Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Day 83-Surprise, We Are in Virginia!

The lucky horseshoe has struck again! But first, the morning…

We loaded up the bikes and bags into the back of Eddie’s truck at about 7:00. We just decided to go back to the same restaurant for breakfast, then hit the road. 

Last night I had figured out Eddie’s route back home when he said he would take us to Elkhorn City instead of Hindman. Eddie does not have a smart phone, so I wrote out the key directions for him. Turns out, our way from Berea to Elkhorn City was about half of Eddie’s way home, so that was good for him to see it as we drove to Elkhorn City. I made additional notes for him (exit numbers) as we went along. 

The drive was really amazing as we began to get into the foothills and hollows (or hollars, as they say in Kentucky). We were on the Bert T. Combs Parkway for a number of miles. It was really quite scenic. We did see areas where flood damage had happened. There were a couple of spots where the road went down to one lane, however, in general, I think we were north of the most severe damage…which was the plan. 

A lot of work going on here. 

Just before noon, we reached the city limits of Elkhorn City. We told Eddie he could drop us anytime. There was a good pull over spot, so he dropped us off there. 

New highway going in behind us. 

Bye Eddie! Thanks for everything!

We loaded the bags onto the bikes (the now lighter bags), and rode the last bit back to the route in Elkhorn City. Immediately, we were climbing. I commented to Doug that Kentucky was kicking us out with a few more good climbs. 

We came to a bridge over the railroad just as a coal train was coming. 

Our first and last Kentucky coal train (although, really, it was coming from Virginia…so…our first Virginia coal train).

We continued climbing, then we entered the Kentucky part of Breaks Interstate Park. 

It’s a rare park that straddles the Kentucky/Virginia State Line. It’s not a State Park…it’s an Interstate Park!

Shortly after, we came to an overlook. 

They call it their Grand Canyon. 

Then, not much further, we made it to the Welcome to Virginia sign! It’s our 11th and final state! 

Woo Hoo! Last state!!! Although, it was just a little anticlimactic what with us having driven most of the way there today. It’s okay…we got over it in a hurry!

So this is Dan. We talked to him at the sign. He lives in Afton, which is just at the Blue Ridge Parkway by Rockfish Gap. He had ridden from Seaside, and was going home. He said he had about 4 more days. He gave me his number, and said if we needed anything while we were in Afton, to give him a call. When we told him we had gotten a ride from Berea to Elkhorn City, he said we made a good choice. Between Hindman and Elkhorn City, he said it was still flood damaged, and there was no place to stay. When we were planning to ride it, we knew we would have a very big day, about 70+ miles with a lot of climbing. Just in the 9.3 miles we rode today, we had over 1400 feet of climbing. It would have been a few thousand feet more. Lucky horseshoe…

We had 3 more miles to the turnoff for the campground at Breaks. It was pretty much 3 miles of all uphill. Yes, Virginia is starting out just as hilly as Kentucky. It took us 2 hours to do the 9.3 miles. 

Just before getting to the turnoff, I took this photo. This is what it looks like around here. Everything is covered in Kudzu (an invasive plant). It engulfs the trees, power poles…everything. 

Doug says when there is a freeze, it all dies and turns to a slimy black mess. Yuck!

So, now we are a full day ahead of our plan. It does give us some cushion to alter things, or just get to Yorktown earlier. I don’t have a flight reservation yet, but Doug’s son can’t come get him until September 14th. I’ll give it a couple of days, and see how it goes. We do have some significant climbing to do to get over the Appalachians. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Day 82-Our Trail Angel Arrives

This is only the second day of the entire trip where I haven’t ridden Tilmann at all. He has stayed parked in the hotel room the whole day. We also picked a great day to not be riding. There was a pretty good thunderstorm last night, and it rained off and on this morning. Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be good. Although, we won’t be riding tomorrow (except in Eddie’s truck). 

We spent the morning mostly being lazy. I did pack my stuff to make sure the weight was even, since I sent some things home. I also arranged for Tim to mail my case for Tilmann to Yorktown. Thanks to Dillon for getting it out and folding it up. Probably the most significant thing I did this morning was…shave my legs!!! I couldn’t stand it anymore! Now I’ll be more aerodynamic!

Eddie arrived at about 3:30. We took a drive into Berea so he could see the Historic Boone Tavern. It’s all part of Berea College. 

Quite a few famous people have stayed here, including presidents. 

The student I talked to yesterday was correct about the college being affordable to all students. 

It didn’t say in the Tavern, but we think it’s called the Boone Tavern because it’s on the Daniel Boone Trail. This is right across the street from the Tavern. And that right there is our Trail Angel, Eddie! 

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we’ll throw our bikes in the back of his pickup, and head for Hindman. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Day 81-My Turn to Go the Wrong Way

Another short day today to Berea. We left Chimney Rock at 7:30. It was still completely dark at 6:00 when I got up. That is the problem of being at the western edge of a new time zone. 

We came around and crossed the lake on the Kennedy Bridge. 

But first we went by this barn with a fake cow and a fake rooster!

Sunrise as we crossed the lake. 

Overall, todays ride was more of the longer ups and longer downs. Today they seemed a bit steeper though. 

Look! A double shadow photo! A little tricky because we were going uphill!

There were quite a few turns today…a few onto one lane roads. Jack Turner Dr. was one such road. It was a continuous climb, but not too steep. Plus it was mostly shady. There was only one vehicle on the whole section. 

Then, sometime after that, I missed a turn. Doug says there was no USBR 76 sign, and the road sign was carved on a stick. Anyway, somehow I ended up in Kirkville. I stopped at an intersection of two numbered roads that didn’t match up on my map. Ruh roh! Fortunately, there are numerous roads. I just Google mapped how to get to Paint Lick (yes, that is a place). Turns out, I didn’t have to go all the way to Paint Lick to get back on the route. 

Before long, I was back on the route, and riding into Berea. I pulled in to a Subway (it was noon). I texted Doug to see if he was ahead, or behind me. Pretty soon, he came riding around the corner. He had already been to the Motel 6 to see if I was there. We had lunch at Subway, then checked into our room. 

I wanted to go through my stuff, and send a box home. Doug did the same. I sent home a large flat rate box worth of stuff. We did keep our chairs. We do use them when we are camping. I sent home my frying pan as we are only really cooking breakfast. I even sent home my puffy jacket. I just can’t see needing it in the next couple of weeks. 

We loaded up our day packs, and rode the bike path to the post office. 

The Beebe-White Bikeway

After the post office, we rode the rest of the way into downtown and the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel. 

Went by this school with a very unusual roof. 

The Historic Boone Tavern and Hotel

The Tavern sits at the inter Of Main St. and Prospect, which happens to be the end of our Map 10. So, we can say we finished Map 10! 

Berea is home to Berea College. It looks like a very nice campus. We thought it might be an expensive school, but I talked to a student, and he said it is a good school for people who don’t have a lot of money. 

We rode back to the Motel 6 just as a few raindrops were falling. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be thunderstorms. Good thing we don’t have to ride tomorrow!

One final photo…

Just a couple of turkeys…there was actually a whole flock not much further. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Day 80-All Good Dogs

Today was a short day of just 39 miles, so we didn’t get too early of a start. The hotel breakfast options were somewhat unique. They had various frozen breakfast burritos and pancake on a stick. I had two pancakes on sticks. Think pigs in a blanket crossed with corn dogs, and you get pancake on a stick. It wasn’t terrible. Would have been better if there had been some syrup… I also took the opportunity to grab a couple of oatmeal packets to add to my breakfast collection. 

We rolled out at about 7:50. We were right back to the rolling hills. I would say, however, that the ups and downs were a bit longer today. I prefer that to the short ups and downs. At least I get some recovery on the longer downhill. 

It really was a nice ride today. 

The home of Mordecai Lincoln, Abe Lincoln’s uncle. It’s funny…everything around here is all about Lincoln, but the name of the county is Washington! Speaking of counties, there are a lot in Kentucky. At one point today, we left Washington County, and crossed into Mercer County. Then we went around a corner, and went back into Washington County. Around another corner, and we crossed back into Mercer County!

Barn, silo, and rolling Kentucky hills. 

More nice quiet lanes. 

Another turtle rescue. 

Shady is what we like!

This doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of the rolling hills. 

There were numerous dogs today, but all of them were good. No chasers, just some half-hearted barking. One was out checking his Sunday morning pee-mail. He ran by me to get to his next tree. It was as if we weren’t even there! That’s the kind of dogs we like!

We pulled into Herrodsburg. We stopped for lunch at a Lee’s Famous Chicken. It was pretty good. Definitely better than KFC. While we were at the restaurant, I gave Eddie a call. We are all set to meet up in Berea on Tuesday. I’ve made reservations at the Motel 6 right near the freeway. Should be easy to find. Doug and I will actually get there tomorrow. We’ll finally get a day off. There is a bike path into downtown Berea that we can check out while we are waiting for Eddie. 

From Herrodsburg, we just had 8 miles to go. We stopped in Burgin for some Gatorade. As I walked into the store, I heard on the radio that Barry Gibb had died. The last of The Bee Gees. End of an era. Then, when we got to Chimney Rock RV Park where we are staying tonight, I found out that Olivia Newton John had died a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t really a big Bee Gees fan, but I was a huge Olivia Newton John fan when I was a kid. I had all of her albums, and saw her in concert too. Now all my childhood favorite singers are gone. 

This RV park is quite nice, and just $10 per person. We have a nice spot behind the office, close to the restrooms and showers. 

I want to take a shower, but I know if I do, I’ll just be all sweaty again in no time, so I’m going to wait a bit. There’s also a restaurant here. It closes at 5:00 today, so we’ll have an early dinner. The park is on Lake Herrington. I’ll take some photos later, probably put them in tomorrow’s post. 

With the assistance of our “Route Angel”, Eddie, we should have just 4 more days in Kentucky (with one of them being a day off). Then we are on to our final state…Virginia! 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Day 79-A Rather Lengthy, But Mostly Unremarkable Ride in Kentucky

Wow, it felt good to sleep in a bed last night! So good, that we are sleeping in beds again tonight! Actually, it has more to do with no camping being available. 

We left Mumfordville at 6:30. We had 68 miles to do, and we lost an hour again. 

Foggy sunrise. 

We had to complete the Mammoth Cave Loop Alternate first. I was really glad there was a USBR 76 sign at the turn because I might have missed it (kind of snuck up on me). It was a rather nondescript road. A lot of these Kentucky roads have been very rural roads, sometimes seeming to be badly more than one lane wide. Of course, they are also pretty quiet too. 

If you zoom in, you can see Doug in the distance (I had to pee).

There were numerous farms, and this cool twin barn place. 

Still a little foggy. 

Todays ride seemed to be mostly through a couple of valleys. There were more open areas (meaning full sun) than we’ve had lately. There were still hills, but nothing too steep. 

At about 26 miles, I saw this coming. 

Can you see it? Yes, it’s a gas station and the New Hope Country Market (I hope you weren’t hoping for something more exciting)! Everyday, we look at the map to see how many convenience store opportunities we have for the day. For me, in the heat and humidity, it helps me decide if I should carry extra water. We are also not carrying much food (except breakfast which we mostly still cook our own-except if we are in a hotel that has breakfast). So, we get food at these stores. The New Hope (that’s the nearby town) Country Market had a variety of grill food and sandwiches freshly cooked or made. Most of the convenience stores have tables to sit at, so we get a break too. 

After New Hope, we went through the town of Loretto. As we were approaching the town, i could see these massive buildings. 

I had no idea what they were. There was no razor wire fence, so probably not a prison. As we got toward the end of them, we think we discovered what they were. There was a tank that had a picture of a whiskey bottle that said “Makers Mark Whiskey”. So, we think it was a big distillery. After all, we are in whiskey country (Jim Beam is not far from here). 

Later we went by this Catholic Church. There must have been a wedding (or funeral, I suppose), because there were lots of cars, and more cars turning in. 

Looks like a castle. 

We finally pulled into Springfield. We are staying at the Springfield Inn. It’s on the level of a Super 8. I think the poor girl running the front desk was all by herself. She was also cleaning rooms. In our room, the beds were somewhat hastily made, but the room appeared to have been cleaned…we think. One good thing is there is laundry here, so we were able to wash our sweaty clothes. 

We got dinner at the grocery store deli counter. As we were walking back, we caught the sunset. 

Tomorrow we should be back in our tents…but for tonight, I’m going to enjoy this bed!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Day 78-Another Cave Expedition, Then a Ride

Originally, we had planned to take a day off in Mammoth Cave to do two cave tours. The only problem was that from Mammoth Cave, there wasn’t anyplace to stay until Springfield, some 80+ miles away. But then, while we were riding yesterday to Mammoth Cave NP, I got this brilliant idea. We could do one cave tour when we got there (which I wrote about already), then do the other cave tour this morning, and then do a short ride to Mumfordville after the tour. We wouldn’t get a day off, but we wouldn’t have to do an 80+ mile day the next day. 

So, this morning we did the 11:15 Great Onyx Cave Lantern Tour. This was a different cave. So far, they think there is a connection to Mammoth Cave, but they haven’t found it yet. Research is continuing. This cave tour also only runs in the summer, and only once a day. So, it’s kind of a special one. 

While we were waiting to go, a couple came up to us and asked if we were on the Domes and Dripstones tour with them yesterday. We were, and I remembered them because Marge had just had a total knee replacement in May, and her husband Willard is 82 years old! We chatted for awhile before the tour. Willard had been in three of the armed services…Army, Air Force, and the Navy. He worked on Boeing planes when he was in the Air Force, and they lived in Seattle. Now they live in Florida. They were the sweetest couple. 

I told Willard after the tour that I’d never seen such a nimble-footed 82 year old! 

The Great Onyx Cave is not lit, so that meant we had to carry lanterns. They were Coleman lanterns, and they couldn’t get some to work. There were 31 plus 3 rangers on the tour. There were 6 lanterns (then one died) total. Yesterday, I had brought my headlamp. Today I did not. I carried one of the lanterns. As we entered the cave through the door, then descended down the original stairs (read…uneven and narrow), I felt like I could barely see, and I had a lantern! First I thought my eyes just had to adjust, but then I noticed the lantern was not putting out as much light as the other lanterns. 

Into the cool darkness we go!

When we reached a stopping point, I told Chelsea, our guide, that it seemed like the lantern should be putting out more light. I gave the lantern to Doug, and used the flashlight on my phone. At the next stop, Chelsea came and fixed the lantern. 

It needed some more pumping. It was also making a high pitched whistling sound. No one knew what to make of that. I just said it was a “singing lantern”. After it was properly pressurized, it stopped singing. 

Here’s some not great photos. Turns out lantern light doesn’t necessarily make for good photos. 

When stalactites meet stalagmites, it’s called a column. 

Good size cavern. 

They call this feature “The Nativity”. 

One of the different things about this cave is that it has minerals that sparkle. It’s gypsum. 

Not such a great photo, but you can see the sparkle. 

This tour was an out and back, except for one short passage. In that passage, the formations were different. I think they were called helictites. 

They are like curlicues and sideways formations. 

I think the chubby one looks like a standing Buddha. 

While we were heading back to the entrance, I asked Chelsea what she likes best about her job as a cave tour guide. She has a degree in geology and hydrology with an emphasis on sinkholes and springs. She said she really likes sharing the caves with the people, and telling the history. She has been at Mammoth Cave NP for 8 years, and both her parents worked there too. 

Back up the stairs. 

One of the other rangers was Jerry. He is 5th generation Mammoth Cave tour guide. He was born and raised in what is now Mammoth Cave National Park. His family’s cemetery is on National Park property. His great great great uncles and grandfather were slave tour guides. The National Park has erected a monument to his family in the cemetery. The dedication ceremony will take place in October. 

We returned to the Visitor Center. Before we got on our bikes, we walked down to the Historic Cave Entrance. 

We had to check it out. If not, it would be like going to Sydney, Australia, and not going to the Opera House!

This is where the “Historic Cave Tour” starts. 

We saw Marge and Willard once more as we made our way back up to our bikes. Turns out Marge’s birthday (she’ll be 75) is December 8th, just four days after mine! Thoroughly enjoyed meeting them!

Back at the bikes, we ate a quick snack, changed into bike shoes and whatnot, and headed out. It was 2:00. We felt like we made the most of our time in Mammoth Cave National Park!

We rode 24 miles to a Super 8 in Munfordville. It is a couple of miles off our route (the Super 8 is by the freeway), but better than doing 80+ miles tomorrow. Except for riding past a wildlife place that I could see an emu and wallabies (lots of them, but I didn’t get a photo), the ride was nothing special. 

An interesting sight near the freeway interchange is this cemetery next to a McDonalds. 

I don’t know why, but it just seems like a strange place for a cemetery…