I made it out to Catawba today. I could still feel the fire in my legs from yesterday's climbs. Conveniently enough, when I pulled into the first gas station I saw in town, the woman who owns the place allowed me to camp in the field adjacent to the station. There's no service out here so I'll just upload what I'm writing when I get closer to Blacksburg tomorrow morning. Today was tough. I'm definitely starting to feel the wear and tear of the day to day grind. Although I'm not ready for an off day just yet.
This morning I was given a little boost of energy after unintentionally passing Foamhenge. I thought the first road side attraction I was going to see was going to be the Popeye statue in Southern Illinois. I was taken off guard and the humor certainly gave me that boost.
Just down the road I passed the "zoo" of Natural Bridge. It's in quotation marks because considering the location I'm not sure I believe they actually had a tiger, elephant, or giraffe. And after eyeing their 8 car parking lot, I was not willing to pay to find out.
One more little story... At a gas station with a giant fake tiger in front, I was approached by a biker who only spoke Spanish. It seemed appropriate given the Mexican flag on the windshield. We got to the point where I understood that his motorcycle was riding at higher RPMs (through a series of wild hand signals and broken Spanish). I don't know if he was more disappointed that I couldn't help him, or that I didn't speak Spanish? Maybe I really do look Mexican.
The ride today progressed further into the valley, but I will start to make my way back up to the other Appalachians in western VA and Kentucky tomorrow. Speaking of Kentucky, I'm probably only a few days away. I break further south in Virginia, almost to the Tennessee border and then head northwest into Kentucky.
Tomorrow I hope to make it to Claytor Lake just south of Newbern. There appears to be a state park where I can camp. Something I noticed from looking at the map, the New River runs right into Claytor Lake. I actually had a chance to go whitewater rafter on the Upper New with OU Snowcats my sophomore year. If anyone's reading this from OU, it's an unforgettable time, and even though you miss Mill Fest, it might as well be it's own fest out in the middle of West Virginia.