Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jeff leaves the route; Touring cyclists abound.

I wanted to sleep until at least 10:00am. I could use it. The air conditioning and quiet inside of Alicia's house made me want to hover around for a long, long time. As it turned out, I was up at 7am, the first to rise. I borrowed a beard trimmer for some grooming, making sure to clean up afterward - no little hairs left in the sink. I'm a good guy, in that regard. I stayed for long enough to eat cereal and click around on a computer for a little bit. This was truly a full service stop. I got my clothes out of the laundry, packed, and prepared to go. I couldn't stay forever. So I went.

Today's destination was Bardstown, and the sun was nasty. I made it, surely, but it wasn't without effort. Upon arrival, I chugged a bottle of Gatorade and went directly for food and air conditioning. After cooling off with some food, I pushed my loaded Hoopty up the street wondering if I would find the library or need to ask. First I found a loaded bicycle with yellow panniers, and went in to see what Jeff was up to. Apparently eating Mexican food. I ate half of his free chips and salsa and watched him eat a big flat piece of meat. He has a smart phone, and I knew from experience that he would be headed to the library. Smart move. I aimed to follow.

Mission accomplished. I sat at the library charging stuff and typing. The heat was brutal, and I didn't mind giving the sun some time to disappear.

Jeff is outta here. He needs to take a flight to Seattle for a surprise meeting of some sort. He's got a job. We said our goodbye-maybe-forever, and he rolled out. Jeff has been fairly instrumental in helping me find some wonderful locations for sleep and hospitality. He made a challenging section of this trip appreciably easier. My guidebook and the command center on my bicycle are capable and useful, but sometimes my head is still too far in the clouds to get down to the business of planning or forethought.

"So where do you think you're heading tomorrow?" I would typically ask, playing casual, but taking detailed mental notes. He'd tell me, and I'd sort of pretend to consider, while knowing full well I'd be there reading a book when he arrived. He usually knew of something good, and often it was the first I'd ever heard about it.

I'm perfectly ready to ride and camp alone, but Jeff will be missed. I'm certainly unsure to what degree the feeling is mutual. I hope he enjoyed my company, but I might be like the dog that followed those hikers back in Damascus. (It was a truly awesome dog - one of the best I've seen - but they couldn't care for it. She was adopted by one of the town's police officers.)

Adam and Megan arrived in the library. Of course, I asked where they were staying. They mentioned the park. I looked it up, and there was legitimate camping - for $20. I offered to split a site, and that seemed agreeable. We went out to get some food and talk before rolling out to the campground. They're both going to go to med school, and it's unclear how far they'll be going on this trip. Maybe not all the way to Oregon.

The campground had many touring bicycles! There were eight of us in total, and most of us knew each other, or knew of each other. Everyone traveling within a few days of each other is familiar with all of the others on the same approximate schedule, so we had greetings and note comparison. There's the group of four 60-somethings from Erie, PA. (Wayne and Ken who I met before Booneville, and their two other companions, Leo and Sandy, who somehow caught up). There was Adam and Megan as another group. There was me. Then there was another lone cowboy, Matt, who rode a 95-mile day from Berea. I took all of the bags off my Hoopty, and sprinted back the store for 40oz of beer.

I came back with a forty and a Coke for Ken. He tried to pay me in a convoluted manner, but we settled on the concept that he would just owe me a Coke. I talked to the folks who I hadn't talked to yet, and soon went to bed feeling happy to be part of the goofy little tent village.

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