Day 11
October 11,  2001
Somewhere in the Shenandoah
Near Front Royal, Virginia

 The rain predicted for last night never materialized.  In fact the morning is partly cloudy and warm.  No big plans for today, just ride south as far was can following the Skyline Drive, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As we were breaking camp the young black bear the ranger warned Phil about, is scouring the campground for food.  He has a system.  Checks the trash cans, then sniffs along the empty tables, after that, go check around the RVs near the road.

We pull out of the campground onto the Drive, we have the road to ourselves, the RV guys are still asleep.  I was last on the Skyline in 1999 with my Prelude.  I picked up a receipt for 65 in a 35 near the so south entrance, got pissed off and left.  Heck, back then I didn't even know Rangers wrote tickets.  We don't even think about riding any faster then 45.

The Skyline is smooth, and tight.  The road is 100 or so miles in length.  Great views.  We ride along the ancient mountain tops, with the valley down below is.  I can see across the valley to a row of mountains to the west. 

We stop and take pictures along the way.  I can trace the shadows of the clouds racing across the valley farms below, reminding me of the ducks moving across at a state fair shooting gallery.

I carve the ST among the switchbacks and tight turns.  I watch the hiz viz yellow river bag on Phil's bike.  It hits me right at eye level, swaying as he leans.  Left, right, back up, then start again.  It is like a hypnotist with a watch.  Back and forth, back and forth, you are getting sleepy, verrrrrrrrrry sleepy.  I can't keep my eyes open, and after 20 miles, I have to pull over before I find myself down some ravine.  I close my eyes and see yellow spots. 

"dang brother, I need to take the point for a while, your bags are hypnotizing me."

"well ok"

It is a fine morning to be on a ride in the Shenandoah.  We meet a few north bound riders also out early.  We pass a maintenance crew trimming back branches and cutting grass.  Our bikes blow out the clippings when we ride by.

We stop at Skyland for breakfast.  I have pancakes, GRITS, and Virginia Ham.  Very good.  Our waiter is young man that works in the National Park System.  He worked out west in the summer, and came here for the fall season.  A good way to see the country on Uncle Sam's ticket.

After breakfast I used my phone card and called home.  I called my wife at work, my son, and my elderly mother.  All were fine.  My son said it rained the day before, and washed out their inter squad game.

The 2 Gold Wings I noticed in the parking lot coming in, are gone when we come back out.

We get back on the road, and enjoy the Skyline.  It is slow going but we are in no hurry.  Traffic is still non existent.  I managed to scrape a few pegs on some tight low speed curves.  I hug the right portion of the road in the curves, ever mindful of some leaf peeping RV or sedan driver, drifting over.

We finish up the Skyline and go right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Right away the Parkway is different then the Skyline.  More open, curves not as tight, and not as hilly.  The Parkway takes you down from the peaks, to rolling farmland and houses.  We ride up into the hills, and then drop into valleys.  The Skyline runs the mountain crest, and as a result feels tighter and closer.

The colors in the Blue Ridge are full and bright.  It has been a great fall for color.  The conditions were almost perfect and it made for a extraordinary show.

We saw a young man and his girlfriend in a pick up truck getting a receipt from a Ranger.  Know just how he feels.

We come off the Parkway at mid afternoon, and plot a course to Bedford to check the National D Day Memorial that recently opened.  I have a affinity for anything Civil War or World War 2.  My father fought the Japanese in the Pacific.  My Uncle Jimmy landed in Normandy on D +3, and was seriously wounded 7 days later fighting in the Hedgerows.  I had another uncle that served in the submarine service.  World War 2 was very close to my family.  The Memorial is one of few specific goals I had for this trip.

The Memorial was located in Bedford, because so many Bedford boys where killed in the first wave.
We pick up SR 43, and come down off the Parkway.  We get locked down behind a tour bus on the twisty road, and choke on exhaust fumes.  We arrive in Bedford.  A busy, but quaint valley town.  We stop for gas and secure directions to the Memorial.  
  D-Day Memorial-Bedford, Virginia
                                                                               photo Phil Derryberry

The D Day Memorial in Bedford, is something every American should visit.  Very well done, and poignant.  The Memorial recreates scenes from the beach, the cliffs, along with naval and air markers.  All the facets of the battle are honored.  It was very impressive.

Because of the men of D Day, and all the World War 2 veterans, I am able to take this trip.  I thank them for their sacrifice.
 The Beaches of D Day
                                                       photo Phil Derryberry

It is getting late and we decide now would be a good time to pick up supper, so we leave the Memorial and ride to a shopping center with a grocery store.  It is also home to a buffet restaurant, and we get something to eat.  After a late lunch, we walked down to the grocery store, and bought steak and baked beans for supper.
We get out the map, and see the next campground south on the Parkway is a looooooong way.  Peaks of Otter is located close by, and we discuss that option.  We can camp at the Peaks of Otter, and be off the road early.  It will mean a long ride, on the slow moving Parkway the next day, but it made the most sense.

Phil saw a local outdoor supply place, and pulled in to see if they knew something we didn't.  They might know a obscure campground further south.  No dice.  Resigned, we head back to the Parkway and stop at the campground and unload. 

We only rode 143 miles today, but they were quality miles, and a welcome change of pace after the day before.
I set my tent up and go look for a shower.  Again NO shower.  Damn, what's the deal?  I gather up some wood for the campfire.  

The campground host comes by and says I need to put my tent on the pad next to Phil's.  I said-

"noway I won't get any sleep, the man is machine"

"ok you put it on that pad over there" as he pointed to next site over.

Phil cooks up the steaks, and baked beans in the growing darkness.  Again, we ate quite well.  A short while later, we are reunited with Mitch.  We swap road stories, and tales of back home.  I find out Mitch is from San Luis Obispo, a favorite place of mine to over night when I am on the left coast.

Pissed off about not having showers, I took myself over to the bath house and washed my hair in the sink, and used my soap thingy to wet down.  The water was COLD, but better then nothing.

We sat around the campfire eating sunflower seeds, and talking.  The trip is winding down. Tomorrow we arrive in Crusso for the ST rally.  I am looking forward to seeing my friends and brothers from last spring.  So far I have covered over 4000 miles, it has been a great trip.  Lots of new friends.

I pack it in and get in my tent, and slip my headphones on.  The front should come through tonight, and wet us.  I hate breaking camp in the rain, but I will just have to deal with it.

I fell asleep and slept like the dead in the dark, quiet of the campground.