Monochromia: After the Ride

The fullness of life is keeping me from posting as I typically do, but after 6 yrs of blogging with WP, I am committed to this space in my world.  With a goal of returning to the norm later this year, I will for now, at least share my weekly image from Monochromia.

 

Thurmond West Virginia: Historic Train Town

Oh how I have missed riding the bike!

The passion for travel with my sweetie, the drive to elect women and men who share my values (ie the values of Presidents Obama and Carter), and the hours at work have diminished my time on the bike significantly.  The desire to ride, however, is ever present in my mind and two weeks ago, I finally had a weekend without travel. I spent one whole day riding 225 miles through Virginia and West Virginia. Happiness! The destination was Thurmond, West Virginia, an early 1900s boomtown.

We had many miles to ride before arriving in Thurmond, and our first stop was Bluestone Dam, a popular place for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill fishing.  After a brief stop to look at Bluestone Lake and dam, we were off through New River Gorge country.

  While the others took off down a gravel road, I stopped for some photography.  I did not know when shooting this image that I was looking towards the historic Thurmond bridge.

The bridge has been rebuilt and rehabbed a few times, but the original bridge was built in 1889.

If you know me, you know I love a bridge, and I had to park the bike and walk out to capture this image looking down into the river.

The view down river from the bridge

The National Park Service restored the Thurmond Depot as a Visitor’s Center in 1995, and the NPS has made learning the history of Thurmond a walkable experience.

Two major fires, the arrival of roads, and the switch from steam engine to diesel engine led to the town’s decline.  Thankfully, the outdoor adventure industry and commercial whitewater rafting through the New River Gorge National River, have revitalized the area.

“Presently, the park owns approximately 80% of the town of Thurmond, including the historic Thurmond Depot. Three times each week, Amtrak uses the Thurmond Depot as a passenger stop and coal trains continue to roll through town hourly.  Though it is a shell of its former self, the historic town of Thurmond still stands as a reminder of the past. It truly is where the River meets History”! http://thurmondwv.org/about/history

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for riding, only made better by being with good friends.  Learning some history just added to the experience.  One more thing: the movie Matewan was filmed in Thurmond, WVA.

Driving the Great Ocean Road

When you last heard from me, I was preparing to drive the Great Ocean Road.  Driving that road is an incredible experience, but for those who are not used to driving on the “other” side of the road and on the “other” side of the car (notice that I didn’t say the “wrong” side), the Road creates an even greater challenge.

I’d hoped to rent a motorcycle and take the ride of a lifetime, but between the cost of rentals and the fact that I couldn’t find a bike to fit my 5′ tall body, I opted for a rental car.  I have to confess to feeling a bit nervous about driving in Australia.  I wasn’t so much worried about driving the Great Ocean Road, as I was about getting out of Melbourne!  I even told the folks at the rental agency that I’d pay someone to drive me out of the city 🙂  Ultimately, it all turned out perfectly, and while the car was a blast, after driving that road, I sure wish I could have ridden those curves on my Harley.

The Great Ocean Road is included on the Australian National Heritage List and at 243 km (151 mi), stretches along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford.  Construction on the road began in September of 1919 and was built by approximately 3000 returned servicemen as a war memorial for fellow servicemen who had been killed in World War I.  In addition to being dedicated as a memorial, the road also connected isolated settlements on the coast, and become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.

As a visitor to Australia, seeing these signs along my route were welcome, and within minutes of driving out of the city, I stopped at my first Visitor Information Centre.

The incredibly friendly and informative folks at the Centre loaded up a reusable bag full of maps and pamphlets, which suited this map loving woman just fine.  GPS is great, of course, but I like to say that I use MAPS.  The volunteers recommended that I stop in Geelong, and I’m so glad that they did.   Located just southwest of Melbourne, Geelong  boasts a 19th-century carousel, a curved art deco boardwalk , and a several colorful sculptures that chronicle the city’s history.

After a lovely stroll along that curved boardwalk, I took off for Torquay, the surf capital of Australia, and the start of the Great Ocean Road.

On this, my first day on the road, I only managed to drive 90 km (50 mi).  I just couldn’t help myself: I had to keep stopping!

I mean, seriously! I think I pulled over at every possible place!  Including the Cape Otway Lightstation, built in 1848.

What an incredible gift it was to have the time to explore.  I had no plan other than to go, to see, to breathe.

The sound of those waves crashing on the shore were captivating, and in my next post, I’ll share some video.

The curves were fun to drive, and every so often, I was pleased to be the only car on the road.  At times, it seemed I could have been driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the road wound through lush, forested areas.  At other times, the road took me along the dramatic coastline.  I could have taken weeks, not days, to visit the many natural and historic wonders of this road, and I could have taken thousands and thousands of photos.

At the end of an amazing day, I stopped at the  Great Ocean Road Brewhouse for fish and chips and a nice, cold beer.  On this particular day, I’d worn one of my Harley t-shirts and as always happens when I travel, people come up and talk to me about motorcycles.  Even in this day and time, a woman who rides her own bike is still a big deal.  We also talked about the bracelets on our arms, representing loved ones gone too soon.

Next Post: Day Two on the Great Ocean Road

Mini-Vacation: Atlanta and Maggie Valley

After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.

First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.

And Tela and Wilson, too.

We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink.  Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.

After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum

and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,

and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.

Happiness!

Anatomy of a Bridge

** This is a scheduled post  from a ride one week ago. As you read, I am in full Get Out The Vote mode! **

Another Sunday Ride. Another Old Bridge.

Something is definitely right in my world when I get to ride the bike two weekends in a row.  The rides haven’t been long but during this busy time in my life, I’m thrilled just to be riding on our beautifully curvy Southwest Virginia roads.

We were also able to explore another old bridge.  With this one no longer in use, we were able to take our time checking it out.

I thought of Joe as I photographed all of the rust, and as we looked at the many parts of the bridge, I couldn’t help but wish that I knew more about civil engineering.

 

I also loved the contrast between the man made structure and the natural world.

Soon enough we were back on the bikes and enjoying the wind in our faces.

As always, we ended the ride with a cold craft beer and this time, a brick oven pizza.

It was the perfect way way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Riding Through Civil War History

My weekend ride continued on Sunday morning and the route that I chose took me through Appomattox Courthouse.

You will most likely recognize the name Appomattox as the site of Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the Civil War.

It was quiet that morning, and all I heard were the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

I could not help but think about the 620,000 souls who died during that terrible time when our country was so divided.

The peace that morning was such a contrast to the violence that was seen in those fields.

A solemn walk through this small confederate cemetery revealed the story of a soldier who joined the army on day one of the war, April 12th, 1861, and after serving for 1,458 days, was killed on the last day of the war, April 9, 1865.

Standing there that day, I could not help but think about how divided our nation is now, and how desperately we need a leader who will unite us.

Somehow we must learn the lessons of past tragedy and move beyond the divisiveness.

Riding ‘Round Virginia

While it can be a challenge to be away from home for several weekends in a row, the benefits include the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  Two weeks ago I was in Williamsburg celebrating my mother’s birthday.  Last weekend, for a mix of meetings and fun, I rode the bike from Blacksburg to Fredericksburg to King George to Richmond and back home.  The weather was bright and beautiful and I enjoyed 600 miles of happy!

My meeting was in  Fredericksburg, an historic town that I had not visited in decades.  Sadly,  I wasn’t able to do much exploring since I arrived late on Friday and had to be in meetings first thing the next morning. I did stay in a hotel that I now hear is haunted, although I saw no sign of ghosts.  The Inn at Old Silk Mill was built in the 1930s and was one of the largest motor lodges on the east coast.

The Silk Mill was built in 1889 and was a factory that employed over 200 women. The women spun silk that was imported from Italy to go around spools for sewing. Originally the C.W Tholtz Throwing Company, The Mill has been recently renovated to host weddings and events.

All the meeting attendees were able to attend Senator Mark Warner‘s annual BBQ.  Located in King George, Senator Warner’s home is located right on the Rappahanock River.

The Senator, and Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, and current candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring stood in line for hours greeting the many hundreds of people in attendance.

What a wonderful way to say thanks to the many people who have worked to keep Virginia blue.

Next post: Riding Through Civil War History