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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

234.5 Miles Today--10 of Which Turned My Hair White!

The day started out sunny at 37 degrees with frost on everything. Amazingly, we were on the road once more by 9 am--we have been having trouble adjusting to the time change but think we are back in sync. Decided to take I 81 to up around Christiansburg and then cut across the Blue Ridge on Va primary road 8 and then backroad it up to outside Roanoke to Booker T. Washington's birthplace. Took a few snaps of the highest mountain in Virginia--Mt Rogers at 5729 feet and then just a few more of the sunny countryside. By the time we reached Pulaski I'd had enough of the tractor trailer trucks and suggested starting our back road exploration about 25 miles sooner. Bill was agreeable so off we went on primary rt 100 south to primary road 221, where we arrived in Hillsville, the home of one of the Mohawk Rug factories and also the Cavalier Cafe. The young fellow running it made me a buckwheat pancake the size of a dinner plate and the crispiest fresh bacon I've ever had. He was a cutie--married five years with a three year old daughter. His wedding picture and pictures of the baby from infancy covered the walls of the local eating place. He is a year and a half younger than his wife but his gramma is a year and a half younger than his granddad and they are doing fine--unlike his pappy who is on his third wife! I said the good luck skipped a generation and he is hopeful that is true. Works hard--he got to the cafe at 3 am and his wife came in at 5 after dropping the baby off. It was now 1130 and his wife had gone home at 10. He's hoping that they can start thinking of looking for a house--business is good and he's doing fine - no debt but he's nervous about taking on a mortgage but is sick of renting. Hope it works out for them--he is working hard and so is she--I hope they get the dream.

On we continued on 221 to Floyd where we took secondary road 681 for two miles and then hooked up with secondary road 860, which looked smooth--no curves, just a slight change in direction from due south to a bit south east. The first three miles or so were fine but then the road crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway which was flat, narrow and not open at all. As we started to rise above it I should have had alarms go off but NOOOOOOO. OMG--for ten of the worst miles--topped only by the road from Silver City to TOC--I thought I was going to die. When we appeared to be near the bottom we pulled over to let the brakes cool a bit and when I got out of the car my legs were shaking so much I almost couldn't stand. After another couple of relatively straight flat ( not ) road we came to Va primary 40 which was my intent. I don't know what I would have done had we needed to go back up--though Bill did suggest trying it in reverse--what did I ever see in this man? He did congratulate me on my navigational proficiency and thanked me for not choosing PRIMARY route 8 which had those terrible wiggles on the map! GRRRRR

I'm afraid that Booker's birthplace was somewhat anti-climatic! Although the walk around the old plantation in 59 degree sunny weather was quite nice. He was freed at 9 along with his family at the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation and soon moved to W. Virginia with his mother, brother and sister to meet up with his stepfather. By 16 he was headed back to Hampton Va to study at the Negro school there run by a white former Union officer. After graduation he was called back by Armstrong to serve as house father for Native American boys and then, when a council member from Tuskegee looking for a white principal for a new Negro school they were starting. Armstrong recommended Washington and the rest, as they say, is history.

From there we headed to Lynchburg and the Quality Inn where we stayed on our first trip and ate at the Outback next door. Rack of lamb and fresh veggies with a Yuengling draught. Delicious. And now, off to NCIS which I've been sort of watching. Forgot DWTS last night--darn!

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