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At Last! – Washington, DC

There’s a little gap in updates. When I arrived in Washington, all my time was spent with family and friends.  I have been home for almost a week, and finally got a chance to sit still and write about the last leg of my trip.

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In my last post, I was still on the C&O canal near Harper’s Ferry.  The canal is a great bike trail…surrounded by water, mountains and forest.

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Part of the trail was washed out from flooding.  I took a detour through some beautiful countryside…

and Historic Farms…sheep

I crossed the Potomac River into Virginia on the historic White’s Ferry. 

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(I actually got to ride the Ferry 3 times…because I dropped my glove on the Maryland side)

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My only photo on the home stretch was the endless parade of cars while waiting to cross the street.  I should have taken more pictures in Virginia, but I was eager to get to a warm meal and hot tub at my sister’s house. 

She’s pregnant with her first baby…and by her request, there aren’t any pregnant sister photos (women can be funny) but take my word for it, she’s beautiful….and pregnant!

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I chose the National Gallery of Art as my monument of choice for the “me in Washington” photo.  I spent an entire day at the gallery with one of Washington’s most brilliant minds…Melissa Taylor, a talented playwright and artist.

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I also had a chance to meet up with the incredible Jessica Cain.  The stars were lined perfectly, and I got to introduce my favorite singer/actress to my favorite playwright…who knows what kind of wonderful trouble can happen with that kind of meeting of the minds?  Our time together will be a blog post of it’s own.

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Thank you EVERYONE for your support during this trip.

If you would like a sneak peek of the artwork created during the trip. 

  • This Friday, May 7th.  My bicycle and a few selected works will be on display at the Parker Travel Agency at Market Street as part of Downtown Maysville’s Art Walk 5-9pm.
  • Saturday, May 8th a few selected works will be part of the Duveneck Art Show along the Ohio River in Covington, KY 12-6pm.

The original work will not be available for sale until later this summer.  I will have a special exhibit with the artwork, bicycle, maps and interactive media…stay tuned

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The C&O Canal – Cumberland to Harper’s Ferry

After 2 days of mountaineering, I arrived at the trail head for the C&O bike/hike trail in Cumberland, MD.

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Nestled in the mountains along the Potomac river, Cumberland is a gorgeous little city.

With rich history and architecture

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The C&O canal trail is an old tow path from long ago when a mule pulled boats through a canal for transportation.  It is part of our national parks.

Canal on left, Potomac river on right.

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The trail is relatively flat, and motor vehicles are prohibited…a relief for a weary road warrior.

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the park offers campsites and water pumps and outhouses along the trail.

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Along the canal, there are locks with a small white house for the lock’s operator

(i don’t like riding a bike through tunnels…but it’s better than going OVER mountains)

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A thunderstorm came as I went through the Paw Paw tunnel

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after the thunderstorm, the weather went from the 80s, to the 50s.  (30s at night)

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It’s amazing that men dug this 184mile canal before bulldozers.

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I’m prepared for the cold weather, but the closer I got to Washington, the faster I pedaled…stopping less and less to paint and sketch.

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I’m so close to Fairfax, where my sister lives, and I can rest my aching legs, and take a hot bath.

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Only 1 or 2 days to go!!!

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Mountaineering – Clarksburg to Cumberland

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The last 2 days may be the biggest physical challenge I have ever experienced.  After leaving the relatively flat rail to trail in Clarkesburg, I was unprepared for the real mountains of West Virginia.

First, the beauty was breathtaking.  Every corner I turned, was a postcard type scene. 

Trees were blooming, and from the top of the mountains, you could see for miles.

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Getting to the top of the mountains was a story of it’s own. 

I wasn’t fully aware of all the weight packed onto my bike until I started mountain climbing.  60 extra pounds added to an already difficult climb made parts of the journey grueling.

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Sometimes I had to get off the bike and push (the shame!)

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There were many times when I wanted to give up, and just go home.

Each time, I pushed myself and eventually made it to the top of the hill, where I was rewarded with a great view and a quick descent to the bottom of YET ANOTHER MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB.

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There was a rest stop decorated with hundreds of antique tractors in the middle of the mountains

 

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Despite being the most difficult portion of the trip (so far) It has also been my favorite part of the trip. 

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There’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you are able to do something you didn’t think you could.

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Last night’s camp spot

 

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I’m now in Cumberland, MD, about to start on the C&O canal trail.  184 miles to DC!

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A Rough Road

The first 40 miles of the North Bend Rail to Trail were magical.  It was like riding a bike through a painting…then something changed.

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Instead of a clear trail, with benches, picnic tables and trash cans, it got very rough, and was like riding through a gauntlet.

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With lots of sticks…sometimes TREES in the road

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Or ROCKS!

 

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Or it got so muddy, i had to PUSH through!

 

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This spot had chickens AND trees in the trail. 

When you went through the towns, they didn’t seem ‘bike friendly’, and there were a LOT of unrestrained dogs.  However, everyone I talked to was very nice…hollering “Git–r–done”  as I cycled by. (it happened 3 separate times)

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My back tire (I thought I fixed) was slowly leaking, so every couple of hours, I stopped to refill the tire.  After filling my tire at this filling station, I asked how much, and the owner replied “We don’t charge people for air out here….we’re not the government”…very nice, considering the BP gas station around the corner wanted $1.00 for the same service.

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West Union, WV is a lovely town on the trail with an interesting mix of architecture.  Their impressive city hall sits at the top of a hill…their section of trail was paved and an oasis for the weary traveler.

The 32 miles to finish the trail took a whole day!  At the end of the trail, I expected to see a banner, or sign, or some marker, but instead was greeted by a row of construction equipment.  A good sign, because the trail needs some work!

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There was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after all.  I found a great little camping spot beside a creek.

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I never thought I would be happy to put my bike on a highway…but I was. 

It started raining, so I splurged on a hotel room, took two hot soaks in the tub, washed my clothes, and fixed my leaky tire.  It turns out there were actually 2 punctures from my first flat. (I only repaired the biggest one)

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Week 1 – A little bit of crazy

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I LOVE Gallopolis!  Folks are very nice.  I was offered food, a car honked at me, full of smiling teenagers with their thumbs up.  The vibe of the community is happy and healthy.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they also have a bike trail.

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I ended up following the trail, without thinking about where it led.  It was just nice to be away from the cars, and enjoying the sounds of outdoors. 

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As luck would have it, the trail went the opposite direction I was going, so I had to tackle some very steep gravel mountains before I was back on course…at least there were cows!

 

So I slept by the river, with a great view of the power plant…I wonder if Lewis & Clark ever thought there would be such a thing?

 

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The next day, I crossed the river to West Virginia!  And when I stopped at the grocery to stock up on food, I realized I had lost my wallet!  I went through EVERYTHING, and then went into a full panic…I considered abandoning the trip.  I called my sister, who looked into ways to wire money, but the town was so small, there wasn’t anywhere to send the money. 

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So I went a night without a meal…not the worst punishment for being careless…especially considering a goal of the trip was to loose some weight. That night, when setting up my tent, the wallet slid out of a corner, and changed my mood 180 degrees!  (I looked in the tent at the grocery store)

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No longer broke, I pedaled as fast as I could with my money to the nearest city, Parkersburg, where I bought a delicious tomato, artichoke, olive, mozzarella salad.  (i ALMOST went to the chinese all-you-can-eat).

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Parkersburg is another cool town, with a vibe similar to Gallipolis.  People look healthy, and happy.  Everyone I asked knew about their rails to trails, and spoke of it with a bit of civic pride…and I can see why!

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The rails to trails, is part of a national program that converts old railroad tracks into trails for bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, etc.  For the most part, it’s well maintained gravel, and it goes through some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see. 

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The North Bend Rail to Trail is a 72 mile stretch from Parkersburg to Clarksburg.  It’s part of the 5,500-mile coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.  After sharing the road with cars for the last 5 days, it was paradise.

 

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It’s nice riding THROUGH the mountain instead of over, but with no light, it can be a little scary. 

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Tire repair

 

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So I’m back to riding through the mountains…

 

happy trails!

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Gallopolis

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After riding through the Ironton/Ashland/Huntington metro area, the scenery returned to the familiar rural scenes that really make me love traveling on a bicycle.

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I saw some great cow/mule/sheep/chicken farms, and enjoyed rolling hills.  Hill in particular was so steep, I couldn’t climb it…even with my super low gears.  I had to get off and walk the bike, but I made it to the top of the mountain!

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After sleeping beside a babbling brook, I rode in the rain, to the charming river village, Gallopolis. 

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It was founded by French Settlers back in frontier times.

It was raining, so I splurged and bought a hotel room for the day.  I enjoyed a day of rest, shelter, electricity and HOT SHOWER!!

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I promise to show some artwork soon, but here’s a teaser for now.  Every painting has GPS coordinates and a short story about the inspiration for each work. 

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After 4 days of heatwave, I’m looking forward to cooler days…My plan is to follow the river towards Parkersburg, WV, where there is a bike trail that leads to Morgantown.

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A little road rage

My timing was bad, and riding a bicycle anywhere during rush hour is a bad idea, but it was difficult riding through Portsmouth, OH.  The only way I could find to get out of town was VERY busy, with drain gutters in the shoulder, so a bike really can’t ride. 

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Sidewalks are worse than the  road…Add some construction, and a train/semi wreck, traffic jam…then top it off with a punk throwing a can at my head, screaming obscenities…and that’s pretty much how I remember Portsmouth, OH right now.   004

Portsmouth’s town was very charming, and the folks there are friendly.  I don’t mean to be negative based on one or two experiences. It was unusually hot, the combination of traffic and miles of fast food restaurants, dampened my spirit for just a little while.  

Their library had a cool exhibit of quilts in their main lobby.

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Ok, I’m done ranting.  I have run into MANY more beautiful things than ugly, and this trip has been a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and think to myself.

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A silly problem I am having, there is so much beautiful scenery, I have to tell myself, “If you stop at every pretty scene, you will never make it to Washington”  It’s true, but now that I have a few miles behind me, I’ll try and stop more…after all, a big reason for this trip is to make art!

I’ll have some paintings to show soon!

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Washington,KY to Washington, DC


I thought it would be fun to ride my bike from Washington, KY to Washington, DC.  It’s a beautiful drive across the Appalachian mountains, but I never have enough time to enjoy the sights.

What better way to experience it than on a bicycle?  My decision was not just a quest for beauty scenery, but a health decision.  Over the last two years, I have been very busy in my studio, but not spending the time I should exercising and eating right.

My good neighbors in Old Washington met me at Mefford’s Fort, where I officially started the trip.  From there, I stopped at Washington’s Post Office to mail my taxes and other orders.  I am carrying enough gear for good and bad weather, which makes for a heavy bicycle.  My local bike shop, Mycle’s Cycles , put a custom bike together that should be able to handle the steepest hill, so my first stop was to Bank Street…Maysville’s steepest hill.

It was a tough climb, but I made it, and the view was worth it!

So I crossed the bridge and saw the ruins of 3 wood barns.  I came to another wood barn, still standing, and thought I should paint it while it was still there.  Halfway through the painting, the sky darkened, and a heavy thunderstorm started.  I ducked into a barn, and sketched the house with laundry hanging…which was my only view at the time.


The rain slowed down, and I rode for a while, until dark.

I set my hammock/tent and had a great nights sleep while a second thunderstorm sang me to sleep.

Vicki, thanks for the great Maysville pictures!