Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 124 ~ The Cookie Lady

Arriving at Rockfish Gap Outfitters, Waynesboro, Virginia

Albert says, "Get Smart: Ride A Bike!"

Tom Garber from Rockfish Gap Outfitters offered us a ride back up onto our route. Thanks Tom!

The Cookie Lady had this singing and dancing Santa that Gregory enjoyed playing with.

June "The Cookie Lady" had binders and binders of Polaroid pictures she has taken of cyclists that have passed through her doors. She is really disappointed that they've stopped making her film.

Gregory and Mike check out all of the memorabilia in the Cookie Lady's bunkhouse. She has postcards from all over the world and a cabinet jammed full of letters too. She told us that wasn't even all of them.

This is the sign that June Curry "The Cookie Lady" painted the inaugural year. She told us she thought it would only last a year and 38 years later she is still hosting cyclists.

A picture of June and the cyclists in 1976.

Gregory gives June his fireman for her Christmas village.

Gregory's fireman gets a special place in the Christmas village modeled after 1920s Afton, Virginia.

We met Bear and Dexter and their owner Debra out in front of the Greenwood Country Store

Greenwood Country Store. I wish it wouldn't have been so late in the day. I would have loved to explore this store.

The climbing wall in Jeff and Joey's three story home.

Gregory and Sammy

Gregory tried to get Felipe to sleep with him but it didn't last long.

Date: November 20, 2009

From: Waynesboro,Virginia

To: Charlottesville,Virginia

Route: Hwy. 250 via truck out of Waynesboro, SR 6, CR 750, Hwy. 250 into Charlottesville

Miles Today: 27 miles

TOTAL MILES: 3,577 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Sunny and warm

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), 1 Virginia

Flats: 11

Broken Spokes: 3

Cracked Rim: 1

Today we had another chance to sleep in because we were offered a ride up the mountain out of Waynesboro and back up onto our route. Tom Garber of Rockfish Gap Outfitters met us around 10:30 A.M. at the store and took us up out of town. Gregory inquired as to whether Tom had pets and he showed Gregory a picture that he had on his phone of his two beagles. Gregory thinks he might like a beagle when we settle down but Mike and I keep telling him they are chewers, diggers and bark a lot. In fact, later in the day we met Debra out in front of the Greenwood Country Store Gallery & Shops and she was walking her beagle Dexter and her other dog Bear. Gregory asked, "Is Dexter a chewer?" Debra showed Gregory both leashes and confirmed that yes indeed he was a chewer. Mike said, "When you get grownup you can use your own money to buy a beagle!" Mike had a beagle growing up and knows from first had experience. You have to admit they are cute dogs! Debra also said something I just loved. When we were sharing our experience on the Blue Ridge Parkway she said, "Oh you mean the Blue Ridge Fogway?" That about sums up our day!

After Tom dropped us off we only had a short couple of downhill miles to June Curry's house. As I mentioned she is a legend on the trail and we just had to stop and meet her. We actually spent over three hours with June. She shared stories of Afton in the 1920s when she was growing up and told us all about the Christmas Village she put together that is a replica of the town at that time. We heard many stories about the cyclists who have passed through her doors and best yet the story of how the cyclists all came to her aid when they heard she'd had a stroke and couldn't afford to have in-home care while she was recovering. Checks and get well wishes came from all over the world. The bunkhouse is a sight to behold with 38 years of memorabilia including letters and postcards from the world over. She seemed especially touched by the small toy bicycle gifted to her by a 15-year old boy who had ridden all over the world. She explained that when they started the trip his mother said he could bring one toy and he decided to bring this toy bike. When he met June and saw the bunkhouse he decided that was where in belonged. They still had to cross America to return home to Portland, Oregon but the bike stayed with June and is hanging from the ceiling today.

It made me especially proud when my own son noticed that June's Christmas village didn't have a fireman and went and got his toy fireman out of his under-the-seat-bag and gave it to June for her village. She was tickled pink and put it right on top of the fire truck. Gregory was all smiles. He was so glad to make her happy and to make a contribution. Mike and I couldn't have been more thrilled.

June will be 89 years old on February 8, 2010 and she is still just as sharp as ever. She said her short term memory isn't so good but I can assure you her long term memory is just fine! She suffers with arthritis in her thumbs, pointer and middle fingers and we could tell this bothered her because it makes it difficult to pick things up and she said she is always dropping and breaking things. Though she's been through a lot in the past couple of years, with a stroke and broken bones caused by falls, she still maintains a positive attitude and continues serving the cycling community. She is an inspiration.

We left at around 2:30 P.M. with still over 25 miles to go. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was looking forward to the ride though my knees are still compromised. I wanted to stick to the route but after about 5 or so miles of the ups and downs of the back roads Mike made the decision to get back on Highway 250 that was more of a straight shot to Charlottesville. It wasn't without hills but they were longer and more gradual.

Lunch at Greenwood Grocery, a specialty grocery store with lots of high-end goodies, was really tasty. I had a tuna salad with capers on fresh baked sourdough and it was very flavorful. Mike enjoyed his favorite of hot pastrami and Gregory had Virginia ham and cheese. Now it was after 3:30 and we still had 20 miles to go. Mike doesn't like leaving that many miles that late in the day and he gets a bit antsy and wants to push on. When the grocery didn't have bathrooms and we had to make another stop a mile down the road at a gas station I could tell the tension was building. When he gets moody so do I and I was a bit snappy so we had a quiet ride into town. Later I apologized for my snappiness. I just get so frustrated when he gets moody and impatient.

We did finally make it into Charlottesville but it was a busy two lane highway with no shoulder and first we had the traffic from parents picking up their kids from school and then rush hour. It got especially congested when we got closer to the city and then making our way around the University of Virginia campus (founded by Thomas Jefferson). At one point we were stopped at a light and surrounded by cars and Gregory said something like, "This feels weird mom." I said, "I know. Do you feel like you are in a tin can?" "Yeh," came his reply. We just waved at the people in the cars parked right next to us and gave them a smile as we waited for the light to change. Mike did a great job of getting us through some tight spots and we arrived at the home of Jeff and Jody, our warmshowers hosts, before dark.

Jeff does construction and they have this amazing three story home that is modern and sleek in design with lots of cool features. We spent the first hour visiting with Joey and Jeff and getting to know the pets, Sammy the cat, and Felipe the chocolate lab. We eventually got settled in to our own second floor room, took showers and rested a bit before dinner.

Joey made her speciality, black bean burritos. The aroma of garlic and onions sauteing and fresh cut cilantro really piqued my excitement about dinner. The food was delicious and we also shared some Pinot Noir and local brew. Later in the evening as we shared stories of the road Gregory told one of his favorites about our friends in Jefferson City, Missouri who gave him a Lego set. When Jody heard that she sent Gregory upstairs and straight to a bike helmet box full of Legos. He was in heaven and he built with Legos well into the evening. Poor Jeff was doing his best at staying awake but kept nodding off. He'd worked all day at the job site and we knew he must be tired so we called it a day.

We are thrilled to have been invited to stay another day so they can take us to see Thomas Jefferson's home of Monticello (pronounced Monti-ch-ello). We said we'd love to but explained we had two more days of riding to get to Mechanicsville (outside of Richmond) and already booked Amtrak for Washington D.C. on Monday. Jeff generously offered to drive us however far we wanted so we could meet whatever deadlines we had. So, of course we accepted. I'm so thrilled that we will all get to experience Monticello. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when it looked like we'd be so close and not get to see it. We didn't even have to ask. The generosity of others showed itself once again as we take this journey across America.


  1. so glad you got to meet the cookie lady!....she is an icon! one of my biggest fears was that she would no longer be around by the time we got to do our trip, but she still looks great! we last saw her 2 years ago when we went back down to visit

    sure hope they can keep the house going after she is gone, altho it won't be quite the same

    i am assuming her bd was a typo and that she will be 89 in 2010, not 2009, she loves to get mail, so i always send a xmas card but i marked my calendar and will send her a bd card

    also sorry you didn't get to see the views from the parkway, they are gorgeous, but be careful what you wish for! when we went thru, brian said he would take 3 days of rain if we could have one day of sunshine on the parkway! ;-)

    ps..... gregory is an awesome kid.... that was so kind of him to give june his fireman for her village that she is so proud of,..... and one of the few residents still around to remember how it was!

  2. Thanks for catching the typo! I also hope they will keep it going once she is no longer around but I fear that won't happen. She was some legal agreement with the woman behind her who will acquire the property once she is gone. This woman has agreed to let June live in her home and keep the bottom floor of the other building as the bunkhouse until such a time. It is really a sad situation.