Day 11: Welcome to the Family
Saturday June 11, 2022 Abingdon -> Breaks Interstate Park
Howdy everyone! Mariela here to update you on our unexpected adventures on day 11.
We began our day with a lovely spread of oat bake, muffins, yogurt, berries, bagels, and OJ prepared for us by our lovely host, Julia. With our bellies full and our bodies lathered in sunscreen, we headed north towards Breaks Interstate Park where we'd be camping for the next 2 nights.
The morning ride was deceptively flat at first until we encountered another mountain we would have to scale. With 10 days of biking behind us though, we climbed much more efficiently, especially knowing that lunch would be at the bottom of the other side of the mountain. We scheduled a lunch stop at Council Park and Pool with the hope of finding somewhere nice to rest and possibly swim for lunch. What we found was even better than we could have imagined.
We stumbled upon the tail end of the Tiller family reunion. A kind Tiller woman must have noticed our ravenous faces and said that we were welcome to filling our plates with leftovers. This was possibly the most exciting thing to have happened to us on the entire trip. We are suckers for some free food, especially when it's a delicious homemade potluck after 40-something miles of biking.
We gratefully accepted their offer and feasted on a variety of southern dishes. We dined mostly in silence, everyone intently enjoying their meal in the cool shade of the park shelter we sat under. As we finished up our meal, an older in-law of the Tiller family sat and joined us to tell us about how close families are in Appalachia and how they always return to their roots, which was apparent by the wholesome familial interactions happening around us. Some other take away words of wisdom from this man: Everyone puts their pants on the same way. He seemed to mean that we are all human doing human things and we should treat one another as such. He left us with those words and other tales of his eventful life.
After finishing our conversations with the Tiller family, we decided to take a rest to let our hefty meals digest a bit. For some of us that meant playing basketball with a Tiller young man (Franklin), for others it meant going on the swings, or taking a snooze in a wooden pirate ship on the playground.
Our fruitful rest left us with little desire to bike the remaining 25 miles of the day, but alas we rallied and set out for the last bit of the day's biking before our rest day.
The hills on our elevation map were much harder to climb in person than they seemed on our phone screens. I especially felt this way when we made it to the camp grounds and the entire way to our campsite was uphill! At least it will make for an exciting downhill when we leave, but it didn't feel that exciting with 70 miles of biking behind us that day. The stunning view from the top was worth the climb though.
Before entering the park, we encountered many signs to have some photo-ops with.
Once we finally settled at our campsite, by the time we made dinner, showered, and put up our tents, it was already bed time. We took our exhausted selves to bed, comforted by the fact that we'd get to sleep in and find some new and exciting way to rest on our upcoming day off.