Day 5

Rosie was showing Martha how to carefully decoupage Snow White onto a uselessly small table. Watching the TV in silence were two local farmers, father and son, flashing me their sizable cracks. To the left of them was the health inspector -- who had a gun -- and the proprietors Jim and Ro (?). Around the wood paneling on the wall were the occasional beer promo and one genuine Vanity Fair print of a foxhunter. Such was the scene at Ollies in Buchanan.

Beauty can not be, dear reader, in the eye of the beholder. First, quickly, what exactly is a beholder? Second, if it is what we think it is, then surely the beholder who works as a podiatrist in a particularly damp and hilly area is not as beholden to beauty as (safe example) Hugh Hefner.

I like to think beauty is 'where' you put your eyes. I thrust my eyes away from Rosie's horrible face and onto my hosts. The madam was gruff, but that could be because a man with a gun was checking her Coke machine against county regulations.

The monsieur, however, was quite interesting to look at. He was 50ish, gray blond, and where his upper lip should have been was his lower. He just folded it right up in there. I know this because when the inspector left he rolled it down and gave us an account of things in his best Ernest P. Whorrel. I think he slapped his thigh. My burger was perfect.

If I wanted to, I could look at the shrub on the side of the road and count empty beer cans or spot roadkill. One dead squirrel looked like a banana with feet. A can of Glory Blend looked, in my sleepy eyes, like a ruby slipper.

I don't look down much. When I look up I see early morning fog clinging to odd trees, whistle plants, late afternoon sun on fields of golden hay, and the cars I need to avoid.

I started out at 630 today and managed to leave camp at 7ish. I beat the two German tourists at the campground, which was a small point of pride for myself and probably shaming for the others.

I made it to Lexington for a farmer's market, bluegrass, and 6 tomatoes for a buck. Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and it's on my shortlist of places to retire to. Everyone walks about, they were up at 9, I saw a man in a straw hat. They even have a newsie screaming "Extr-e Extr-e!"

I left Lex over the natural bridge, through Buchnan, home to Ollies, and up through more mountains in the valley of Catawba. At one point, I nearly ran out of water and began to look frantically for the next country store.

It turns out that converting old stores into bomb shelters is all the rage. Windows are boarded up, phone lines cut, and the TV is made to work on propane and bean juice. In my dehydration, I began to scan my memory for episodes of Man Versus Wild. Find the nearest dog then track it back to its bowl? Drink from that murky water around where all the cows are congregating? Rub water on your lips or eat chapstick? Squeeze the water from elephant dung? Nonsense.

In the end I breathed through my nose (thank you Dune) and I made it to Ellet where I had my first ever Tyger. For the unitiate, it's a sport beverage designed by Tiger Woods to taste lemonade-y while retaining all the sugar most other lemonades never quite muster. I found it very refreshing and drank 64 oz in less than a minute.

I'm in a budget motel in Christiansburg. After my 106 mile trail of extreme discomfort, I dropped my stuff off and then biked back up the street to a little shack with a long line. It was Custard Corner. I sunk into one custard sundae, one medium chocolate milkshake, and 3 hot dogs. Everything was first rate. I told them this, and I told the people sitting next to me, and the sheriff, and a gentleman with motorcycles on his t-shirt, and anyone else who would listen. On my way home, I ordered a medium pizza with peppers and cheese from Domino's.

So I'm resting. And I'm so spoiled with resting here that I can't actually rest. I keep spreading out and getting up, faffing with the AC, pouring myself water. If you have running water, you're tremendously spoiled too.

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