A Beautiful Start

Bright sunshine is a good omen when starting a motorcycle trip and Saturday’s cool but sunny weather was greatly appreciated. I left town and soon found myself heading south on I-81 along the western edge of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. At 70 mph the motorcycle engine was a soft purr, almost undetectable above the wind noise. Traffic was light and all was well with the world.


First stop: Harrisonburg, Virginia and James Madison University, where I dropped in on former college classmate and now costume designer and director extraordinaire, Pam Scheulke Johnson. Pam started teaching costume design at JMU 30 years ago and is now a tenured Full Professor. We had lunch and I confirmed that her beauty, charm, sharp wit and smart outlook on life is still in full flower. She sends her regards to all the UVA drama alums who may read this.


After lunch is it was back on the Harley for a two hour ride down to Shawsville, just south of Roanoke-Salem, and the lovely hilltop home of Bob and Debbie Ashcraft (see photos). Bob and I went to high school together and were the inseparable terrors of the lighting crew there and have remained good friends ever since (even if he did graduate from UVA nemesis VPI). Bob is a computer wrangler for Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield (check your wallet – you, like me, may be an Anthem health care customer, in which case Bob thanks you for his salary). We had a nice dinner with Bob’s sister Martha and her husband Thom and spent the rest of the evening discussing just what’s gone wrong with the world today. Conclusion: all these young folks and their technologies! Translation: proto-geezers like us are having a hard time keeping up… For example:


Cell phone salesman: Is there some feature you especially want on your new cell phone?

Thom: Yes, but I don’t see it listed here.

Salesman: I’m sure we have it, what is it?

Thom: A dial.


After a good night’s sleep I bid Bob and Debbie many thanks for their gracious and generous hospitality and said goodbye and was on the road again. Unfortunately, yesterday’s nice weather wasn’t repeated – it was overcast and in the 55-60 degree range all day. A bit chilly at 70 mph but at least it was dry. I took I-81 to I-77 and headed over the mountains through “Fancy Gap” into North Carolina. The descent down the mountain offered a terrific view that would have been really spectacular in full sun. On I went to Charlotte where I hung a right and headed south on I-85 and crossed into South Carolina and I’m posting this tonight from Spartanburg, SC.  


About “The Wave”: when motorcyclists pass on the road, generally they will exchange waves. Yes, there are some holdouts who won’t wave if you’re not on their preferred bike brand or whatever, but generally they are far and few between. Of course, when one gets to a bike rally of some kind then the wave is not done because all you’d be doing is waving. But it’s nice to get an acknowledgement from the other side of the highway from a kindred spirit.



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