From: Joel Spolsky
Date: 26 Apr 1995 19:35:16 -0400
To: everyone
Subject: Virginia is for sunburnt bicyclists

Hi!

Well, I'm still alive. Right now I'm actually in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a public access terminal in the University of Virginia library. After 4 days and 230 miles I needed a bit of rest and my bike needed repairs, so I decided to take a day off and check into a hotel here. Anyway I've always wanted to see the U. of VA which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, Architect. If you've seen pictures, all those little rooms along the quad are actually the poshest dorm rooms you've ever seen in your life (which make Yale dorm rooms look like Motel 6).

The University of Virginia

So far, I've been to:
  • Newport News -- I flew into Newport News on Saturday night and spent one night in a hotel.
  • Yorktown -- official starting point of the trans-America trail, but not much to do there
  • Williamsburg -- the center of Williamsburg is a restored historic district. Everything is supposed to look like it did in the 18th century. Nothing "modern" is allowed. I spent a few hours seeing the major sights, walked around William and Mary University a bit, then headed to
  • Jamestown -- earliest settlement in Virginia. It was getting late so I didn't go in, just camped on a bluff overlooking the James River. It poured all night. I got wet. Most of my stuff was wrapped in plastic and didn't. I also found all the leaks in my tent and sealed them.

.Camping in Jamestown

That was all day 1. On Monday I rode about 85 miles and camped in some dumpy campsite near a truck stop on the interstate. Zoom. And the weather was overcast and dreary. And it rained on my head all morning.

Tuesday -- the first sunny and warm day. I passed about a zillion farms. Cows, dogs chasing ya, etc. Camped in a spooky campsite by Lake Anna. Don't bother looking for Lake Anna in your 1968 Encyclopedia Britannica -- it didn't exist then. The whole lake, Virginia's second largest, was created to provide water to cool a nuclear power plant. It is one heckova big lake, too. Now it serves for the aforementioned power plant and to provide prime shorefront real estate for Washington, D.C. yuppie's weekend homes (it's only a 90 min. drive). The campsite was spooky mainly due to the presence of an unexplained group of tents next to mine with a big confederate flag hanging outsite, combined with weird bright-green stuff washing up on shore from the lake (I'm not making this up!)

Breakfast on the road.

Wednesday (today) -- got up at 6:45, on the road by 7:15, and cranked all the way to Charlottesville, arriving at about 5. My average speed is down from about 15mph at the beginning of the week to about 9mph now, due to fatigue and much hillier terrain. The hills are killer here, especially the area around Monticello, and I haven't even hit the mountains yet! ack!

Well that's the story so far. The probability that I will have access to email any time again on this trip is infinitesimal but if I do I'll write.

Joel

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