Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Grand Rivers, KY

We are in Grand Rivers, Kentucky tonight, 685 miles into the UGRR route, with about 775 total miles logged on our bikes since leaving Mobile about 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Since this is our first opportunity for internet access in a while, I will do some catchup in a moment, but a few items are notable at the outset:

a) We have now entered our 4th state on this trip.... we hit Kentucky today.

b) Over the last 3 days, we completed some of the most challenging terrain we've seen so far. Our maps show the profiles of the hills and valleys, and we've been looking ahead to this section just completed for over a week now with more than a little anxiety. The last 3 days have indeed proven to be very challenging, yesterday being the toughest day with 12 huge climbs during the course of the day wearing us down, but we did complete it all. With those sections now behind us, we are feeling MUCH better!

c) On the map segment that we have now moved onto, the top portion shows none other than the Ohio River! What a sign of progress! We've followed the rivers, first the Tombigbee through Alabama and Mississippi, then the Tennessee River over the past week, and now we are reaching the river that signaled the dividing line between free and slave states at the time of the Civil War, and the line beyond which those fleeing slavery were targetting in order to gain their freedom. AND, this happens to be the river that flows past Cincinnati! So, all good signs that we are making progress on this trip.

Now, a quick recap of the days since our last update:

-Friday, May 25, we toured the Shiloh Battlefield with our friends Jim and Mary Beth, and it was fascinating. We then said our goodbyes and thank yous to our friends, and rode a little over 20 miles that afternoon to Saltillo. We found a really nice restaurant there (Main Street Grill), and a "camping" site that was just not prepared for tent camping. They did their best to accomodate us, but it proved to be an "interesting", somewhat loud night, and we were very happy to depart the next morning!

-Saturday, May 26, we rode about 33 miles to another camping area, this a very nice state park (Mousetail Landing). We rode like crazy to get there as early as possible, since this was a holiday weekend and camp sites were expected to fill up. We got there at 1 pm, and were extremely lucky to get the very last available camp site!

-Sunday, May 27, we rode 53 miles to Waverly, Tennessee. This was one of the days we were worried about.... 4 or 5 huge hills on this route, and one section of road that was in terrible repair and bumpy beyond belief, but we started the day early, and got through it.

-Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day) -- this was the most aggressive day in terms of terrain, as described above. We were quite worried about this one going into it. But by taking it slow and steady, using Ken's advice of keeping the stress off the knees (See comments on the "Kvetching" entry), and thanks to a great little shop at the top of the worst hill where we were able to rest and get a nice sandwich, we got through it and made it to a hotel in Dover, Tennessee. Pretty darned tired at the end of the day, but a very big day completed.

-Tuesday, May 29 (today) -- Another day that appeared from the map to be very difficult, especially in the first half. The hills were a bit tough, but this route took us through the "Land Between the Lakes" National Park, and the roads were great, the scenery beautiful, and the traffic very light. All in all, not too bad, but we are REALLY glad to be here in the hotel now, and to know that all of this is now behind us. By the way, there is a good bike shop here in town, and we went there immediately on arriving and got a few things tuned on the bikes. They ride great again!

We plan to stay here 2 days, taking tomorrow as a rest day. Grand Rivers seems to be a cute town, located at the top of the Land Between the Lakes area. If you look at a map, you will see that the two elongated lakes that form this area are actually the Cumberland and the Tennessee Rivers, each dammed on the north side to create the long lakes to the south. Beyond the dams, both rivers continue to flow north into the Ohio River. Understanding this geography, one can then understand the origin of the town's name "Grand Rivers".

I think that after the last 6 days of travel, we'd be happy with a rest day just about anywhere, but this area, this town, and this hotel are all really nice, and will make for a great place to relax for a day.


Ken Lyon said...

Joan & Mike...

It sounds like you've happened upon a neat place to spend a couple of days. It's great when you can feel free enough about schedules so that you can stay a few days at places like Grand Rivers when you happen across them.

It's really hard to predict in advance what those places are going to be, so take 'em when they come and enjoy!


Tamara Smith said...

Joan and Mike,
I so enjoy reading about your adventures. It sounds like you are having a challenging but memorable experience. We all admire you!

Mourad said...

Joan & Mike, Hats Off. Ispired by you I started coming to work riding on the bike and I really understand now how challenging what you are doing. I really admire you both :)