April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/11 - Mineral (45 miles, 140.5 total)
we thot the 1st 2 days were as beautiful as any biking days could be....give or take a few dozen miles of 30 mph headwinds......but then we got to today. winds 1-3 mph, partly sunny, roads like sugar bottom without the cars, & beautiful sights (& smells---mmm those dogwoods & lilacs) all 'round. a few pickups & lumber trucks maybe, but not too many. ok, maybe 3-4 mi of gravel, but not bad gravel. a half dozen barking dogs that made my heart go pitty-pat...but they stayed in their yards. plus only 45 mi total to ride & a fudgesickle with lunch. absolutely idyllic.
we started with breakfast in the days inn parking lot...some of the wonderful mutli-grain hot cereal that patti makes, which we add chopped pecans & raisins to. plus muffins, bagels, juice, & sliced honeydew melon. really roughing it....as you can see. then there were sandwich makings, since we were to make our own lunches to eat on the road whenever we pleased. these food collections always include bins of raisins, m&m's, & peanuts so we can make our bags of gorp. plus some energy bars. starvation?? not a problem!
we're camping out in the large community room of the fire department at mineral, va, tonight. there's one of those big shiny silver balls hanging from the middle of the ceiling in case we wanna throw a dance while we're here. our bikes are all parked downstairs along the walls near the fire trucks. we're hoping it's a quiet night in mineral, va.
when i got here midafternoon i went downstairs to ask the woman working at the desk if i could use the phone jack to send & receive mail; i hadn't been able to make the connection work at the motel last night. everyone who works here is a volunteer. she said sure, but as she was setting me up the alarm went off & she had to send someone off to a car accident. after that excitement subsided she plugged in my phone cord & i downloaded some stuff. then i noticed that she was folding letters & putting them, with some little cards, into envelopes. i started helping her, & before long the room was filled with another half dozen bikers who were also folding & stuffing.
that's phyllis on the left, then the fire dept volunteer linda, then me, then debbie (one of the staff on the ride). you can see my iBook on the computer desk they insisted that i use. we stuffed all 500 envelopes in no time.
the whole town is getting a big laugh out of our visit. (when i say 'whole town' i'm talking something less than a thousand...maybe a lot less.) the volunteer whom i helped fold & stuff told me that one of the fellows who helped arrange our visit told all the young bucks in town that all the visiting bikers were women between ages 18-33. so she said we can expect to see them hanging around the fire house this evening. i don't know if i can bear to see the looks of dejection on their faces. what a nasty trick to pull on those guys ;->
as i write this i can smell wonderful odors of onions & mushrooms emanating from the nice kitchen here off our large sleeping room/dance hall. patti's making lasagna for supper. a "slight" drawback here is that there are no showers (thank heavens for the nice cooking smells!) & only 3 toilets....all downstairs. when you're drinking LOTS of water to keep well-hydrated for biking, 3 toilets on a different level from the sleeping quarters presents a potential problem. we're thinking we better leave a light on the stairs all night & hope that there are no nocturnal collisions. then getting 24 women (24/3 = 8 women/toilet) on the road in the morning will again provide us a nice challenge.
now it's later: you'll see attached a photo of some of us enjoying the most spectacular vegetarian lasagna here in the fire house. (notice the "sleeping quarters" set up amongst & on top of the tables & chairs in the background along the wall.)
faces you can see are, from left, judy from new york, sue from massachusetts, gerrie from colorado, & marcia from alaska. (we have 3 from alaska. marcia is an accountant; another, deanna, works on turbines in an oil field in the arctic (this is her 6th cross-country bike ride); & the third, rose, is a home-health-care nurse.)
we learned tonight that 10 of us are over 60, of whom 2 are 69. one of those turns 70 on this trip---june 4. sounds like party time to me! we have 2-3 in the low-to-mid 40's....& the rest of us are in our 50's. (currently there are 18 riders & 6 staff.)
guess it's time to go get in line at the restroom door. there may be 3 toilets but there are only 2 sinks...one in the men's restroom & one in the women's. we intend to use both...but that's still quite a wait for toothbrushing.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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