Monday, June 28, 2010

Carbondale to Chester, IL 57 miles

Breakfast conversation: if Bill can arrange for us to drive a combine when we get to Kansas? We would have to start in middle of field and Bill would have to check the insurance policies. He said he could see it now: we would be combining hedgerows and forever people would recount the day we used the baler on Mrs. Smith's boxwood hedge. He laughs because he says I call everything a combine.
We decided on the levee
alternate route: shorter, flatter, no services for over 50 miles. We ate the extra food given by Carl the previous day and carried along by Janelle and Ted.
Fortunately, there was extensive cloud coverage, mitigating the heat. We got a first glimpse of the Mississippi. Recent flooding

of the Mississippi is still apparent, causing problems with farming the fertile "bottom lands".

The last 5 miles before Chester were very hilly.

Chester itself is a cute little town We started by gorging ourselves with cold drinks. Then, with help we located the Royal Order of the Eagles. They host cyclists in a building with 9 built in bunks.

Showers, food and drinks rounded out the options. We met David, who is going to Astoria, OR, but pacing himself and Mike showed up as well.
Bill and I went to get salads, of course, then visited the cemetary, a grocery and Mexican restaurant with Margeritas. We were too full to eat the dinner from the grocery.

I storm rolled in, but mostly bypassed us.

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Carbondale to... Carbondale

We stayed today, so we took our time getting going to the bike shop, using the library to look at warm showers hosts and checking out the mini-farmer's market, where of course, Sara met someone she was affiliated with via Thailand connections.
We did laundry, which included washing the cheese oil off my tent, then Bill got an extreme makeover haircut, while I checked out the natural food market and satisfied my chocolate fix. That store gave me a coupon for a coffee at the coffee house, so of course we got desserts there to selflessly help out that business.
A trip to goodwill for a tan enhancing shirt, some restless R&R (at least on my part), the retrieval of the bikes and dinner at the swanky Chinese restaurant next to the hotel did me in. What an exhausting day off.
Sara returned from her carousing with her friend Carol (remember the farmer's market?) and Carol sweetly sent dinner for us. Very yummy and vegetarian to boot. I ate my share for breakfast!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Eddyville to Carbondale, Il

I realized I never named the horse campground: Bay Creek Ranch. I helped make eggs on the commercial kitchen. I haven't been in a commercial kitchen since I was a teen. We ate family style, with everything on platters.
I stopped at the Tunnel Hill park and was the only one to crank the .2 mile up the rail trail to see the tunnel. Amazingly skinny and housed in a man made gully.

Everyone stayed together until Goreville, where we split up. There was a beautiful ramble through Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

Bill's one comment had to be "what the heck is that huge planter doing here? There is not a field big enough here to use it".
Nearing Carbondale Bill and I missed the turnoff for Boskydell road, and someone told me to avoid it anyways. Unfortunately, Janelle, Sara and Ted did not receive the same advice. They all ended up on a terrible chip/tar road with traffic going 55 miles an hour, throwing stones and then the tar stuck to everything.
We managed to meet up at the Phoenix bike shop and arranged to bring the bikes back the next day. We went to Motel 6 and errands, including a drug store and dinner at Tres Amigos, concluded the evening.
Mike is talking about splitting off from the group. He says he is tired of the AC route taking the longest path with the most hills. He may continue, but make his own route, or change his destination. Whichever, he will probably still go to Chester tomorrow.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Marion, KY to Eddyville, IL

After eating breakfast at the Marion Cafe, we headed out 9 miles to the ferry which will deposit us in Illinois.

The ferry is free and takes about 10 minutes to cross the Ohio River. It is quite astonishing how the ferrymen spin the ferry around in a pretty steady current and look as though they are going to miss the dock, then gun the engines and swing it at the last moment to line up with the dock exactly.

Um. Here's Bill. Maybe he isn't feeling well.

Thanks to Carmen from Florida for taking our picture!

Ted and Mike- quality photographer, huh.

Left to right: Ted, Janelle, Sara, me, Mike and Bill.

We met Ben from California. He is going W to E in segments. His brother Tim drives the van and serves as official photographer. I see a need.

Are the hills here steeper/higher than Virginia?
We are beginning to see longer stretches with no services/ water and I have started filling and using the Dromodary water sack. Thanks for a great present Mom and Dad!
The grocery store in Eddyville is the same as most gas station/mini-marts. No fresh friuts or vegetables and extremely limited choices. Even beverages are limited. Before there were several choices besides soda pop and now there are sometimes none.
The campground is pretty nice and the owners sweet. They let us use the Lodge to cook and watch a movie, even though we had not rented the lodge.
Dinner was rice, kidney beans and tomato sauce. Fine. Not gourmet, but fulling and balanced.

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Utica to Marion, KY 72

Hot and hot. Approaching 100 degrees. We looked for steams in which to soak, but all were unappealing or dry/stagnant.
Today I struggled to get my game. For almost 1.5 hours I slogged along because Bill went slowly and I drafted off him. It maybe evened out later when Bill drafted off me, but probably not.

In Clay, we stopped in the library, where Bill took a nap and I used the wi-fi. There was a short detour here and the guy at the gas station must get asked by cyclists often, because he told us "no, you can't avoid it, even on a bike".

We experienced the running of the cows today. As we rounded a corner, a herd of black cattle lounging in a farm pond ran out of the pond en masse, which set off all of the calves stationed around a tree.
Upon our arrival in Marion we went to the Marion Cafe and had milkshakes or pie. The owners told us that the Methodist church would put us up. Wayne is the pastor there and showed us around.
I planned to go to the store and just layed my head down for second; when I awoke, the sun had gone down and most people had gone to bed. End of day!

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Rough River Lake to Utica 48 miles

We ran over the 1,000 mile mark today. And over the three week mark as well. Serious milestones.
We ate at a restaurant where the customers were serving themselves coffee and water. Then at 8:30 we stopped and I got a chocolate milkshake. Since I am still on Eastern time and everyone else is on Central, the diners were all eating breakfast. Whatever.
Bill experienced an antique outhouse circa 1920's almost covered by a huge hydrangia outside the general store near Bells Run.
On the way down a hill, a Bee got in my shirt. It was stinging me as I tried to stop my bike and get it out. Unfortunately, since the Bike Friday has no top tube, when you stop, you can't hold the bike up with your legs, so while I was trying to get the bee out, the bike fell over, trapping me underneath. Wasn't funny then, but Bill said it looked like I was having a seizure. Funniest part, probably to everyone else (including the farmer on his tractor in a nearby field) was when I got really desperate and pulled my @&):/)$|€€£ shirt off. The bee had probably stung me three or more times. In the end, the scrapes to my knee and shoulder blade hurt more than the stings; it was most likely a sweat bee. It just wanted out.
In Utica we met up with the 3 Amigos. They were suffering from mechanical problems and Heidi had an ear infection. Two of them hitchhiked about 100 miles to a clinic which would accept her health coverage.
We met our first E to Wester (verified) today.

Ade from England was doing about 100 miles. He and his partner Simon (Scottland) had split up and we joined Simon at the firehouse in Utica. Ah AC... The firehouse has a little septic tank, so people were limited to 2 minute showers. I felt a little funny, so I did a sponge bath. If I had realized they had an outside spiggot, I would have ust used that (and watered the grass at the same time). Dinner was minute rice, chili beans and tomato paste, with cheese on top. There were a total of 8 people staying, and local people associated with the firehouse dropped in occasionally to see how we were faring. Two sets of people bought 1/2 gallons of ice cream... Roughing it.
We took group photos on the farm equipment and fire trucks.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mamoth Caves to Rough River Lake 61 miles

Up at 6:15. Sweet Hendersons offered me coffee. Breakfast came from my panniers.
I went downhill and downhill and downhill to the river, where there was an actual ferry which was 1/3 as long as the river was wide. I hopped on with a car. Another car would have fit, but that would have been it. Run by the NPS.

I rode 15 miles, then asked a trucker with a flat bed loaded with a bulldozer and frontloader if he was going towards Sonora. He said "no", but then came back and told me he would take me. His name was Audrey. So sweet. He strapped my bike to the front of the trailer like a pro! It was funny zooming along at 55 mph. He dropped me right on my route! Delicious! Thanks Aubrey!

When calling the group to ask where they were, I learned they had decided that it was a good idea for Bill to ride part way down the Mammoth Cave loop to keep me company. So he was 10 miles south of me. It would have been funny, except that Bill did so many extra miles. Math question of the day: for the round trip, how many extra miles did Bill do?
When he re-reached Sonora, we ate at a restaurant which looks closed from the outside, which is unfortunate because most cyclists probably pass it by. I had strawberry shortcake.
Only an isolated hill required pushing, but overall the temperature approached 100 degrees and made the miles into work.
At Rough River State Park we grabbed two campsites. Since the swimming is closed due to eColi, showers were our only defense to the heat. Not too enamoured of the sites. The flatest ones were reserved for RVs. There was no one to collect the fee and we will probably be out before they come in the morning. I have to admit, the showers were quite nice.
Betsy, there from Mississippi with her children, was really sweet to give us a ride to a restaurant and also retrieve us two hours later.

She also gave us blueberries they had picked.
Here is a bad picture of Janelle rocking on the restaurant porch.

The evening ended with Bill, Sara and I rambling down to the dam spillway, where Sara and I promptly dozed off. The rush of water was very soothing and it was markedly cooler there.

Horses no fun norun

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Bardstown to Mamoth Cave NP 82 miles

I didn't leave outrageously early, around 7am. Apparently Bill tried to catch me and offer me a counter proposal on the arrangements we made concerning my reunion with the group, but the fog made a mess of his glasses and he couldn't see. I had just given up and taken off my sunglasses, accepting the loss of use of my mirror. Here is a picture of a bourbon distillary in the fog.

A second or third episode of horses racing me occured. I just can't explain how beautiful this is.
I smacked another dog, though this one probably didn't deserve it. He was just out for the chase. I told Janelle that I might need rehabilitation when I return home, so I don't continue hitting dogs, even though they are on 6 foot leashes. I am enjoying smacking them a little too much.
I got Hints of the 3 girls several times, though I didn't actually see them, but I did begin leaving love notes for the rest of our group. I think Janelle and Mike might have gotten the first one and Bill and Sara the second.
Richard Kieth offered me cold water with ice. He suspended his drywall work to talk to me.i told him I would rather bike 4,200 mlles than drywall.
I took advantage of a Dairy Queen for 30 minutes to escape the incredible heat. Math question of the day; I went into DQ at 4:15. What time did I leave. Also, I waited for the temp to drop three degrees to 95. What was the temperature when I entered DQ.
Cows fully submerged in a pond.

When I checked the Mammoth Cave NP website I found there was a lantern tour at 6:15pm, so I hustled to get there. With the assistance of a slight downhill, shade and cooler temperatures I was probably averaging 20 mph. I got there at 6:00 and got the "last" ticket. I will never know if they just felt sorry for me or if it was truly the last ticket. The supervisor also allowed me to put my bike inside, since the
Visitor center would be deserted at that time of night.
The tour was cool, both literally and figuratively. 50 degrees and I was soaked with sweat. I did have the wherewithal to take a sweatshirt.
Afterwards, I talked with Bob and Jaqueline from Michigan. They gave me a donation, which will go to The Center For Missing and Exploited Children, whose jersey I wear.
They also sent me copies of the photos they took in the cave. So sweet. Affirmation of Human Goodness.
Here is their photo of the cave ceiling. A little sureal.

And here is the ceiling in a different part. The tour guide told us that slaves and then ex-slaves would give out special candles and let people write their names on the ceiling. For those not wishing to get wax on themselves or who got crooks in their necks, they offered mirrors, which explains the occasional backwards writing.

And here is a picture of the guide and all the lanterns. Thanks for the great pictures Jaqueline!

I needed to hunt around in the dark for the campground, but fortunately it was very close by. The people I asked to orient me to a very dark campground (the Hendersons from OK) gave me soda and tried to take care of me, but everyone knows how I am. Remember the name of the tour: Affirmation of Human Goodness.
I bathed using the sink. Whatever. Showers required tokens, available only in the store, not opened at 10:30pm. Bed, sleep, tired.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Harrodsburg to Bardstown, KY 47 miles

We poked around making hot breakfasts as a thunderhead moved in (not me, the oatmeal hater). At some point I decided that I wanted to make a break for the grocery store and Janelle joined me; we beat the storm and arrived dry to eat a tasty breakfast. The rest of the group caught up, but got wet. We sat out most of the rain by eating at the store, much to Bill's chagrin. We traded dry feet for an early start; not a bad deal to me.
We travelled for quite a while as a group of 5 (Ted at library), then gradually split with Sara
and Mike out front and Janelle and Bill and I in the back. The storm cleared to a striking blue sky.

We decided to go off route to have an easier go of things and to ensure access to more services, but at a cost. About 15 miles were on a road with heavy to moderate traffic going 55 or better and no shoulder. As we approached Our Old Kentucky Home state park, the traffic became intense. Really nice showers awaited, however.
Bill and I tried in vain to get someone to walk the 1.5 miles into town to go to Old Talbot Tavern, but to no avail.

Ancient structure by the standards here. Beautiful stone buildings.
Here is another lousy picture, since I had to walk in a busy street's crosswalk to get it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Berea to Harrodsburg, KY

Bill and I took an alternate route via Lancaster today in order to take our bikes to a bike shop.

Bill had his front wheel trued, a kickstand installed and his brakes adjusted. He also sprang for bar ends for Sara's bike, since she had limited hand positions. I had my dérailleur looked at, the shifting adjusted and the brakes tightened. Dan Miller at the Danville Bike and Feet is a master. I love taking my maladjusted bike in to a good shop. When we come out I fall in love with my bike all over again.
It seemed like such a short and pleasant day, we felt kind of guilty, but that did not stop us from getting lunch at an old fashioned drug store in Harrodsburg.

We arrived at the community park hours ahead of everyone else. The rest got a little lost and had an adventure.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Berea to Berea, KY

The only miles we did took is to a hardware store, healthfood store and laundromat. I walked to Wallmart to look for an athletic shirt, but they carried no real athlethic clothes at all. I did pick up an innertube and a box of ziplocks. Tried my first BK veggie burger. Was fine. Janelle and I walked to a small "Amish" market and got some dried foods and I went into the pool twice, once with Janelle, once with Sara.
We killed another map and have done over 700 miles.

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Buckhorn to Berea, KY 78 miles

We ate breakfast at the mini-mart in Buckhorn and they were kind enough to give the password to their wireless, so I posted three blog entries and tried to Skype my husband, but he did not pick up. The phone number always is odd in caller id.
Many turtles were saved today. If I find them in the road, I move them. I won't stop the middle of a hill for a photo op, but will for a turtle. I asked Bill why they seem to like stopping in the middle of a hill, where it is so difficult to stop and rescue them. He said " turtles get tired on hills, too".
Many dogs today, but they really lacked the willpower to actually some biting. Steve sent me a text message warning me of a particularly bad one, however, and told me it took a bite out of his pannier. Still don't know if he was kidding.
Between Janelle, Bill and myself, we have different versions of the map. We decided to follow one set of directions, only to find there were no services on that route. Kind people filled our constantly emptied water bottles. It probably reached 95 degrees today.

The pat answer to any mileage question is now : 10 miles and all downhill.

We stopped for a stream break in late afternoon, which rejuvenated us for a while.
At 8:45 we reached Berea, KY. Tomorrow we scheduled a break day, which is good because the group is scattered. I know where Mike and Sara are, but not Ted.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hindman to Buckhorn, KY

Breakfast was over the top. Strawberry shortcake, fresh fruit, oj, cake and cereal. Filled me right up. I had my first flat, must have been a slow leak, which was only apparent in the morning. Although I can fix a flat, Bill seemed to be just itching to fix it. I helped. Pushed (or actually held back) the bikes back down the hill. We had left our soggy sneakers in front of the dehumidifier, so they were all dried out; it is amazing how this lifts moral. David at the hostel also did our laundry, so we left in pretty much the best shape we could.
We were chased by many (at least 20) dogs, though none too seriously. Sometimes it is more of a worry about running into them than being bitten. Apparently thus is what took down an Adv. Cycling Guide. He broke his collar bone recently while leading a TransAm trip, when he ran into a dog.
We stayed mostly together today, with the exception of Ted, who stayed behind to work on the computer.
It was incredibly hot (95), but with no rain. Felt like a blast furnace.

We saw Steve and Erica a few times, but they will press on to Booneville.

We also re-discovered Heidi, Mac and Jamie, the three women Bill and I met hiding out from the rain in a garage yesterday. The six of us and the three of them are the only cyclists at Buckhorn State park (not to be confused with the resort with a very similar name). Really peaceful here. Bill and I walked up to the dam and reservoir and watched a large family horse around in the water. No rules here in Kentucky. Rained on us, which sent us to bed.

Council, VA to Elkhorn City, KY 32 miles

No one stirred until about 6 am, pretty late for this group.
We encountered folks selling peaches, which they gave us one each for free (remember the name I gave the tour: Affirmation of Human Goodness AoHG)
Everywhere you looked you could see the effects of the amost constant rain (not a great picture, but very illustrative).

The Breaks Interstate Park offered beautiful glimpses of the Russell River. It was our goodbye to Virginia and hello to KENTUCKY!

Allen Gibson (AoHG) from Elkhorn, KY

gave us a lift back from Elkhorn to the river access point for the Breaks. Bill, Mike, Janelle and I got to shower, then he drove us back to town. Sara and Ted are already camping near the river.
When we got back, Allen was giving us directions to avoid some really steep hills and coal trucks, and Johnny Stewart, the owner of the Rusty Fork Cafe invited us to do our laundry in his cafe washer and dryer.
He also drove me all the way back to the showers to look for my missing clothes, which were in my bags the whole time. Embarrasing. I would have sworn in a court of law I didn't put them there, but I have made that mistake before. You would think I would learn.
We returned to the restaurant later for Karaoke.
BTW: if I haven't mentioned it, it's all about the people.
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Damascus to Council 48 miles

We began the day by eating at the Exon station called Cowboys. I had blueberry pancakes and they were ok. Who knew!

This morning Erica and Steve were leaving. We have seen them before and will probably see them again They are moving to Portland, basically by bike. Today their goal is to make it to the state border, 80 miles away.

There were two prolonged climbs today. I didn't think I was going to be able to climb hills worth beans, but wonder if the bike runs I did before work helped. Even though they were on the flat, I tried to keep my speed above 15 mph.
On the way up the longest one I stopped only once and thought that if someone asked me if I stopped I would tell them, "only once, to get into that pickup". I forgot that line by the time I reached the top. Janelle and Mike never stopped. Though they started from Meadowview, we had a joyous reunion in Rosedale. It poured on us most of the day. Math question of the day: if you are going 3.6 mph, about how long will it take you to climb a 3 mile hill?

We stopped for the night in a recreation park. The pool/showers closed at 5pm, so we really had to hustle.
Ted went on to next town to take advantage of a grocery store.
For dinner Bill and I ate the Chana masala Dwight so graciously bought me when

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