Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
|Lion Club at Skyland|
|Thanks Whitt’s Harley Davidson!|
|It is Cold!|
|View from Skyline Drive|
It is not easy for husband and I to take the motorcycle out of the truck. While I can hold the bike steady, if it starts to tip or roll too quickly, I am not strong enough to hold it up. Adopted Daughter’s boyfriend told us that the Harley Davidson Dealership had an unloading ramp that was perfect for our use. Because we are not Harley Davison owners, husband thought it best to check with them and ask them if it was okay to use the ramp. Not only was it okay, but when we pulled up, the mechanics came out and helped husband get the bike out of the truck and down the ramp. What a blessing they were even though they teased us for being YAMAYHAHA owners. Taking the Interstate from Manassas to Front Royal was a time saver, but I do not enjoy Interstate travel due to semi trucks that blow us around and spray gravel in our faces. Fortunately, Interstate 66 northbound was not too crowded and the drive was less than an hour. The Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park is now added to our list of favorite rides. The use fee ($10 for a motorcycle) cuts down on the traffic. There were long stretches of up to a half hour at a time when we did not encounter any traffic and we rarely got behind someone creeping along the road craning their necks to see the leaves. Not that the leaves were not eye catching. They were just changing in the lower levels, but up high at 4,000 feet, they were stunning. Rich gold, rosy red and cheery yellow. They were bright enough that I could see them even speeding by. The usual problem of sightseeing on the motorcycle was evident from the start. I have no way of communicating with husband. If I want to stop to take a picture, we are usually past the overlook before he recognizes my frantic pointing. At first, he stopped at every overlook. While we did not get off, he slowed enough I could get a picture. When I told him that he didn’t need to stop at every one, he began speeding past again. Finally, we worked out an agreement that he would pull over every so often as long as it was an overlook with a view. When we stopped for lunch at Skyland, we were surprised to find a couple with a three week old lion club. They take in orphaned and retired zoo and circus animals ata summer camp in Virginia. While they were on vacation, they have someone take care of the camp, but had no one to leave the baby with. While we expected to see deer and turkeys, we did not anticipate seeing a lion! Whether it is the kindness of a stranger or a unique site along the road, there are always surprises if you just slow down enough to see them!
|Blue Ridge Parkway across James River|
|Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia|
|Peaks of the Otters|
First thing in the morning, I blew my long underwear dry in the hotel bathroom. When we planned a trip to ride the parkway in October, we never dreamed that the temperatures would be below normal with mornings in the 40s warming only to the low sixties in the afternoon. Factor in the wind chill and that is cold. Fortunately, we brought our leather jackets and chaps (leather pants you wear over your jeans), but at the last minute, I threw in some long underwear and boy, was I glad to have it. Because it is made of silk, it is thin enough that I can rinse it out in the sink and it will mostly dry overnight, but despite its texture, it keeps me very warm. Even with long underwear, jeans, two shirts, a Polertec vest, wool scarf, gloves, boots and my leathers, I was still chilly. I think the cold contributed to husband’s reluctance to stop for pictures or sightseeing as we travelled from Waynesboro to Roanoke in our quest to finish the Blue Ridge Parkway. Over the last couple of years, we have ridden from Cherokee in the south to Roanoke in the north and only had the stretch from Roanoke to Waynesboro to complete that ride. I think that the route from Waynesboro to Roanoke is my favorite portion of Parkway, but the fall leaves may have contributed to that decision. In addition, the lack of traffic as compared to the lower parts made the ride an easy one. Husband seemed to be enjoying the curves and the empty roads and it was two hours before our first stop at the James River. I was almost to the point where I was going to have to make him stop as I only have a two hour butt and was starting to be in pain. The James River is a beautiful wide river that carves out a valley among the mountains. There is a pedestrian bridge underneath the parkway to cross the bridge and see the old locks that assisted boats in colonial America as they travelled from the mountains to the sea loaded with produce and lumber to the coast. It was nice to be free of the helmet that we wear and see a wide panorama and vistas. The helmet impairs my ability to see things on the side of the road unless I turn my head. Generally, I stay tucked behind husband who blocks the wind and peek around him. Sometimes, in life, it is important to stay focused on the future, keeping track of our goals and what we need to accomplish them. But, we miss so much when we fail to take into account what is around us. That’s one of the things I like most about travelling on the motorcycle, from the smells to the temperatures, it is a full sensory experience. Even on an unusually cold day, with the right preparations, the journey is enjoyable.
|Me and my friend, Tom|
|Bean Vines in Bloom|
On our last day on the motorcycle, we rode from Roanoke to Charlottesville to see Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello. After a cold two hour ride on the Interstate we were glad to get off the motorcycle and enjoy the Monticello Visitors Center, its café and movie about Thomas Jefferson. The house itself is beautiful, but smaller than I expected because the first floor is below ground and most of the outbuildings for household chores and stables are below a terrace to keep distractions from the house’s architecture to a minimum. It is surrounded with lovely gardens including vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. Sitting up on a hill, the vista spreads for miles. Tours are at assigned times and as manager of some historic sites, I was intrigued with their efficiency in getting large crowds of people from one place to another. After repeated reminders to be at the house entrance five minutes before our tour time when we purchased our tickets, we arrived on the bus from the visitor’s center to be greeted by a friendly guide who acknowledged we were thirty minutes too early and recommended we join a tour of the plantation with another reminder to return five minutes before our house tour time. We learned some about Jefferson’s methods of farming before getting in line for our house tour where we met another guide who checked our tickets and gave us some information about our tour. At our designated time, our group moved forward to be seated under a tree and given more information about the house by a third guide who turned us over to our house guide. In less than thirty minutes, we encountered four different guides all of whom were professional and well trained to tell the story of Jefferson’s life and house. It was clear that they were all sticking to the script which straightforwardly addressed Jefferson’s dilemma over running his large plantation utilizing slave labor all the while espousing freedom and equality for all and yet skirted the implications of that dual way of thinking on the history of our country. In fact, Jefferson knew that slavery should be eliminated but declared it was for a later generation to solve. The fledging country had other more important demands facing it as it split from England and resisted that country’s efforts to reverse the revolution. However, the Founding Fathers reluctance to take care of slavery at the beginnings of our country’s formation resulted in the division our of the country and the loss of many lives less than a hundred years later. I do not know what might have happened to the country if they had forced the issue of slavery early on, but it speaks to the times in which we live now. Reluctance to rock the boat on important social issues of our day puts us in the same dilemma as Jefferson. Will I act on what I believe or will I leave it for another generation to figure out?
|North Carolina State Farmer’s Market|
We hadn’t planned to leave Virginia until today, but returning to Manassas earlier than scheduled, we went ahead and loaded the bike and started heading south. Once again, we encountered a parking lot on the Interstate, but it did not last as long as the one last Friday so we were able to make it to Selma, North Carolina before stopping for the night. One of the things I had hoped to do this trip was eat a dried apple pie, something I equate with the mountains, but we were too high in the mountains of Virginia to find any apple stands. Even if we had found some, we could not have bought produce home because of the limitations of the motorcycle. I packed lightly for a change, not even bringing my computer and camera, but there was still no room for apples. This morning, we asked at the hotel where we might find a produce stand and the young front desk clerk directed us to the nearest grocery store. Not what I had in mind. We consulted the always knowledgeable Google and decided to drive twelve miles off the Interstate to a produce stand in Clayton, North Carolina to buy some apples and pumpkins. When we arrived, a friendly woman apologized for not having any apples saying that her husband had just gone to the orchard to pick some. When she heard we were travelling back to Florida and were anxious to get some apples, she suggested we go to the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. “It is only sixteen more miles north and you won’t be disappointed,” she said. “They have lots of choices there and it is all good.” We went ahead and bought our pumpkins from her as well as some jelly and continued on in the opposite direction of home towards the North Carolina State Farmer’s Market. I enjoy Farmer’s Markets not only for the food, but for the beauty. I love all the colors and textures. I enjoy seeing new fruits and vegetables and the products that come from a farm like soap, jams, baked goods, flowers, cheese and honey. We spent about an hour walking around looking at the produce and tasting a variety of apple samples. I finally got my fried dried apple pie while husband had some yummy German pastry. There were several school buses in the parking lot, and I was delighted to see a large group of elementary age children learning about agriculture and nutrition at the Farmer’s Market. We loaded the truck with 65 ears of corn, and several bags of apples. I looked longingly at the flowers, dahlias, zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers, but I knew they could not ride up front with us due to husband’s allergies and they would be wilted and windblown in the back. What had promised to be a dull dreary ride home took an unexpected turn due to our willingness to be spontaneous and change our course. And our stomachs are happy because of it!