Goodbye to North Carolina, hello to Virginia

4/19/22

Well, another state is behind me. I had a wonderful time (twice!) in North Carolina.

Yesterday was a rainy day, but in the afternoon, my uncle and one of their doggies took me on a surprise excursion from Apex to Cary, to see a new installation of Patrick Dougherty’s work. As you may recall, Mr. Dougherty makes stick-work installations all over the world (I have seen them in Montreal, Oregon, and most recently—on this very trip—Fort Worth) but is based in the Raleigh area. Just within the past couple of weeks, he unveiled this new creation in an unassuming Cary city park. It was cool to walk around in the natural sculptures again.

This morning, my uncle dropped me off at the Cary train station, where the Amtrak staffer was kind enough to allow me to carry on my folded bike, saving me the $20 I had come to expect in this region. I did still need to put the wheels and hitch of the trailer into a garbage bag, and carry them on board with me as well, plus my heavy backpack, in addition to my usual hydration pack. So getting on and off the train was pretty clunky. But I only had to check the trailer this time, so that made things a bit easier.

The five-hour ride was mostly uneventful and pleasant. I did make my way to the café car for a cocktail (and discovered that this train even offered pre-mixed cocktails, in cans!) and while I enjoyed a tasty but extremely weak Moscow mule, I met a fellow passenger and had a really cool conversation for at least an hour. (If you’re reading this, Barry, hello, and best of luck with your future adventures!) We managed to cover an array of topics with breadth and depth, which is my favorite type of conversation, and one of the reasons I love train travel so much.

I disembarked in Richmond, and took my time meandering the nine miles or so to my new Warmshowers host’s place, since she was not to arrive for several hours anyway. When I did arrive, I was greeted by her cute hound Vivian, and later, the shy kitty Lucy. Then Ronda got home, and we had a good chat as well.

But on the way over from the station, I really enjoyed the scenery. I loved the many city blocks of pastel-painted row houses. I passed several parks. And I even got to have a late lunch/early dinner at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, a soul food place called NuVegan. I have enjoyed them in Washington, DC for years, but had had no idea there was a Richmond location as well. I ordered two “sides,” of collards and red curry tofu, and was presented with their usual huge portions. I didn’t need any more dinner after that, even though it was only about 4:00.

After the meal, I took a freeway river-crossing bridge that seemed a bit intimidating at first, but turned out to have a dedicated bike lane starting on the on-ramp and continuing across the span. While on the bridge, I marveled at the beautiful views of the river.

I’m sad that I will only have one more full day here in town, but I hope to explore the river a bit more tomorrow, as well as the local Japanese garden. (And heck, maybe one more meal at NuVegan!)

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