Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day Four - Williamsburg to Malvern Fields

No question. Today was one of the best days of my life. May Sligh and her mother Francis showed me a wonderful time at their home. I slept like a log. The d├ęcor of Francis’s home would have greatly appealed to mother. She had wonderful antique furniture, old family photos on all the walls, frilly cloth under every lamp. It was spectacular. I’m not sure where she was from but she very much reminded you of Mountain Brook aristocracy mixed with the elite of the Atlantic shore. Very sophisticated, very engaging, wonderfully social.

I awoke refreshed. It was after 7, so I was in a mad dash to catch up and get out the door the same time as May. I was pretty successful. I shoved a scone down my throat and a couple of dried apricots and tried to wash the doughy mass down with some OJ. Then I ran upstairs and took a three minute shower. OK, five minutes. I’ve never taken a three minute shower.

I grabbed everything as quickly as I could, offered Francis my sincerest thanks for the wonderful time and headed to the garage to pack things up. May was so fun, she wanted to take a picture of me all set to go. It was about to start raining so I had my rain jacket on. We said our goodbyes and she drove to work. It was a little after 7:30.

As I came pulling out of the subdivision, there is May pulled over on the side of the road, sticking her camera out the window to take my picture. “You need an action shot.” She said. These are the moments that make this trip so cool.

Down the road a piece I pulled into a gas station to look up the numbers to bike shops. I still had some business to attend to before getting to far out into the middle of nowhere. I needed a new tube (the one I had was a Schraeder valve rather than a Presta), some special screws for my fenders and some butt loob. The problem was it was so early. It was actually just 8 AM when I started making calls. Sure enough, first call I make, I get an answer. Hallelujah. The guy is there, but he’s not willing to open the doors to help me out. He said he had a conference call until 10.

So now I have two hours to kill, so I decide to ride down and see Jamestown which was my original plan anyway before heading west for Charles City. Right as I hit the road, the drizzle starts. It was kind of fun though. I had all the appropriate rain gear, my front and rear blinking lights, and most importantly my fenders. I was snug.

I get to Jamestown by 8:53. It must have been a little under 10 miles. I had planned on sneaking in before they opened at 9, but this plan is foiled when I discover that they open at 8:45. The guy is at the gate, so I tell him that I’m only going to be there for about 30 minutes. He says, “If you go in, it’s $8 per person.” No thanks I say and move on.

I took the Colonial Parkway back to Williamsburg which was 11 miles long. The ride was beautiful and sopping wet. It took longer than I was expecting b/c it’s after 10 by this time. The Parkway spits you into downtown Williamsburg so I went to Scotland Street because I had seen a bike shop there the day before. I cruise down to the shop… and surprise, they’re closed. Patrick had actually told me they were closed on Mondays. Great. Now, I’ve got to drive out Monticello, which is exactly where May and Francis live. I’ve been awake and pedaling for 2 and a half hours and I’m further away than when I started. And I haven’t been to bike shop yet.

I go down the road to the public library and decide to look online for the exact location of the bike shop. While I’m there I figure it’s a good idea to go ahead and print out my contacts list, and farm descriptions. This takes a while. Meanwhile, I am one weird looking dude in the library.

I spent at least twenty minutes trying to get these documents to print. And guess what? I left there without being able to print squat. The morning is going down the tubes fast but I am in good spirits.

I head towards Monticello Road. On the way I remember there is a Staples. My buddy Patrick Sloma (guy pictured with cannonball from my first day in Yorktown) had informed me that Staples will print out 1000 business cards for like $11.99 or something ridiculous like that. He had done this so he could hand out cards to people he meets. Why I didn’t do this before leaving I have no idea. But now that I’m in the know, I go in to talk to Staples. Rudest sales lady I have ever met. Couldn’t care less what you wanted. I talked to her first about printing out those pages that had failed at the library. She tells me there is a $2.50 charge per file opened, and then its 7 cents a copy. The hell with that! I walked out swearing never to do business with Staples again. As I exit, there is a UPS package with Staples name on it lying in the driveway, I pick it up and look for the UPS guy. Nowhere to be seen. I notice the window of his truck is open. I’m in a hurry so I lob it through the window into the seat. Only it catches the corner of the seat falls to the left between the seat and the side of the cab that never opens. I think, uh-oh, what have I done? He’s not gonna find that. I look around, there’s no one to tell. I punch the numbers into the decision machine and they spit out, “Let’s get goin’, this isn’t your problem.” Take that Staples!

And now I’m off. Wait, no. Now I have to go the bike shop. It’s after 11am. I get there. I go in. Nicest bike salesperson I’ve met so far. She was young, she wasn’t an arrogant butt, and she was a girl (I’m partial to girls). Bike people are always guys. I did like the Cahaba Cycles people in Birmingham though. And the Hub owner was cool. But most bike people are jerks. No luck on the screws, but I get the tube, and she gives me two trial sizes of the butt butter to see if I like it. Thanks girlie. Those last two sentences taken out of context would get me in a lot of trouble.

I go out of the store, pull my bike up to a bench and fix my trailer fender, and tape my rear fender where those screws are missing. There, it’s jerry-rigged. I’m pleased with myself despite my ridiculous tardiness. On the way out of the shopping center I stop and get some Chick Fil A nuggets.

Once I’m on Highway 5 I’m happy. It takes you near Jamestown again, and then becomes a beautifully wooded road, very flat, very straight, and very little traffic. That’s what I call a beautiful road. Saw lots of cool things. A pileated woodpecker flew by after I’d been hearing him call. I saw a hawk with a white underbelly carrying a squirrel in its talons. Rabbits, wood chucks (is that what those things are you always see right next to the road). I caught my rhythm today. My legs weren’t hurting too much, but I am worried about all this weight.

I was running late for my 1PM meeting with Paul Davis. I tried to call him, but he didn’t answer his cell phone. This was a semi last minute thing that May had helped set up. May had told me about him, and him about me. I called him Sunday afternoon and then Sunday night he called May and we talked to him for awhile. I liked him right off. When I told him what I was doing he said, “You’re speaking my language with all that. That’s the stuff I’m into.” Paul is an extension agent for Charles City County and the city of Kent. He’s also a farmer. I’ll tell you all about him sometime. He does kind of look like George Bush (see photo) though. Only I like him about 100% more.

The hour and a half I spent with him and Steve Phillips is worthy of much writing.

There is much, much more to this day, but I'm out of time. I ended up camping at a Civil War battle site called Malvern Hill. Here is the last thing I saw before going to bed.



  • 6/13/2006 4:26 PM Alice Rolls wrote:
    Hey Justin,

    Congratulations on starting your trip. I look forward to reading your stories as both a former cross-country biker and advocate for sustainable farming. Walmart was actually an appropriate first destination for you. They have recently made a big announcement that they plan to double the amount of organic products and produce they now carry as they remake themselves and appeal to urban markets. Have you heard of Michael Pollan's book, "Omnivores Dilemma" that is out right now? I wish it wasn't so heavy so you could take it on your ride. It would be the perfect read to accompany your farm adventure.

    Best wishes to you in the joyous days ahead . . . and be glad you are not biking in Alberto's path!

    Georgia Organics

  • 6/14/2006 4:59 PM Kes wrote:
    Yo Justin - glad you're on your way! We just got back from California and it's a great place to ride. When you get to the Pacific, just turn left and keep going til you hit San Francisco. I'm serious! Tons of great farms to vist and a great way to finish up.


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