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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Again before Sun-up, was walking West on Highway 24, passing this interesting twilight scene.

Intended to put in 20 miles this morning, but providence had other ideas.

To further my attempt to achieve some "elevation" took the advice of my old friend Ralph - of Vancouver, Washington State: to get elevation, the scene must be photographed from the side.

This photo is the same hill, taken about 100 feet "from the side".

Must experiment a bit more.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are closing in on Highway 24.

We are only 10 miles or so from the Blue Ridge Highway.

When I came upon The Mill Iron Grill...

decided to treat myself to a late morning store-bought breakfast.

Please say HELLO to Steve Schroeder and Candice Cooper.

Ended up spending the next hour or so visiting with owners Steve and Candice.

Received a first class breakfast, but it took a full hour to get to it. Our conversation was so interesting, that I forgot to eat.

Seems their building is 1895 vintage; at one time or another housing a Post Office, a Court House - referred to as the "hang-em-high" place on the old Oak Tree out back - a run-down billiards joint of some questionable repute, among other business adventures.

...we gutted the entire place, says Candice, taking off seven layers of flooring to get to the original floor boards...which are pine, having been treated for years against termites by coating the floor with used motor oil over-sprinkled with sawdust.

Later in this morning's walk, I came across another ancient building housing a convenience store which still today coats the floor with used motor oil.

Please say HELLO to Michael Bourne, a friend and customer of Steve and Candice.

Steve confirmed the motor oil floor treatment and related his family history going back generations, including a Civil War event nearby.

The Mill Iron Grill on Highway 24.

Starting to see more roadside dedications.

A bit further on, came upon another convenience shop featuring a wide range of seeds for sale.

This shop floor was also coated with motor oil...and reeked of it.

Mentioned the many "numbered" side roads not featured on any maps.

Some carry warnings such as the above.

Ranches often have their own small lakes.

I never forget a face. (For you Peggy...they grow 'em in Virginia, too).

Next winter someone will be wearing her toasty warm garment.

These creatures are so curious, they come running to nibble on fingers.

...and are pastured with the most elegant Shetland Ponies.

with this gorgeous creature strutting in the next pasture.

For the life of me, I forget this gentleman's name.

Please say HELLO anyway.

He and I chatted for a good 20 minutes. He was once a janitor for a school; confirming that he used "transmission oil" to preserve the school floors - except NOT in the cafeteria.

Only got in about 12 miles this morning.

Drove another 5 miles to the Blue Ridge Mountain Highway - only 4 miles out of Roanoke - on which I parked SPIA and spent the next hour or so walking south.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Highway is narrow, well maintained, and little traffic.

Came upon a trail leading down to an observation area overlooking the Roanoke River.

Walked about 1/8 mile down the trail...not much to see with all the tree growth. Imagine with leaves on the trees, one could not see the river at all.

...but, there it is...the Roanoke River.

The trail was somewhat steep in places.

About 4:00 pm, drove into Vinton / Roanoke - only 4 or 5 miles beyond the Blue Ridge Mountain Highway, where we found our old friend WAL-MART, where SPIA is settled down for the night.

The above photograph is from the WAL-MART parking lot, looking North-West down on Highway 220.

In the morning, with SPIA still parked, I plan to walk Highway 220 toward I-64 / US 60, where we will cross the Allegheny Mountains into West Virginia.

I am repeatedly reminded that we have a challenging many miles to cross West Virginia and on into Ohio.

I am strangely quite tired and somewhat weak in body and spirit this evening...not sure why.

Tomorrow, will give it another go.

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