Tonight's my last night with Virginia. I've seen her good days. I've seen her beauty by the beach, on the plantations, and in the mountains. In the last two days I've really seen her storm. Now that I know what she's all about I can say she's my kind of girl. If our paths ever cross again it will be a welcomed reunion. I hit that physical wall today about three miles outside of the Breaks Interstate Park. I had to stop several times to finish the final climb of my most well rounded day to say the least.
The 70 or so miles from Abingdon to Breaks were divided. The first 30 left me soaking wet. I was the poster child for cycling don'ts. Riding in a thunderstorm with no helmet down an interstate and several steep descents is a feeling I will not soon forget. The last 40 was a new day; the heavens had opened up.
I spent my lunch break in another Subway. There always seems to be one at the exact time my hunger reaches threat level orange. I spoke with two locals while attempting to dry the fabrics that had seemingly transformed into the liquid state.
The first man was a grandpa, 78 years old (it was kind of funny how the conversation evolved into a guessing game to uncover his real age, of which he claims to be very sensitive). His kids were coming into town for Father's Day. We spoke in short of his life. I listened and he talked. He likes to talk; he told me so twice. An ex Navy guy, the man had the emblem displayed proudly on his forearm. It was interesting to see him reflect on his own life when he heard I was 21, tracing back memories to the days when he was in the Korean War, "softening the beach" with shells from 20 miles away.
This man is a living rebuttal to the modern day hardships politicians speak of ad nauseam. This country has been on a 40 year vacation; the wounds reek of self pity and the direction is visionless. Unfortunately not many realize that going back to the grind after a ridiculously long vacation is not a crisis. I'm 21 years old. I'm on a bike crossing the U.S.; I will obtain a degree that holds sustainable value. 50 years ago this man was 21, on a boat fighting for freedom. If Barack Obama wants to talk to auto workers about the troubled waters ahead and how he's so proud of how we're handling the "struggle" as a country, he needs to explain that the "struggle" is in the eye of the beholder. It can be vanquished by self accountability and correcting one's perception of what pursuit of happiness really is. I'm taking advantage of the opportunities this country has for me. This is the best country in the entire world. It's no coincidence where I am, and where I'm headed (literally and figuratively). I also don't think it's any coincidence where this country is heading (Rome is burning). It's time people start distributing reality checks to the sheep and stop letting them blame the coincidence fairy.
The other man offered an unsolicited confirmation of my disdain for riding for a "cause". When he heard about my ride he had mentioned that weeks earlier he had spoken with a large group of cyclists at length. They were using a support van to move through the country to bike for a "cause" he could not remember. The irony of it all is that he himself was part of a motorcycle group that was looking to raise money for volunteer firefighters.
After reaching Breaks, I was awarded a neat little pin by a park ranger for traversing the 570 miles of the Virginia TransAm. You see, I'm sleeping on the border of Kentucky. So it took me 9 days, 7 campgrounds, an 2 motel rooms, but I'm here. I can't wait to snap that photo of the welcome sign tomorrow morning.
This is a beautiful park. If more rain wasn't on the way, I would debate with myself about taking tomorrow off and using a golf cart to explore the place; it's huge.
My Internet resources are limited again. Tomorrow's destination will remain a mystery until the weather situation is more clear. Although it seems like weathermen use the heads or tails method of meteorology more times than not.