Tuesday, August 23, 2016

122: Now I get it!

The rain yesterday helped to cool things off a bit, and it was beautiful today. It's cool enough today that it actually feels a bit refreshing on the road, particularly when we are descending. Which we are doing quite a bit because we are still in that up-and-down stuff.

West Virginia redeemed itself somewhat this morning. The road through the woods was beautiful, though narrow, and inspired a brief chorus of Country Road. However, I have learned from our Warm Showers host that John Denver's song is actually about "lower case" west Virginia, not West Virginia!  And that makes sense - because this is where the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River are. So now you know!
Country road!
Virginia is beautiful. We are riding through some of the most scenic farmland that I've seen yet. 

The wildflowers are fading along the road side. Just a few of the blue corn flowers remain. Queen Anne's lace looks to be just about done. And the grasses are going gold and brown. Fall is coming!

We are riding past farms established in the mid 1700s. Once we hit the Virginia border, we started to see big houses on huge, manicured lots. We were curious about what everybody could be doing out here. They don't look to be working farms, but they certainly are well kept and prosperous. But then I checked the map, and we are just an hour or so from the beltway. So maybe they are commuters. From our hosts, we have learned that this area used to be big apple farms. Not so much anymore, but the folks out here are well-to-do and have the "old money" as she put it. 
I love the way the oldest parts of the homes are preserved and added to
In addition to apples, they grow peaches out here. That prompted a chorus or two of Shady Grove:
     Peaches in the summertime
     Apples in the fall
     If I can't have the one I love
     I'll have no one at all!

Roger and I just learned this song at our Family Camp at Ashokan a week or two ago. 

The other thing that strikes me as we ride down the valley is all the Civil War battle sites. We must have passed a dozen signs commemorating this battle or that. Many place names are familiar to me, though I don't know their significance in the war. Yesterday we rode for a good while along Antietam Creek in West Virginia. It is easy to see how people here, particularly, have a hard time letting go of the war. They are reminded of it all the time. 

Belle Grove Plantation - near Cedar Creek battlefield
This is the land of country ham, so that is what I am having for my second breakfast!  And a biscuit! And grits!  Yay! 

Our Warm Showers hosts Deb and Steve have a beautiful home overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. We enjoyed a great meal, sitting on the deck enjoying the view. She is a nurse, and teaches at the Eastern Mennonite University down the valley in Harrisonburg. So she was interested in Roger's elbow and gave him a compression sleeve to wear to help the swelling go down. They also told us of a Virginia state holiday - Lee/Jackson/King day. This commemorates the military leaders of the Confederacy. (In fact, we were riding down the Lee - Jackson highway all day, past the battlefields.) It is celebrated concurrently with the national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr.!  So there you have it - the generals committed to preserving the rights of southern states to enslave others in the nineteenth century get equal time with the man who strove peacefully to ensure the rights of all in the twentieth. Only in Virginia! 
Roger and Deb

A beautiful setting

We were impressed also with their son's tour a year or so ago - he went all the way around the states, also. But he took over a year, and went 12,000 miles!  I think we are going to give him the distance prize. I don't even want to contest it!

Then there is the irony that Deb had to go in to work today for training on campus, before the students arrive. At the Mennonite campus, they had to have "active shooter" training. Seems out of place at a university full of pacifists. 

The day's report:  Martinsburg to Woodstock, 56.6 miles/5839 to date

Our route is here

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