I have reached Virginia! The final state in my little adventure. I put in quite the day to reach the state line and the Breaks Interstate Park, but it was quite worth it. The hills were just as steep on either side of the invisible line, and I encountered just as many dogs on my trip east from Hazard. However, the Hills Have Eyes feeling seemed to disappear as soon as I saw the Welcome to Virginia sign. It was in fact uncanny how quickly the temperment of the people I met and aura of the towns I passed through changed.
I think it really began to set in on Day 38, my first full day in Virginia. During a brief stint on a larger highway, after a day full of climbing, I stopped at a small shack on the side of the road. With cars whizzing by, I walked in and ordered a sandwich. Now, my expectations weren't high. The place was grubby, the ceiling yellowed with cigarette smoke, and the three women working the grill were not wearing their white chefs hats. Yet, the sandwich was some of the best food I had tasted in days, and after chatting with the woman who made it for me, I decided that I could look past the lack of aprons, as she was very nice. Go Virginia! I congratulate you on not being creepy like your western neighbor. Sorry Kentucky.
Since entering the more rural parts of KY and VA, my thoughts have turned somewhat to some of the things I've learned on the trip. I'll try and list some of them.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - This old adage is too true. The best rides I've had are after big breakfasts. The bigger the better. And let there be pancakes.
The early bird gets the worm - If you are like me and are interested in getting some good mileage in per day (my average at the end of the trip is sitting at 97 miles a day I think), then you gotta wake up early. Big days take time, and there is no such thing as rushing a tour. I think more practically though, most of the states that I've been in get very hot during the early afternoon. It is a great idea to escape the heat and duck into a restaurant for a late lunch from 2-4, or into a library, or even a grocery store.