I woke up at Thad's and had cereal/juice/coffee. Guidebook-wise, I was already part way into the next section, so I hoped for an easier day. But as I mentioned, there's hills in these parts. For the record, I still do a lot of muttered cussing when I see a steep climb. Where there's an uphill, there's a downhill - the uphill lasts a lot longer, and the descents seem to disappear in seconds. I'm a human wind-up toy, and the reward vs. effort is sometimes difficult to justify. At the end of the day, it's nice to get somewhere that you can just sit and be for awhile. So far, it still feels worth it. At times, I'll even say that's an understatement. There's ups and downs both emotional and physical. I was happy to coast the last couple miles into Wytheville Virginia.
Thadeus Lee said I would be allowed to camp in the Wytheville town park for free, so I set out to find it and learn more.
I tracked down some information at the Visitor's Center, and then sat outside on their rocking chairs for a few hours charging electronics and reading The Grapes of Wrath. I always enjoy availing myself of all possible services.
Then it was time to coast back down a steep hill and find the park. At one of the main intersections, I spotted some yellow Ortlieb panniers coming the other way. It was Jeff again! We pulled over and compared notes. Then we agreed to eat sandwiches.
The price looked right, but the portions came out all wrong. I wish I had a micrometer, because I suspect the slice of turkey was eligible for several sad awards.
Then we found the park and I got a major morale boost. Wytheville has a beautiful town park. There is a pavilion with electricity and WiFi, and the scenery boasts a large rolling grassy area bisected by a stream with clear clean (enough) water. This'll do, I thought. This'll do.
I fired up my camp stove, and it was a reminder that I have to do that more often. Prepared food is not only expensive, but usually doesn't get right to the point of what my body actually needs to keep riding a heavy-assed bicycle all over the place. I cooked up some spiral noodles with shallots and diced tomatoes. I added a little taco seasoning, and it wasn't Emeril, but it fit the bill perfectly. Some day I'll learn to cook more often. Some day soon, I hope.
A talkative local girl with a pit bull clued me in on where people might be drinking pints of beer. She seemed alright to talk to, so a few hours later I was off to see. The bar was just me, five good-ol'-boys, and a somber birthday girl. I sat down, ordered a 'pine'a-Bud,' and had it set down on a cocktail napkin just as an old Genesis track played. All at once, and it struck me like a slap of reality. If you've known me for a long time, then you know that I've known some Genesis. The moment struck me as classic, and if it was also 7:21, then my face would have melted right off on the bar. The bill looked like junk. It's time to cut out the bars and cut in the pasta.
On a positive note, I have slightly more money in the bank than I thought I would be leaving with in the first place. That's a great thing. Maybe I can keep it going.