Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lucky in Kentucky/Spoiled Rotten in Tennessee

Following a hasty Little Rock getaway on October 12th, I drove straight through to Dover TN then did a quick scout of the southern tip of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area at dusk. 

I checked into the Dover Inn Motel and fixed dinner in my room from the assorted provisions in my WalMart styro cooler. The main course was mixed nuts that Ann David had packed for me in OK. It had been a very long day and I was bone-tarred.

The scouting thing had done little to help me plan for the next morning's ride. So I fretted a bit then found the map that I had printed out from the website back in July and spent an hour or so cobbling together some mileage info. from the map and made a pro forma plan for the Kentucky ride. Finally I pulled up the covers and rolled over to go nightie and the last thing that went through my mind was, "Oh crap. My ride plan is in Tennessee and I've come here to ride Kentucky."

You see, LBL is carved from three states: TN, IL and KY. The KY border is a good 15 miles north of Dover but my web map didn't show that, so my well planned ride was not actually in Kentucky.
Mornings are a wonderful thing. Even when it's overcast and the weather forecast is for rain and possible thunderstorms through noon. What makes mornings on the road even better is the free breakfasts that most budget and mid-price inns offer these days.

At the Dover Inn Motel the fare is pretty basic and the toaster only toasts on one side of the bread. There are two tables in the vestibule which is where you dine. I picked up the local paper that was laying outside the office door and joined a couple in the vestibule who told me about the toaster and pointed out where the jugs of O.J. and milk were kept. There were a few doughnuts, some wheat chex and a loaf of white bread all lovingly put out for us. I spread out the paper and got caught up on the local news and pushed the envelope by having a second cup of O.J. and a refill on my coffee.

As I was waiting for my semi-toast to caramelize, a 20-something lad in casual attire entered the vestibule, and went right to the glassed-in counter and mashed the little button that you use to summon the innkeeper from her quarters. Soon the young proprietress, with her 2 yr. old on hip, came out and answered the guest's question, "Do y'all have any Tylenol?" with an empathetic, "I'm sorry we don't."

The lad was fretting, his mission facing failure. I strongly felt that it was not he who required the pain killer, but more likely a companion back in the room.  At all events I took a break from applying margarine to the dark side of my toast and said, "I've got some Extra Strength Tylenol here in my pocket, may I give you some?" I actually did have a vial of it on me. And he actually did take a pair of caplets with great thanks and the offer of a dollar which I refused. 

While this exchange was transpiring, the couple with the toaster expertise departed and a new couple arrived. They're about my age. 

Within the span of mere moments I learned that they occupied the room next to mine; the candy apple red Gold Wing tricycle touring motorcycle with the towed trailer was theirs; and that they were from Illinois and were headed to a family reunion in Alabama. Oh, and she's an accountant and he's retired.

At some point I wedged in a brief explanation of BikerBuck's 50-50 but I did a clumsy job of it because they asked lots of questions about the motorcycle I was using (and where the heck was it?) and mainly they wanted to know about Hawaii and where could they rent a motorcycle there. They are fine people, let me be clear about that. And friendly and honest and dedicated to their lifestyle. 

Encountering them, as it is with all intercourse on the road, is the bedrock of BikerBuck's 50-50 experience. Heck, anyone can jump on a bicycle and with a few training rides take on a 50 kilometer ride in any given place. But when you undertake the journey to put yourself in position to take a bike ride in an unfamiliar place, then you are rewarded with the interaction with folks who enrich your life through your interaction with theirs.

The Trace is the road that is the "spine" of LBL that connects Dover and Grand River. It is reported to have been part of the Underground Railroad (route shown as a black line) during the period of slavery in the South. That fact is confirmed by staff members, verbally, at the LBL Visitor Center, but there is no mention of it in the Center's historical presentation. I rode a section of The Trace in Kentucky on Oct. 13th, 2011.

Furnaces such as this are preserved at several locations. Ore from nearby mines was smelted to make iron that was used in building rails, machinery, cannon balls, and other useful items of the times.

Kentucky Lake is basically a wide spot in the Tennessee River, and it is on the west side of the LBL. The National Recreation Area is the longest inland peninsula in North America, surrounded by one of the world's largest man-made bodies of water.

rode down to Sugar Bay, on the Kentucky Lake (east) side of The Trace. It's a pristine camping and fishing spot and the anglers I met there are cordial and dedicated to their outdoor lifestyle.

Taylor Bay on the Lake Barkley (west) side of LBL is another of the bucolic outdoor recreation facilities.  It's hard to imagine a more perfect place to enjoy natural surroundings and a rejuvenating outing.

Luckily it did not rain on BikerBuck in Kentucky and, moreover, I was able to complete a 50km ride and make it back to the Dover Inn Motel in time to clean up and check out by 2:00 pm, thereby getting the special $20 rate for a 3 hr. late checkout. The regular late rate is $10 per hour. Am I one lucky guy or what?
A couple of hours later I arrived at the home of Marge and Charlie Wilson in Nashville TN. BB and Marge were classmates at Aiken High School and have kept up with one another at reunion events.  They took BB on a sundown tour of amazing Nashville, the town we all know as "Music City", but it's way more than just music that keeps this city hoppin'.

The next morning was road time again - to spend a long weekend in Knoxville with daughter Sara, Rick and Kali. On the way BB had coffee with Elizabeth and Jim Mancuso.  In Honolulu, Beth and BB worked together in advertising and Jim managed the Symphony. Nashville affords them expanded opportunities in their fields and their daughter Lucy is diggin' first grade.

The NC/TN time was wonderful. How lucky can one guy get?

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