Sunday, August 2, 2009

Directions: Ride to Virginia and take a left

On the Road

Saturday morning we got up, dressed, and walked down to the UVA campus. On the way we stopped at Bodo's, a favorite bagel shop of students in the area. The campus was beautiful! Designed by Jefferson as his "last act of public usefulness", the designs are in the neoclassical style and are intended to remind the viewer of the architecture of the Roman Republic. This was, of course, intentional; Jefferson wanted to draw a parallel between the fledgling American Republic and the ancient Roman one.

Around 9:30 we piled into the car and drove out to Monticello, Jefferson's home. We took a tour of the marvelous mansion and learned a lot. Every detail was designed by our 3rd President and construction lasted over 40 years. Full of gadgets and books, the house reflected Jefferson's Enlightenment thinking. After the tour we walked down the hill, past Jefferson's grave, jumped back in the car, and headed back to Charlottesville for the start of our day.

Since we spend so much time touring about the area, we didn't get on the bikes until 12:30. It was our latest start of the entire summer and we had over 90 miles to ride. Despite 11 days in a row of hard biking, the miles were pretty smooth. After some rolling hills just outside of Charlottesville, the terrain flattened out and we cruised pretty easily into Ashland, just north of Richmond. Ashland/Richmond was an important location for us because it is there that our East-West maps intersect with our North-South maps. So it is time for the Great Left Hand turn and the ride now turns north!

Saturday evening we stayed with the Ashe family, some family friends of mine from back in Worcester. Their daughter, Jordan, was one of my sister's best friends before they moved down to the Richmond area in 2004. We got there late in the evening but were welcomed with food (always a pleasure!), warm showers, and good conversation.

Yesterday we slept in, ate breakfast, and then headed into Richmond to check out the town. Richmond, as described by Jordan, is "a little city that thinks it's a big one". This description seemed spot on, but I really enjoyed walking around town. While Lauren went off to shop, Dave and I wandered into the Museum of Science and down Monument Ave which commemorates people important to Virginia history. It surprised me that the first monument we came across was of the President of the Confederacy. Over our time in the South I've become fascinated with the continued devotion to the Confederacy. Everywhere there are monuments to Lee, tombs of unknown soldiers, and plaques commemorating the town's dead in the Civil War. At W&L, one of our guides suggested Confederates in the Attic as a good book to show how the spirit of the South still lives on today.

We returned to the Ashes' in the early evening and had a great pasta dinner. At night we sat around the TV and watched the Sox game, a pleasure I have not had for sometime, before reading and going to bed. Currently we are sitting around reading, writing, and watching TV while waiting for breakfast. We have a very short day today which can be used as another "recovery" day. Monday we get into DC and have another off day. If you are in the area, let us know, we'd love to see you!

Fact of the Day

There are over 1,000,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. AIDS is not a problem exclusive to the African continent. It is a very real and devastating problem in the US as well. If you are interested in AIDS in the United States, I suggest you read My Own Country by Dr. Abraham Verghese. It chronicles Dr. Verghese's life in a small town in eastern Tennessee as AIDS enters the town's population and how the community deals with it (both physically and spiritually).

Trivia Contest

Answer to Thursday's question: Martha Washington's great grand daugther married Robert E. Lee. Nate Rooks soars back into 2nd place (40 points) breaking a tie with KTO (30 points) and just behind Mrs. Evans (47 points).

Answer to Thursday's BONUS Question: Jefferson, an true "amateur" architect, designed the UVA campus. The centerpiece, the Rotunda, is a scaled down version of the Pantheon in Rome. 5 points to my Dad!

Today's Trivia Question: The first statue we came across on Monument Ave. was of the President of the Confederacy. What was his name?


  1. I have also heard good things about Confederates in the Attic - supposedly nonpartisan and evenhanded.Is that the book that talks about reenactors?

    I believe Dr. Verghese now writes novels?