To Roanoke

Blue Ridge Parkway

We awoke from our evening slumbers at the Rocky Knob Campground ready to ride another day, this time to Roanoke. But before we could exit our tent, we had to do something about the spiders.

The first order of business was to shake the tent body so the spiders couldn’t rush inside when we opened the tent doors. Then we had to bang on the tent fly so we could unzip the fly doors without being preyed upon. Then we had to turn our shoes upside down and give them a good walloping so any spiders taking residence inside would be evicted.

One of many spiders that made its home on our tent in Virginia.

Once we escaped the tent with our lives, we had to shake out our panniers. No joke. There were so many spiders standing sentry on my handlebar bag that I couldn’t open the exterior pocket to reach my camera to document the invasion.

Now I know what you’re thinking. How can a grown man be so scared of such a little creature? Well I’m typically not frightened by a spider, especially what appeared to be mainly gigantic daddy long legs. What I was scared of were the quantity of spiders. They were everywhere.

In order to access the food we stashed in the bear box overnight, I had to brush off a whole horde of spiders covering the handle. When I opened the bathroom door no less than three spiders dropped from the top of the doorway like little paratroopers. And when I was sitting on the toilet doing my business, there were spiders in every corner of the stall, queued up in little lines like they were waiting for the bus.

The common slogan on the bottom of Virginia license plates is “Virginia is for lovers.” I’m not sure what Virginia does to encourage human courtship, but I’d prefer they spent some of that energy discouraging arachnid reproduction. For me “Virginia is for spiders.”

Once we left the campground and all of its spiders, we had a nice ride into Roanoke. The Parkway rolled by small farms and a strong breeze gave a nice push north. We also had a fun, steep and twisty descent close to town.

We got on the road early to avoid the heat and to have this descent from Rocky Knob all to ourselves.

Our goal was to hole up in a motel right off the Parkway, as there are no campgrounds near the city. When we stopped in front of the motel however we found it boarded up and fenced off. It was pretty hot at this point in the day, so we were inclined to find the next nearest shelter.

With help from the wifi at Walmart across from the motel, we discovered there was a Quality Inn a couple miles away. The trouble was the only way to get there would be to ride over a hill on a terribly busy highway shoulder. We didn’t have another good option, so we powered up with a Coke, said a small prayer to Saint Christopher, and braved the wild highway.

Stepping into the air-conditioned hotel room was lovely. Stepping into the shower was better. Stepping into some clean clothes and lying on the soft, king sized bed was heavenly. It was at this point that Carrie and I decided to quit.

We tried to change our flight to leave from Roanoke, but we bought the cheap tickets that you’re not allowed to alter. We then thought of renting a car to drive to Charlottesville, our final destination, but the cost for a one way rental was exorbitant. Our only choice was to soldier on into the heat and thunderstorms for three more days. Resigned to the fact that we’d have to keep riding, we decided to eat at the nearby IHOP and drown our dissatisfaction in syrup.