Today was a relaxing one…Well for the main hack of it. The first hour my nerves were frazzled, I kept misreading/understanding the sat nav, so ended up driving in loops for a while with my heart in my throat (the coffees in the morning didn’t help), but finally found my feet, (or wheels) and hit the highways.
I drove for a bit down I-66, and was going along fine until my bladder called for attention. I pulled of the highway and found a garage, where the mechanics were kind enough to let me use their loo and directed me how to get back the way I came. Did I do that though? Nope. It is seemingly becoming habit that I take the turning after I need. This magical road I came across however was called ‘U15’ or James Morrison Highway I think. It was almost like an English country road, apart from the little ‘americanisms’ along the way…abandoned plantations and little waterways with funny names like beaver creek or grease creek…a trailer with large ‘God loves America” sprawled under an american flag…not to mention the numerous unrecognisable road signs.
Also the road had a weird way of feeling like it wouldn’t be on the other side of the hill whenever I approached the peak of one. I passed through teeny towns, and it seemed there would be vast beautiful nothing-ness, with stretches of forest either side of the road, pinpricked with houses of all varieties. From large colonial mansions, to tiny run down bungalows – which looked well beyond repair. Each one with rocking chairs or swing seats on the porches.
I went through or by places such as Orange, Fork Union, Culpeper. There was one point I stopped off to grab a bite, and asked where I was the lady in the gas station replied ‘Avonia’, which if your looking for it on a map…it doesn’t exist (well the map I have anyway), there was also no signal and barely any shops…only houses and churches. I knew I was high up when I realised how much sky there was around me, and how fresh the air felt in my lungs.
When I reached near Farmville (yup theres a real place), I took the ‘U60’ or Mt Rush Highway through Appomattox county where there were loads of little reminders of the civil war, like large wooden fences and signs pointing out there would be a ‘Historic Memorial in 500 feet’. I pulled over in a lay-by to take it in, and by chance had stumbled across the burial place of the ‘Populariser of the banjo’ haha!
I finally rejoined a more ‘civilsed’ highway and where I had been driving more or less alone, cars (mainly flat bed trucks) were out in force. It was still in the midst of tall trees, but the landscape began to change. I noticed the types of trees began to change and the roads began to wind a little more. Finally I turned a corner and BOOM a mountain.
It was much bigger than this picture lets on, but you get the idea. From then on the blue ridge and the beginnings of the Appalachians’ surrounded me. I would of taken more pictures, but the road didn’t seem like one you could just pull over on, but I have the images stained in my head….and where I’m going there will be more 🙂 (and maybe you should just do this and see it for yourselves…because no photo will communicate the majesty of it all.
After about 7 hours my back was hurting so I started snooping out somewhere to stay I’ve ended up in Roanoke, VA. Close to North Carolina, where I will be sidling to tomorrow, my destination, Asheville. I sat down and worked out since leaving New York, Ive done a little over 470 miles I believe. I will make a map of my route when completed and back in England, more for my pleasure than yours…but i would recommend going the ways I went. I implore you to hit the road, and keep to the unknown, nothing quite as exciting as following your nose down unexpected paths. now I’m gonna jump into my kingsize 🙂 and get up early to tackle the mountain paths.