Well, here we go… However, before you can go anywhere you have to have some kind of a plan, right? The outline of this ride coalesced around two ideas: last years Michigan trip and AIT graduation. We had such a fabulous ride last year we imagined something very similar for this year. Settled, motorcycle trip. When our son enlisted we knew where his AIT was as well as the date he would graduate. Done, a destination.
Later in the spring as the days were ticking by, we pulled out a map and began to lay in some route details. As we sketched out a route, we were 5 days in and still at least 3 days away from our destination. At this rate it would be a three-week trip! I suppose it’s an example of the old idea if you’re off a couple of degrees at the start you’ll be wildly off the mark at the end. So in this case we have turned a little too far west and not enough south at the start and ended up far far away from our intended destination of Augusta, Georgia. The problem is we couldn’t bring ourselves to ‘turn left’ and shorten the fun. As the date approached, and work schedules tightened up, we were forced to adjust. Well, we were forced to admit we had to adjust ;-). And that’s about as far as we got on the planning front.
The bike was due a 12k mile service and tires. Brake calipers rebuilt and fresh pads in, new tires went on, busy schedule in the way, then finally oil change, spark plugs, and valve clearance checked. Good thing my grandson offered to help on we might not have made it!
Saturday 31 August
The day is finally here. I picked a point on the map that was left of our original mark by a good bit. We had settled on adjusting fire day by day from our first stopping point. Roll the bike out, load it up and it’s time. After all that hard work, the lad had to be part of the send off. He posed with us for a picture then put the key in, started up the bike, and raced us around the circle on foot. We are off!
We skipped the local Maryland countryside and headed straight for the Nice Bridge. Oh, my comment over breakfast about leaving early enough that there shouldn’t be all that much traffic? Total fail. And it was rather hot. Forty-five-minute sauna idling towards the toll booth, this is not fun. Eventually cresting the bridge, then finally into Virginia, and the road opens up. One back-road into Fredericksburg for lunch, a common road for us, oldie but goodie, then on to new places. After eating we mark a waypoint at Lake Anna. We have friends that owned property there, and it’s been years since I have been that way.
The first stop was an old abandoned house. All empty houses kinda get me a bit. It just seems like such an incredible waste. On the one hand there are people who are in need of a place to live, and on the other hand are empty properties slowly returning to their constituent elements. Is there no way to shake hands and bring these to problems together for a win? It’s especially painful when the property is historically significant or is full of character.
Can you imagine the family that had this home built? The excitement of construction, working with the architect and builder to put together the perfect house. Then to see the foundation laid, walls raised, roof on, and then be finished. Moving in, perhaps raising a family here. Laughter of children. Birthday parties and graduations. Then what happens? Things fade, changing hands, less and less interest for what ever reason, then decline. So sad.
On the way there we spied with our little eyes a sign for General Stonewall Jackson’s shrine. We suspected it was the house where he died near Guinea Station, and sure enough it was, we had stumbled on this place once before. This time the house was open, so we got to talk with a park ranger and get details of the story.
Have to say I really need to go back to school. There is just so much I either forgot or never learned in the first place, and this is a fine example. I knew he was wounded by his own troops returning to the line at night, but I didn’t know he died a week after the shooting of pneumonia. His arm was amputated, and he was evacuated here for movement to Richmond by rail. Unfortunately for him, Union soldiers were in the area to destroy rail lines cutting off resupply of the confederate army. They were successful delaying the evacuation and contributing to the General’s death. The bed and a blanket are original from the event.
Hey, what’s this? Another diversion…
This was so unexpected I rode right by without it really registering. By the time it fully sunk in we were a good bit down the road, so we had to pull a quick U-turn for some more detailed exploration. After turning into the driveway – sure enough a Buddhist temple. There was a monk walking about the grounds with another gentleman and one other couple there.
Fruit trees and flowers. We talked with the couple, she was from Laos, very friendly. She was quick to point out it was a temple, perhaps in rural Virginia there aren’t that many familiar with the practice and folks don’t know.
We didn’t spend too much time, just enough to take some pictures, enjoy the flowers and butterflies, then off we go. We’ll get to Lake Anna yet.
Made it! After driving along the lake shore for several miles without public access and looking at woods, we came to VA Highway 208 crossing the lake. Intersection of road and water creates an activity zone for sure. Boat launch, marinas, picnicking and camping. It was fun to stretch a bit and see all the people enjoying the day. As I walked out to the point to take this picture, the prominent background sound was a cigarette boat warming up. It pulled out as we were getting ready to leave. In this little narrow body of water running that thing would have to be a rush. Perhaps a little scary too, considering the density other boaters on the water. J&J, this stop has you in mind, I hope you enjoyed a little reminder.
Well, next way-point: AirB&B stopping point for the night. While we were at the marina getting a bottle of water, we pulled up the map. Considering the distance traveled so far and time of day, best guess is something around Lynchburg. Found one, submitted the request, and got a response. We’re no longer homeless :-).
The next find was in Mineral, Virginia. Check out this wonderful “LOVE” sign with an admonition to ‘share the love’ tacked on right in the middle. Well, that’s just what we’ll do, here it is, pass it around. Working the character of the town into the design was certainly clever and adds to the charm, right? I couldn’t help but notice that the display pointed to the most powerful symbol of love.
Our next pause along the journey came as we were slowing down for a right turn deep in the country. There in the weeds and grass were a handful of old semi trucks, and also a few newer rigs in various states of repair. Ah, mechanic was the thought that passed through my head.
As we made the turn there were more, as in many many more, old trucks, and a smattering of newer rigs, again in various states of repair. So, the thought morphed a bit; a mechanic/collector. Then a large pole barn chock full of old trucks. No, a collector/mechanic! Here is a very small sampling (this one is for you BS, which Mack were you looking for again?) of so many interesting vehicles, a time capsusle of sorts.
At the end of the line… kinda feels like a gem. How long has it been since McCormick – Deering was stamped on a piece of iron like this? A couple of quick web searches makes me think ~1940ish, but not quite sure if that’s right. There was a lot of wrangling going on back then, seems the farm tractors from International Harvestor took the badge of Farmall and the heavy equipment were branded International, how interesting. It seems to me this one is in pretty good shape, I hope it finds it’s way into the shop to be put in good order soon.
This picture isn’t at all a ‘good’ photo, but I love the idea it captures. Can’t you picture being there on the river bank with the smell of a campfire, family and good friends gathered around. Stories and conversations. Quiet. Setting aside normal ‘life’ for a bit of real living. I’m so ready for the fall and cooler weather, we’ll be right here…
Not long after crossing the river past the campers we climbed up into the mountains and came to ‘the Waltons’. What!??? Really? Yep. It was late and things were buttoned up so this will definitely have to be added to the return trip list.
Seeing the truck sitting there triggered a memory from the series. There was an episode where Granny had to drive down the mountain for some reason or another and that scene merged together with a bit of dialog in another where John Boy is now grown and gone and reflecting on his boyhood home. The combined theme was how set apart the place was. Having now been there I have to say that the producers of the show did a remarkable job of getting the feeling right. There are plenty of homes scattered about creating a mountain community, but the sense of isolation and separation from the broader world is vivid. Winding down the mountain and back on to the highway towards Lynchburg, the twilight linked those two episodes and wound them tightly together bringing to mind the notion of detachment from childhood places. Almost as if they transpired in another world.
As is my custom, here is a map of the route today. If you havn’t used an embedded GoogleMaps map you may need to expriment a little. At least for me the interface takes a bit to figure out, especial on a phone. Explore and enjoy the pictures and additional descriptions…