Saturday, June 20

Cookie Lady and the Blue Ridge

Previously on Whereabouts in America:
I got into Afton and followed the signs to the Cookie Lady, not knowing what to expect. Making the final turn to her house, I saw before me something quite peculiar...

What I found was a local CBS van. (Flash required! Make sure you have it for the video.)

Or if that doesn't work - try this

And the article too.

That should give you a feel for both the Cookie Lady and my stay there. Remember, I had planned to continue on. But when I learned the kitchen was stocked with free food, I quickly altered my plans.

After Jennifer and the local CBS van left, things settled down at the Cookie Lady's house. June went up to her house and left me in charge of setting up any other cyclists that came through.

Alone, I walked the house laden with postcards, bicycle parts, letters, pictures, theses, and everything else one could connect to bicycles in one form or fashion. I flipped the pages of one transcribed journal, reading the stories the writer had penned. One that I remember told of the interaction between a cyclist and a cop at the border of a town.

"Where were you two days ago?" the cop asked the cyclist.
Thinking he was to be lectured about illegal camping, he left his response loose. "Back a few towns..."
"No. Exactly where were you?" the cop inquired harder.
The writer went on to tell that two nights back there had been a double homicide and he was one of the officers suspects - "I didn't fit in." Apparently, after explaining what he was doing, the cop let him go on, realizing he hadn't been apart of the incident.

And I thought my stories were funny.

The significance of the house and its memorabilia set in the longer I was there. About 33 years of stuff. Each with a story, a passion, a history. Quite humbling.

I cooked dinner, grabbed a copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road I found in a stack of books, and took it all outside to enjoy the early evening. As I began to open the book, and Eastbounder, Nick, showed up. Nick started his journey from San Diego and was headed to Boston - pretty much the exact trip I'm making, in reverse and going beyond New York. He was in his 7th week, having started around April 25th. A good guy, we swapped stories, insights, and places to stop and find a meal. Apparently in Kentucky, there's another place like the Cookie Lady's. I told him about Sue and Chuck at the Methodist Church in Maryland. I never got to Kerouac, but didn't mind; I'd prefer good conversation about any day.

(Cookie Lady water spot)

The next morning, after pancakes and bacon, I began my ascent up the Appalachian mountains, Blue Ridge style. Rain and clouds shrouded the entire climb. I was pretty bummed, I trust there were some fantastic views, but didn't mind it when I reached the peak and the clouds finally opened and I felt the warmth of sunlight. It took 3.5 hours to get to the top, reaching an altitude of 3,200 ft, and a mere 20 minutes to get down. That is, 20 minutes of squeezing my breaks so hard that my hands began to hurt all the while still traveling between 20-30 mph. The road winded down this way and that; had I not held the breaks I would have drifted into the other lane on a turn or worse, gone over an edge even steeper than the road itself. I'm sure any car that was making the climb in the other lane could see the sense of accomplishment I was feeling at the moment - not only did my hands hurt, but my cheeks hurt from smiling ear to ear.

(This is the elevation profile of Afton - home of the Cookie Lady - and the 27 miles of incline that followed the 3.5 hour ride up with 20 minute decline. Notice the decline to Vesuvius, still not 2 miles...)

I relaxed a bit in Lexington, VA and continued on to Buchanon, VA for the nights stay, racking up 79 miles for the day. In Buchanon, I waited outside a volunteer firefighter station to find someone who could point me in the direction of a campground. Their was some kind of meeting taking place inside and when it finally let out, a whole host of people were offering to help.

One man jumped in, "I'll tell you where you can camp. You see that insurance building," he said pointing directly across the street. "My wife owns the building, you can camp behind it. If anyone gives you trouble, tell 'em the Vice Mayor, Chandler, said you can."

As I began setting up camp, another man walked towards me. "Oh no, I'm going to have to drop names," I thought.

As he approached he began, "You see those clouds over there? The way their hanging on the mountains make it look like its going to rain. There's a bandstand behind that building," he motioned. "You can camp under it if you want. If anyone gives you trouble, tell em Marty Richtman told you can. They shouldn't bother you much." Now I don't know who Marty Richtman is, but he sure thinks he's hot stuff - as if he were the Mayor himself.

The days since then have been lots of ups and downs. More time going up, but I think the elevation is leveling out soon. I am in Abingdon, VA currently, after a 54 mile morning, and have my last large climb this evening. Kentucky is just around the corner I reckon.


Gruntled said...

That is fantastic. Was the film crew just hanging out with June Curry, waiting for a biker to come by? Or had the brunette been following you all day? (Is she still there? Can you talk?)

D'Rock's House said...

Too funny, Nate. I've learned that every town has about three people dubbed "mayor" but never elected in a "municipal vote"! Ride on my brother.

WhereaboutsinDanville said...

Look at you! Hilarious.

I want to know more about the brunette as well.

Looks like you are 4 or 5 days from Danville?

Kelly said...

I guess my dad has to believe you now! We are having a great time and have been in the water a lot, but we wish you were here. The lake's a warm 71 degrees!
Speaking of dads, call yours tomorrow- Father's Day.

Alex Brown said...

Too too hilarious, man. The story just keeps gettin better.

Mary Trollinger said...

Wow, I was in Abingdon, VA this morning, too! That would have been cool if I had seen you riding.

Nate Crimmins said...

Gruntled - crew was already there, hoping a biker would come... and of course, I would.

Whereabouts in D-Vegas: The brunette's name is Jennifer, and we are now facebook friends and she might visit the blog, so be careful!

Mary - I wish we could have met up.

tillywilly808 said...


Wow, what stories you tell. I love them. The ups and the downs (both literally and figuratively). How cool to end up on local news! Miss you around these parts...