That morning I packed up and made to leave. While finishing some business, Charlie came outside. He is forced to take a lot of medicine for varying ailments. These pills make him pretty groggy in the morning, which he had warned me about last night. We talked a little bit longer, hugged it out, exchanged information and I was on my way. I may or may not have also tried a little KY mountain spirit, or as I am now calling it, Kentucky Grappa. It was a delightful start to the morning.
As I neared Hazard I prepared for the worst. Being from KY, I had heard horror stories of Hazard, like people being threatened with guns and disappearance. But that wasn’t the reality of what I rode through. The people were nice. The diner I ate at was spectacular. And compared to the east KY hollers, it was down right respectable.
The rest of the day passed without much action. It was hot and humid, aka summer in KY. I took some joy in a sign for Gays Creek Full Gospel Church, and had a long break along one of the many streams I crossed. That night I headed for a church run camping area in Booneville, another damn dry county. When I pulled in, I was surprised to find two more cyclists doing the same basic route.
We talked, shared stories, and planned for the future. They were from Winston Salem and were moving at a pace a little slower than mine. I tried to persuade them into coming to Lexington with me the next day but failed. They were excited to get out West as soon as possible. It is a sentiment I share, although I have been really enjoying my home state. I’ll be thankful when I get out West, because I’ll be strong enough to really enjoy it.
The next morning was foggy, so I decided to take my time packing up. I was headed into Berea, and was going to stay at a hotel for the night. A friend’s uncle had called in a favor to get me a discounted room, and it was at a great price, especially once I saw the room. The ride into Berea was beautiful but hilly. Straight up and straight down. I had hoped to get to Berea in time to catch another friend who was traveling through from Asheville. He and two other friends had been camping in Asheville and were coincidentally traveling near were I was.
Unfortunately, we were going to miss each other by a couple of hours. When he asked where I was, I sent him a photo of my route, and hoped to see him later. An hour passed by and then I was passed by a SUV I recognized. It pulled by me slowly, then pulled into a parking lot just up the road. When I got near, there was my good friend Andrew standing triumphantly next to his car. I was so excited to see him. We hugged and caught up; he gave me all his leftover food from camping; then he had to get going for an engagement back home. He was behind me as I rode away. He again passed very slowly, but the truck behind him went speeding past me and then got right on his ass. To my pleasure, Andrew maintained a slow speed until he was out of sight.
After I checked into the hotel, I went to my room for the night dejected that I was still in a dry county. But the room I was in was massive, with a pull out couch and king size bed. I got naked, surveyed my domain, and then took a long shower. I hadn’t realized how tired I was, and as I lay on the bed I nearly passed out. Fortunately I didn’t. Instead I put a message out on Facebook asking if any one was in my area and wanted to bring me beer. I also sent a message to my two other friends asking if they would be passing my way.
I was in luck. The friends I was planning to stay with in Kansas City, John and Amanda, were visiting Amanda’s parents just south of Berea and would be passing by in an hour heading to Lexington. Success. Then the other two friends, Josh and Lane, called and said they were in the parking lot. So there I was, in Berea, touring the US, surrounded by a group of friends who were all incidentally in the neighborhood and wanted to say hello. I felt like an extremely lucky guy. Soon they all left for their own plans and I was left alone. Alone with 12 beers and a huge room.
The next day I planned to head to Lexington, via car. A group of friends were going to meet me at Country Boy Brewery, go to West Sixth, and party all day. One group had agreed to pick me up in Berea, but no one had agreed to deposit me back there. That needed to be taken care of but was going to have to wait til morning.