Bicycle touring is about independence, self-reliance, and overcoming obstacles.
Today, the first big obstacle was Apple Orchard Mountain. From the low point of the Blue Ridge Parkway (the James River, 649 feet) to the highest point in the Virginia section of the parkway (Apple Orchard Mountain, 3950 feet)it is one continuous, unbroken, unrelenting 11 mile long, 3300 mile long climb. It took me three hours. When I got to the top I was pretty sure I had forgotten how to ride the bike while coasting. What a way to start the day.
Actually, I started the day with a huge breakfast at the Otter Creek restaraunt. I like the Otter Creek restaraunt. All other restaraunts on the parkway suck. I had lunch at the Peaks of Otter restaraunt. It was mobbed with swarms of senior citizens just off an armada of tour buses. It took me half an hour to get food. Which was very bad, since I spent all morning climbing the mountain, and there is only so much daylight. I resolved to increase my self-reliance so I can be independent of these stupid parkway restaraunts. I was in such a hurry to get going, that I forgot to take a picture of it. It looks like every other restaraunt on the parkway, but you can't see it because of the tour buses surrounding it. And you can't see my bike in front of it because of the swarm of old folks gawking at it. (It's actually very fun to sit in the restaraunt and watch people gawk at the bike. You can see them trying to figure out where you put your feet to pedal.)
The other obstacle to overcome is lack of clothing. I was a silly person and left a set of clothes hung out to dry in my motel room in Waynesboro. The shirt was the great bright yellow shirt Jodie and Dan got me for my birthday. I am very sad about this, because now I have only two sets of clothes. I rinse out whatever I wore at the end of the day, and hang it out to dry on the back of the bike the next day. If it rains, I don't have dry clothes. So I chatted up the other pissed off diners at the Peaks of Otter restaraunt to see where I could get backpacker food and more sweat-wicky clothes. It turns out a couple high school girls there were from Roanoke, and they said there was an outfitter store in the Tanglewood Mall, right of US 220, which is just beyond where my intended camp site is.
I decided to go down off the mountain into Roanoke, stock up on food, clothes, go to the ATM, find a Wi-Fi hotspot to update the web site, and get a cheap motel room. I don't like to get cheap motel rooms every other night, but I told myself it's an investment in my future independence and self-reliance. So I go by the campground, down a huge hill, and get onto 220, which turns out to be a divided highway with no shoulders and no bikes allowed. Oh well. I went down another big hill on 220 into town. First thing I see is a Hampton Inn, which my hon says often has Wi-Fi. I go in and ask "Are you a Wi-Fi hotspot?". They look at me like I'm from Mars. I ask "OK, how much is a room?" They said "We're booked, and so you don't waste all afternoon riding all over town, there's a NASCAR event this weekend, and there are no rooms in town." They said some no-name hotel was setting up fold-out beds in their conference room and getting $100. Jeez I hate NASCAR.
So now the sun is getting low, and I must climb back up the hill on the no-bikes-allowed US 220. I zipped over to the mall. What to do with the bike is a dilemma. No way I'm leaving it outside. I asked some kids where the outfitter store was. Second floor. I walked the bike in the mall, walked it all over the mall until I found the elevator, and walked it into the outfitters, right up to the girl at the counter. "Hi, I'm bike touring. I need some stuff." I told here exactly what I wanted, and she found everything amazingly quickly. She even sent her assistant to root around in the basement and find me some shorts, which are now out of season. I got:
Score. I am now independent and self-reliant. They also looked up for me in the Delorme Gazeteers they sell if there is a better way to get to the campground than US 220 (no). And then as a special bonus, after I was almost out the door, I realized they had tons of Luna Bars. So I got a pile of those. I told the totally amazing helpful girl how Luna Bars are great even if they are supposed to be for girls, and regular Power Bars taste like dirt. She said her male friends won't eat Luna Bars because they are afraid they will grow breasts. She said if that was true, they wouldn't be able to keep them in stock.
So I climbed back out of town, with a stop at the gas station convenience store to restock on Gatorade and get a couple chicken breasts for dinner. I got here to the Roanoke Mountain campground just after sunset. Only a couple people yelled stuff at me on 220. I got the tent set up right as it got dark.
Today was all in all a pretty great day. Perfect weather, a mountain conquered, and I'm all set for the next few days. And I'm snug as a bug in my tent.
Here is the map of route actually travelled.