Saturday, August 15, 2009

Observations of Kentucky

Friday August 14

The night spent on the living room floor of Keith and Alicia’s place was over before I knew what happened. They were awake and getting ready before 6:30 as they would all be leaving by 7:15 (as would we). We had oatmeal and coffee with them before heading off. Our earliest start ever. The sun had barely risen above the horizon and the early morning mist or fog had yet to burn off. What a splendid way to start a day long bike ride! Within an hour the fog had dissipated and was replaced with a mostly sunny day that would see us through the entire afternoon. The temperatures were comfortable enough as the mercury never rose over 85 degrees, and the humidity was just tolerable.

The town of Harrodsburg (15 miles)would be the first stop of the day for us, other than to snap a few pictures with our new camera. A real bakery was the objective since Harrodsburg was a real town with over 8000 inhabitants. Success! I could do well in this town. The pastries we found were far superior to most of the junk we’ve eaten from Walmart. Unfortunately, they didn’t have wifi. The public library had been pedaled by on the way to the bakery so we backtracked just a bit. An hour was spent doing some journaling, posting of our blog and checking for a warm showers host in the town of Berea, Kentucky (our destination for the end of the day). I called the warm showers host and left a message and also sent off an e-mail in hopes of securing a second consecutive night in a friendly environment.

Our earliest start of the trip had by now been mostly squandered as it was approaching 11:00 and we had a total of 15 miles in. We got back in the saddles again and headed off towards sights unseen. It was certainly a lot warmer outside after visiting the library but most of that can be attributed to the air conditioned comfort that exists everywhere we stop.

The hills of Kentucky are now approaching small mountain status. Well, not really, but they are getting to be just a bit longer and definitely are happening more frequently. This is hampering our average speed just a bit as we are either pedaling up these hills at 4.4 mph or else pushing the bike at 3.2 mph. The downhill sections never make up for the climbs. Today was a day of many of these ‘small mountain’ type hills. Team Jackson was up to the challenge but only barely. There was plenty of grumbling from all corners each time another hill presented itself. And our legs have started to become heavy. Therefore it was determined that today was the last consecutive day of riding. Tommorrow would be a day of rest! Hiip, Hip, Hooray!!!! We’ve pedaled everyday since departing Carbondale (after ‘Crash’ crashed)with the distances piling up. 60 miles, 50 miles, 49 miles, 75 miles, 60 miles, 63 miles, and by the end of today another 66 mile ride. Seven consecutive days! Crash is unstoppable.

But we haven’t finished this day yet. There are so many things to dissect and disseminate. Not really, but I do have more energy as I’m sitting in a hotel room on our day off while composing this. So our ride for the rest of the day presented us with obstacles that we’ve come to expect as routine now that we’re in Kentucky. Lets begin with the dog chases. We had a couple more on this day. One was scary as the mongrel that was chasing us seemed to be snapping his jaws and drooling a bit as if it hadn’t eaten a cyclist in quite some time. We had almost forgotten what abject terror an angry dog presents. Not just to Lewis either. We had a stretch of nearly 3000 miles where not one dog had the energy or the opportunity to chase us down the street. Here in Kentucky, we get a loose dog with an attitude every 10 or 20 miles. Kentucky has a reputation for lots of roaming dogs and it has definitely lived up to it. Three or four days ago, Lewis and I were chased by a cadre of hound dogs and a few mixed breeds that all came from the same back yard. Fortunately, they gave up the chase before getting too close but I was prepared to do combat this time. I had the dog whip out and was going to use it. Donna is equipped with the dog spray but she’d previously pedaled past. In fact she was the one to get them stirred up!

Besides dog chases, we need to mention another aspect of Kentucky that is unique to this state. We typically stop at every store that we pedal by as these opportunities occur sometimes only 3 or 4 times in a day. In the event that more than one store is present, we’ll go for the one that seems friendlier or healthier. Sometimes this involves poking our head inside to determine if the smell of burning cigarrettes is present. Occasionally we have no choice but to go into a place where several people are smoking. In this case, we’ll usually make a purchase and then sit outside in the sweltering heat to eat or drink what we just bought. I’ve previously mentioned the typical fare these places offer is of the deep fried variety. Lewis could live on the corndogs. But Donna and I have grown just a bit tired of the deep fried chicken strips or potato wedges or burritos, or jalapeno poppers or the hush puppies. The presence of Pickled Ring Bologna (and other delicacies) is a welcome change but man cannot live on pickled bologna alone! We’ve recently hit a string of small country stores that sell assorted hardware including plumbing supplies as well as having a small deli counter. You could theoretically get your kitchen sink drain fixture repair part from the same lady who will fix you a Pickle and Pimento loaf sandwich(P&P). Something else that I’ve noticed since entering Kentucky is the beverage YooHoo. This chocalate flavored drink from my childhood lives on here. So to does the Moon Pie. While I’ve not had a YooHoo (Donna and Lewis have), I’ve eaten a dozen Moon Pies. I seem to recall the fact that prison inmates down south (here) prefer moon pies to any other form of snack cakes that are available to them. I am akin to the convicts!

One more observation and then I’ll get back to the documentation that normally fills these pages. We are struggling to understand what these people in Kentucky are saying to us! Their lips are moving but we are not hearing a lot of familiar words. I think they are talking to us but I’m not sure. So I’ve gotten into the habit of just agreeing with whatever they say by shaking my head and saying uh, huh! The other day when I approached a guy driving an ambulance to see if we might find a place to shower, I actually said “Do yall have a shar that we cud yoose”. Lewis is picking up on some of there llnguistic idiosynchrocies as well. He’s actually quite good at mimicking what he’s heard. I’ve had to clamp a hand over his mouth when he’s doing this at the wrong time as it could easily be misconstrued as poking fun at the general population. He doesn’t know this however. Ah, the ignorance of youth!

I’ve been meaning to expound on some of these observations for several days now and have finally been given the opportunity (and brain power) to do so. That’s what taking a day off does for me . Otherwise I am just exhausted at the end of the day and have a hard time just remembering the facts. Alright, back to todays ride. There’s not much left to tell though. We pedaled through communtiies like Burgin, Bryantsville, Kirksville before finally pulling into the artsy town of Berea. Before getting to Berea, we ran into the group of eastbound British cyclists that we’d encountered the day before and snapped their picture. We might be running into them while we are here as they are likewise taking a day off. We also hit a couple of west bound trans am riders who passed along some information about a good place to stop when we get to Virginia. These 2 guys (Matt and Ben) are going to be pedaling by our house in a few months so we invited them to stop by. We’ll see. The final note on todays ride. This is a sentimental observation. Just before pulling into town, we crossed a special highway. I-75, as many of you realize, runs from Northern Michigan, all the way to Southern Florida. Lewis snapped a picture of this monumental event but inadvertantly left off the highway sign. Ah, the ignorance of youth.

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