June 7, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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June 7, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Kentucky

Buckhorn Dam Campground to Irvine, Kentucky. (60 mi.) Mile 800

Beginning to leave the hills and rain behind...for now

Breaking camp at Buckhorn Dam Campground

We got a late start breaking camp (things were pretty soggy) and just figured on taking the day as it came. We thought we would "outlaw" camp if we didn't make it to the campground in about 80 miles, or the motel in 60.

Just about noon we were caught in a thundershower and sought refuge at Vincent, an intersection with a small take-out food place and a post office. We must have spent almost two hours there, drinking coffee, chatting with the postmaster, and waiting for the rain to ease up.

Chatting up the Vincent postmaster

We have found a good way to start conversation in his neck of the woods is to bring up the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, whose picture is everywhere. This breaks the ice, initiates an animated conversation about sports, and gives us more insight to the people and area. The postmaster started by telling us that Dale Earnhardt is a significant hero and role model for the youth in this area. This might explain the driving habits of some of those passing us.

He went on to tell us that we were riding through the poorest county in the U.S. Over 75% of the population receives some sort of government assistance, 25% of the population is illiterate, and there are third and fourth generation families on welfare. There is a pervasive sense of apathy and disinterest in education in this county. Those with incentive bear a heavy tax burden.

We had noticed some of this apathy and disinterest in the people we have encountered, though all have been hospitable. We had also listened to other Kentuckians who were disturbed by this, the roadside trash, the economy, and the welfare culture. This year the tobacco crop is suffering from the wet cool weather, imposing an additional hardship on the local economy.

Finally the storm passed and we rode off through a wet landscape. Streams and waterfalls were full and noisy, looking like chocolate milk from the recent downpour. Just when we were convinced we would not make it to any campground or motel, the hills started leveling out, and we breezed along for many downhill miles, sometimes on smooth, new pavement without any traffic The scenery got better and better.

Heavy rains produced local flooding and turned rivers brown

Riding through the jungle landscape

It is a motel for us tonight, and that means a phone line for the computer. We had ridden 60 miles on only one meal, so first order was to find food. Across the street is a Family Style Buffet. We walked in just as they were closing up, but they urged us to stay, saying they would only charge us half price. We had the whole smoke-free place to ourselves, all-you-can-eat, Hog Heaven!

As for Walter, he was last sighted ahead of us taking a short-cut to Berea earlier in the day. Wherever we stay, we hear of a German couple riding our route two days ahead of us, but they were here last night. Maybe our paths will cross with theirs too.

Brake pads are on their way to a post office a few days away. All is well this evening.

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