Day 15: Petersburg, VA to Henrico, NC
Henry had to leave by 8am for work, so Phil and I got an early start for a long day. Thankfully, he gave me some hand warmers to put into my shoes so my toes wouldn’t freeze during the ride. It was one of the coldest mornings thus far, but at least it was sunny.
We managed 65 miles at a pace of 15.6 miles per hour, stopping twice for long meals. The first stop was only 16 miles out, at a Denny’s off the highway, for breakfast. We stayed until 11am, waiting for it to warm up a bit. It had warmed up significantly by the time we reached Emporia, where we stopped for lunch at a small diner called Logan’s. The people inside were very friendly and told us that two girls who were riding down south from New York had stopped by just two weeks ago. They all told us to come back if we were ever in the area again, so we will have to remember to visit them again some day.
Somewhere in between breakfast and lunch, we started seeing fields of cotton. I had never seen cotton before, and Phil initially thought the fields were full of white poppies. The amount of cotton was impressive, and for a several miles I had the song “Summertime” stuck in my head (“Summertime and the living is easy/fish are jumping/and the cotton is high…”).
We were mostly on the Blue Star Highway, a memorial highway for veterans from World War II. This road parallels Interstate-95, but has much less traffic and is actually quite pleasant. However, when we turned off the main road to approach our destination, the roads became much nicer. As we neared Paul and Mary’s home in Henrico, we rode over gently rolling hills and right over a beautiful lake.
Phil and I happily contributed to Paul and Mary’s very first couchsurfing experience. Paul was home to welcome us inside and show us our rooms. Mary has been working as an interior designer and decorator for her own business for over 25 years, and their home is absolutely gorgeous. The view of Lake Gaston is even more extraordinary. As we sipped wine on the porch after showering, waiting for Mary to come home, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the lake.
Shortly after sunset, the four of us went over to meet some new friends of Paul and Mary’s for dinner at a restaurant on the lake. Everyone ordered the fish and chips, except for me – I chose fish tacos. The food and company were excellent, and after going back to the house and programming the next day’s route into Garmin, we were ready for sleep.