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Blowing Rock, NC to Lexington, VA

This morning was another cool one as I guess between the onset of fall and my continued northerly trek I can expect that sort of thing from here until Bar Harbor.

I was out early enough and ripped over to Boone, about nine miles away.

Boone, named for the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone is a neat little town. At an elevation of 3,333 feet, it's motto is "Live it Up." Boone is the home to Appalachian State University.

The Mountaineers, as they are called, have a very proud history on the football field and have earned a reputation as of late as sort of giant killers after upsetting Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. They did it again to North Carolina in 2019.

From Boone I jumped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed for Roanoke. This part of the parkway was a lot less remote than yesterday with several pretty farms appearing on either side along my way. Still, it's the most pristine countryside through which I have ever traveled, a bikers dream.

Just above the Virginia state line I jumped off the parkway for lunch at a little place called Fancy Gap where there was a tiny mom and pop kind of roadside diner...the kind of place I absolutely love to hit. I had a huge steak and two sides for fourteen bucks.

Past Roanoke and about eleven miles south of Lexington I stopped at the Natural Bridge State Park to see...well...the Natural Bridge.

The bridge is a limestone rock arch that US highway 11 passes right over, So I actually crossed it before I saw it. The bridge spans 90 feet and is 215 feet high, which is ostensibly 55 feet higher than the falls in Niagara. It was surveyed in 1740 by a young surveyor named George Washington, who carved his initials in the rock about 25 feet up the wall. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Trying to get a shot with the right perspective was another in a series of photographic exercises in frustration. All these rides have that in common, I'm afraid.

From the Natural Bridge, I completed the trip for the day when I arrived in the little village of Lexington, Virginia.

Lexington is one of the prettiest little towns I've ever visited. It's the home to both Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, so it's LOADED with history.

I had time once off the bike to hit Washington and Lee to take some quick pictures.

The university, established in 1749, is a very small, private school with a current enrollment of only about 2,200 students. W&L was originally named the Augusta Academy, but it's name was changed after George Washington gave them a gift to help them financially. Thus they became Washington College. Incidentally, they don't need a lot of help financially now, because they have a current endowment of about $1.68 BILLION.

Former Commanding General of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee came here to serve as president until his death in 1870. He lived in this house.

He is entombed in a mausoleum underneath the chapel that bears his name.

His horse, Traveller, is buried right outside the mausoleum door, as close as possible to his former master. It's not unusual to see apples and carrots left on the grave as treats for him, and it's the policy of the university to always leave the gates open so Traveller's spirit can come and go as it wants.

Up the street is the home of another famous soldier, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. He lived here while serving as an artillery instructor at VMI right down the street. It's the only house he ever owned.

He left here when Virginia left the Union and accepted a commission in the Confederate Army. He gained a reputation as a brilliant tactician and a fiercely brave leader and rose through the ranks quickly. His Shenandoah Valley Campaign is studied by students of military history to this day.

In his most famous battle, Chancellorsville, he and Lee violated a long-standing rule of never dividing one's forces in the face of an enemy with superior numbers and with only 60,000 men at their disposal, defeated a Union army at 130,000 strong.

Jackson was wounded (inadvertently by his own men) shortly after the battle and died a short time afterwards. His grave is here and it is often decorated with lemons, which the General used to love to suck as a sour treat.

Tomorrow it's another look around town and then off to Harper's Ferry. If you're keeping up with me, drop me a line. I love knowing folks are riding along with me. And please spread the story around. It helps. We are raising a lot of money for a great cause and I appreciate all y'all!

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