part of it, from ~600 feet in Charlottesville to ~3200 feet, took most of a day, and of course, less than half an hour to get down!
A traditional "re-fueling" station for cyclists on the TransAmerica Trail, for over 30 years. The walls were totally full so we signed the roof!
This river was so shallow we just had to lay right down on the rocks to cool off - but we were melting in the heat so it was absolutely necessary. And very pleasant. ;-)
In Troutsville, Virginia, we had a joyful reunion with George and Judith, a couple whom we had met a month and a half ago in Maine! They were on vacation at the time. They pulled over to talk to us, and invited us to call when we were near their home in Virginia. So that's what we did, and they spoiled us in fine fashion! They and their friend Leon treated us to a delicious family style meal at a popular country restaurant. They then drove us an hour off the route to their farmhouse where an extremely comfortable bed awaited!
We'll never forget their generosity and that of all the people we meet (such as the woman who only talked to us for a minute outside a grocery store then out of the blue gave us a 25$ gift certificate to a restaurant)! Sometimes people seem compelled to take care of us out of concern or even pity, other times they want an account of life on the road. Mostly people are just plain friendly and we're inspired to be as welcoming to visitors when we're at home again!
I showed such great appreciation for the mashed potatoes that the server brought an extra bowl of them for me to eat with my ice cream!! I was genuinely stuffed though, so I had them wrapped up and naturally, ate them for breakfast.
A view of George and Judith's farm, and our entire array of clothing hanging on the line. This is in the valley between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny range, which we would cross a couple days later.
Stretching the sore muscles before yet another steep ascent on a rainy day. The mist hanging on the mountains made them even more beautiful...
Another traditional TransAmerica cyclists' resting spot - Linda's Victorian Rose B&B in Booneville, Kentucky. For the same price we have paid for rather dingy motel rooms elsewhere, we had a 3 bedroom house all to ourselves. It was so nice to share a meal just the two of us in a real kitchen, especially when Linda sent up 2 portions of fruit cobbler fresh from the oven! It used to be the parson's house when the B&B was a church.
Typical roadside junkyard...
Western Virginia and eastern Kentucky were definitely the hilliest terrain we've encountered. Rain was welcome after so many days of heat, but it meant we were getting flat tires much more frequently. We tried to keep our spirits up as coal truck after coal truck roared past and some days we didn't reach our destination till late in the evening. The tiny, run down towns squeezed into the narrow valleys mostly didn't even have service stations, let alone bike shops, so our tubes are pretty patchy right now! As usual though, people are friendly, waving and shouting questions, generally giving us plenty of space on the road. In Pippa Passes, Kentucky, we'd hoped to stay at a church, but a group on a mission trip from Georgia was camping out there at the time so we were sent to another church up the road. The teenagers gathered round as we fixed yet another flat tire. "That's, like, sooo cool." "That's beastly."
Typical roadside repair...
Typical sweaty faces resting after a steep climb!!
The "Big Hill" down to Berea put our brakes to good use. That marked the end of the steep mountains and the beginning of the rolling hills and farmland we've been riding through for the past 3 days.Shared a campsite with Rita and Chelsey from Rhode Island and Illinois. They were ready to go before the sun rose - we were taking things a bit slower before heading to the nearest bike shop...
...where we ended up spending several hours while Tammy got a thorough tune-up (bent axle, broken spokes and wobbly wheels and pannier racks, among other things!)
Riding the quiet country roads between farms is mostly very pleasant, getting up close and personal with the cows.
All the best from Mammoth Cave, Kentucky - which we're taking a day off to explore!