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Day 3
October 1, 2010
Meadows of Dan, Virginia


Last night was kind of mediocre, so I was glad to crawl out of the tent to get riding.  The wind was still fierce, bending trees, and blowing leaves everywhere, but the sky was blue and the sun out.  I put the GPS in the cradle to let it boot up and lock on while I packed.

I was almost finished striking camp by the time the Florida guys appeared.  One of the obstacles I dislike about riding with others, your time schedule is tied to the lowest common denominator.   "Going to take awhile for 3 guys to strike camp and load, by then I'll be far up the Parkway."   On my way out I pulled the 13 next their site and said my goodbyes.  "Y'all have a good ride and good luck."  It was 7:30am, one hour later then back home.

"Dang, forgot to put the Iphone on charge," so pulled into the general store at Meadows of Dan, and took care of it.  I plugged the cables into my left outlet and zipped the phone in the side pouch of the Moto Fizz.   The sun was just clearing the hills.  From there I picked up the custom route on Blue Ridge Parkway that I would follow all the way to I-66.  It was pretty basic the first 250 miles, but would grow complicated once I leave Skyline Drive.  I wanted to ride this ride back in 2008, but my Zumo was kaput and I messed up, and wound up riding none of the routes I had planned on.

I had on my new leather Alpinestar gloves, trimmed in blue.  I had black and red leather gloves that worked fine, but I wanted to match my bike and Roadcrafter, thus a pair of blue.  I like to look good when I ride.  The morning was cool and the air clean.  It was going to be a pristine day, nothing like that day in 2002 when I came through here with Uncle Phil.

A few miles after getting underway, I saw three does off to the side, but they paid me no attention when I cautiously rode by.  Meadows of Dan is close to Mabry Mill, one of the most famous locales on the Parkway, many visitors stop here to learn about the old days, but it was early morning when I came through and not much was going on.
























               At 7:30 in the morning, only the ducks were about at Mabry Mill.

The Parkway was empty this early in the morning, and I picked up right where I left off the day before.  I passed by more quiet farms, and meadows.  "Must be kinda neat to live right next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, never have to worry about commercialization popping up all around you."  The road flowed and bent along the hills, passing split rail fences, and tall trees.  Sunlight streamed in the voids, and made for a nice frame.  Sun to shadows made it hard to read the road surface so I kept my speed down.






















A pristine morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as witnessed by these
luminous sun rays beaming through the trees and onto the roadway.

I got in a lot of good thinking on this morning.  My mind wandered to things I had not thought of in years.  It was a reflective, peaceful morning ride through the trees and over the hills.  























You'll find many split rail fences on the Parkway.  Today was two hundred miles
of postcard riding.  No trucks, traffic, red lights or strip malls.
The elevation on the GPS read 2,000+ feet but it didn't seem like it.  
























I was taking a picture from the bike when I dropped my
glove.  I hate it when I do that.

Many farmhouses had the Parkway for a front yard, guarded by split rail fences and blue grass. "I wonder what effect that might have on property values?"  No one can buy up the land and parcel out lots for neighborhoods, so I bet the affect is positive.

I took the U.S. 220 exit and rode down to the outskirts of Roanoke where I bought gas, Mountain Dew and some chips.  I put notes in and sent my niece in law a text.  She's married to my nephew but we treat her like a daughter in law.  She responded; "glad to hear from you, becareful."























                                                      Roanoke Valley

At the Roanoke Valley Overlook I stopped for a few pictures and called Debbie.

"I'm on the way to Lorton, out here on the Parkway as we speak."

"Is it nice?"

"Oh yeah"

A few miles later I was riding across a summit and a wind gust blew me off line, "geeze feels like I'm out west somewhere," as I brought the ST back inline.

I was taking pictures at one of the overlooks when a rider from Ontario on a BMW GS came in.  We exchanged greetings, and he told me he was on the way home from Florida.

"So why would ya wanna ride in Florida?"

"Warm?"

"Well that's true, but not much else in terms of riding.  It has to be the worst state for riding.  Flat, mostly urban sprawl.  Where did you go down there?"

"Orlando"

"Oman, the worst."

"Yeah it was terrible, but I had never been"

"well you can only use that excuse once"

Then he said- "My Zumo died on me this morning"

"Welcome to the club, I'm on my second, they all die"

"really?"

"yeah, I don't know anyone that has had one any length of time not to have to  replace it.  Very annoying.  Basically, you just rent one for a couple of years.  Have you done the reset procedures yet?"

"Not yet"

"ok, do the power + button and see what happens, if that doesn't work take the battery out."
We left the overlook and rode in tandem for 20 miles.  He followed me when I took a chance and passed a couple of 35 mph blue hairs.  We separated when I pulled off to take a few pics.


























                "Many farmhouses had the Parkway for a front yard"

It was a great day to be on ride.  I could not get over how outstanding the weather was, despite the strong wind.  I was reading a sign at another overlook when a joker in a white sedan, wearing loafers but no socks asked, 'Which direction did you come from?"
"out of the south"

"Did you see a sign for Piney Woods Road?"

"Noooooooo, but lemme quiz my GPS"

"ok"

"Nah, no so such road around here"

He went on to tell me his wife was out of town and he was from Vermont on a road trip while she was gone.  Good thing I don't have to wait on Debbie to go somewhere before I can take a ride.

I saw a little more fall color in the north, but the leaves were several weeks behind from where they should be this time of year.

All too quickly I came to the end of the Parkway, and made the transition over to the Skyline Drive at Waynesboro.  I was through here in 2008, but didn't mind doing it again.

The ST quietly pulled in to the Ranger station for Shenandoah National Park.  A rangerette leaned out the window.  "How much is it?"  I asked.  "Five dollars"

"look here, any place to eat up ahead?"

"Yeah, but its offline, the wind blew the power out, something fell on the lines"

"Well heck, can I go back into Waynesboro, eat and come back?"

"oh yeah, your ticket is good for 7 days"

"any good places you know of in town?"

"yeah, several good local places on the highway going in, and the usual fast food stuff"

"ok thanks"

I stuck my ticket in my neck wallet, did a U turn around the guard shack, and made the short ride into Waynesboro.

"Not ate since lunch yesterday, no wonder feeling hungry."  I definitely wanted something local, so rode past the fast food row to a place called, "Weasies."  "Either this is gonna be real good, or real bad,"  I told myself.

I pulled to the front of the busy diner.  Everyone could see me out the big windows.  When I walked in the first thing I noticed was the noise.  It sound like a college football stadium on a Saturday afternoon.

A plump hostess said, "sit whereever, not picky around here"

"Ok, how bout right here?"

"good as any"

Soon a young waitress came over, "What ya gonna have baby?"

"lemme have that hamburger steak special, gravy but no onions, and tell them I want my fries crispy"

"Ok sweetie"

Two ladies had the booth a few down from mine, and again I heard a voice that dominated the room.  As noisy as this place was it still won the day.  I put a few notes in the diary while I waited.

Soon a Can Am 3 wheeler pulled up.  I watched with curiosity.  I thought, "I don't see the point, you can't lean it, nor is it very fast, you just ride it."  I think it looks good though.  The rider was my age, and took a seat across the room.   A few minutes after that, a couple on a GL 1800 came in.  They took the booth next to me, but we didn't speak, and I was thankful because I wanted to read the headlines.  My bike is always good for business.

The hamburger steak was good, and the empty spot in my tummy felt a lot better.

"Better get moving, gotta get there at a decent hour."  There was no need to call anyone from here, "never be able to hear them."
I rode back to the park entrance and saw the rangerette from earlier wave me in.  I was easing on through when a big burly ranger burst out and said "WHOA! WHOA! Where you think you're goin?"

"In the park?"

"Not today you're not"  I was trying not to laugh.  Over the years I've come to just relax.  I realized this was his domain, his one chance to be in the spotlight, so I played along.

"I'm not?"

"NO! Who you think decides who gets in this park?"

"you do I reckon"

"thats right, now why do you think you don't have to pay?"

"I don't think that, but I already paid!"

"Doesn't matter. I need to see the paperwork"

"Ok, ok, but I have to take my gloves off, and get my neck wallet out."

  "I got time."

"there ya go"  As I handed the receipt over.  He studied it carefully.  "Ok you can go."
"Thank ya, I mean you can't let just anyone in the park without being checked out right?"

"That's right,  I gottq job to do"

"I see that"

They need to put this ranger on the Southern border.

I rolled north on the Skyline Drive laughing.  The Zumo said I had 60 miles before my next turn, so I just settled back.  Speed limit was 35 mph and I dared not do over 40, afraid another Ranger Tom lurked ahead.

The Skyline is not as good a ride as the Parkway.  It doesn't have the same flow or rhythm, and just seems "busier."
While enjoying a vista, a BMW KGT came in.  The rider wanted a closer look at my ST 1300.  "I really like the Honda, just never see one around, why I chased you down"

"yeah not many of us out here"

"I like the way the Honda looks, a good looking bike"

Been along time since someone told me that.  Funny I feel the same about his bike.  Grass always greener they say?






















As evidenced by this photo, I'd never seen the skies so blue and deep

in the Shenandoah or Blue Ridge.  It is often foggy, and cloudy.

I followed the K bike the last 25 miles.  We were bogged down by traffic, so didn't get any leaning in.  "That bike has a really slim profile for a 1300, I bet it handles well."  As I studied the taillight from behind.

I left the Skyline Drive at U.S. 211, a twisting, challenging road that runs down out of the hills to the flatlands.  This  road has a lot of nasty curves that can easily be misjudged.  My cupped and slick tires made the ST wallow when leaned, I struggled to keep the bike on line.  The only saving grace was, once I got the bike leaned over far enough, it would smooth out and do better, but getting there was kind of scary.
 
The fun over, the GPS directed me to turn left on a local road with no markings.  "Man I hope I layed this route out correctly in the software."  I ran it for several miles past Virginia farmland and woods, ending at a place called Flint Hill.  In 2008 I managed to make it this far before straying off course a few miles later.  I was hoping the GPS would keep me from doing that today.

Flint Hill struck me as a nice place to live.  Well kept older homes and stores.  It was clean and comfy looking.


























                                   Main Street.  Flint Hill, Virginia

I followed SR 647 out of Flint Hill and soon found the intersection I messed up at in 2008.  The Zumo was directing me to take a road straight and to the left, but in 2008 I went right.  "This is where I messed up, I shoulda went thiat way."  None of the five roads at the intersection are marked, so it was easy to go the wrong way.  I had to guess that day back in 2008.

The riding was good, as I floated along.   No traffic, and good scenes.  It was hard to imagine the metropolis areas of DC were not far off.  Things here were quiet and peaceful here.























              The riding was good on the rural back roads of Virginia.

I was on the side of the road taking a picture when a guy pulled along side in a Virginia Power truck and gestured if I was ok.  I gave him a thumbs up, and he waved and continued on.

Eventually the good riding ended near I-66.  From there I tabbed "David's House" in the favorites folder of the Zumo 550, and set out to finish the day in good fashion.  Not long after taking I-66 the reserve light went off.  The 550 read distance to the end as 31 miles and the computer had 50 miles to empty.  I know that to be on the pessimistic end so I confidently ignored the flashing and rode on.  "I'll get gas on the way out in a few days."

Traffic was the usual crazy as I sped toward the Beltway.  The ST 1300 cruised the HOV lane and before I knew it was taking the Fairfax County Parkway to Lorton.  The GPS connected a few surface streets, and I safely landed in David's garage after a 351 mile day.  More then 250 of it on the Parkway and Skyline.  A awesome day of riding just went in the books.

I went in the house and greeted Debbie and my in laws, who didn't hear the quiet ST ride up.  Like many know, I've stayed here often in my travels up and down the East Coast.  Everyone was preparing for the football game, so didn't have time for much catching up.

Supper was a hamburger on the grill and then off to the ballgame.  Our team lost a game they shouldn't have, but that's the way it goes.  I stayed up a little late watching TV and talking.  My niece and nephew have grown so much since my first trip through here 10 years ago.

While readying for bed, Debbie asked me, "how was your ride today?"

"good, real good.  You know I've missed not having a long ride till now"

"oh please, no place for you to ride anyway"

"Maybe, but there's always a road or place somewhere to check out"

We went to bed shortly after that and slept well.  The plan is 3 nights here in Lorton and off to New England on Monday.

Next- hanging out with family a few days
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Day 4