Today we saw some beautiful country and talked with some real Virginians.
Not far past Greenville, we passed little run-down houses, at least two of which were flying the Confederate battle flag. What the flag represents to its owners, we can’t say.
We can’t say how big this snake is either.
We passed through Lexington, home of VMI and Washington & Lee University, where R. E. Lee is buried. VMI’s campus looked deserted, except for one white-clad officer or cadet you can see toward the right in the stands. Maybe Sunday the cadets are allowed to sleep in.
Lexington has its share of beautiful old houses.
Here are Zoey, Olivia and their mother, Trish. These Lexingtonians were on their way out of town to ride horses. Jeffrey had a nice chat with Trish. She said that the Lexington area is increasingly cosmopolitan and aside from the rabble one can find anywhere, diverse people largely get along. She was enthusiastic about the mission of Human Rights First and volunteered to use Facebook and friendships to spread the word.
Then we left U.S. 11 – the Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway – for 18 miles of parallel side roads. There was very little traffic, and we were pleased to see the ‘bike route” signs, reminding drivers that we belong on the road.
Possum Hollow Road took us alongside a small, swift river.
This farm seems to have “watch roosters” instead of watch dogs. We heard them begin to crow in the distance when we stopped at the top of a hill.
We saw livestock in pastures, and what may have been a “Sheridan Sentinel” – a chimney and part of a wall, perhaps from a house burned during the Civil War. There was no sign so we can only speculate.
On Plank Road, we passed Marie and her dog, Smokey. Marie allowed Jeffrey to take Smokey’s photo, but did not want herself or her house photographed.
Marie said that a sketch (words or drawing) is OK. Marie is short, wore one heavy glove on the hand that held Smokey’s leash, wore a brown knitted cap over a pink “hoodie” with the hood on her head, and was missing quite a few teeth. Jeffrey told her about our Ride. She was warmly supportive. Marie said there are good and bad people in every group, including citizens, foreigners, and every religion; we all must help one another; no one has all the answers; a friend who likes to call herself a good Christian is actually unkind; many years ago, she stopped dating a man when he told her that he made extra money in his auto mechanic business by falsely telling customers they needed work done; she had lived on this land (in Natural Bridge) since her mother bought the place in 1950 after Marie’s father was killed; she has no electricity and doesn’t want it; Smokey only bites if she tells him to; and more. Her house – if one can call it that – reminded us of how very little one needs. Marie said she always liked nice clothes, but never cared much for houses. She is not well supplied with either.
Marie refused our offer of food, saying that she should not eat peanuts, and that she eats chocolate only during the winter months. “It seems like a winter food, doesn’t it?” We left with her blessing – a gift.
A mile or two away, we met Marilyn, who called out as we passed and offered us water. That’s Roscoe at her feet.
Marilyn has deep roots in the area. Her brick house has been in the family for generations. Jeffrey asked her about Marie. Marilyn said that people had offered to help Marie, to provide her with electricity, but Marie likes things as they are. Marilyn said that the McMansions we passed, which are interspersed with modest houses and with shacks, are “permanent blights”, while places like Marie’s are recyclable and will disappear after the owners die. (Jeffrey noted that Marie’s place already has begun to recycle.) Marilyn said the rich newcomers complain about the neighbors (who were here when the rich folks bought and built) without attempting to understand them. In one tumbledown shack, she said, lives a man and the disabled brother he cares for. Evict that man – she said “the law” has been after him, and after Marie – and the brother will have to live in an institution. Marilyn helps those poor people as she can.
Trish, Marie, Marilyn. They’re the sort who give one hope that kindness and good sense will prevail in how America treats refugees and the foreign-born who are part of our community.
From Plank Road, we made our way back to U.S. 11 for the last 25 miles of our long and interesting day.