I had breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning, one of their big combos with grits, eggs, biscuits, gravy and sausage. Yum yum yum. Then I meant to take I-40 West (actually north) from Newport, towards I-81 North (actually east) towards Richmond, but accidentally went south (east) on I-40 back towards Asheville. But it worked out better that way, because I was able to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway instead. It's a scenic route that goes northeast through North Carolina and Virginia, pretty much the route I wanted to take. It winds through forests and mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains I assume, not a fast ride (compared to the interstate) but a lot more fun.
Shortly after setting out, the cold hazy weather from earlier in the morning disappeared, and it suddenly became sunny and warm. It was lovely thin-glove weather the rest of the day.
The Parkway detoured onto other roads several times, and I ended up on route 221, a scenic route parallel to the parkway, which took me into Virginia. One of the last towns I went through in North Carolina was Sparta, a town I read about in Tom Wolfe's great book, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The main character of that book, Charlotte Simmons, is from Sparta, NC, but I didn't realize it was an actual place until I rode through it. It's a farm town, like all the towns in the area, with big country houses far apart on large tracts of farm land. Charlotte went to Allegheny High School (the name of the county), and as I rode through, a school bus from Allegheny Elementary stopped in front of me to let off kids returning from school, and the kids in the back seat all waved to me.
Route 221 turned left at that point, into Virginia, past Independence, to Galax, where I stopped at a Pizza Hut for the Monday night $5.99 large pizza special. I'm sitting there now, half the pizza eaten and half in a box for later. As usual with Pizza Hut, the service is terrible but the pizza makes up for it.
Southern culture is quite charming. Everyone is proper and polite, it's all yes sir and yes ma'am, good Christian values as they would say, and I haven't encountered any unfriendly people yet. I don't know the first thing about farming but I think I'd like to try living on a farm someday. Maybe not an actual active farm, but a ranch house on several acres of hills with streams and a lake wouldn't be too bad.
I didn't get as far as I thought due to the slower going on the scenic roads, but I'll try to ride a few more hours to a state park, camp for the night and ride to Richmond in the morning.