We have a habit of singing the chorus of “on the road again…” when we get going in the morning- especially after a stop. Not for much longer!!!
We were greeted once again by highway 460, ever straight, ever busy. The highlite of the day was when a lady from a bank we passed came running out to meet us. She had been watching out the window all day and was so excited- she was the mother-in-law of Danny who hosted us at his auto-body shop in Roanoke! It’s such a small world.
We stayed at a horse stable right on the outskirts of Petersburg, which was perfect because we were able to sleep in the office and pack the horses up in the morning protected from the rain. Joy and her husband took us to a Mexican restaurant, and we were joined by her friends who had heard of us and were incredibly excited to meet us. It was a great evening with ‘horsey’ people.
Since it was raining in the morning, we were thrilled when Joy offered to drive our packs to our next night stop. It takes days to dry out all our stuff after a rain, so not only would it save the horses backs, it also kept everything dry. It turned out to be a huge deal too, because we took a wrong turn, added on 2 miles, had two interviews on the way, and had to trot alot to get to our stop before pitch dark. But during the day we got to see some cool sights. First was Joy’s house. It had been owned by a close friend of General Robert E. Lee’s- who just so happens to be a relative of mine- and he had visited there. I was sure to get a picture in front of the house! Then we passed several remnants of forts from the Civil War. Apparently Petersburg was the longest town under siege of any ever in the United States. We also saw cotton growing in the fields, lots of swampy areas, and very sandy soil. Then Bella FINALLY caught her first squirrel- it was a city squirrel and he didn’t have a chance! Plus WE SAW OUR FIRST SIGN FOR VIRGINIA BEACH!!! Yay!!!
We stayed at the wood working shop of Anne and Jack Abeel- who kindly let us sleep in their shop and put our horses in a chain link enclosure they had. Surprisingly, they had a resident rooster there, and we were glad at 3:00 in the morning that we had bought ear plugs after sleeping too many nights next to train tracks!
The following day was a nerve-wracking ride down a very busy section of 460 with no shoulder and tons of trailer truck traffic between Petersburg and Virginia Beach area. We arrived unscathed, however, to Adams Country Store where they sold a tasty array of famous Virginia Peanuts and other specialty items. We made a rare splurge and bought a big supply of peanuts- something Richard has been looking forward to since we entered Virginia. The store owners were nice enough to allow us to highline the horses out back and camp in their garage. One of the sweet ladies we met at the Mexican restaurant brought hay, and another local man hooked us up with a space heater. It was pretty cold that night, but at least the heater took the edge off.
Again, we survived another day riding down 460, but this time Anne was able to follow us for the later and busier part of the day. En route, we were greeted by a huge crowd at Crop Production Services where they had filled a huge tub of water for the horses and put out a great welcome sign! It was a joy to stop there, and it certainly lifted our spirits when they joined in a circle and prayed for us! During the day, we also met Jane who had attempted to ride across the country and she was helping us find places to stop. Plus we met Mitch, a farrier who we had been in touch with and was also helping us with networking. We made it to Nan’s house just before dark and we had lots of help unpacking. We had a nice visit with Nan while our horses visited with her alpacas- and surprisingly didn’t seem scared by them! All in all, it was a pretty cool day with lots of new friends made.
Leaving Nan’s house, we made one final push towards Suffolk- down 460 again- and we were utterly grateful for Jane’s decision to follow us for the day, and for her friend Holly, who jumped in when Jane’s brakes went out. It was a pretty chaotic section of road, so they were a huge help in keeping us safe. I rode Satchmo for like the third time on the trip since Apache’s back was bothering him and Satchmo seemed to still be too tired. At least I am quite a bit lighter than Richard, so this helped him a bit. We got to do one really cool thing that day- something I’ve been wanting to do the whole ride: We rode through a Dairy Queen drive through!!! It was AWESOME!
We finally made it to our last rest stop hosts- Matt and Dianna- who welcomed us with ‘open arms.’ Here we spent the next few days working like crazy to prepare for the final steps to the ocean and the celebration afterward!