Monday, October 11, 2021

Lovely Hike and Bike and Camp

 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.

Then steps down to a falling creek (or "run" as they call them around here).
The ground covered with colorful leaves and some snowing down in front of me.  There were trees and mosses growing on giant rocks.
Golden leaves  were floating on a crystal clear stream.
There were lots of pretty and interesting fungus/mushrooms.
And the walk was just the right length.

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.

It is the longest arch bridge.  And by creating the bridge they saved travelers several hours of travel.

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.  

At the Fries end of the trail is a caboose that sells ice cream.  I made a note to check that out on my way back into town.

The trail in places looked blacktop, but it was a dark crushed stone, with some big stones sometimes.

There are campsites along the trail, though they are not free like on the C&O trail.  These were $17 a night for the first night.  But they were in very pretty spots with the sounds of rushing water close by.

I biked 5.5 miles to where the there is a branch that turns off the New River and follows a smaller waterway to Galax, VA.  First I rode two more miles along the New River and then I came back and took the bridge over the New River and toward Galax. 

The beauty of this linear park is in no small part due to the stewardship of the adjacent land owners.  Thank you!

I think this is the first time I have encountered horse pooh on a bike bridge.
Before crossing the bridge, I rode down to mile marker 38.


 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.

When I got to Galax, right away I came upon a produce store.  I was surprised at how excited and giddy I was to shop for vegetables and nuts and fruit.  I was so happy with my find, since Fries doesn't have a real grocery store.
I had learned in a booklet the campground host gave me that Tuesday evenings there is a music Jam somewhere in Galax.   I stopped by the tourist info place to inquire. 

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.

We'll see.


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 ...

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Fall in West Virginia and Things are Looking Up!

 Hello from West Virginia,

I have spent a whole week getting back into routine and feeding myself better foods after our 10-day ride from Pittsburgh to DC. 

It took about four days before I started to feel like myself again. 


I called the Chrysler Dealer Service Center in Morgantown, WV to see if they could fix my car or my fobs.  But I had to leave them a message and they never called me back.  I went there, but their parking lot was packed, and I knew there was no way they would get to me.

So for several days I either left my car unlocked or did the quick open the door and get the key in the ignition to turn off the alarm.  I was down to three loud honks.  The other day I put a new battery in one of my fobs.  I tried it with a little hope, but nothing happened.  I concluded it must be something inside the car. 

The next morning it was still dark at 7 a.m. when I went to get in my car at the campground. Dang, I had locked it without thinking.  So a quick three-honk very loud alarm in the campground.  Sorry fellow campers.  Later that day I was at a picnic shelter with electric (Hey, did you know you can google “park picnic table with electric near me” and google may direct you to a park with a shelter and electric?  I was so happy I could have danced.  That is so much better than spending hours in a library on a beautiful day. The shelter it directed me to was up on a hill and had good cell reception.  Heaven!)


So I was taking a break from the screen and I noticed that the fob wasn’t quite shut tight.  So I squeezed it shut.  Then just for giggles (without much hope) I aimed it at the car and pressed the unlock.  “Did those lights go on?” I wondered.  So I pushed the trunk open button and the trunk opened!  Yay!  I had my fob back.

Plans for October

I was using the internet and my computer because I was frustrated trying to find camping spots.  It appears that Virgina and West Virginia are popular camping spots when the leaves begin to turn.  One weekend all the campgrounds I checked were filled with campers. 

It took me about three hours but I finally got my October campspots booked.  And I am thrilled with the itinerary, I hope you that are familiar with the Virginia trails are happy too.

I will spend several days in Fries along the New River Trail.  The trail is highly recommended.  Unfortunately the price at the private campground is $50 a night.  But Hey, I am on my way home.

Next I will be attending a Sisters on the Fly event.  I have had too much alone time this week.  I need some laughs around a campfire and to share an adventure with some active women. The event says there is kayaking, zip-lining, hiking and lots of other stuff too.  Plus we are supposed to do a Hatfield and McCoy thing so I will have to see if I can find some overhauls at a Goodwill.

Then I will be going to the top of the Virginia Creeper to camp.  It may be cool up there at 5,000 feet.  I still have to schedule a shuttle service for taking me and my bike back up the mountain.  I plan to bike down to the low point in the middle of the trail and then up to the far end, then coast back down to the middle where I will catch a shuttle… if the shuttle runs late afternoons.

Then I will spend two nights at Myrtl Beach in the Carolinas.  I have never been, the campground was full, but I got two nights during the week.  Then on to meet up with some triking friends hear Jekyl Island. 

I mapped out my route home from there and it is only 189 miles.  But then of course that is via the highways and I may not do that.  I have scheduled the water to be turned back on by the city.  She assured me that they watch the meter when they turn it back on and if it shows there is a leak they will shut it back off.

I am not far from Coopers Rock State Forest.  I haven’t hiked over there, but I did go to the overlook and got the maps.


Yesterday when I was returning home in the late afternoon I was Chester Riddge Road when I saw a dog about the size of a German Shepard.  It was starving, all its ribs showing.  When I stopped my car, it came toward me with friendly and frightened eyes. Poor thing.  But I didn’t know who to call.  I tossed  out my window to him a frozen veggie burger from my groceries I was binging home.  All night and all day it has bothered me.  It had a collar on and tags, but I was too afraid to get out of the car, plus it was twilight and I was parked in the middle of the road.  Still, I am wondering if I should make something with peanut butter and go sit up there and call for it. 

Poor thing.  I would have cell service on the hill, maybe I could find an animal control line or the human society or take pictures and put them on facebook and twitter.

Dementia... Me?

During our ride my mind wasn’t working as well as normal. It could have been physical and mental stress.  Joan looked concerned at times.  So I have made an appointment for my annual physical when I get back and while I am there I will see about getting tested, but I don’t think the mini-mental exam wills show anything.  Maybe I am wrong.

I would like a more thorough exam of my brain and cognition though.  Since there were some things, but I did feel very stressed which is weird because it was such a lovely place to ride.


As I think about what I will be doing when I return home I am getting excited.  I have folks to see, people I love and who love me back (thank you very much!).  I have stuff I want to do for my trailer, I have stuff I have to pack away as I get ready for the folks that will be renting my house from January through March.

And on top of that I have an exciting job opportunity to discuss.  Don’t know how or if that will move forward, but it is something I desire. 

And then there is Thankgiving.  Though the gathering will be smaller than pre-covid times, it will be warm and wonderful. I am blessed with friends with whom to share it.

Cell Service

This morning it was still drizzling from an all night rain.  I walked up the road and found another campground up on the hill.  Sand Sprngs is high enough on the mountain that it has cell service.  If I ever return to this area, I will go there.  It won’t be a quiet and probably costs more than $30 a night.  But I won’t have to drive up the hill to connect.

I just drove up the hill with my phone and computer to upload this and when I pulled in I bottomed out my car on a hump.  It will be interesting how I get out of this one.  Maybe I will need to unload the trunk!

Another adventure.  

I brought food with me because this is the area I saw the starving dog.  But the road is busy this morning, I doubt I if I will see it.

Enjoy your journey, it is the only one you got.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

In Bicycle Tour Recovery Mode

 Hello Dear Friends and Family,

I am in a library in Cheat, West Virginia.  There isn't cell service in my campground, so I have to drive to a location each day.  This is the first time I have opened up my lap-top since we started our bicycle tour on September 21st.  It is like coming back home.

I just looked back at some of the posts from my trip and they are terrible!  I didn't have much time, energy, or cell service each day.  Plus I didn't have my lap-top and was trying to blog on my little Iphone, which wasn't cooperating.  Those are my many excuses for sending out such bad posts.  Sorry, thanks for following along anyway.

I hope to go back and fix some of those posts.  Maybe I will add pictures and stories to them and then share the links back to them.   I think that might be best to keep it all in chronological order... for future readers.

I last wrote to you the evening that we arrived in DC.  It was pretty cool riding our bikes around to the different monuments.  I highly recommend that mode of transportation when you visit the US Capital Mall.  The last times that I visited we had walked everywhere.  Joan spent a day walking the area and she tells me her fit-bit told her she walked 11 miles.  Everything is big and there is so much to see.

We planned on one day in DC.  Only one day and two nights, because the motel was pricey. The luxury and proximity to the mall was very welcome after so many days of biking and tent camping.  We both slept well.

If you decide to do visit to DC, plan more than one day.  On top of the museums there are interesting bike trails to explore, which I will tell you about later.

We had reservations for the National Museum of African American History and Culture for noon on our one day in DC.  In the morning Joan and I went our separate ways to explore.

I walked by the Native American Museum.  The waterfall/fountain was a lovely design.  I took a video.

 There were a bunch of big trucks without trailers lined up, here to be heard by the law makers.  And then I saw a woman dressed like the recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  I had just received an email notification that women were marching all over the country in response to the crazy Texas law that rewards common citizens for suing anyone who gives information, provides transportation, or helps a woman get an abortion after six weeks gestation.  She said the speakers start at 11:00 and the protest starts by the Supreme Court after the speeches.

I wish I had gotten a picture of her, but later I saw this woman and took her picture.  There is always some group bringing their issues to the Capital.

I walked around just a bit, and then at nine a.m. I had to find a quiet place to make a call to the Uhaul place to confirm that we would be picking up a van the next day.  I was on hold for an hour and a half! While I was holding the many trucks began blowing their horns.

I started walking the mile and a half to the Uhaul while on hold.  I got there and could see that no one was answering phones.  They told me that I wasn't supposed to call them to confirm, that they would call me before six p.m.  (that isn't what their email said).  And the van would be at a different location.  What?  A different location?  We are on bicycles, how far is it.  

Only a mile further.  I got the address.  

But now the morning was almost gone and I had to rush back to get to the Museum of African American History and Culture by noon and somehow grab a bite to eat on the way.

The museum was great and overwhelming.  

I took a picture looking out the windows through the lace pattern onto the lawn of white flags on the mall in memory of the almost 700,000 COVID victims in the USA.

The first room I entered had a fun video of stepping and clapping.

I stopped at the info desk to see if they had audio tours but they said due to COVID they don't have them right now.  A lot of the interactive displays and the videos were closed down too.

In the culture and arts section there were several posters of all "colored cast" movies that I had never heard of.  I took some pictures in case I can now stream them.

Below is a picture of Barbara Johns, one of the leaders that helped bring about the court case and eventual ruling in Brown vs Board of Education.

In the music area of the museum there were so many familiar and unfamiliar artists.  One array of videos had me dancing.

We all know about the Black Lives Mater Movement now.  Most of us know now that the police were first created to round up run-away slaves... or free persons to put them back into slavery.  

The police have evolved of course, since then.  They are now who we call when we have a car accident or are being followed or need protection.  

There was one section of the museum where we were not allowed to take pictures.  It was of the more recent events.  Probably because emotions are so high, and victim family members are still hurting.

After that section it asks each of us to write down what we can do to help reduce prejudice and hate.

If you want to visit, give yourself a few days to just do this one museum!  There is so much to take in.  I was there five hours and then I was just too burnt out to absorb any more.

Joan had said she wanted to get Tai food for supper.  But then she had some meaty tacos from a food truck at lunch and wasn't hungry again. I had stuffed down a quick beans and rice dish before entering the museum and I was really looking forward to eating.  We started walking toward China Town and then Joan turned to me and asked if I was set on Tai.  I said no.  She said she wasn't hungry so why don't we go our separate ways again, and I can go get what I wanted.

So once again I was on my own.  Italian pasta with lots of brocolli and marinara and a light beer, $31.  That is DC.


In the morning we loaded up the bikes again and rode the elevator down to the street.  

The elevators require a room key to work.  They were tricky at times and the first time we each rode our bikes up, we both ended up going up and down with folks before it stopped on our floor.  It is a good way to keep the homeless and the thieves from wandering the halls of the motel.  

Then we started riding to the Uhaul station.  All of our ride from Pittsburgh, Joan was a fast rider.  So I was trying to go fast so she wouldn't get frustrated with my slow speed.  But instead she got frustrated I was going too fast... "We are touring, that means we stop and look at stuff a lot," she told me.

We both agreed that we could have spent a couple more days in DC exploring the bike trails and places away from the Mall as well.

We got our van and I drove us four-five hours through beautiful hilly areas, back to our cars in Homestead.

When we arrived in Homestead I couldn't find my keys!  I thought for sure I left them in the front basket of my bicycle.  I looked and looked.  

I had stored a second key in Lilac.  So I used the combination lock on Lilac to get in and get that fob.  Only that fob wouldn't open the doors either.  The electronic signal wasn't working.   Somewhere I found the first fob and tried that.  Nope, it didn't work either.  I knew it wasn't the battery in the fobs because I had just change them.

Joan showed me that I could unlock my car with the key.  But as soon as I open the door the alarm goes off and I have to hurry to put the fob in the ignition to turn the alarm off.  This will not do well in a quiet campground!

We unloaded the Uhaul and Joan followed me to the Uhaul place to return their van and then give me a ride back to my car.   Joan has the front passenger seat set at a forward slant for packing her bike and stuff.  It was an awkward ride, I sat with my head in my hands and my elbows on my thighs.  I was glad it was only seven city miles.

 I had another 69 miles to drive to my campsite near Morgantown, West Virginia... or is it Virginia?  It seems that every time I drive a few miles I am in another state around here.

My camp site is very roomy, the campground is quiet and sparsely populated.

Some of my plants did well closed up in the car for 10 or 11 days.

Some died.

My body and mind are still not feeling like themselves after all that riding and site-seeing and garbage eating.  My first day on my own I did laundry, went to Anytime Fitness, and shopped for veggies to refill my tank.

My campsite is close to the restrooms, which is nice.  This spider was hanging from the door knob yesterday.

There is a trail or two near here.  I rode about 18 miles yesterday on one.  I am back on my trike again.  I averaged eight miles an hour... slow slow slow.

I am in this area until Sunday and then I move on to the New River Trail in Virginia.  Someone told me about a great campground along the trail, but I have not been able to locate it.  So I have reservations at an RV park where I think I will have to drive just a little to get onto the trail.

I am going to reach out to trike and recumbent groups in Facebook and hopefully meet a new friend or two there!  We will see, I have been lucky so far.

Part of me is yearning to be home.  But I have a date in late October to meet up with trike friends near Jekyll Island.  So in the meantime I plan on taking care of myself...

Which brings me to the roads here!  OMG.  I think they were designed during horse and carriage days. They are hilly and winding and narrow.  There is no shoulder at all, not even a gravel one, and the road dips right into a ditch at the edge.  If you want to drive the speed limit you better know for sure where your tires are and where your outside mirrors end.  I breath a sigh a relief when the road opens up to a size and expanse that I am used to as a midwesterner.

Today I forgot my purse in my trailer.  So I better not get in an accident or get pulled over!

It is time to fold up and go back to camp and eat, the veggies and eggs are calling me.


Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...