Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Jeffersonville, Indiana

We are now in Jeffersonville, Indiana ... one of the towns across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. We are at mile 988 in the UGRR route now, with 1110 miles overall logged on our bikes.

In addition to feeling good now about the progress we see ourselves making on the map, tonight brings a couple of other aspects of change that we are internalizing. First of all, we find ourselves sitting in a major metropolitan area for the first time in quite a while, with a view of a big city skyline across the river, and surrounded by people who live in this major urban setting. After biking through rural and small town areas for the last 3 weeks, this change has really hit home for us today. Not sure if there is even a value judgement associated with this.... it's neither good nor bad, just very different. It makes us appreciate the diversity of environments we've traveled through.

The second aspect hit as we checked into our hotel room this afternoon, and started wheeling our bikes around the building to take them into our room. There, a short distance from the hotel, was one of the bridges going across the river into Louisville, and on the bridge was a road sign for..... Cincinnati! We both stared at it and started laughing. We feel like we are now in striking distance of home!

Ok, here's a summary of the last several days, and a few notable items of interest.

Sun, June 3: This was a day when we set out from Owensboro, KY, without knowing where we would sleep that night. The next town with a hotel was about 100 miles away, and the closest commercial camping spot was 66 miles away, across some very significant hills. We were pretty sure we would not be able to make that in one day, so we focused on the town of Cloverport, KY, as one that was about mid-way, and showed restaurants on our map, just no lodging. We figured we could perhaps plead our case with someone there to find a place to pitch our tent for the night.

The ride there was beautiful. Beautiful weather, beautiful roads, practically no traffic. We passed some interesting historical sites associated with Abraham Lincoln's early days in Kentucky. We noted the changes in the countryside, now large expanses of corn and wheat fields, vs. the pine forests and soybean fields we saw further south. And great little towns along this route paralleling the Ohio River. By the time we hit Cloverport, we'd covered 56 miles, and had gotten a few of those hills out of the way. We actually ended up getting two offers for setting up our tent. One from a very nice woman who owns a restaurant in Cloverport. The restaurant was closed for the day, but she was there and offered for us to set up our tent behind her store. We thanked her, and went further downtown planning to come back later, only to be greeted by the town mayor in a pizza shop on the riverfront, who offered for us to set up our tent across the street on land he owned in an absolutely beautiful parklike setting on the banks of the Ohio. We chose that, and it turned out to be a very comfortable spot for the night. And it was great to simply sit there and enjoy the late afternoon, watching the river.

Monday, June 4: We got up extra early, because we knew we had an aggressive ride over some very hilly terrain that day. We broke camp, and went to a local breakfast spot before getting started, and had some fun conversation with a group of "regulars" there in the restaurant. One was Randy, who lived in Owensboro, worked as the minister of music at the Baptist church in Cloverport, and who had been born in Brandenburg, KY, our destination for the day. So we spent considerable time talking with him about the route we were planning to take, and hearing from him how bad the hills were going to be. He said he'd be driving later in the day to Brandenburg, so would look for us on the road.

We set out, and started hitting the hills as promised. The first couple were large, but not too steep, and so not so bad. Then we hit the first of 3 really difficult ones. We were about 25 miles into our day's journey, and 3/4 of the way up this hill when we see a pickup truck coming in the opposite direction.... Randy driving it. We stopped and talked, and he was giving us the bad news that we were going the wrong way.... Brandenburg was in the direction we were coming from! Well, we all got out our maps, and in the end, discovered that it was Randy who had taken a wrong turn, and was heading back to Cloverport without realizing it. So, we provided the function of helping the locals out with directions! (Not to be too hard on Randy, who is truly a nice guy.... I think the normal route from Cloverport was to take another main highway. I think he was taking the backroads just so he could see us and offer us some moral support. So, he was going a route he was not particularly accustomed to.)

We did accomplish all 3 of those "bad" hills, plus many others that seemed to get "badder" as the day wore on, and got to Brandenburg late in the afternoon, only to find all sorts of problems trying to find the hotels. Lots of helpful people trying to give us directions, but things were not falling into place, and every new direction in the town had us going up another steep hill, with incredible head winds. We were getting exhausted by the time we finally got to a viable motel, a Super 8. We parked the bikes in the motel room after logging 61 tiring miles, and feasted on Taco Bell because it was within short walking distance of the hotel!

Tuesday June 5 (today): We slept in late today, and the extra sleep did us good. We waited for the morning Brandenburg rush hour to finish before setting out. The first order of business was to cross the Ohio River into Indiana, which we did. (State #6) The bridge was a bit unnerving, but after that, the riding was good. A couple of big hills early, and a huge downhill that was not nearly as scary as we were afraid it might be, and then all of a sudden we were in the Louisville suburbs, navigating on suburban streets. We were perhaps 8-10 miles away from our destination when the skies started to darken, the wind picked up, and we found a service station/convenience store to take shelter. We parked our bikes under shelter and bought some snack food while we watched the rain, thunder and lightning. The manager and the clerks at the store were fascinated about our trip, and went out of their way to help us out. (e.g., calling the motel we were to stay out to make sure of directions for us, etc.) After the storm, we set out again, only to find that our map had some omissions in them, and we had to stop at a fire station to get clear on directions. In the end though, we pulled into the hotel we are in tonight, having logged 50 miles, and feeling very good.

We now have the rough outline of a plan for the next 7 days that would have us get into Cincinnati a week from today. Having that plan identified, and then seeing the Cincinnati road sign this afternoon, is making the closure of the Mobile-to-Cincinnati part of this adventure feel suddenly very real.

Sorry, I had no idea how long this was going to run. I'm running out of time on this borrowed computer, so let me post this now. As always, thanks for the messages and comments!

No comments: