Making ourselves at home at Dunkin Donuts
We are sitting in the Dunkin Donuts at a travel stop in rural Virginia just off I-85. I am dressed smartly in my pajama pants, sneakers, and three shirts, two long-sleeved. Dee is in leggings, sneakers (not her trademark sandals!), a shirt, scarf, and jacket. It’s perfectly fine outside, though raining, but here in our little office/camp, the air conditioning is freezing cold.
So I’ll make this quick. We had a beautiful ride today, 64 miles, all rural. Niles, my East Coast Greenway colleague, told me that today’s ride would be nice. He went on to name some of the reasons why but I can never retain those things, when I can’t see them myself. It’s better that way anyway; we discovered the route’s joys as fun surprises.
Dee at the La Crosse trailhead of the Tobacco Heritage Trail
Our early morning ride was sweet: quiet rolling roads, even quieter early on Memorial Day. We had views from ridge tops and fun, long downhills past tobacco fields and wildflowers and through woods.
At about 30 miles we came to the Tobacco Heritage Trail. It was paved for the first half, maybe eight miles or so, and delightful. Then the surface became stone dust, then dirt and grass, which was fine, just more work to pedal through. We felt a little urgency because storm clouds were growing, and any time we stopped to take a photo or adjust gear, the horseflies found us. They are mean!
At 46 miles we returned to civilization, the town of Lawrenceville, but the holiday meant the few places to eat were closed. The rain started, so we camped out under the roof of a closed bakery (so sad!) and dined on apple slices, peanut butter, and some leftover breakfast soufflé from our night’s host.
Our last 18 miles were again delightfully rural, with little company on the roads. I shouldn’t say this, because the forecast looks pretty wet for the rest of the week, but we have had remarkable luck staying just ahead or behind rainstorms. Today was classic: parts of the sky looked dark all afternoon, and you could smell just-fallen rain on the roads, but we stayed dry.
We rolled up to the somewhat sad but serviceable Nottoway Inn, showered, and headed to the travel center next door. Imagine Dee’s delight: Subway and Dunkin Donuts, two of her favorites, here side by side! We’ve dined, now we are watching the rain fall and the nonstop flow of holiday motorists stopping in. They may think these two strangely dressed women are homeless; that’s sometimes how it feels on a bike trip. Instead, we are just two very lucky tourists — tired from a good day’s ride, fed well, and happy to discover what’s next on the road ahead.
Green all day: a stretch of the Tobacco Heritage Trail Greenway.