Dear Friends and Family,
What sights! They take my breath away.
After I last posted I searched for a trail near me and found one only three miles away. Wow, was it ever a pretty trail! It started out going through a tunnel through Mountain Laurel.
I hooked up my trailer that night and on Sunday I pulled out of my site 63 at Chestnut Ridge Campground by seven a.m.
Google said it would only take me four hours to get to my destination. I knew better. I gave my next campground host in Fries, VA and estimated arrival time of two or three p.m. As it turned out, I didn't even make that.
Why? Well there were lots of slow climbs and lots of things to look at and then I had to get out an walk a bit and that is how I roll.
By 10:00 I needed to walk so I found a recreation area and parked at the Bee Run Campground. It was lovely and I thought how I need to figure out how to camp without electric. A bag of ice in my fridge, and a battery with a plug for my computer. I could do a couple days, I think.
Right out of the campground was the Happy Camper Trail. It went down down down and reminded me of the trail from Ohiopyle Campground to the Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail. This trail took me down a mile and a half to a reservoir and marina. It had a beach, a playground, and shelters with electric where a camper could charge up their devices. Here there was cell service too. Hmmmm.
I marched the mile and a half up the road this time back to my car ride for today.
I was still 120 miles away from my destination of Fries, VA where I would camp and ride the New River Trail, when I began to see signs for scenic views of the New River Gorge.
I pulled into a very very busy visitors' center parking lot. I was going to see about picking up a map of the trail and information. But there was a line waiting to get into the visitors center.
I walked a bit to the scenic overlook of a bridge that I was about to drive over on the highway that I was driving.
But the viewing area and paths were crowded! Everyone was out doing touristy stuff this lovely Sunday. So I moved on.
My camping spot is sweet! We are actually in a creek valley that floods on rare occasions, and has a lovely little stream trickling by our line of campsites. In the mornings and evenings the smell of autumn and pine fill the air.
The campground host told me how to get to the New River Trail, "Straight out the campground and behind the school across the street."
When I got to the trail, I was amazed. What a lovely river valley. The river is a lot wider than I imagined and in many places it is rushing over and around rocks. This must be the best time of year to do the New River Trail.
Right away I was glad I decided not to ride my trike. The trail had spots where the crushed limestone had washed away and the big-rock gravel or ballast made for a bumpy ride.
The trail in places looked blacktop, but it was a dark crushed stone, with some big stones sometimes.
The way sides have bike racks and places to tie up your horse.
I had researched Galax the night before so I knew there were restaurants there and a coffee shop. I didn't pack a lunch.
The surface of the branch to Galax was very rough in places and reminded me of the C&O Trail. But next to it was a pretty stream. I was riding up stream and that meant at least the first 12 miles of my return trip would be down a slight rail-grade.
It turned out they just had their last jam for the season last week. Dang! Then the woman told me that there is one on Wednesday evening in Independence at the old courthouse. Cool!
I went to the coffee shop, their website had a lovely picture of a spinach and egg quiche. But the actual shop only had white bread bagels and plain cream cheese. I was disappointed.
I biked a busy road to an IGA to pick up some whole grain bread. When I exited the store I heard a kind of rap song that I thought was coming from a truck that was unloading. It said something about pussy and dick and "Mash it, mash it good." I was wondering if I should go over and remind the trucker that there were grandmas shopping. As I took a few steps toward the truck I realized the music wasn't coming from the truck but from the store's overhead speakers!
I biked over to Subway and got an egg sub after eating half a white-bread bagel. I took the sub with me on my return ride and found a spot by the rushing water to eat my lunch.
There is a tunnel on this trail. I am glad that I read that none of them were very long. I was kind of nervous walking into the dark alone, but this tunnel goes around a curve and by the time the dark was almost surrounding me, I could see lots of light coming from the other end. I did have my light too, but ... still.
Going back up the New River Valley later in the day was just as beautiful as in the morning. I was stopping probably every 1/2 mile or so to take a picture or just soak in the sights and sounds.
At one point the river was calm, reflecting the cliffs and colored leaves on the hill across from the Trail. Then I stirred up a great blue heron that silently few a few feet above its reflection. The drips from its spindly toes the only thing disturbing the mirror.
Those of us who ride rail trails know that there is usually a sewer plant or two we get to ride by. The one in Fries is very small and didn't smell bad at all. Fries is a very small town. But I see it has a river adventure outfitter... if only I had more time here.
I headed toward the caboose because I had promised myself ice cream. But I wasn't hungry for ice cream so I was kind of relieved to discover it was closed. It is Monday, a lot of the places in Galax were closed too.
When I got back to camp, I did yoga because my hips were complaining today. They had not been stretched enough. They almost felt arthritic. The stretching felt great. The campground host stopped by to check on me and I mentioned the music jam. He directed me to the music museum on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax. They do music there every day noon to four.
Hmmmm. Tomorrow do I ride again on a different part of the trail or do I go listen. Maybe a short ride and a listen and do the music museum.
I am listening to a book titled, Running All Over The World by Anthony Copeland-Parker. His wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. He decided to retire early and travel the world with his wife doing what they love, which is running marathons.
Around Chapter 14 or 15 he talks about exercise and the new and different experiences may be helping stave off the dementia symptoms, or even helping to prevent or slow down brain damage. He sights some preliminary studies.
Working your brain a bit (where you have to stop and think hard) is good too, mostly before you get dementia. It increases your capacity and therefore you have more brain to lose when/if you start to lose it, so the symptoms won't show up as quickly.
He also writes about some research studies they participated in for new medications. If you are interested in brain health and also dream of traveling the world, I recommend his book. But I warn you they only spend an average of three days in one place and it is a whirlwind of activity. I don't know when he has all the time to book tickets, research, and do all the other stuff required when traveling.
I find that way of travel would be stimulating but entirely too much time spent in airplanes and airports.
I also discovered I have a book on taking care of your brain by Dr. Amen. In it he mentions the MIND diet. I haven't researched it yet, but he says it is like the Mediteranian Diet, leans towards Pescatarian (Vegetarian that eats fish) and avoids cheeses. So I am trying to cut down on my cheese intake and will read up on the MIND diet.
He also talks about many supplements. But I have also heard we are making expensive pee by taking so many supplements. I take D and a bone booster type supplement. Now I am adding fish oil and B-complex.
Last year in October I had put together a fitness team to raise funds for Alzheimer's Education. The fundraiser is happening again this year, but I felt too busy when I learned about it, I think I was doing or about to do the big bike ride from PA to DC.
Here is the link to the Alzheimer's Walk in Floral City.
There is also going to be a walk on November 13th in Floral City to raise money and awareness. But the Southern Florida Recumbent Group will be riding the Withlacoochee that day and I had already committed to joining in the fun there. Still, I can send a check, and you can to.
Thoughts Turn Toward Home
My friend Marilyn texted today reminding me of the fun I am going to have when I get home. She reminded me of happy hours with neighbors and friends. Oh yes! I miss that, I miss them. It is time to get on home.
But first a music jam, a few more rides, and ...