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Talk about a trip gone off course…

July 1, 2005, 12:35 AM

First of all, welcome to July, which means I close out the journal file that I use for the first half of 2005, and open a new journal file for the second half. So that’s why none of the previous entries are showing on the front of the Journal. They’ve been swept off the page because I’ve switched journal files.

Otherwise, though, I did add one new feature to to the Journal with this new journal file for my own information. Now, whenever I post a Journal entry, it will capture the remote host name of the place where I posted the entry. Most of the entries will show the host name for my regular computer, but there are times when I post from elsewhere, like that time in the middle of March when I posted an entry on the Infoshop‘s computer while I was up in Washington on my first post-surgery DC trip. From your perspective, there will be no change in your experience. The host name information will not show on the site.

What’s ironic about this new feature, though, is that with this first entry in the new journal file that captures the host name, is that I’m writing it offline, thus there is no host name to capture. Why? A few reasons. First of all, my Internet connection is down for some unknown reason, and thus the online form that I usually use for it is inaccessible. So I’m writing this directly into the database. Secondly, I’ve not yet done any of the changeover work on the site for the new file. And lastly, this entry was not supposed to be the first July entry, but rather the final June entry, but a fly got into the ointment while I was out today after work, which made me FAR later in getting home than I wanted. That story follows.

After work, I went out to empty the last two totes of crap from my closet. There’s a spot where I do that near Lexington. So I take US 11 and I-81 down, and then planned on taking the Blue Ridge Parkway back up. I’ve become quite fond of that route going back up, as it’s quite a nice, quiet, scenic drive. Now to get to the Parkway from Lexington, you take US 60 through Buena Vista and then wind your way up a mountain. At the top of that mountain is the Parkway.

This time, going through Buena Vista and up the windy mountain road, I periodically saw bright white flashes completely behind me. Lightning. I was driving with my windows open, and had heard no thunder at that point. When I got to the Parkway, I saw another big flash of lightning, and heard thunder. Sitting at the end of the access road to the Parkway from US 60, where a right turn would have landed me northbound on the Parkway, I weighed my options. It seems there is a storm coming. The Blue Ridge Parkway is in an area with spotty cell phone service. There are lots of sharp curves on the road. There are a number of points in the road where there are steep drop-offs on one side or the other. And a storm is coming. So I ultimately decided to turn around and go back onto US 60. This is where the adventure truly begins.

From the Parkway, I took US 60 eastbound. I could have gone west back to Buena Vista and Lexington, but there was a problem on I-81, likely due to an accident somewhere along the line, which also was tying up Route 11, which is the road I take when I don’t want to take I-81. And with my judging the Parkway as unfit for travel, I continued. So I took US 60 down into Amherst County, to meet up with US 29. So what ended up happening was my essentially trying to outrun the storm on an unfamiliar rural road at night. Thank goodness for high beams and very little oncoming traffic. And all the while, there was lightning flashing behind me.

It was a weird feeling. The speed limit was 55, and it was easily traveled going that fast. And being dark, it kind of just felt like I was going through a dream world or something. Weird feeling. I finally made it to the town of Amherst, where US 29 meets US 60 at a traffic circle (yes, a traffic circle).

I stopped at a Food Lion just beyond the traffic circle on US 60 to rest for a moment, and then continued on my way. It was NOT my intention to be this far out of my way by any means. But these things happen. Taking US 29 northbound towards Charlottesville, that’s where I finally encountered the storm. Not a lot of lightning, but lots and lots of rain. I am SO glad that it was 29 where I encountered it, rather than on US 60 or the Parkway. 29 is a four-lane divided highway, and designed to move lots of people quickly. So it was not a hard run through it in the storm. And the rain stopped about halfway up my journey up US 29. I took 29 through Amherst, Nelson, and Albemarle Counties to just south of Charlottesville, where it intersects with I-64. I took 64 westbound to Waynesboro, and then took US 340 back home.

What a trip, what a trip, what a trip. A few circumstances that, when coupled together, make for my getting home WAY later than I planned, and having quite the adventure. Not one that I’d like to repeat, but at least now I can say I’ve done it. And I know that NO ONE wants to take US 60 from Lexington to Amherst unless they have to, because it has its winding portions, and also is a big dead area for cell service. I periodically checked my phone to see if I had service, and I had no service at all from the Parkway all the way to just before entering the town of Amherst.

So anyway, happy July, everyone.

Web site: Eastern terminus of US 60, in Virginia Beach

Song: The "It's Coming" song from the period between the Alien Rangers saga and Power Rangers Zeo in 1996. It came to mind on my way to Amherst while I was essentially outrunning the storm.

Quote: "Lightning… that's not good." - Me as I saw lightning flashing behind me going up the mountain on US 60.