Day 48 – Thomas Jefferson; A Renaissance man
Date: 07/19/2016 Tuesday
Starting Location: Charlottesville, VA
Ending Location: Charlottesville, VA
Starting Odometer: 14,751
Ending Odometer: 14,802
Mileage Driven (days): 51 Miles
Mileage Total: 7948 miles
Today’s MPG: 42 mpg
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
States Visited: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, CO, UT, WY, ID, WY, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, PA, WV, VA, (24 States so far)
An early morning bike ride
The day started with a bike ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Chuck was going to ride his big Yamaha Cruiser bike, and I was going to ride my bike. We would swap bikes for the return trip, and then head to breakfast. The bike had not been started for a few months, so we had to inflate the tires, jump the bike and clean the windshield. With this minor maintenance completed, we were ready to ride.
Chuck’s Yamaha is a Stratoliner. This is a 1900 cc V-Twin bike, which has about 90 bhp. When you physically compare his bike to my BMW, you can immediately see that Chuck’s bike is longer, and the engine is simply massive. That 1900 cc V-Twin sure does take up quite a bit of space on this Earth. Her’s a picture of the bike, with Chuck and Divina standing next to it.
The Stratoliner is quite a bit longer than the Beemer, and it has a number of other differences in looks, technology, and intention. I’ve decided to do an in-depth write up on the comparison between these two bikes, and once it’s completed, you can find the comparison here.
We rode for about 45 minutes, eventually making our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then at about the 15 mile mark, we turned around, and switched bikes.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
I’m a California Motorcycle snob
When you do most of your riding in California, your taught that California has the best roads in the country for motorcycles, and after you ride the roads of California, you simply accept this premise, because the roads are really excellent. California roads include roads like the Iconic Rt 1, which runs down the coast, through Monterey, San Simeon, all the way to Mexico. Other roads in the Bay Area tend to be really windy, and narrow roads, which challenge your ability, and deliver some pretty breathtaking vistas, and destinations.
So, perhaps you can forgive me for thinking that the roads of CA re the best in the country. But, if you ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it would be easy to see how you might change your mind. In contrast to the narrow roads of Northern CA, the Blue Ridge Parkway is 2 lanes, of ample width, laid down with asphalt that is in just about perfect condition. The highway straddles the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and so at just about every turn there is an amazing view looking down one side of the mountain, or the other, often looking into the valley below. The iconic Shenandoah Valley is just one of the amazing valleys that you can see from the road.
Our trip on the BRP was short, but I’m scheduled ride more of it tomorrow. So, I’m quite sure I’ll have more to say about this picturesque highway.
Time to eat…
After our ride, we changed clothes and then Lee, Chuck, Divina and I went out for Breakfast. We had a nice breakfast at a local Cafe, and we planned the rest of the day.
Boy, Charlottseville is a historic place
Usually when I’ve visited a town of any size on this trip, I’ve done my homework, and was prepared to see all of the sights that are available to me. In this case, I assumed that I was just visiting Chuck, Lee and their families, so I did not do any homework at all.
As it turns out, Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello is nearby, and Charlottseville is also the home of Merriwether Lewis, one of the two men that Jefferson chose to lead an expedition into the unexplored western territories.
So with all of this history located just a few miles away, its time to take it in. Lee and I hopped in his SUV, and we headed to Monticello.
Monticello is a very regal house, with 43 rooms in total. The house was, to a large degree, designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. Of course, he hired architects, but he was a skilled architect himself, and he was a prolific inventor, and renaissance man. The house sits on an estate that started as 3000 acres, and grew to 5000 acres by the time he died.
Jefferson was a property owner, and a slave owner, but I’m going to ignore that topic for this post, and focus on some other aspects of the house and his life. Below is a picture of Monticello, taken from the front of the house.
The house is a grand home, with innovations throughout. Just inside from the front porch was a room where Jefferson would greet guests. Unfortunately, picture taking is not allowed on the tour, so I was unable to take any more photos of the main house, but I did put together a number of pictures from the rooms which are located under the main house. That photo gallery is below.
Did I just meet Johnny Appleseed?
After leaving Monticello, we started to head into Charlottseville to see the mall (In essence, a pedestrian mall that caters to small business, bars, and entertainment), but after traveling no more than a few miles, we saw a sign for an the Carter Mountain orchard, which is atop the mountain. We headed to the top of the mountain, and purchased some apple cider, and a bag of fresh peaches.
The apple cider brought back memories of childhood. For sure, growing up in Connecticut, one of my fondest memories was that of the apple cider that my parents would buy from the local orchards. Made from apples, with no preservatives, this cider, like that of my youth was excellent. Refreshing, thick, and thirst-quenching, I was really enjoying our cider purchase.
But what about the peaches?
The peaches were purchased so that we could all enjoy a nice light, yet unique dessert after dinner. We were going to have some grilled peaches, and I sure hope that they would turn out as expected…
It has been about 25 years since I’ve seen Lee and Chuck, so Lee decided that we would have a celebratory dinner at his place. Lee cooked up Red Mashed Potatoes, Filet Mignon, and Asparagus for us to enjoy. After dinner, I grilled the peaches for about 30 minutes, brushing them with a mixture of butter, Kahlua, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. We plated the peaches, and added a spoonful of Vanilla Ice cream on top. They were delicious, as was the Filet. But, the mashed potatoes were out of this world. Well done Lee…
When all of the eating was done, we sat and talked, sipping Brandy, and other substances for a few more hours. In the end, we all agreed that it had been far too long since our last meeting, and we needed to be sure that we did not wait that long again.
I invited everyone to come and join me at my new home in South Carolina, and we called it a night. Oh, there was one last item to take care of. We needed a picture of the 3 amigos, and then we could call it a night. So, Lee took out his camera, and fiddled with it for 5 minutes or so. Finally, with everything just right, we took the picture that shows three old friends, enjoying the evening, as we get on in our lives.
I really need to take a moment to thank Lee and Kathy for their hospitality. I was comfortable and well taken care of then entire time, and I really enjoyed spending 2 days in Charlottesville.
So, what’s in store for tomorrow?
Well, tomorrow will be the last day of the Journey. I’ll be up early, leave Charlottesville, and enjoy about 240 miles of back country roads, followed by about 90 miles of Interstate and Secondary roads. Wish me luck on this final leg of the journey.