April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/21 - Breaks Interstate Park (45 miles 546 total)
this report will be short; i'm still thawing.
the word for today's ride: brrrrrrrrrr
despite spending the night on our thermarests, several of us had the best sleep yet of this trip. must've been the tranquil environment in the church sanctuary. how those 2 toilets in the church survived the almost-constant flushing demands of 24 water-guzzling biking women for over 18 hours is beyond me, but we left the place in relatively sane shape. the sanctuary looked particularly spiffy thanks to marcia; she hunted up the church's vacuum cleaner & left our campsite spotless.
the day had dawned beautifully, but even before we left the church (8 or so for all but the earliest) the sky became overcast & the winds sharper. we spent almost the whole day on state route 80 west. that meant some stretches of pretty heavy traffic, especially for the first 5-6 miles this morning. & much of that heavy traffic was heavy trucks....logging trucks, coal trucks. i noticed a coal-mining site this afternoon. the curvy mountain roads we rode today are so narrow that every once in a while you need to get off the edge of the pavement to let vehicles go by.
the longest climb we did today was to the top of Big A Mountain. then down. then up again, then down, then up again, then down. then up (steeply) finally to our overnight stay here in breaks interstate park...'interstate' referring to its position astraddle both kentucky & virginia.
sari, phyllis, & i made a few stops today, but they had to be indoors. no munching our goodies along the side of the road or even in front of convenience stores. midday we stopped at a place called mama's in council, va. we split 2 pints of chocolate milk 3 ways, then mama let us go into her kitchen & use the microwave to heat up our milk into hot chocolate. the owner has been in business less than 2 months. what a grand time we had chatting with her about the bustling little community of council.
a little later we already needed another potty stop (you know what cold weather can do to a person's potty requirements), so stopped at a deli in the next town along our route. sari & i each ordered a BLT with egg....something i'd never heard of before. but boy were we hungry. it turned out to be a sandwich on toasted white bread with chopped lettuce, tomato, & bacon & also a scrambled egg inside. after our snack we tried to figure out how to dress ourselves more warmly, then ventured out onto the road again.
today was one of those rare days when you almost yearned for an uphill stretch. the uphill climbs made one warmer....ok, usually hot & sweaty. then going downhill the cold winds would freeze the sweaty clothes under your windbreaker. again you're thinking, why didn't i join a fun trip like that??
the picture shows marcia (front) & lee at the top of one of today's long hills. notice the 76 sign behind them. those are the signs put up by the folks who created this transamerica bike trail in 1976 in commemoration of the nation's 200th anniversary; the 76 bike signs mark the route.
they sure help us verify that we've read our route sheets correctly. we understand that kentucky does not allow those signs.
at the top of another mountain we stopped for a few moments to enjoy a beautiful vista.
that's phyllis trying to stay warm. notice how well the reflective safety strips on our bikes & bikewear work when i use the camera's flash!
we 3 finally climbed to the lodge at the breaks before 3....tho' it seemed like we'd been on the road for a day & a half. what a treat our rooms are! they each have a large window looking out over a beautiful, deep, tree-lined chasm. there's a deck outside each room, too......perfect for hanging wash.
patti had planned to have a cookout tonight...to celebrate our last stay in our first state (virginia). but the weather is too wet & cold. so we ate in the lodge's restaurant. huge floor-to-ceiling windows in the restaurant provide a breathtaking view of the chasm. after supper we had a short map meeting in the lobby. jackie had received the dog dazers that she ordered for 9 of us last week. many thanks to jackie! we're so relieved to have them, as we keep hearing more & more scary stories about the loose dogs in kentucky....sometimes running in packs.
by bedtime tonight we'll all have experienced one of the most appreciated hot showers of our entire lives (especially after no shower at all last night). a few of us hope to enjoy the hiking trails in this beautiful park tomorrow, but the forecast is for showers, so we'll see. we understand that hundreds of children will arrive around noon for an annual easter egg hunt. so the place will be hopping....even tho' many of us will happily settle for a rest day filled with rest & lots of it.
Don't forget to take a look at the update for Thursday, the 20th, in case you missed it!
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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