When I opened my eyes, I felt a little lost. Foreign. Not myself. It was still dark in the room. Shapes and unfamiliar noises. And me, snuggled in my sleeping bag on top of the bed. My throat was sore and scratchy from the air conditioning. Turns out that was the least of my problems.
Feet out of the bag. Swung to the side. Sat up.
I felt ill. Bad food ill. What did I eat last night? What, in this neighborhood of rundown shops and decrepit dream-killing buildings, did I find to eat? I spied the cup sitting on the table. Well, there was that late night DQ run for an Oreo Blizzard, but what kind of a heel of a human being would blame their queasiness on defenseless, heroic icecream?
No, this was a ‘meat product’ ill. A ‘sitting around too long in this glass case waiting for the right sucker to walk through the door’ kind of ill.
There’s not much I regret in life, but I made a point to add Godfather’s Pizza to my master list. I’d been so hungry last night, the entire slice of cheesy, meaty, doughy rubbish somehow made it from the pizza box to well inside my stomach as though inhaled through some kind of magic straw in a matter of seconds. Did I even chew?
I sat there a while, just letting myself feel bad. Had I been safely cocooned in the sanctuary of my Brooklyn apartment, I would’ve stayed in my jammies, wrapped myself in a favorite blanket and watched bad TV all day. Sipping on ginger ale or something.
But I know that’s not an option. The road is there. I cannot be here. The days don’t stop. The legs can’t end. The heart must thump the right buttons to fire up the jalopy every damn day or no miles are crushed. No spirits soar. Bikes have nothing to tweet about.
Sloth-like, I packed things. Punched clothes in stuff sacks. Wrapped things in plastic bags. Moved things from one pile to another. Said, “uh” every so often. Frowned.
It wasn’t long before dawn tripped over the day’s tripwire and I was out in the parking lot, sending a SPOT checkin message and dropping off the key. Not bad time. Earlier than normal.
About 100 yards down the road I suddenly realized I’d taken the Garmin magnet off my rear wheel last night and left it sitting on the sensor, meaning to attach it this morning.
Something happens at night. I fall asleep. Early. I’m just so tired, I half start things then decide to finish them in the morning. This was one of those things I’d forgotten to finish. Crap. I went back to the hotel, got the owner to give me back the key (nothing like seeing hotel proprietors in their pajamas), and went back to room 103.
There it was. Just sitting on the pavement right outside the door.
Sick. Stupid. Relieved. Back to drop off the key. Take two and we’re off again.
I trundled down the street and saw the sign for Old Fort Harrod. Being on a timeline is fine and good, but it shouldn’t stop you from looking at stuff, so I pulled in to the parking lot of the fort. Closed of course, at this time of the morning.
Didn’t stop me wandering around. Up the stairs to the fort gate. Peering through gaps in the wooden walls to see what was inside. Pioneer, oh pioneer stuff mostly, from what I could tell. Off to one side of the fort wall there were some revolutionary war graves and I read a few of their moss-covered inscriptions. On the way out of the area, I stopped to check out what I thought was a church but turned out to be a cabin inside of a church-like building.
Lincoln’s Marriage Temple. Where Abe’s parental units got hitched. Well, throw the rice and step on some crockery! This Abe fella must be just as famous as Daniel Boone in these parts.
A bit further up the road, I stopped to get water supplies for the day and scrounge up some breakfast to layer on top of the sickness. Kill it with something worse.
Peering into the glass cabinet, nothing held much promise. I picked out a silver foiled item with a bright orange label of ‘ham, egg, bacon’. Hot to touch. Should burn out the pain.
It was total spew. But not literally. The taste was just a little pre-digested, and you could get in there with a microscope and never find the cheese. Two bites in I rewrapped and stored it in my handlebar bag. It was super hot and I don’t want to start a habit of always eating in parking lots. I suppose its one redeeming feature was that it didn’t come in a biscuit. I’m not a fan of the biscuit breakfast sandwich that seems to be available everywhere in these parts.
Further on, once I’d turned onto a less trafficked road, I stood in the shade of a tree I could not identify and ate the rest of it. It did have some magical restorative powers. About an hour later, I actually noticed that I didn’t notice any latent sick feeling. Nice to not feel sick and ride.
I spent most of the day noodling my way through easy farmland cut by muddy creeks and streams. Played farmland bingo. Red barn. White fence. Classic silo. Giant old house. Corn. People driving massive pickups with growling engines and tar sucking wheels. BINGO! Crops varied from corn to tobacco and what looked like potatoes, but I’ve never been very good with crop identification. And I went to an agricultural high school. Oh, and grew up on a farm.
A few hills bit me in the quads, but nothing major. Just climbs I could struggle up and forget about instantly. One I haven’t forgotten involved a dog attack right at the top. Here’s little ol’ me, huffing and puffing and blowing my mileage house down when out of nowhere there’s a dog at my heel. I never even heard him bark and he was there, teeth out and eyeing my calf like it was a giant ham hock.
I didn’t panic. Stopped pretty much instantly to yell, but before I could a man in one of those giant pickups that scare me more than dogs yelled at Mr. Kujo for me. Evidently, a man in a giant pickup scares a dog more than a girl on a bike and the dog actually got off the road. Clipping in, I nicked off before any more trouble started, and waved to my dog bite savior as he got moving again.
Much as I don’t enjoy the dog ambushes, when I see a dead dog lying in the middle of the road a bit later I’m saddened. I spy the collar. That dog was probably loved. Now dead on the 555. Do the owners know? Have they looked around, spied his food-filled bowl and said “I wonder where Dog is?”
I see that I’m making good time so I pull up my juggernaut of a rig when I get up to Lincoln’s Home State Park. It is deserted. But I guess it is…um. I have no idea what day it is. A weekday.
Again, there is a golf course involved. I guess if you tie a golf course to an attraction you’re guaranteeing at least a little patronage. Since I see nobody, I just wander around and take some photos. Read a few notes about things.
Sitting on a rock wall, I eat a peach. My last peach. Very disappointed about that, as I’ve not seen many opportunities to buy fruit around.
I roll into Bardstown around 2pm. Hungry. Feeling pretty good. Camping is in my future, but as I navigate my way out to My Old Kentucky State Park I do something I NEVER do. I go to McDonalds.
There is no rhyme or reason as to why I hate McDonalds. I have just always made efforts not to eat there. I have never had a Big Mac. No fond childhood memories. My friends once had my birthday dinner there as a joke. HaHa. Very funny.
But the thought of air conditioning, a cold syrupy coke and a simple sandwich before going to put up my tent appealed to me greatly.
My gob found the the sweet bun of a quarter pounder with cheese to its liking. The hand found the coolness of the drink cup soothing. My eyes gazed out the window to Precious, confidently taking up a full, shady parking space and waving his flag proudly.
I must look a sight.
Time sucks away. Off again. My Old Kentucky campground is pretty gorgeous and the man tells me to pick out any spot in the free camp section. He actually points to one close to a powered and more expensive site.
“If you go here, you could charge your phone and such over there.”
He was speaking my language!
Finding a grassy spot in the shade, I put the tent up. Again, I seem to be the only camper here, so I am grateful to be near the washhouse and a lighted area. Some people pick secluded spots away from human contact. I do not. I like the sounds of people’s conversations, the glow of light through the fabric of my tent.
Anything that reassures me that I’m not alone.
This turned out to be the easiest day I’ve had so far, and I was kicking myself for not going the extra miles yesterday to make it here. And then I remembered how hot it had been. How drained I’d felt. I probably would’ve died.
Showered, shorted, and flip-flopped, I sat down at the picnic table and plugged my laptop in to steal the juice.
Yes, today was a good day.
Date: August 16, 2010
From: Harrodsburg, KY
To: Bardstown, KY
Distance: 45.06 miles
View Garmin Data >