Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 118 ~ Delightful Downhills & Oh Glorious Sun

One of the advantages to waking up early

Our Hostel Bunkhouse in Troutdale is also use by Appalachian Trail hikers

Gregory gives this Porta-Johnnie (at the hostel in Troutdale) a thumbs up as the cleanest one of the trip.

Air Mail

Nature's Heart


Jack-O-Lanterns lined up in a row on the guard rail near one of the National Forest campgrounds. Gregory couldn't believe so many people still have their jack-o-lanterns on their porches. It is mid-November.

Pretty Country Roads

Jody's Country Kitchen in Rural Retreat, Virginia

My Handsome Young Man

Gregory helps offload the panniers while Dad is in registering.

Date: November 14, 2009

From: Troutdale, Virginia

To: Wytheville,Virginia (pronounced with-ville)

Route: Hwy. 16, Hwy. 695, Hwy. 614, Hwy. 749, Hwy.90, Hwy. 11

Miles Today: 36 miles

TOTAL MILES: 3,398 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Sunny and Glorious ~ Shorts!

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana, 8 Wyoming (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho (found in WY), 2 Colorado, 1 Kansas (Gifted from David of Baldwin City), 1 Missouri (To be sent to Grammy’s by our new buddy, Kansas City firefighter Shawn), 1 Illinois, 4 Kentucky (2 Gifted from Beth and Garry Feltus, one gifted from cousin John, one from Hwy. 127)

Flats: 10

Broken Spokes: 3

Cracked Rim: 1

We awoke early to an amazing purple sky. Just a sliver of a moon shone through the tree branches and it was brisk but a beautiful morning. We packed up in our bunkhouse where, though we couldn't get the heater working, we were still cozy and comfortable with our mattresses and sleeping bags. Our AT hiking neighbor, "Backpack" was still sound asleep when we made our way down to Jerry's for breakfast.

There we met Dana who pulled up a chair while we were ordering and wanted to hear all about our adventure. When her food arrived we asked her to join us and we had a nice time visiting well into the morning. She is a former teacher turned administrator from Charlotte, North Carolina and came up this weekend to do some camping. She and Mike continued to talk as I got Gregory settled in a quiet corner away from the T.V. so he could write in his journal. Later, Mike told me that when he'd gone up to pay for breakfast Dana had already taken care of our bill. Thanks Dana! Just one more of our many "Road Angels".

When we finally headed out I gave Jerry a great big hug to thank him for his kindness the night before and I got a little choked up. It had been a rough evening and his simple offer of a ride up the hill to our bunkhouse after dinner at his restaurant meant the world to me. He asked me to send a postcard when we finished and I assured him I already took down his address.

The locals said the climb out of Troutdale was nothing but I wouldn't say that. It was a pretty good sized little hill but once we were up and over that the downhill started. Yahoo! We still had a bit of climbing today but for the most part it was plenty of coasting. Mike said, "I love the downhills!" Gregory said, "I said that at the beginning of the trip!" I said, "I love the sun!" It was a great day for cycling and I was really grateful because I think I'm fighting a cold. My throat has been scratchy and I'm exhausted and a bit nauseous. The hills we did have felt like mountains and I felt this huge relief each time we crested the top of one and got to coast for a bit. Mike knew I wasn't doing well and planned a short day.

Lunch at Jody's Country Kitchen in Rural Retreat was kind of fun. Gregory got to sit up on a bar stool at the counter and watch a little football. The waitress was especially great with him. I devoured a salad and a BLT while Mike had a couple of fully-loaded hot dogs and we downed some iced tea, shared a piece of peanut butter pie and read the local paper. I couldn't convince Mike to go to the auction that was happening just around the corner. Imagine that!

The last 12 miles to Wytheville (pronounced with-ville) we tried to coast as long as we could and had a good time joking around. It is amazing how some good weather and a good downhill can change our outlook. Once in town we decided to try to locate the bike shop and top off our air pressure following our White Top Mountain rear flat. We stopped to refer to our map and that is when I flagged down George James who was out for a day ride. He informed us that the bike shop moved to another town but offered to bring his pump over to our motel. He was just finishing his ride and only a couple of miles from home. He put off his lawn mowing chores and met us shortly after our arrival. Gregory was thrilled that he brought his 9-year old son Will and the two hit it off right away. They looked at Gregory's Lego catalog and watched a bit of football and then Gregory convinced Will's dad to go home and get Will's suit so he and Gregory could swim. Mike agreed to supervise so I could get some rest.

I slept from about 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. and didn't even hear the boys when they came in to shower and change before going out to the lobby to watch the end of the Ohio State versus Iowa game. (Mike grew up in Ohio and that is their team.) They won and it looks like they will be going to the Rose Bowl. They also said that Stanford whomped USC. Our friend and former neighbor Dan will be sad over that one.

Gregory finally came in and woke me up with the news. Bless Mike's heart, he had done the laundry and let me get the rest I desperately needed by entertaining Gregory. I collected the clothes from the dryer while Mike finished visiting with an older couple from Columbus, Ohio. They were on their way to Florida when she had some heart trouble and stopped in for some tests. Against doctors advice she left the facility and is turning around to go home to be seen to in Columbus. We wished her good health and safe travels and headed out for some dinner. Meeting these two just got me to thinking more about doing things now rather than later because you never know what might happen. They were on their way to meet her sister for a ham dinner in Florida and now they are headed to the heart specialist. I hope they have many more happy years together.


  1. OK, family. Where's Day 119?! Just kidding; no hurry. :D

  2. Missing your updates. Hope all is well!!! :-) ~ Blue

  3. Good Wednesday morning! Now I am a bit worried. My guess is that Dorrie's cold has taken hold and she's under the weather. Take good care; we'll keep a good thought and look forward to hearing from you three very soon.

  4. Getting worried too guys. Please check in soon!!! Even if you need to end the tour soon for some reason, you've accomplished SO MUCH!!!! You all should be very proud of yourselves. ~ Blue