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The Free Beer Tomorrow sign is a big fat lie, ‘cause we were there that day!
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Gail found a rock kairn kinda thing that made the Virginia Capital Trail seem like . . . a trail!
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Do not miss lunch here if you make the ride.
Hikes: April 2016
April 2: Andy Layne Trail to Appalachian Trail to VA 311. 13.5 miles
We hadn’t done a car-plant hike in many years, and figured we could remember to put the keys to the destination car into a pack this time (we whiffed that little step the first time, which could be seen as, you know, just a day-hiker mistake). Anyway, we got a little earlier start than usual and had lunch a little shorter into the distance-to-be-covered than usual, as we ate at Tinker Cliffs, only about four miles into the walk. Not to mention before all those bumps and rises and knobs along the ridge line between Tinker Cliffs and McAfee Knob. And yes, we did take the forest road on the way down. Still, this was our longest hike in many years, and we survived it just fine.
April 10. Dragon’s Tooth Trail, Boy Scout Connector Trail, Appalachian Trail loop. Uh, 3.3 miles.
Just because you do a long one one week doesn’t mean you have to go all short the next, but we did. This little loop allows the dog to go along—she can’t do the “technicals” up to Dragon’s Tooth—and also features nice lunch spots with just a weenie walk.
April 17. Horse Pen and Lakeside trails at Carvins Cove. 5 miles.
This easy out-and-back was also conceived with the dog in mind, as Cookie of course never ever swims in Carvins Cove, and really really loves it.
April 28-29. Down and back bike ride on the Virginia Capital Bike Trail from Richmond to Williamsburg. About 120 miles! (Wonder what the conversion factor is between a flat mile ridden and a hilly mile hiked? Hey, here are a couple of websites that talk about 7:1; so we “hiked” 17 miles over the two days? Sound about right.)
After a pleasant evening in Richmond watching Derek Hoke and Elizabeth Cook perform some pretty cookin' live music, we set out in celebration of my, uh, well, a birthday that ends with a zero, sort of picking our way out of Richmond downriver a little to the trailhead. The pathway keeps the river in view for a few miles, but then becomes far more dedicated to paralleling Va. 5 though country that looks a lot like Delaware, but does have the occasional sign for a Virginia plantation along the way. The highlight of the first day was lunch at Cul’s Courthouse Grill in Charles City, outside of which we met a group of older guys biking to Richmond, having just finished lunch and of course informing us that they’d emptied the place of all beer before we got there. Inside, in addition to fine food and good cold beer, were a wonderfully friendly staff amid a blend of old artifacts and new, including the “Free Beer Tomorrow” sign up by the bar.
At the Williamsburg-area trailhead, we suffered our only glitch of the trip: Kurt had failed to do his research on how to get from that end into downtown Williamsburg, so after a false start or two, we started out on the Colonial National Parkway, which takes a bit of a circuitous (and rocky-paved route) into town. As a result, we arrived in the colonial section of town just at the reservation time for Kurt’s birthday dinner at the Fat Canary, where many persons seemed to be dressed for, you know, dinner, instead in whatever they’d worn for a full day of bike riding, which had begun in enough drizzle that we needed our rain jackets. The good waitstaff missed not a beat, told me I looked younger than blah blah, and brought me a menu signed by all—all of which helped The Day Rider to recover from the suddenly added six or eight miles after the “end” of the ride.
Next morning, we picked our way back out of town a little more creatively, using the kinda-narrow bike lane on 5 to get back to the Williamsburg trailhead. The ride back to Richmond, to my surprise since we were now headed upriver, was easier than the one down. (And I guess no real wonder, since my brother mentioned from his browsing on our trip that the elevation change of the whole thing is like 127 feet.) And lunch—same place, an hour earlier—yielded no free beer, but another meeting with the five semi-geezers—clear, with their teases of The Day Rider, that they were deeply jealous that I got my girl to come along while they couldn’t—as well as more good food and fun with the staff.
The approach to Richmond was another highlight. Obviously, you don’t see the city when you’re riding away from it, but on the way back, there is suddenly, after all those flat fields of corn and peas (?) and plow-under stuff, a giant, looming skyline, and then increasingly urban things—warehouses, condos, train tracks—as you come back to where you started.