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Old 05-05-2004, 07:13 PM   #15
MikeO OP
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Joined: Jul 2002
Location: Scarning, Norfolk, today...
Oddometer: 6,682
18th February

I’m woken by the sound of the automatic garage door opening downstairs. Its 9ish and Sue is going to work. I try to turn over and go to sleep, but the need for coffee and ibuprofen overcomes my tiredness. I stumble downstairs and meet up with Buddy, who apparently sorted out his computer glitches at about 2 this morning!

I’ve another snag with the exhaust. The extension to the pipe that Steve welded on in Daytona has come loose. At first, I thought it was Steve’s weld that had cracked, but it turns out to be a BMW tack weld that has fatigue-cracked under the additional weight of the extension. Buddy rings around a couple of places to see if we can get it fixed. I remove the pannier, as well as the extension pipe & end cap, and we set off on the bikes into town where we find Chester Muffler & Brakes. The guy on reception, Polo, says it’ll take 10 minutes and cost $15. His estimate proves entirely accurate, and we share the reception area with the owner’s 2 dogs while we wait for the job to be done.





Virginia, it seems, has a very high proportion of ‘Vanity Tags’, or personalised number plates. I notice that one of the guys at the muffler shop has the ultimate redneck’s plate…:P



Buddy, a keen golfer, has PUTT 1 on his VW, and this on his RT…



Before we go home, Buddy takes me to the local Chopper Shop. These are definitely not my cup of tea, but I can always appreciate high quality engineering when I see it. All the bikes are based on Harley Davidson engines (natch). The chrome and paintwork is dazzling…



We then return to the house and refit the pannier, before departing for ‘the 10¢ tour’ of Richmond. Buddy & Sue both went to school here, and Buddy proves to be a keen and well-informed tour guide…

This part of the USA is the cradle of their struggle for independence, as well as the focus of the Civil War. We ride down Monument Avenue, past several impressive tributes to local heroes. The first is to Arthur Ashe, a tennis player who won Wimbledon in 1975, but was unable to play tennis in the local club when he was a child, because he was black…



His statue has its back turned to the other memorials –all of which commemorate Civil War heroes. This is not by accident – Ashe hated the prejudice in this town and refused to attend the dedication ceremony…

We then come across Maury, naval navigator…



…Stonewall Jackson, killed by his own troops…



…Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy…



…General Lee…




…and, finally, Major General Jeb Stuart, Cavalry Commander.



We then visit Hollywood Cemetery, which is a pleasant and tranquil home to, amongst many others, 80 thousand Confederate soldiers and 2 Presidents (three, if you include Jefferson Davis).



They all have an excellent view of Richmond’s skyline from here. The city is undergoing enormous amounts of work restoring the older and neglected industrial areas. Buddy admits that it bears little resemblance to the place he grew up in…



It’s now pleasantly warm, a major change from this time yesterday. So warm, in fact, that we sit outside for a cup of coffee – tomorrow is forecast to be even warmer. I don’t think it’s time to pack away the thermals quite yet, though…

Another point on the tourist trail, the State Capitol building. You can see Buddy (successfully) negotiating with the Policeman at the security desk to let us ride into the grounds (the legislature is in session, so we can’t enter the building).



The members of the legislature, who meet for a total of 60 days per year, have licence plates with their seat number on them. The Governor has No 1, the deputy No 2 and so on – the lower your number, the higher up the pecking order you are…



We leave Richmond via one last historical landmark. This is St John’s Episcopal Church, famous as the place where Patrick Henry made his ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ speech in 1775…



As the sun moves towards the horizon, we leave the city via Route 5, a series of long sweeping bends through the woods, which allows us a little spirited riding and helps to clear the cobwebs formed by creeping about in bad weather for the last few days…



That evening we go out to a very pleasant Italian restaurant. The decor & food is excellent, the wine’s good and the service is friendly. We are the only customers in the place, so are a little surprised that they choose this time to vacuum the restaurant…. I ask the young man to stop, which he does. What happened to my British reserve? Am I becoming American…:
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MikeO screwed with this post 02-12-2006 at 03:18 AM
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