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Published: August 31st 2005
Lexington to Roanoake
We set off on Bike Route 76 towards Roanoake and promptly got lost again, 10 miles later we got back onto our route after a brief detour through some very picturesque (and poor) parts of Virginia. We were chased by dogs at one point, I took off up the road as fast as I could pedal, Vernon just rode along with barking dogs around him, they weren't vicious (probably just wanted some toes to lick).
After lunch the weather deteriorated and we had to use our waterproofs, in the current temperatures it's a toss up between how wet you get from the rain and how damp you get sweating in a plastic coat; although the Goretex does seem to work fairly well.
We reached Roanoke around 6pm after 58 miles of pedaling and found our cheapest motel yet and boy does it show, Everything is grubby, the carpet is sticky and Vern has told me not to look in the microwave! The sheets are clean and the shower works and that's good enough for me.
We dried out, then watched coverage of Hurricane Katrina hitting Florida for the second night, the CNN reporters are still being blown around and soaked.
Roanoke to Bedford
We have just done our sums and realised that we don't have a snowball in hell's chance of getting across the States within our visa time limits, well not unless we alter our schedule completely and don't see any of the places we want to visit, which would defeat the object of travelling in the first place. After much discussion we have decided to hire a car for the next two weeks and drive to Vegas from where we will continue on the bikes to Yosemite, San Fran and down to LA. We're both gutted by this, but realise it's the only way we're going to make it in the 3 month limit.
We head for the airport and get an automatic SUV from Hertz.
Bedford to Doughton Camping Ground
We drove to Bedford last night to look at the D-Day Memorial, it is the most bizarre thing I have seen yet. There are a number of bronze sculptures, including a soldier wading out of a water feature with his gun over his head, a soldier dragging his injured colleague up the beach and a dead soldier; the fountains are set up to represent bullets hitting the water.
We left the memorial behind and headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway again, we decided to camp overnight and stopped at Doughton Camping Ground for the night. By the time the tent was up and the food was cooked it was dark and we ate by the light of a Petzl head torch, with background music by cicadas (unless there were a number of Morris Men on squeaky bicycles pedaling around) There were signs up around the site warning of a bear roaming the area by night, this made me totally paranoid and I refused to go to the toilet block on my own. We went to bed early, there's not much to do on the Parkway after dark and I stopped writing postcards after Vern whinged about me wasting the battery in my torch.
About 4 am I woke Vern up because I had been driving the tent and I set off the sprayer which was hanging from the roof and the perfume in it would attract bears and we had to get out because we were going to be attacked. Vern switched on the torch (which was hanging from the roof of the tent) and woke me up, I was rather confused.
BRP to Asheville
We spent the day getting the miles in, crossing in to North Carolina and heading for Tennesee. we stopped at Asheville for the night and ate at a rather excellent veggie restaurant with some particularly good ale on tap (hurrah for Green Man Gold).
Asheville to Nashville
We met up with the back end of Hurricane Katrina today and I am very glad we were not on the bikes, 40 mph winds and torrential rain for most of the journey with bits of tree falling into the road as we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The views were probably spectacular but we couldn't see them.
We exited the park at Gatlinburg - WHAT A DUMP! It looks like Southend Seafront but with arcades on both sides of the road. We tried to find some lunch, the Rough Guide lists a bakery and cafe on the main road, so we paid 8 bucks to park (and had to move the car because it was tall and had to go by the fence), we then found out the cafe/bakery had shut 2 years ago and some bloke tried to tap us for cash because he had apparently had his wallet and cheque book stolen and needed the cash for fuel to get home.
We left Gatlinburg without lunch and having paid about a buck a minute for being there.
We found lunch at a cafe in Pigeon Forge, then headed on to Nashville, where we spent the evening cruising the Honky-Tonks of Broadway listening to a variety of rock and country singers ranging from okay to, erm, unique.
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