Sorry for the lack of a Day 9 post, but Troutdale, VA is not one of the places that appears on Verizon's red map of coverage that they tout. It's probably for the best; the only positive I can say about yesterday is that it is in the past.
I'm sitting on the back porch of a Methodist Church in Rosedale, VA that has taken in cyclists on the Trans America trail since the trail's inception in 1976. As I look around, I'm not too sure how much of this property has changed since then. It's very well taken care of, but it still has that old school American charm. My clothes are drying on a clothesline, there's a boarded up log cabin in the background, and every car that passes by is made in America.
We had a long day to get to this quaint back porch, though. We left Troutdale around 6:30 and continued yesterday's journey of climbing through Jefferson National Park. After a few miles, we got our reward: going down the mountain. Ordinarily I don't think the downhills are as rewarding as the uphills are challenging. The downhills are also frustrating because you know there's just going to be a bigger uphill on the other side, but I'm hoping that's just a Virginia thing. Today was different. With the aid of going down, we were able to do 25 miles by 8:30am. We rolled past a pack of dogs (why do they hate bikers so much? Do we have some kind of feud that I'm unaware of?) and into the town of Damascus.
I was going to continue this post about the best breakfast I've had and how it was $6 in Damascus, the Canadian motorcycle couple we met that rode with their daschund on the back of the wife's bike, and the bike shop owner we met that continuously kept saying what a long day we had ahead of us (thanks for the heads up, pal), but a South Korean named Yum just walked in to the hostel that we are staying in and he is far more interesting.
Because of the influence that America has on South Korean media, Yum decided he wanted to see America first hand. He flew out to LAX and has been biking across the country since May. He has a flight booked in August at JFK, so Chris and I have been giving him tips for the city while he gives us advice on the western end of our trip.
We've been talking for a while and there are too many great things to share, so I'm going to list them out:
- He was once cleaning his bike because it was covered in mud and removed his brakes to make sure they were clean enough to work. He finished up and began to bike downhill before he realized he had forgotten to attach them (don't worry- he's ok).
- A westbound cyclist had warned Yum about dogs in the streets of Kentucky and equipped him with what sounds like a police baton.
- He said the trip has only been getting harder as he goes East, so that bodes well for Chris and me as we go to San Francisco.
- When we asked if it has been hard doing this trip on his own, he said the hardest part was in Kansas because "it's just so boring."
- We're talking about American pop culture and he asked: "Is Kim Kardashian a symbol of beauty? What is she famous for?" Neither of us had a solid response.
- Although he was expecting everyone to be carrying one, Yum has seen 2 guns in his time here. The first gun he saw was on a cop in LAX and the second was when he was staying with a 70 year old man who wanted to show Yum a gun up close; in is words: "it was awesome."
- We asked what the best thing he's eaten so far has been and he quickly announced "pie." Apparently American media features pies often and American pie ingredients are not easily found in South Korea. His first pie experience was from Walmart and he was left disappointed. With this trip as a testament to Yum's perseverance, though, he went on to a cafe in the next town and ordered one slice of each pie that they had on the menu. He happily recalled that being the best meal he's had. White Castle also came up, but I don't think he saw what Harold and Kumar were fussing about.
- We asked what kind of music he listens to and "Tyler the Creator" was one of the first artists he mentioned. I was not expecting that.
- The Simpsons are the main reason he wanted to visit America and primarily how he learned (fluent) English.
We were planning on going to bed early to get a good start tomorrow, but talking to Yum has been better time spent.