Short, but very cool day today. Last night Brian (my host for the night) had asked me if I’d be willing to meet with one of his students (he’s a teacher). He said the student was an aspiring software engineer. I said of course, so this morning I followed Brian out the door at 7:45 and we biked over to a coffee shop near his school. His student was named Ruby and she’s a fascinating, intelligent young lady. We talked for over an hour (and her first period class) about what a career as a developer is like. She has a million interesting projects so we discussed those too. It was exciting talking to someone so passionate and and at the start of their career. I hope my experiences and advice are useful to her.
While we talked Brian bought me a chai tea latte (thanks) then headed to work, saying goodbye as he left. When Ruby and I finished four conversation she left too. I stayed at the coffee shop and edited my post from last night. It was in rough shape from my exhaustion after the soccer game. I left around 9:30, with the plan of making it to Monticello for some sightseeing, then Mineral for camping for the night. I headed out. Traffic was somewhat heavy but there was good biking infrastructure through Charlottesville. I rode past the University of Virginia campus and followed Brian’s advice from the night before and got off the bike and walked around. It was a beautiful campus.
After a good bit of sightseeing I got back on the road and the route. It took me on the very busy 53, which is the main corridor to the interstate, before becoming slightly less busy as it heads out into the country towards Monticello. After some harrowing. Riding I reached Monticello and got a ticket for the self guided grounds tour (aka walk around outside by yourself). Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s primary residence and it was really cool to think of him there mulling the Louisiana purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, among many other things (like the slaves he kept). The building and scenery was marvelous, built on a hill was wonderful views of the surrounding area.
I actually had a wonderful relaxing time walking the grounds. Unfortunately one of the tradeoffs of travelling by bike is that as you sightsee and the day grows later, the more traffic you’re likely to encounter. That thought always sits at the back of my head when I’m off the bike enjoying myself. A few nice older ladies in the gift shop asked me about my trip and we’re very excited that I’m getting close to the end. So am I! Eventually I headed back to my bike (passing by Thomas Jefferson’s grave) and got back to the road. It was indeed more trafficy than it had been and I was somewhat stressed out by it. Eventually I did hit some smaller back roads but I still wasn’t totally comfortable. There were a lot of trucks pulling campers and trailers with outdoors gear for the long weekend. It wasn’t great riding (though the weather continued to be perfect).
I rode up to James Monroe’s house, the highlands but was too cheap to pay the $10 entrance fee after paying for the Monticello fee. Both these historical houses had steep driveways that were tough to climb. Didn’t they have carriages that needed to come up the hills?!?
I got back to riding and made fast progress despite the traffic. I got on the busy 53 and rode to the town of Palmyra. My map said that there was a church hostel here and I was strongly considering just staying there despite it only being a 20 miles day. It was already 3 after the sightseeing and I didn’t think the traffic would get any better. I had just about convinced myself to head to the next town, Mineral, when a man approachede in the convenience store and asked me if I was a transam cyclist. I said yes and he introduced himself as the pastor of the church. He asked if I wanted to stay in his church. I decided screw it, I’m in no hurry, I’ll just call it for the day. He was incredibly nice and gave me an orientation of their fantastic facilities. They have wifi, an outdoor shower, and a huge cyclist food pantry, stocked with Gatorade, candy, and all kinds of other goodies. It’s honestly one of the best places I’ve stayed in a while. I’m glad I stopped. I talked with George for a while before he had to run off on an errand, but before he did he told me to check out a market down the street and get some fried chicken. I did and it was a good recommendation: it was maybe the best fried chicken of the trip (wtf Kentucky). I did a bit of sightseeing in town: it’s historic and the county seat. They had an old courthouse and jail, though neither were open.
I’m now sitting inside, enjoying ac and wifi, about to watch some TV then catch up on sleep. It will be an early day tomorrow, and I may try and go all the way to Richmond or I may stop after only 30 miles in Mineral, we’ll see. I can’t finish the trip until Monday anyways, since my welcome party won’t be here until Sunday night. I can’t believe I’m only a few days from finishing. Ahhhhhh! Night!
- Chai tea
- Ham and cheese sandwich
- Root beer
- Fried chicken
- Mac n cheese
- More candy