KENTUCKY

Photos are here.

JUNE 18: THE HOME OF IN-BRED JED

 
Up and at ’em early since I could not sleep and it was hot and muggy in the room. Damned A/C units stop functioning properly in the middle of the night and you never realize it until it is too late.

After thinking we would never do so, we left Virginia and arrived in Kentucky this morning. 16 days to cross Virginia! Good gracious, that’s a long state!

Well, well, well, I think I got the crud Merle got. Just what I needed. My throat hurts, I have a fever, and am getting hot flashes. At breakfast in the Rusted Fork Restaurant in Elkhorn City, I got some salt to gargle with throughout the day and also had a large OJ.

While in the restaurant, I took a picture of a really old advertising sign which we’d never consider making or putting up today. It read, “Oh, baby, chocolate dairy drink, ain’t dat sump’n.” It showed a Black kid holding a glass of the drink. I’m surprised it’s still on the walls. Maybe I’m being too politically correct.

About 10 miles outside Ash Camp we picked up a headwind that lasted most of the rest of the morning. Great! All I need now is rain to make the scene complete: hills, wind, rain, and a cold. This is MY idea of fun.

Also began to hear the dogs of Eastern Kentucky and was chased by three of them. I would have liked to vaporize them.

Just outside the Sycamore school I had this inbred looking semi-retarded asshole come clear across his lane into mine as if to run me off. It happened to Hugh, also. I’ve already written the Governor of Kentucky about this incident and about the dogs. No answer, yet, of course.

For lunch, Hugh and I stopped at the Shelby Valley Restaurant. It was not much of a place but the waitress was really sweet. Hugh asked her where we could buy fruit in the area and she said there was none. A couple of minutes later she brings us two bananas she’d had in her lunch bag. She did not want anything for it, either. So, seeing there was more than one way to skin a cat, we left her a larger tip!

Kurt, the cartographer, acquired a map of Kentucky and found a shorter, less hilly, route outside of Dorton. So for those of you about to embark on the trip, take heed: take route 610. Hugh and I took Route 611 and faced not only a hill but construction on Route 1469. Since we went up the hill, I must say the six mile downhill was quite fun. What goes down, must come up. Outside Melvin we had another two mile hill to climb. Not nice. And yet another brutal one miler near Bevinsville. Fortunately, the road to Pippas Pass was not so bad but it was upward inclined. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but you, the reader, may be thinking, “a one mile hill? That’s not bad.” That’s what I thought when I did the first one. However, when you have them one after the other—-ahhh! That’s another story, eh?

Have already made one observation about folks in Kentucky. They love to have their chickens and roosters. Cocks crowing all the time. The homes are on opposite sides of most streams and access to the houses is by lots of little bridges crossing the streams. Quaint looking if not for all the trash in the streams. Why people insist on being pigs is confusing to me. This is one part of the state that is very beautiful and to see it trashed like this is depressing.

Also got to see the first few dozen of many hundreds of coal trucks. It is not fun to be on the same side of the road as those guys. The drivers, for the most part, are good. It’s just that the trucks are LARGE and bits of coal fall off the back. I’d not want to be conked on the head by a piece of immature diamond.

By the time I got to Pippas Pass Hostel, I’d climbed 3200 feet on the day. The hostel is run by Charlotte Madden. Her grandfather and father built many of the buildings on the campus. She has 2 masters degrees and started the hostel in 1976. Since that date the number of riders gets fewer and fewer. Not so much because of lack of enthusiasm but in 1976 there was only one trail across the US. Now there’s the Northern trail, the Southern trail, one across Canada, one down the East coast, one down the West coast, and one down the Rockies plus other shorter trails.

She has a nice place where overnighters can use the dining room and family room to eat and sit around in. The only disagreeable part was the location of the sleeping area. It slept six in bunks and 2 on couches and was located adjacent to the house in an almost basement setting but rather cramped. There were kitchen facilities in there but to use a bathroom you needed to go to the main house via the front yard. Needless to say, the trees always got watered well!!

In the dining room, there was a lovely view of a cascading babbling brook just feet away. Since Dennis had been there from the day before, he took it upon himself to make us a spaghetti dinner with all the fixings. Quite good. There was none left. Mrs. Madden gave me tea, honey and lemon for my cold. Quite nice of her. She basically opened her house to us. When her husband got home we chatted for a while and then all of us went our separate ways.

The college in the town, Alice Lloyd College, was started in 1916-17 as a place where Appalachian girls could get a decent education. Today it offers pre-med, nursing, and pharmacy degrees. It’s almost like a work-study college for underprivileged kids. Current enrollment is about 500.

A new face today is Alarick. Dennis buzzed his head to keep him cooler. Alarick wants to finish the trip by the 15th of August and then will move on to China to study Chinese. I believe he is a 26 year old professional student.

JUNE 19: UP AND DOWN AND UP AND DOWN AND UP AND DOWN

 
It was foggy when we left the hostel at 7 AM. I am still feeling sick. Started out sunny and I was sweating profusely by the time I made the climb out of the hostel to the shopping complex 8 miles distant.

Had breakfast in Hindman at the Napier Drug Store. Another one of those drug stores with a sit down lunch counter/soda fountain. I may be ill but my appetite sure is not. Figured that I may as well kill two birds with one stone so I bought some benadryl while I was there. Hopefully it will dry me up and let me sleep better.

The ride along Route 550 was very pretty and for quite a ways had a creek paralleling it.. Quite scenic and peaceful. Since it was such a beautiful road, level, and quiet, I knew I’d pay for it later on. That’s kind of a bizarrely negative way to look at things but on this trip it happens way too often. Of course, I DID pay for it.

It still looks very backward here. Poor, coal mining country. Lots of mines scattered throughout the hills. Coal trucks pop out onto the road from all sorts of little hidden driveways leading to these mines.

Passed through Dwarf and picked up some snacks to munch and drink. Met “Biker Brian” from San Diego. He’d been on the road 34 days. Looks like he’s shooting for an under 50 day trip across the US. I do not understand the need to hurry on a trip like this. Too much pain, not enough time to relax and take in the scenery. But everyone has their own reasons. As long as they do the trip and other people get to see bicyclists do the trip, that’s what is important.

On Highway 80 I got the privilege of climbing a 1.5 mile hill which culminated 5 miles of ascending and descending. So much traffic! Fortunately the road had a shoulder so we could avoid most of the coal trucks. I meant to get a lump of coal but never got around to doing so. Got off Highway 80 by coasting down a long stretch and taking the also-descending off ramp. You guessed it! Got on Route 15 and climbed for 1.5 miles. GEEZ! When will this end, I wonder. While stopped at a service station to whizzzzzz I looked up and saw that the station also offered a tanning salon. Well, it seems that everywhere you go in Eastern Kentucky you will find a tanning salon. It’s either Sue-Lee’s Beauty Parlor and Tanning or Betty-Ann’s Beauty Salon and Tanning Parlor; Joe-Bob’s Eat ‘n Git and Tanning Salon, etc. Walk into a convenience store and…………….you’ll find a tanning salon. Very strange. And speaking of strange, what do you buy at this shop?

Hugh and I stopped for lunch at a little Pizza Place along the road and had spaghetti. We were almost finished and along comes Merle. We thought he’d gotten lost but he had a flat tire a couple of miles shy of Highway 28 while on Highway 15. It was when we were rocketing down a hill so we never heard him.

Wound our way along the crest of some hills and went to the R&F Dairy Bar (7 miles from Buckhorn) for a milkshake. It was abysmally hot and humid. The temp made it to 88 degrees and with climbing hills, having the sun bake your back, feeling ill, and throwing in some humidity just for the fun of it—not nice! Got to run into Alarick. Cooled off, we went to Buckhorn. On the last downhill approaching town I got up to 43 MPH. Wild and Woolly!!

Was all worn out when I pulled into town even though I only climbed 3000 feet. Set up tent and will probably only get to Booneville tomorrow to the Presbyterian Church Hostel. It will give me a chance to rest for a long period of time vs. trying to make it all the way to Berea.

JUNE 20: THE TACKY MOTEL

 
Well. Looks like Kurt has the same crud I had. Which is the same crud Merle had. Knowing how it would affect him, I suggested to Kurt he should not attempt going on to Berea but taking the opportunity to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and sleep as much as possible.

We left and the group will split up today. I know I would stop in Booneville. Hugh went to see a friend in Ervine, Dennis, Merle, and Dick went on to Berea. Climbed a 1.6 miler (not a friendly hill) then blasted down the other side. At the bottom a man in a truck stopped me to say that my friend (Kurt) had a flat and needed help. So I pedaled back up a mile the hill I just went down, found Kurt’s bike but no Kurt. I yelled for him with no answer. Tested his tires and they were full. Began to get a bit concerned. Visions of Deliverance dancing through my head. Where the fuck was Kurt? Then I saw he was missing his water bottle top and was truly confused. Wasn’t sure what I would do next and contemplated climbing back up the hill to look for him. Then I see him walking down the hill towards me. He’d gone to retrieve his water bottle top! Shot back down the hill and pressed on.

Am feeling a bit better but still under the weather. Speaking of which was hot and humid. The trip is beginning to not be fun. Then again, if I were not sick or if I had better gearing I’d not be saying this.

Hills, hills, hills all the way to Booneville. While in town we stopped at the Farmer Market Restaurant and had the nastiest pancakes I’ve yet to eat on this trip. Found out where the Hostel was and headed out that way. The Adventure Cycling maps may have it as the Methodist Church but they are wrong. The “Hostel” was a pavilion with a shower. All of it outdoors. I did see Alarick’s name in their register. Kurt went to check on the motel and said it was a dive—but an air conditioned dive. At $28 for two we took it. Damn if this wasn’t the tackiest motel I’ve ever set foot in. The TV got 2 stations, the magazines were 3 to 4 years old. The sink stopped up, the water to the toilet needed to be turned off after every flush, and there was no phone. The landlady was Mrs. Goodman and she is very nice, though. Let us use her washer and dryer to do clothes. At least, psychologically, we feel better now that we have clean clothes. Kurt slept and I ran errands then I, too, took a nap.

For dinner we went to Donna’s. I felt like I was in an Outer Limits episode. Very surreal and had a weird feeling in my gut (no, it was not heartburn!) I guess it was the atmosphere, the way people spoke to one another and how they interacted. Realized it was Friday night and this place was pretty well dead. It is also a week and a lifetime away form Damascus, the tornado warning, and the flu-infected girl at the Hostel.

For a touch of the 20th Century, Kurt and I went to the Mini-Mart down the street from the restaurant. It was brightly lit and about as modern as anything I’ve seen in any city. Felt like I was teleported back to reality.

JUNE21: A DAY OF IMPRESSIONS

 
Today is the summer’s longest day. The sun will not set for quite a while. Kurt and I went back to Donna’s for breakfast as it was open at 6 AM. Thank goodness it was cool. I think Kurt is feeling better. I know I am.

Let me paint a picture for you of what this morning was like. Start with a broad brushed stroke of air thick with mist, the smell of tall grass, the scent of many daisies, and clovers. Brush in a serenade of cows lowing in the distance accompanied by the deep throated croaking of bullfrogs. Airbrush in some chirping songbirds along with bobwhites, robins, jays, and crows along with butterflies dancing in the sun’s rays. Using broad, brash strokes, throw in some springs cascading off rocks creating tiny waterfalls everywhere. Then overhang the road with constantly dripping water. Canopy the roads with an umbrella of trees and vines. Then add a touch-up of sunshine peeking over the horizon and you have a painting only the masters can give you. This is what I see most mornings. I especially enjoy seeing the sun rising in my rear view mirror. It gives me some measure of comfort to know I am headed West.

With the above scenario painting a positive picture of this countryside, there is also a negative side: so far the negative impressions I have of Kentucky are: hill people; poverty; neglect; ignorance, “Deliverance”; trailer homes perched precariously on cement blocks; coal trucks; mad dogs; trash alongside roads; run-over, dead animals.

Today was not a good dog day. I was pursued by 6 dogs. I sprayed two and stopped them dead in their tracks. One of the bastards ambushed me so I nailed him good. When I looked in my rear view mirror he was in the middle of the road clawing at his face to make the hurt go away. Every time these sonsofbitches come at me, the hair on my arms raise up and I feel a surge of adrenaline course through my body. I’d just as soon kill all of them. Maybe their owners should get a good whuppin’, too.

Too bad we had to deal with hills! These things will be my undoing! Going down them I hear my jacket popping like a machine gun. It’s especially cool at speeds exceeding 35 MPH.

Got to Berea but not without a surprise: Hugh wants to drop out of the ride! He’s tired, has lost weight, and does not think it is fun anymore. Can’t say I blame him about the fun part. I told him I was in no rush and would therefore stay with him. We’d take a slower pace and more rest days. Plan on going only 40 miles tomorrow and then resting. Let’s see how he fares. Merle said he’d stay along with him, too.

It was hot today again. When we arrived in Berea we went to the campground. I’ve seen better. Few flat spots to put our tents and is designed for RVs. We should have stopped at the campground on the right hand side of the road vs. ours which was on the left. The bathroom is air conditioned, though. Gave thought to sleeping in there!

Berea College was founded in 1855 by John G. Fee and Cassius M. Clay as a one room school house built by the community. It drew up a constitution in 1858 that made it Christian, non-Sectarian, and anti-slavery. It was forced to close in 1859 by the pro-slavery factions in the area but re-opened in 1865. It serves much of the mountain area.

Chowed down at Mario’s. I feel like an oinker. Helps that I am also feeling better. Stocked up on groceries just in case tomorrow proves to have slim pickings.

JUNE 22: AN UNEVENTFUL DAY ENDING IN A CRAPPY CAMPGROUND

 
Well, Kurt is feeling better. Good. I am still not 100% but much better also.

Breakfast was at the Family Restaurant. Not too bad. Just as we were getting ready to bail out the rain began. So a little wait was in order. When it ended, about 30 minutes later, we took off.

The first 10 miles were great. I thought I was in heaven and the average speed shot up to a whopping 11.8 MPH. Whew! What a rocket! Then the rollers began. One after another. Climb, descend, Climb, descend, Climb, descend. It got really old and I am getting discouraged. I refuse to quit but I have to admit the temptation is there.

Finally got in touch with Danny. He is thinking about not going back to school this fall. I am disappointed. He may get a job as an assistant manager at McDonald’s. He also participated in the firing of an employee who was doing drugs on the job. Too bad for the fired guy but I am glad he’s not serving food to people.

The dogs are still a pain in the ass. Four or five came out again today. I zapped another one. While rounding a curve I got to see a very large dog along the side of the road but unlike many loose dogs this one was dead. One less dog to harass riders. Son of a bitch was as big as a deer—at least that’s what we thought it was until we came closer to it.

Hugh busted a spoke so Dennis and I hung around to help him. Luckily it was not on the drive side of the wheel.

Stayed at Chimney Rock Campground. It sucks!! At least last night we had a restaurant and food stores nearby. This place does not. I guess it is because Burgen, Lexington, and Harrodsville are close by and people get their groceries for the weekend there. Even the restaurants here have shitty hours. The park caters more to RVs than tenters so we ended up paying $48 for basically one spot and access to a circle of grass when full sites for 2 people were $15 but allowed only one tent per site. I do not understand this one tent bullshit. As long as it fits on the site what the hell should they care?

Our quest for a restaurant was almost an effort in futility. Had to hunt around for quite a while before finding one. Went up and down hills, to the waterfront, etc. looking for a place to eat. Not even a fast food place. And this on a weekend!!

Finally settled on a restaurant who’s name escapes me but was on the approach road to the campground, just before the big bridge. It’s on the right side of the road and faces the lake. Had a very good dinner. At least that part of the evening went well.

JUNE 23: SMALL TOWN TREASURES

 
I hate that campground at Chimney Rock!!! At 515 AM most of us were awakened by some asshole rooting around the dumpster looking for cans. I wanted to sleep until 6 and this shitmonger decides he needs to be Dumpster Boy. I forgot, I am still in Kentucky. Also found this dog got into my panniers, knocked down my bike and stole some food. All in all, a very lousy experience at this park. Not sure there are many options but for those contemplating the trip, find alternative accommodations.

It was very foggy but I decided I wanted to leave and spend no more time in this lousy park.

The ride through the fog made for an eerie experience. After five minutes in it, I looked down at my arms and they were covered with a mist just barely clinging to my arm hairs. Made them look white. Merle, Hugh, Dennis, and I had breakfast at the Village Inn in Burgen. Highly recommended!!! For $3.50 (including tip) I had 3 pancakes, coffee, and oatmeal.

The fog lifted for good and we hot pedaled it to Harrodsburg where we found Gateway Groceries. Discouraged by my experience last night, I picked up some groceries in case we have something similar happen tonight. I got the strangest feeling in the store. They were playing some Michael Franks on the sound system and right at that moment I wanted to be where I could be cool, sit back, and listen to music. Boy, do I miss my music!!

By 9 AM it was already 80 degrees. YECH!

Made it into Springfield for lunch and I looked up the Home Hearth Café as I’d heard about it from someone else. According to the guy I asked at CarQuest, it turns out it was sold and is now called Suzie’s. Went there and had quite a good lunch. Ordered a plate full of mixed vegetables and spoke with the Springfield Ladies’ Coffee Club. Merle joined Hugh and I and we stayed and chatted for a while. When we pulled into Gateway Groceries, Merle just kept right on going. It was nice to catch up again.

The guy at CarQuest also told us the road we had planned to take to Bardstown was quite hilly and that we should take Highway 150 instead. We did and were glad to have done so. Dick pulled in later and took the Adventure Cycling route climbing almost 500 more feet than us. Finally, a break!

For the first time since the 2nd of June I averaged more than 11.5 MPH on the day’s ride. Wonder of wonders! Although ending up fairly well spent, I did not hurt as much at the end of the day.

All of us met up at My Old Kentucky Home Park in Bardstown. A very nice park smack in the middle of town with a golf course and club house adjacent. A far better place than the previous two nights. And a place where one of us regressed back into our childhood playing on the park’s playground.

Bardstown is famous for bottling most of the bourbon sold in the US. There are several large distilleries in the local area. Took a break and went into town. Stopped in the Hurst Drug Store and sat at their soda fountain. This idea of a drugstore with a soda fountain is a small town treasure soon to disappear. Like something out of the 60’s. Snarfed down some ice cream and since it was a Kodak moment I could not resist taking a picture. Whereas we took quite a few meals in restaurants, especially if we could find all-you-can-eat places, when we prepared our foods, there were differences due to gear. Those with stoves ate warm meals of noodles mixed with vegetables and meat products, or heated beans, or other quick fix meals (sandwiches, raw veggies, fruit.). Those without ate sandwiches, fruits, raw veggies, cold beans/soups, etc. All of us ate a LOT of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pancakes!!

I have to admit that this area of Kentucky is much better than the Eastern part. It’s cleaner, prettier, flatter, nicer, and has more wealth. It must also be said that throughout the whole state the people have been quite nice. We’ve even had kids come up and ask us if we needed water to drink. May not seem like much but is often appreciated.

At 8 PM it is still 84 degrees and muggy as hell with no breeze to speak of. It got as high as 89 today. Adding to my misery was a precipitous drop in the Dow of 192 points. Have no clue what caused it and will try to find out.

JUNE 24: REST DAY

 
My Old Kentucky Home is definitely a nice park. Good facilities. The only problems are the bugs and the traffic on Highway 49 which is quite close by.

Took care of some errands today among which was a trip to Wal-Mart for film, undershirts, talc. And sunglasses to replace my broken ones. Stores like Wal-Mart have a section devoted to small containers of personal items like shampoo, soaps, talc, mouthwashes, etc. that come in very handy for the sort of traveling we do. So from now on I will look for these places instead of buying large containers.

Took advantage of the nice morning to ride around town and look at the old homes. Saw beautiful pieces of architecture plus I got to see an old one room schoolhouse in use into the 1800’s.

Looks like Dennis, Dick, Merle, and Kurt are going to a 75 miler tomorrow whereas Hugh and I will split it into a 28 miler and a 47 miler so we may not see each other for several days.

Chatted with Merle for a while and found out he grew up in Minnesota and went to a one room schoolhouse with no more than 13 other kids spread out over 8 grades. He also has a brother 10 years older than him and a sister 13 years younger. Quite a spread!

Several of us tried to take a tour of one of the distilleries but they were closed for the summer. That same distillery had 7 of their storage houses burn last year and the event featured prominently in most news programs. Not being a TV watcher, I missed all the hoopla. From what I was told, the smoke and fire could be seen as far away as Louisville, 40 miles distant. The vat houses are enormous buildings six/seven stories high. The bourbon is taken to the top floor (where it is hottest) its first year. Each succeeding year the barrels get moved down one floor until eventually they make their way down to the ground floor/basement to finish aging.

Hugh is getting the creeping crud that nailed Merle, Kurt, and me. I’ve noticed, though, that as it passes from one person to another, it seems more and more weakened. Hopefully it will not bother Hugh too much.

Kurt took off for Hodgenville to see a friend. Should see him again in three days. I do not know why he waited until so late to start his journey but……different strokes for different folks. I’d have preferred to leave when it was cooler but he says it does not bother him.

One thing I do know…Bardstown is a place I’d like to return to. Maybe take in the Stephen Foster story, see the distilleries, go to the proto-cathedral, etc.

Did preventive maintenance on the bike and lay low to avoid the heat. Never did find out what hit the Stock Market yesterday. Jitters. It’ll go back up. Fundamentals are still in place. Next year, though, may be a totally different story. I need to position myself for that eventuality.

Good a reason as any to drink a beer and celebrate being out of the nastiest part of the hills.

Still hot as hell all day and continues into the night. Ugly for sleeping.

JUNE 25: THAT’S STEW-PID!! YOU’RE A DUMB ASS!

 
Damn! It was hot and humid this morning. At 6 AM it was 76 degrees! Merle, Hugh, and I went to McDonald’s just up the street for breakfast. Not a bad deal—we got air conditioning and a cheap breakfast. And no need to leave a tip. Isn’t America great? All I could do while in there was to imagine my son wearing one of those white shirts with a “Manager” name tag on it. Very strange thought and not really what I had in mind for him. But it is his life and he must choose the paths he takes. The best I can do now is to support him in his decisions.

Kentucky sure has a lot of dead animals on its roads. Almost like open season on Mother Nature. Turtles, skunks, birds, possums, cats. Sure did not notice this carnage in Virginia.

Along the way I stopped at Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home near Knob Creek. It is a one room cabin and very Spartan affair. He lived here for five years (1811-1816) and according to a plaque outside, Lincoln’s earliest recollections were of this farm.

Took Route 31E South from Bardstown to Hodgenville. It’s a much better road with one mile long hill along the way and a much shorter one approaching town but not at all grueling. Still had to cross a fault line regardless of whether the road of choice was 49, 31, or 62.

Got to Hodgenville and stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce where we ran across a very nice lady who helped us with directions to the park, groceries, and restaurant. On our way to the Larue County Park, about ½ to ¾ mile from town center, we found Stewart’s Drive In Restaurant on the right hand side of the road. Stopped in for lunch and to cool off since it was so hot.

It is here that we had probably one of the funniest moments of the trip. Two waitresses were behind the counter (order at counter, sit, and they bring food to table type of place.) One was young, the other a bit older, say…. late 50s early 60s.

The older woman found out what we were embarked on and while talking to Hugh about it, looked him straight in the eye and said, “that’s stew-pid!.” We didn’t think much of that since we’ve sort of gotten used to the weird look people give us when we say what we’re doing. Well ,she continued speaking to Hugh and then bursts out, “You’re a dumb ass! You’re gonna give yourself a heart attack.” Personally, I think she took a shining to Hugh. He wouldn’t admit it, though. J

We were floored at her outburst and just busted out laughing. I couldn’t believe she said that. Especially since she’s in the business of greeting and serving the public. But that was my East Coast political correctness kicking in. I also knew she didn’t mean harm by it. Which is what made it so funny. She kept coming back to our table to harangue us but I think she was truly interested in our adventures and VERY concerned for Hugh’s health.

After pigging out I rode to the Sav-A-Lot just down from the Park and did some grocery shopping. The prices were very good and I wanted to buy lots of stuff but, alas, did not have the room in my panniers.

The Park is quite nice and features a pavilion with showers and a pool ($2), 4 tennis courts, baseball diamonds, etc.

Met Eric Aguilar. He just graduated High School and is headed back home to Oregon. He needs to finish the trip a bit faster than us because he starts attending the Colorado School of Mines in late August under an ROTC scholarship. Seems to be a nice kid and I think it is neat that he decided to embark on this trip solo at only 18 years of age. A while later, another guy rolls in. His name is Matt Hisel and he started his trip in Lexington so did not have to face the grueling Appalachians. He’s on his way to various environmentally friendly farming communes in order to get information for a Master’s Degree and hopefully do something to consolidate all these small farms into a viable business concern. I’m impressed!!

JUNE 26: THE NEW “EXTREME” SPORT: DEAD COON JUMPING

 
Just before hitting the hay last night I observed thunder storm activity from the South. Since the wind was blowing from that direction it was obvious it would not bode well. Truer words were never spoken since at about 2 AM the skies opened up. Luckily we were under the pavilion and did not get wet but what a racket on the roof!!

It was cloudy most of the day and with the temperature hovering around 80 degrees, riding conditions were great. We dodged rainstorms all morning and were able to avoid getting wet. Seems we were either right on the tail end of a front or it had just finished passing by when we got to the area. The wet roads gave it away.

Hugh, Dennis, and I stopped at the Truckstop Restaurant in Sonora for some coffee and breakfast. Merle blew right by us and as we were leaving Dick and Matt showed up.

Endured a long, but relatively painless, climb at the 26 mile point and then stopped at the Double L grocery (corner Routes 84 and 920) for a snack. The owner had a log book for us to sign which we did. It’s the first time I’d seen that in a grocery store.

As we were leaving the store, we came upon some road kill that Eric fancied would be a good place to display his fully laden bike riding skills to us. Unfortunately I did not have my camera ready to capture the moment but he got a good head start and attempted to “jump” the poor creature. All he did was ride over it. First words out of Hugh’s mouth were, “you could have punctured your tires on one of its rib bones.” Always the cautionary one, Hugh.

All in all it was disgusting. No respect for the dead. What has our youth come to? OOPS! Beginning to sound like my father.

As is becoming the custom, we find county lines only at the top of a hill. So in order to leave Hardin County we had to climb the mother-fucker of all hills into Breckenridge County. We also made it into the Central Time Zone. Later on Dick said the hill was almost as bad as Danger Hill in Christiansburg. Good Lord it was a pain. At one point I thought I would come to a complete stop while pedaling. That gives you an idea of how slow the pace was. Of course, the Hill Gods deemed it necessary to make the road not only extremely narrow but populate it with a BIG garbage truck also lumbering to climb it—-with me in front.

Lunch was at the Chicken Coop Restaurant in Axtel. Not bad.

Made it to Rough River Park. Very nice campground which has a river running through it. Actually the water is generated from a dam release. I imagine at one time a river existed there but now its height is controlled by the dam. If you go there, ask for spot 13 which is huge and flat and near the river far from everyone else and their RVs. We put all 6 of our tents up in the spot and had plenty of room to spare. And it only cost us $2 a piece, too. The C-G has no grocery store or min-mart but does have very clean rest rooms (where bars of soap are provided for free!) and a laundry facility.

All afternoon long we watched two very pretty employees run around in their golf carts hither and yon. Among us, we were very curious as to what they were up to so later on I went to one of them, struck up a conversation, and came away with all sorts of information about that young lady’s life. Eric was absolutely hot to trot over Angie, the little blond one so when I came back and told him I’d just finished speaking to her for over half an hour he almost had a cow. Wanted to know all the details. It was funny to watch his facial expressions. And, of course, I didn’t tell him everything at once. Spread it out over two days to prolong his misery. Youth!

She’s 18 and about to enter the University of Louisville to get a degree in physical therapy. She got a full scholarship and is thrilled that she can now go whereas a few months ago she was not sure since her mother did not have enough money to send her (her Dad died 10 years ago.) If she gets her degree she’ll be the 1st on her Dad’s side and 2nd on her mother’s side to do so and does not want to end up like her sister who attended but never graduated. She has a friend in the missionary service and wants to go to Africa to visit with him and his wife.

I asked her what Dennis and I had considered asking her earlier: would she let us use her golf cart to go to the store for food? It was about a mile away and up a hill. She told me she couldn’t do that but that we could have used her car! I was amazed!

Quite the young lady, really, and I wished her lots of luck.

For days afterwards, she was all Eric could talk about.

Just before turning in, Matt and I were at the river’s edge chatting and taking in the beauty of the various layers of mist floating over the surface. It was too dark to take a photo but would have been a beautiful one.

JUNE 27: ATTACKED!!

 
Thinking yesterday was the best riding day, I was doubly surprised to find today’s ride even better. Averaged 12.4 MPH and the hills, although present, were not insurmountably difficult. Ended up the day by eclipsing the 1000 mile mark for the trip and by climbing 2600 feet and the exertion ate up one hell of a lot of calories.

It was cool this morning, a welcome change from the oppressive heat we’ve been getting. In trying to take advantage of as much of the coolness as we could, today also marked our fastest getaways from camp—only 40 minutes.

Had breakfast in Fordsville at “The Diner.” Having ridden 17 miles already, I was ravenous. Wolfed down 4 pancakes, home fries, biscuits and gravy, 2 eggs, and coffee! The restaurant has been in business since 1934 and the menus are designed by local schoolchildren. Go there! Support it! It’s for the children! Damn, am I getting tired of hearing that garbage on the news. Everything we do now is “for the children.” What a bunch of claptrap!

OK, I’m off my soapbox.

Chatted with some of the locals and they hammed it up for us. What a bunch of joke-meisters! They kept ragging on this one dude who was just sitting there minding his own business. I think we was used to it and probably gives them all sorts of hell in different venues. They were making comments like he fell too soon off the tree; that his mother put him in the washer and never took him out; that the way to tell if he was lying was to see if his lips moved, etc. All in good nature. I hope!

Today was the day I resolved myself to facing whatever adversity came my way and dealing with it. I refer to the hills. Made a big difference in my attitude especially since the Ozarks are coming up. They are not too fun.

In Utica I stopped at a corner deli/gas station and had a chicken sandwich, candy bar and gallons of Pepsi. Hugh decided he wanted to press on (we would have stopped for the day sooner) so we rode on to Sebree. It was a great ride considering I was prepared for the worst this morning.

The big excitement of the day was being chased by this huge dog (whose owner sat on his porch and never once tried to stop him!) the damned thing took a nip out of my panniers and came close to bringing me down. I was caught unprepared and had no time to get at my spray or I’d have decked him. A couple of hundred yards down the road I stopped and looked at my panniers but they were OK. Had they been bitten through I’d have contacted the Sheriff and demanded reparations from that in-bred asshole called a human being.

In Sebree we went to the park which was next to a pool. It had a pavilion and we rested as best we could in the heat. Got told the local history of Sebree by the manager of the pool. It used to be a bustling little metropolis complete with an opera house, hotel, therapeutic sulfur springs, coal mines, and tobacco houses. The coal is bituminous, which is dirtier than anthracite, and the cleaning process is expensive. Our concern for the environment spelled doom for the town. Now there is almost nothing there.

Although the park has showers, there is no hot water. Didn’t matter to me. I imagine it would not be too comfortable if the weather were cooler but as it was………

Decided to splurge and make spaghetti for everyone. I used my cooking gear and heated up water for each portion. It was a bit of a pain because the pot was small but we were in no hurry. Turned out tasty. Or as tasty as bottled sauce and spaghetti can be!

It was still very muggy in the evening so Dick and I went to the local softball game and chatted with the locals. I guess this is the excitement for a Friday night. The kids play “chicken” with the cars in the road, jump up on hoods, and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. Dick and I also discussed whether we’d see Kurt again since he’d not been feeling well and maybe spending time with some friends would tempt him to quit. But throughout the trip Kurt had been surprising us so no bets were made. We just wanted him to finish with us. “All for one” type of thing.

Continue reading: Illinois and Missouri

Photos are here.

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