Friday, 11 May 2012

Ashland, VA

I'm following bicycle route 76
Awakened by sunlight streaming through the window, I cycled 10 km in commuter traffic to a Dunkin' Donuts I knew about. There I breakfasted on a toasted egg and bacon sandwich and coffee. Afterwards, the route turned on to quiet rural roads. By the time I rejoined a main road, the morning rush was over. I continued as far as Ashland, a total of 61 km for the day. I thought of going on to the next place, Mineral, but that would have made for a longer day than yesterday. My body was telling me to rest. I need to let it adapt gradually to the time zone and to the strains of this new way of life.

Cold Harbor battlefield (1864)
I passed many fine detached houses, each surrounded by lawn and often with no obvious boundary separating it from the adjacent property. This was not a surprise to me - I know Americans organise their gardens like this, without flowers or veggie patch - but it is striking. After all, it was an American, Robert Frost, who wrote, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.

Confederate flag in Mechanicsville -  'Heritage, Not Hate'
Ashland is a busy college town (population 6,600) with an Amtrak railway line running through it. When I went for a stroll in the central area, I found it to be designed with the motorist in mind. The bank I went to had its ATMs set out in three parallel drive-through lanes. The screen height and angle were appropriate for someone reaching a hand out of a car window and awkward for customers standing on their feet. As I withdrew cash, I was slightly flustered to find a motorist in line behind me waiting to drive up to the machine. A few, but not all, of the busier intersections have cross-walks. In their absence, with no pedestrian phase in the traffic lights and no refuge island in the middle, I had to take my life in my hands and sprint across six traffic lanes when I saw an opportunity. 

Ashland - 'Center of the Universe'

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alasdair

    I reckon I had a cup of tea in that same Dunkin Donuts just last year!