I tried to sleep in after staying out late last night, but I'm so used to waking up at dawn I couldn't help myself. I packed up and left Gallaudet for All Souls Church, riding through the neighborhood Marisa had warned me against last night, and I have to admit it looked pretty questionable in the daytime, too.
Late this morning I rode the Metro to the National Mall. I checked on the cherry blossoms, but most of the trees are still a day or two from full bloom.
Today's weather was just miserable: cold and rainy and windy. I stayed indoors as long as I could stand to -- Marisa let me use her computer while she was in a study group all afternoon -- but then I insisted on going out.
Marisa thought I was crazy, not only because of the weather, but because the neighborhood is considered to be very unsafe. I figured I had seen worse weather and worse neighborhoods, but I didn't make it off campus. By the time I got back to the dorm, my pants and shoes were soaked with shockingly cold water.
[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on April 2, 2005]
Hi, folks! I'm safe and sound at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC! It's hard to believe I've completed my three months in the South and crossed Virginia in less than a week!
I only had to ride about 2 miles on the highway today; near Mount Vernon I picked up a bike trail that parallels the Potomac River all the way into town. I stopped at a place called Gravelly Point for a first view of the Washington skyline, and I wound up watching a mother trying in vain to get her son as interested in the airplanes at Reagan National Airport as she was.
The wind shifted at bedtime last night so that I had to listen to the Interstate and railroad all night... they weren't loud enough to justify wearing earplugs, but the trains were loud enough to wake me several times. I got up bright and early, irritated by the highway that wouldn't leave me alone even in my sleep.
I woke to the sound of birdsong this morning... that in itself isn't unusual, since my body has gotten used to that sign of approaching dawn... but this time I was wearing earplugs to block the sound of Interstate traffic, and I still heard the birds!
The storm clouds continued to glide overhead all night, but today was dry, and the sky cleared beautifully in the afternoon. I took time to repack my troublesome bearings this morning -- caught them before they rusted this time.
I rode right through the middle of Richmond, Virginia, because I couldn't find a good way to go around it. I probably should have given the town more than a passing glance, but I didn't know where to start.
When I saw the rain outside, I was tempted to stay a second night in the cheap motel, but then I felt how warm the air was and decided to ride. I made great time along US-301 (practically an access rode for I-95) into Petersburg, and the rain stopped.
I decided to take a chance and go to Pocahontas State Park, out in the middle of nowhere southwest of Richmond, rather than camp by the Interstate. I had a notion that the park might have a historical connection to its namesake princess, which would have been interesting, but their only connection is that they're from Virginia.
Today was gray and sunless, but aside from a little drizzle it stayed dry. As I rode through Roanoke Rapids, NC, a man and two boys rode alongside me on their bicycles. They asked me where I was going and where I'd been about 5 times before they were willing to believe my answers. They had more trouble believing I was bicycling to DC than that I had already ridden thousands of miles... it's the Florida Effect all over again: DC is Far Far Away.