My yesterday’s efforts are rewarded early on this morning. First, I’m greeted by the Sun: shining strong, shining through. The terrain: it has finally started veering towards more of a descent than a climb. The views: I’m atop one of the most beautiful passages of the Blue Ridge Parkway and I’m taking it in without moderation.
But to each long climb is a disproportionately fast descent and so I’m making my way down in no time. One important stop on the downhill is the Cookie Lady’s house. The former home to June Curry – a wonderful lady who assisted cyclists on the TransAmerica Trail from 1976 until her death in 2012. It is estimated that some 14,000 touring cyclists enjoyed her hospitality at her home in Virginia and that number, despite June’s passing away, is still growing.
The house continues to serve as a sweet landing pad for the tired cyclist. TransAm bikers can spend the night, stop for water, rest and food. And that is precisely what I do: I go in for lunch. The place is an open-air museum: it is full of unique (original) TransAm memorabilia, thousands of postcards, article clippings and much more. The kitchen is stacked with some food – surely left behind by fellow cyclists – so I treat myself to some baked beans and caramel flavoured chocolate spread. Yummy!
When cleaning up after myself in the kitchen, I stumble upon a note left in 2016 by a passing cyclist. He urges fellow TransAm travellers to give some love back to the house by donating 15 minutes of our time to clean up an area of our choice. I am well aware that no place magically cleans itself on its own but, somehow, this note strikes a chord with me on an exceptional level. Of course that it’s up to me (and the fellow bikers) to keep this place clean and running. It belongs today, to a certain extent, to the Route 76’ community and I’m part of it, so it’s my responsibility to preserve it.
I decide to clean up the kitchen. And then the table by the entrance. And set up a FREE BOX, because people have been leaving things all of over the place. And then, on my way out, I clean up the window sills by the door, so that the place doesn’t look so abandoned and forgotten.
It’s been two hours and it’s hard for me to leave. There is SO MUCH to do. This place truly is amazing but needs some serious work to survive. I get back on the road but my mind lingers on at the Cookie Lady’s house for a couple of additional hours. What about a summer work camp for TransAm cyclists to renovate this place? Would the community be up for it? Would there be people willing to put in a couple of months of work into it? Would we manage to raise funds? Is it worth it?