Heading into rural Virginia


I’m out in the country now! Upload speeds for photos are very slow, so I’m not sure when I’ll actually be posting this. Hopefully tonight.

I had a lovely ride out here today. I said goodbye to Ronda and her pets, and then Vivian, the dog, even said goodbye to me from the rooftop as I pedaled off!

I enjoyed more of Richmond’s beautiful streets, and stopped at a vegan bakery on Cary Street before leaving town, Minglewood Bake Shop. I picked up some provisions for the road, including jackfruit “tuna” salad and an Oreo-studded chocolate chip cookie.

Then I made my way out of town, and unfortunately into a Google Maps snafu: the app tried to route me onto Hwy 64. I eyed my phone’s screen with skepticism as I saw that it wanted me to cross a freeway overpass and then immediately make a left turn into the on-ramp. I double- and triple-checked the route, since it seemed very dangerous—and probably also illegal—to take the highway for at least a mile or so, as it was directing me. But that is what it really said.

I cautiously took the left turn into the beginning of the on-ramp, but then hesitated at the ridiculous danger of the situation, while cars sped by and one driver heckled me.

I looked at the directions again, and apparently even Google had suddenly thought better of its plan, and was now showing me a different way to go. I was miffed, partly because it had already directed me into a dangerous situation, and partly because the alternate route involved enough backtracking that I probably lost at least 20 minutes of travel time.

But I did backtrack, and after some more dicey segments—including crossing another busy on-ramp—I made it onto beautiful residential country roads, which ended up stretching for miles.

Not too long afterward, I found a nice park to pull into for lunch, and even discovered a lovely surprise inside: a labyrinth! I walked the labyrinth, then sat on a covered bench and tucked into my repast.

Exiting the park, I noticed a sign for an REI store. Wow, all the way out here? I guess it wasn’t too many miles outside of Richmond, but I was surprised to see it. I had been waffling on going to an REI for weeks, thinking it was probably time to trade in my now-rather-disgusting hydration pack bladder; cleaning only goes so far, especially after more than seven months of daily use.

So I stopped in and bought a new one. I had a bit of sticker shock initially, but decided it was a worthwhile expenditure… and then discovered at the checkout stand that I had some credits from last year’s purchases, so that reduced the sting.

Thus fortified, I continued on my scenic way to Bumpass, Virginia, where my Warmshowers hosts and their small menagerie of dog, guinea pig, and several cats greeted me warmly. (Maxwell the Siamese, pictured, took to me right away. It was mutual.)

We had a delicious meal of tacos, and some lively after-dinner conversation.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue westward to visit two different intentional communities: Twin Oaks and Living Energy Farm. I’m excited!

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