Day: 63; Daily Mileage: 45.4; Total Milage:3274.2 ; Stopping Point: Marion, KY
When we left the Community Center it was just drizzling. In five miles, it was pouring and the thunder was starting. Todd and I were ahead, so we pulled into a church and flagged down Mom and Dad. We piled all the bikes under the entryway and huddled by the doors. We went looking for a way in to use a bathroom, but we found all the doors locked. We started getting cold and leaned together. Mom and I leaned against Todd in the middle. Dad then leaned against Todd from the front. We all fell against the door. In one big whoosh the double doors flew open. "God has opened the doors," Mom cried. I ran to the bathroom. When I came back everyone was still standing in the doorway laughing. It has been the funniest thing that has happened on this trip. I still laugh now. We stayed for an hour and it was still raining when we left.
It started raining about the time we reached Elizabethtown. We went out for lunch.
Cave-in-Rock was the last town in Illinois. We stopped for an hour. Todd and I went T-shirt shopping, while Mom made some phone calls. We wandered around the town of 400 for an hour looking for a shirt that we never found.
We rode a car ferry over the Ohio River. We left Illinois, a very rainy state. Everyday in Illinois it rained, even the first day of only one mile. We had planned on doing double the mileage today, but the rain finally got to us. We called it quits and got a motel.
Saturday, Aug 8
Dear all relatives, friends and listservees:
We are now within driving distance of our home in Michigan. It would be wonderful to see some familiar faces, or to meet some of our new listserve friends, after 2 months on the road. We will be in Berea, KY (the crafts capital of KY) which is about 60 miles south of Lexington on I-75 next weekend, August 14-15. If anyone thinks they may want to come down, e-mail us immediately ( firstname.lastname@example.org).We can't get on-line everyday, but we will try to get on Monday or Tuesday. We'll have to make plans by then to do a layover day. There are motels and campgrounds in the area. We'll talk if we do plan something.
Also, if anyone is interested in making a trip to Yorktown sometime the beginning of September, we don't have a way home yet.... The Elenzes
Day: 64; Daily Mileage: 72.9; Total Mileage: 3,347.1; Stopping Point: Utica, KY
The second funniest, and definitely the grossest, thing happened early this morning. We startled maybe ten large birds off the side of the road, as we rode along. My first thought was Vultures, which they turned out to be. They all flew away from us, but one came at us. We watched until he was just about overhead when he dropped something. I looked down and moved to the right. It splatted on the yellow line directly beside us. A couple yards up the road, we found a dead deer that the Vultures had been tearing apart. We figured he was going to take some with him, but dropped it almost on our heads.
Kentucky certainly is dog country. We haven't had much problems with them chasing us. They'll be really vicious while you're in front of their house, but won't leave their property. I heard one dog crashing through the woods. He was weaving around so much that I thought he might be chasing a rabbit. A big black dog burst out onto the road and stared right at us. He was really looking for a chase, but we were going uphill at four miles an hour. At that point, he led us up the hill. From the way he was baring his teeth and barking, I knew he'd take off after us when we picked up speed on the downhill, so Todd and I stopped and waited for Mom and Dad. In one motion Mom passed, Todd and I followed, and Dad picked up the rear. The dog took off after us, but soon fell behind.
Five miles from Utica, Dad said, "I heard ping." I immediately think broken spoke. We stopped, checked it, and, sure enough, one had broke. Dad adjusted a few things and we went on. It held up enough so we could get to town.
We checked out the city park which was located in front of the school. It did have restrooms, but no showers. After a nice day of 70+ miles, we looked forward to them. We called the sheriffs' office but they were located in another town and were little help. We went to the convenience store and they suggested the fire station. Todd and I scoped it out and found no one around, so we went back for Mom and Dad. They came back to the fire station and called a volunteer. He said that we could stay inside and use the shower. We just had to keep an aisle clear for them.
Day: 65; Daily Mileage: 55.5; Total Mileage: 3,402.6; Stopping Point: McDaniel, KY
Kentucky begins our ride through tobacco fields. We saw a man standing in a field with the plant reaching over his head. We assumed he was checking for worms. There are trailers sitting by the side of the fields. They are simple and made of only pipes. We figure they are pulled behind tractors and, as the tobacco is cut, it is hung upside down on it. From there it is hung in the barn. Barns stand in the middle of tobacco fields by themselves. The doors are left open so that the air can circulate. We happened to be talking to a local man at a rest stop. He pulled out home grown tobacco in a Ziplock bag. Before he cut some off with a knife he offered some to Dad. It was like he expected everyone to chew.
As we were packing up after lunch, a man, John Ramsey from England, pulled in on a bike. We talked for a long time. He started in New York in the beginning of July. He rode down the coast and picked up the TransAm trail at Yorktown, VA. He'll ride it to the end in Oregon and then down to L.A. At some time he'll end up in New Zealand. Unfortunately, John didn't meet Arnold and Marieka (the New Zealanders we met in Riggins, ID). Somehow they crossed paths without knowing it. We talked about people we've met on the trail, asking if the other had seen them. Then gave the usual advice on short cuts and places to stay. John is not a stranger to the U.S. or to touring. He's done many long distance rides in The States and in other parts of the world, including several routes across the lower 48 and also Alaska. He is on the road for up to 18 months at a time. Sixteen dollars a day is his budget and is a lot less then a car payment, he figures. Though he owns a house (and not a car), he is only around it a limited amount of time. John even traveled with his kids when they were young.
We rode by a large snake laying in the bike lane. He was happily warming himself on the payment and was very surprised to see us. The snake didn't care to move off the road so we gave him some room. Since then Todd looks before he steps off the road. Kentucky is also full of poison ivy. We check it out before we step in any weeds.
We found the fire hall in town again and pull up right as the chief was leaving. He opened up the building for us. Another night that we haven't pitched a tent.
Day: 66; Daily Mileage: 72; Total Mileage: 3,474.6; Stopping Point: Trappist, KY
Our plans were to ride 50 miles and possibly meet some friends, but that didn't work out. Rode by Lincoln's birthplace (we had visited that 3 years ago) and stopped in at Lincoln's boyhood home.
We rode on to New Haven to find a place to stay. We called the fire station and the churches in town, but no one let us in. A few people recommended the "Monastery" that was seven miles up the road. Riding those seven miles, we were filled with apprehension. It was getting late-past 6:00, and there were no more towns up the road where we might find lodging. If the monastery turned us away, we didn't know where we would go. At the same time, we had no idea what to expect from a monastery. We were hoping at least for a place to pitch our tents, with access to a bathroom. A shower would be nice after a long hot day, but we could live without it.
We arrived at Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane at seven o'clock. The original building was built in the 1850's, or there about, but has since been restored. Father Frederick showed us around the retreatant area. Not having supper, he suggested seeing what was in the dining hall. After the Compline Service, we found bread, butter, fruit, cheese (made on the grounds), and peanut butter. Some retreatmenters offered us home baked cookies. We found enough to eat, defiantly not our usual one pot meal, but it tied us over till morning.
The Monks run a retreat and currently it is filled with men. But they were able to find a room for us, but the rooms only have one twin bed, so we are sleeping on the floor. But that was better than setting up tents late at night. They also found another vacant room where we could shower, so we had not one, but two showers to use. The Monks believe that they are to treat strangers as they would treat Christ.
On the way to the Compline service at 7:30, Father Frederick told us when he came here 44 years ago there were 250 monks here. The prior year was only 70, as there are only 70 monks here today. He likes this number better, more "homey" and everyone gets along better.
During the Compline Service, which is an evening prayer service, the Monks sat (actually stood) in the front, and then there was a gate that visitors sat behind. We came forward with everyone else for the blessing at the end of the service.
After the service, the Monks went to bed because tomorrow begins at 3am. People at the retreat did both. When we got up in the morning, we could hear the monks singing and then realized they were at mass. At breakfast, we found more of the same and even found oatmeal, which we all passed up. The cereal, toast and fruit was better than facing another bowl of oatmeal (which is our usual morning meal).
The rule is silence around here, kinda like a library. Everyone has been very nice and welcoming, and it's really peaceful. We enjoyed meeting these people. We would liked to spent more time here, but needed to get on the road, it was already getting warm.
Day: 67; Daily Mileage: 65.2; Total Mileage: 3,539.8; Stopping Point: Harrodsburg, KY
Our day started with a friendly visit from some ostriches. They were standing in a group by the barn. One started running towards the fence. It was so funny we had to stop and watch. He looked like one of the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. There is a scene where the dinosaurs are running as a herd and the legs are far enough back that they look like they're walking on their toes. It's the same with the ostriches. The one got to the fence and stood staring at us and we stared back. Then he would wave a wing.
Slowly the birds that were still back at the barn made their way to the fence. They pushed and shoved to get a better look. It was like they didn't realize how big their body was compared to their legs. The front ones would be standing in a line and a back one would push forward and everyone would slide down. There were about 20 ostriches in all, including a baby.
We rode into Bardstown to buy a new saddle for Dad's bike. The town had traffic circles and we got completely lost. We stopped and asked for directions at a radio station. They were so impressed that they did a quick interview. Then they gave us directions and we left.
The bike store was closed on Wednesday, but we made arrangements earlier this week for him to leave the saddles next door. We went to the auto parts store and found three saddles. Dad took one and we decided I needed one, too.
Bardstown is the Bourbon capital of the world. We passed a dozen or so tall white buildings on our way in. They were seven or eight stories high and resembled a factory. The thing that threw us off was there were no fire escapes on the outside and a few appeared burned. We found out later that those buildings were used to let the bourbon ferment. A few years ago a portion of the buildings caught fire and burned for days. We could have visited a few of the distilleries, but we had to move on. There were once 20 distilleries in town.
Bardstown also had many other buildings dating back to the late 1700's.
At two o'clock we realized we had to make it 40 miles to Harrodsburg if we wanted to see a play about Daniel Boone. We went out for a big lunch and pushed hard the rest of the afternoon. We made it to town at 7:30 and had just enough time to check in to a motel and walk to the amphitheater. Our dinner ended up being popcorn and hot dogs, but the play was wonderful. "The Legend of Daniel Boone" has been performed there for 35 years. All the vegetation is natural with sand as the stage. The special effects are fantastic. Many times there is real fire. This is one play were you will use little imagination. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the time period or in acting.
Day: 68; Daily Mileage: 52; Total Mileage: 3,591.8; Stopping Point: Berea, KY
After almost 10 weeks of riding, I thought our readers would like to know how our bodies and our bikes are surviving this long on the road. Our bikes have suffered 21 (total) flat tires, 3 broken spokes and a cracked rim of the wheel. We've replaced 3 tires and are close to wearing out several more. We've also gone through a few sets of brake pads. Our shiny clean frames are chipped and coated with grime. Our white sidewall tires are no longer white. Our handlebar grips are worn smooth and the numbers on the shifters are barely legible. Our chains are stretched and will probably need replacing when we get home. Our panniers (the 'saddlebags' we carry on our bikes} are faded and starting to split in places. The clothes we've been wearing day in and day out are going to be retired when we get home. In fact, we are going to have a sock burning ceremony.
Our bodies have developed muscles we didn't know we had, although there are certain aches and pains which will not go away. Knees are particularly vulnerable. And yes, our behinds have been sore the whole trip. We call them 'saddle sores'. We (the adults) have lost weight. We have great bikers tans- a white line at the socks, gloves and sleeves. We have calluses on our thumbs from shifting. And our legs have semi-permanent grease tattoos from the chains.
But is it worth it? Yes! All the little inconveniences are bearable when we think about the total experience we've had. Words are inadequate. We hope we have brought you a little bit of these experiences through these daily writings.
Our first day in the tents for ten days and it rains. We woke up at five o'clock to the sound of thunder. Todd, Mom, and I made a mad dash to the bathroom and then we settled in for rain. By nine o'clock our backs were sore and necks stiff from laying on the ground for so long, but the rain was still coming down. We got up anyway, didn't even touch the bikes, and went to a restaurant next door for breakfast.
It was our day off to visit Berea and that's what we did. After a few shops the rain had quit and the humidity went up. We visited two weaving stores. Many years ago we went down to my great aunts house to pick up a loom. She had no use for it and was throwing it out. My great grandfather had built it for my great grandmother to use for rag rugs. She would take in old material, make them into rugs, and sell them back to the people. She could make a rug in three hours. Dad remembers her sitting in the basement and making rugs. We had to reassemble the loom from Dad's memory. It now sits in our living room taking up more room than a table.
We visited many other shops and saw lots of pottery and wood work. There were also places with just little unique crafts. In one shop, the lady played a hammer dulcimer for us. The dulcimer was over 130 years old. There was a story behind it. At the age of 93 a lady was put in nursing home and her things auctioned. The dulcimer was placed in the trash. She remembered her grandfather playing it at holidays, so she asked the moving man to promise her that he would find someone that would promise him that they would play it. The lady in Berea, when she was young, went to New York City to make her fortune as a singer, like hundreds of others. She ended up singing and playing for money on street corners. The moving man saw her and ended up giving her the dulcimer. She promised to play it and she plays it beautifully. She has recorded one album on it and is doing another.
Day: 70; Daily Mileage: 61.3; Total Mileage: 3,653.1; Stopping Point: Boonesville, KY
Fog is the word of the day. It was dark and kinda foggy when we left camp. About five miles into the ride we dipped into a valley where all the fog had settled. When we first entered it, we felt tiny, cold moisture droplets everywhere. Glasses were immediately removed because it was impossible to keep them clean enough to see through. Dew formed on our arms and our clothes were soaked. Our clothes drying on the bikes just got wetter. We were in our own little, white world as we sliced through the fog.
Slowly the fog lifted, but it wasn't until late in the day that the sun poked out. When that happened, temperatures sky rocketed.
We met a man traveling singly. He packed a lot lighter than us and was moteling it. In the beginning he camped all the time, but since he started riding from sun up to sun down, motels have just been easier.
Here's a little bit of news about other travelers we've met. . . . We got a letter from Emily (Missoula, MT) when she split off of the TransAm trail to go home to New York. It was a week ago by now. Sean and Kyle (Missoula, MT and Muddy Gap, WY) split up somewhere around Illinois and we think Kyle never finished. He had to get to college. After taking some sick days, Sean is probably finished. The New Zealanders (Riggins, ID) have finished. Dave Spitzer (Hoosier Pass, CO) had to quit in Kentucky and get back to Wisconsin. The family of three with the 17 year old daughter (Baker City, OR) finished about a week ago.
Day: 71; Daily Mileage: 43.2; Total Mileage: 3,696.3; Stopping Point: Hazard, KY
We slept in a few hours because Dad has come down with the flu. It wasn't many miles down the road when it started to rain. We put stuff away to keep it from getting wet and then continued. From then on it rained a cold rain. We had thoughts of Dad getting pneumonia.
We've reached the foothill of the Appalachian Mountains. We climb steep hills for half an hour to an hour and race down the other side. There is no more flat land.
The vines on the trees remind me of Florida. They have big leave really close together. They'll cover everything on one side of the road, but not always the other. They creep up the telephone poles and then out the wires giving the appearance of a large dog. When you do see the cliffs, they are rocky and layered.
With Dad being sick we decided it might be better just to let him rest all day in the motel. The three of us left right after breakfast to see what was in town. We found Twelfth Gear Bicycle Shop, but the mechanic didn't come in until five o'clock.
We ate lunch at McDonald's and spent quite awhile just sitting there talking. Then it was a ride up to the Theater and a 45 minute wait for the first movie in months. The last movie I've seen in theater was "Man in the Iron Mask" and Mom's and Todd's must have been "Titanic." A few people had said "Armageddon" was good, so that was it. It was a good movie, but the screen was half the size those at home.
The man at the bike store picked us up after we called to tell him we were on our way. He tuned up our three bikes and it turns out that some things, especially chains, have worn more than we had thought, but at this point it could be worse if we replaced them. We might as well wait until we get home and replace a lot of parts.
Day: 73; Daily Mileage: 33.7; Total Mileage: 3,730; Stopping Point: Whitesburg, KY
Today was again short. We pushed hard for three hours with only a few short breaks. We got to the motel at two in the afternoon and just hung around. We have been staying in motels so Dad can get a good night's sleep.
Within the last hour of our ride a truck passed us with a wide load. I noted that his rear tire were at a strange angle. Ten minutes later we saw him pulled over and half a dozen men standing around. It appeared to be a flat tire. I was thankful that he had not been passing us when it blew. Awhile down the road, we saw the truck in our mirror passing us for a second time. A loud, shotgun like noise was heard in the exact time he passed us. It scared us so much we lost control of the bikes for a minute, but luckily nobody crashed. The truck had blown another tire. He was having a bad day. We were thankful that none of the tire pieces hit us.
The realities of Dad's flu have finally hit, though he was feeling a bit better. I think in the last few weeks we have forgotten who is in charge of this trip. Last year when we had to quit our California trip, because of things out of our control, it really made it know that God was in charge and we must trust him. We had been going so well that we forgot about that. We wanted to speed up, make it to Yorktown early, sightsee, and be home for the weekend. Our hopes were all high, but now we have to go back to facing reality.
Day: 74; Daily Mileage: 39.2; Total Mileage: 3,769.2; Stopping Point: Elkhorn City, KY
Today was one of those days with not much to report. There was one kinda big hill, but not steep. For much of the day, we followed a river valley with gentle ups and downs and beautiful cut rock canyon walls. We have not followed a river since the western states and its always nice to follow our forever changing friend. We were on an alternate route with more traffic, but the hills are not as steep. Riding has been a breeze lately. I think it's because Dad goes to bed early and the rest of us do too so we don't wake him. Then we sleep in. After forty miles, I'm not worn out enough.
The motel in Elkhorn City has only one bed per room. Todd and I are in one and Mom and Dad are in the adjoining one. Our afternoon snack was hot fudge cake from the restaurant next door.
We are in the heart of the coal mining industry. Every other truck is hauling coal. The coal is not covered well and litters the shoulder we ride on. We fear that some may fly out and hit us. The coal industry has been the center of the economy here for many generations and has its problems and blessings.