Today was probably the easiest start of the trip. Woke up, packed the bike, had breakfast, and was on the road ahead of schedule. Decided to ride out the parkway, hoping to avoid hitting the slab on Friday. Had a really good ride in the morning, perfect weather, clear roads, bike running well.
Around lunchtime, came across a detour, road closed ahead. I continued riding up to the closure, hoping for a little more information about the closure so I could make routing plans. They had a map up at the ranger station detailing the closure and the detour, specifically calling out a place to eat just south of where the detour rejoined the parkway. Rode out the detour, turned south, and found the road closed a full 10 miles earlier than the map at the ranger station indicated. Found some better information, increasing the scope of the work. Turned back north, in search of food. After 30 miles of looking, found 5 places in the GPS, all of which were either closed or nonexistent.
Ultimately I ended up back in Sparta, one of the towns the detour went through, and had a late lunch at the restaurant time forgot. 1979 was not a good year for dining. After lunch, got back on the parkway, and eventually crossed into VA.
The parkway through NC is much nicer than the parkway through southern VA. The tunnels, twisty road, light, easily passed traffic, and gorgeous vistas from the overlooks gave way to gentle sweepers with poor sightlines, clumps of slow moving traffic, more parking areas than overlooks, and far too much evidence of humanity. That, plus the strangest police interaction I’ve ever been party to, all conspired to keep my speed down. I wasn’t having a bad ride, exactly, but I wasn’t having fun anymore.
I’m not sure if it was any of those things, really, or if I was just tired, hot, and cranky. Stopped for fuel in Roanoke, got back on the parkway behind a couple more frustratingly slow drivers, then got out around them and started having fun again. About 30 miles to the end of the parkway, the gods of random music pulled out the last stops, and “Truckin'” came on. Long, strange trip, indeed. A good string of travelling music followed, and despite a number of deer in the road and increasingly deep shadows for them to hide in, the last few miles of the parkway were great.
Made it to the end of the parkway around 1930h, took a couple quick photos, then tried to find a place to stay. The first few places I came across were all booked up, and it was getting late, so I stopped at a Sonic to eat and steal some wifi from the office across the street, and found and booked a hotel a few miles further down the road. When I arrived I was surprised to find not only another bike with MA tags, but one I’m certain I’ve seen before, I just can’t remember where. I’m hoping I’ll bump into the rider in the morning and figure it out.
States: NC, VA
Tomorrow, more progress towards home, more’s the pity.