It's gotten hot and humid again. We hoped for a thunderstorm yesterday to clear the air, but it never materialized. So now we are climbing, looking for shade on the route when we can find it, and looking skyward for clouds to give us some relief from the sun. Man, when it hits you full on, it is HOT! In the shade, you can almost convince yourself that it's cool - tolerable at the very least.
|The woods looked cool and shady - but not the roads!|
The cicadas are keeping us company on our ride today. Since we headed into Virginia, they have been whirring and clattering in the trees day (and night, sometimes). It's a very familiar sound to me, coming from Houston. I actually enjoy their song, although not at night and right outside our hotel room. They can be quite loud, especially when they are attached to a metal light post and the reverb is shattering! We have also enjoyed seeing quite a few different species of butterflies. I wish I knew enough to name them, but I can just say we are seeing lovely black and yellow ones, dark ones with iridescent blue and purple spots, yellow ones, and some great brown and gold ones.
The parts of (w)estern Virginia we've been riding through are also cattle country, so we are seeing beef cattle here and there in addition to some dairy operations. Once upon a time, it was a big chicken production area also, and there are still many chicken farms along the country roads. Fortunately, they have all been set well back from the road, so we haven't noticed any smell. And today I saw the first pigs of the trip. Seems odd, given all the agricultural areas we've been through, but there you go. There were two of them in an open field. They actually grunted as we rode by - Roger thought they might be wild but they were inside a fence so I'd say no.
We're certainly into the Appalachian region now. Actually, our hosts a few days back said everything west of the Blue Ridge Mountains is considered Appalachia: come down them to the east and it's "old Virginia" but come down on the west and it's Appalachia. So technically we've been here for days. We have met so many people who are not from here originally, it took a while to get the flavor of the region. But the locals we chat with in the convenience stores - they are the real deal. I love the accent! It's musical, almost - and slow. No one is in a hurry here. And everyone is unfailingly polite. Everyone says, "yes, ma'am" all the time. Many people are quite interested in our trip, and they have great expressions of disbelief and surprise when we say we have come from southern California on our bike. My favorite was the young man at the hotel in Salem who kept saying, "Stop." I don't know why that tickled me so, but it did.
|You can't really capture the sense of the climbs in a photo|
By the way - that hot weather had us worried. We were about out of water, with no clear option in sight for refilling the bottles. We stopped to eat a bar, and I said, "we'll just have to stop and ask someone if we can use the hose." It was a rural area, but not uninhabited, so it's not like there were no houses on the road. And just as we got back on the road, we came upon a church, and I suggested they might have a hose bib somewhere. They didn't - but they did have a pump! So, thank you to the good folks at the Methodist Church for providing water in the wilderness.
|God did provide!|
The day's report: Salem to Christianburg, 38.1 miles/6036 to date
Here's the route: Up and down on the Excellent Adventure