April 15, 2001

4/15/01 Jamestown VA

33.6 miles

Morning got here way too early. As I packed, Robbie came to say goodbye. His wife stayed home in bed. Traffic was pretty light and we were able to get to Yorktown by 9:00am, just in time to meet my friend Brian at the Victory Monument.

Brian had found me because of my website. He was a local injection mold designer who had biked across the country back in 1978. Actually, he was riding from Florida to California but only made it through to Arizona where he met a girl. Guess it worked out because he married her. That means there's hope for me yet.

Brian was a wealth of information on everything we saw from our ride out of Yorktown, especially since this was one of his cycling routes. My uncle headed off to Williamsburg to meet us while I took my bike down to the water's edge for the ceremonial dipping of my rear wheel in the York River (salty enough to count as the Atlantic Ocean). My ride had officially begun.

Dipping my tires in the York River
now heading west to the Pacific.

As we rode the Colonial Parkway, Brian told me about his bike travels and I told him about hiking the Appalachian Trail. The road was wide enough that people could easily pass us and traffic wasn't that bad.

It was a nice warm morning as we quickly found ourselves at Colonial Williamsburg. Lucky for me that it was the slow season or I would have found the streets of this recreated 18th century town unridable. As we meandered along the streets, you could see people everywhere dressed in colonial garb. We stopped by the Governor's Palace but didn't go into any other buildings. And we found Chuck and Irene again.

My uncle was glad because he wanted to capture me riding on the bike with Irene's digital camera. While we were stopped another cyclists came over to talk. After describing some of his misadventures on Odessy 2000, a round the world in 365 days with 250 people, I asked him if he was trying to discourage me. "No, no, you'll do fine!" he said. With that, I said goodbye to Chuck and Irene, my wonderful hosts in Virginia Beach.

But cycling sure creates an appetite. Brian directed me to a part of town near the campus of the College of William & Mary, so we wouldn't have to pay tourist prices. Again my money was no good as Brian treated me to a vegetarian bagel.

After that it was on to Jamestown, our nation's first colonial settlement on the James River. As we rode the parkway again, our sunny skies were becoming overcast with a chance of evening showers.

colonial glassblowers

At the Jamestown site, we watched a few glassblowers make a pitcher in colonial garb. It was fascinating and fast, maybe three minutes or less to make one. We went to the visitor center and caught the beginning of an educational film. After the fort had been manned for several years, a shipload of 100 eligible 'maids' arrived. Can you even imagine what those girls were thinking when they arrived at the frontier at the edge of the known world. The only building standing is the church. What a simple building, but so moving. With it's vaulted timber ceiling, it had a beauty all it's own.

Brian rode with me over to the Jamestown Beach Campground where we said goodbye. I thanked him and hoped he got home before it started raining.

After hiking all those months on the Appalachian Trail and camping for free, the $20 tent site was a shock. There were a few large families tenting but I avoided them. I put up the tent, cooked dinner and had a candy bar for dessert. It kept sprinkling so I couldn't even read, let alone write in my journal. So I made a small fire and reflected on this adventure, this bike trip across America.

How different a beginning compared to my AT hike. My first night back then was with the companionship of a dozen other thruhiker hopefuls, all of us both nervous and excited. But tonight I feel alone. No one to share the adventure with, to compare notes or to re-live stories, as I make my way to the finish. It's hard not to compare the two, but if I'm going to do this, I must.

As I let the fire slowly die out, a father and his two children headed my way with an armload of wood. Kevin and his wife work for the fire department in Pennsylvania. They both had a few days off and the kids didn't need to be back to school till Tuesday, so they loaded up the truck and trailer and headed to Virginia. All the while we talked, Ashlie and her younger brother, Thomas, tried to show me the finer points of fire building. Kevin did a wonderful thing when he unselfishly reached out to a complete stranger. I guess I wasn't alone after all. I will have all the new friends I'll meet along the way. I didn't feel great, but I did feel better.

I went to bed as the rain continued to drum against the tent.