Joined: Jul 2007
Shut the bike down, traffic on 250 roaring by, and thought about it some more. I couldn’t solve this one, no cell service, no good options, and I started the bike back up and turned southeast towards the Virginia border.
My route was planned around gravel roads, and off the beaten track pavement, other vehicles rarely encountered, if at all, so 250 felt like rush hour, if even possible out this way. Those people behind the wheel had a manic, possessed look, a snarling visage with a grim determination to be somewhere else, on the gas, smoke the brakes in the curves. I had a destination too, but my progress was in the moment, euphoric, wheels spinning, motor howling, images on the fringe sliding by with time and distance, elemental as air.
The turn onto CR600 was my final major direction change of the day, now I was riding southwest back towards the West Virginia border, chasing the sun, stretching the day. CR600 was one of the best maintained gravel roads you’ll find in this part of Virginia, not sure of the reason, but if you find a vehicle on this road, they’re always coming at you fast, real fast.
The road is following another of those picturesque valleys, small river or creek winding through the wide pastured bottom, stock grazing, both working and abandoned farmsteads along the way.
Flowering shrubs, fruit trees, rose bushes of some antique variety, “Mom and Pop” homestead trees, the pairs still standing…sometimes a last reminder of energetic early settlers, all buildings and people lost to history.
Some of those pioneers took the bus, the advent of RV exploration, now a permanent camp, fresh paint on the club house.
I was following the road through woodland along the edge of the valley until it broke out into pasture land, transitioning to pavement at the same time.
The paved section of CR600 took me down to 84, continuing southwest and back up the mountain to the ridge line that divides Virginia and West Virginia. Here I turned onto PR55 to ride over 20 miles of gravel, sometimes on the actual border, but never more than several hundred feet off it. Another little used road, mostly two track, and I had it to myself today.
I was riding a steady pace, can’t bring myself to ride any faster. The brush was right up to the edge of the two track, and a deer could step out in front of me at any moment, the heck with that, I’d already seen over a hundred deer today, ditch rats, except no ditches here, but at least equally dangerous.
Got off the bike for a drink, no rain, but the bike was muddy from the wet roads, radiator guard and radiator too, needed to watch that in hot weather.
Once the trees are leafed out it’s hard to see out across the mountains, but my more immediate world was showing some color, I rode past a few, finally had to stop.
Putting the camera back in the tank bag, and when I looked up, a young fox was standing in the road in front of the bike looking at me, ahhhhh, I can get this one…but when I pointed the camera all I saw was blurry fuzz on the screen, it was still in a programmed closeup setting, goodbye fox. My photo luck ain’t happening, gimme the yellow pages, might need an exorcist, demon things living in that magic box.
This road took me down to 39, and I finally passed an old pickup crawling along in the opposite direction about two miles in from the bottom. Ancient guy driving, skin brown as butternut, the texture of tree bark, shifty through the eyes, he wasn’t happy to see me, at least from the scowling look on his face. Coulda been Jimmy Carter, except skank mean. I had encountered people like this on these roads more than once, never have figured out where they’re going or what they’re doing…never once stopped to ask either, more Dixie than I would care to confront. Other than the Forest Service truck below Dolly Sods, this was the only the second vehicle I had seen so far on the gravel sections of my route.
A short jog southeast, no traffic this time, then the turn back southwest on the road into Lake Moomaw, my camping destination, I was looking for a nice spot right on the lake, damn, I was ready to stop.
By golly, they had rocks around here, a quick shot, be back for more.
The park entrance has a kiosk, and late today it was occupied by two gals, embroidered golf shirt people, one older, the other a cute teen with the streaky rainbow colored hair. How do ya go to a job interview with that hair, maybe daddy runs this place. Can’t be judgmental about appearances these days, I’d made that mistake more than once, and she proved to be bright and friendly, that big smile wasn’t wasted on me. Paid my money, got them both laughing with a litany of the dumbest questions I could dream up, then down the road to find the lake.
Didn’t know it at the time, but circumstances centered on that kiosk would provide some campground drama as the sun went down.
I found my campsite, did a very strange version of an equestrian dismount without falling down, helmet off, jacket off, good breeze off the lake, feelin’ mighty fine. “Hello”, and when I look up, here’s a guy walking his dog, beer in hand, two cans in the front pockets of his shorts, a third in his back pocket, acrid cologne that smelled like margarita mix gone bad, must have put it on with a freakin’ garden hose. He was a pretty big dude, Coke machine big, but with cans in his pockets he needed a “Wide Load” sign and a pilot truck just to walk around the campground. I said “Hey there, nice day, see y’all brought a couple spares”. He patted one of the cans, “Oh these, them’s for the dog”, and with a gurgling three pack cough, he sailed away, tottering in heavy seas, pronounced list to starboard, arthritic dog staying at heel…ever hopeful.
Man, I was in Virginia, whatever madness was in the air, it had done gone and jumped the state line.
(to be continued…)