“In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

26/3/17. …On the trail of the lonesome pine.”

Our time in Kentucky was limited to 4 or 5 hours as our next main goal was the coast of North Carolina and we had made a bit of a detour to the north in order to scratch an itch by visiting the Bluegrass State. We did see a lot of bluegrass as we nipped across the southeastern corner of the state although it looked to us to be more purple than blue (it is actually flowers in amongst the grass rather than the grass itself) and it looked rather pretty.

Turning south, we crossed into Virginia and drove along yer actual Trail of the Lonesome Pine (at least, or a road that has now been given that name) for quite some distance. We saw an awful lot of pine trees, none of which looked particularly lonely!

The countryside had been one of steep hills and valleys since the northern part of Tennessee but the height of them increased as we entered the Appalachian Mountains. We spent the night in a hotel in Abingdon as, being further north, most of the state parks’ campgrounds have not yet opened for the summer season.

The next day being Sunday we went our separate ways for a couple of hours with Christine enjoying the service in one of the more friendly churches she has visited in the States, while Stephen added another tick to the “cycled in” list by riding along part of the Virgina Creeper Trail, a disused railway through a pretty river valley.

By the time Stephen returned to the hotel the threatened rain had arrived – the edge of a weather system bringing severe thunderstorms, hail and even possible tornadoes for northern Texas, Oklahoma and western Arkansas where we were only a few days ago. This rain restricted the views as we passed through the mountains, especially when we were driving through the clouds, which was disappointing – but at least we were not out on our bikes in it. Cycling up mountains in the rain is low down on Christine’s list of pleasurable activities – only the cold was missing it being passably warm (in the low teens centigrade).

Crossing into North Carolina, the rain eased as we descended from the mountains and we made for the main roads so we could put in some distance to get to the coast. The countryside flattened out and it was a not particularly inspiring drive. At about 7 o’clock we flopped into a motel having covered nearly 400 miles.

After the enjoyable church/cycling start, it had been one of the least enjoyable days in the States. The weather didn’t help but, if we are going to have rain, at least it came when we were not sightseeing.

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