April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/22 - Breaks Interstate Park (0 miles biking, 4 miles hiking 546 total)
when we awoke this morning, fog was completely filling the chasm outside our window so the vista was completely obscured. the day remained overcast & cool, but at least there was no precipitation. it was our layover day here in this beautiful state park.
sari, phyllis, & i walked down to the lodge to have breakfast around 8. a few bikers were there. after a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal (doesn't hold a candle to patti's) & toast, we decided to go hiking at around 10:45. we had a trail map so thot we knew where we were going. 3 hours later we clambored up from the trails on the side of this mountain & tried to get our bearings. we hadn't exactly followed the paths we'd planned, but the ones we traversed were beautiful just the same. tho' it was chilly (correction: phyllis says COLD), & we often had to walk gingerly on lots of rocks & slippery leaves. we encountered some awesome rock formations & cliffs, dainty wildflowers, & mounds & mounds of rhododendrons. none is yet blooming, tho' we found one little bush with what we suspect will be fuschia flowers soon. staff at the lodge tell us that the blossoms start in mid may & last 'til the end of summer. it would almost be worth a trip back just to see the glorious sight that this blossoming mountain must become.
you'll see in the photo of phyllis & me how lovely the forest is. see the mounds & mounds of rhododendrons? note also the little rocky stream flowing down behind us. that's also the path on which we were to & did ascend the hill.
phyllis had only her biking shoes for walking, which made the hike lots more treacherous for her. our experienced hiking guide, sari, always trying to encourage us even on the iffier sections, called back, "it's worse than it looks." it would've been so much more reassuring if she'd gotten those words in the right order.
& if you wanna see rocks & big ones....check out the other photo.
that's me watching the rocks above VERY carefully as we passed thru a narrow pathway between 2 giant rock formations. it seemed to us that this might be the day that those rocks would plummet; i mean they're going to SOME day.
after our walk, sari & i went down to the lodge restaurant for some soup; it was a pinto bean soup they call 'soup beans.' pretty good. phyllis was so cold that she couldn't stand to venture outside her room so soon again.
i'm not sure what all the other riders did today. i know that some slept a lot, others read or wrote postcards & letters, some got together & chatted or played cards. it was a perfect day for doing all those things. jackie was telling me that she composed a response to a friend who'd surmised that biking thru virginia was just like all the biking jackie had done on her stationary bike this past winter to train for this ride. jackie's comments on a stationary vs real bike: "stationary bikes in the gym do not compare with real bikes unless there are hairpin turns, cars racing past you, dogs chasing after you, & the temperature is either 75 or 43 degrees. also, it must be at least a 3.7-mile hill with no less than a 1500-ft climb. if all this can be simulated in the gym, then it's just like being in virginia. oh, did i mention the downhill? never mind, it's too scary."
tonight we're trying to act like bikers again...checking tires, cleaning out & packing up bike bags, straightening up our clothes collections. several of us plan to attend the easter sunrise service being held at an overlook here at the park at 6 a.m. tomorrow. we hope the skies clear; it'll be beautiful. then breakfast by patti at 7. we 9 new dog-dazer owners have figured out how to tote our new dog-repelling equipment, so bring on those kentucky canines!
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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