Twelve: Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad (Berea to Berea)

Miles: 5

Total: 811

Today was the my first day off since leaving Yorktown, and it felt nice to ride around town on an unloaded bicycle, no longer a dowsing rod for grades. Oh! Kentucky charges $15 for two nights’ camping, and the cashier offered the wifi password on the back of a Marlboro carton. After breakfast, I rode into town for a cup of fantastic coffee at Berea Coffee and Tea, where I planned Map 10’s overnight stops. It’s looking like I’ll be Murphysboro, Illinois, Monday, June 23. Berea College is a liberal arts work college, founded by John Fee in 1885, and special in that (a) it charges no tuition — you pay your way through work-study programs, (b) it was the first coeducational and racially integrated southern college (a colossal accomplishment considering the time and location), (c) that you’re basically ineligible for admission if your parents make more $90,000. I took a 45-minute walking tour with Andy, a current student, who really showed me around. He’s studying English and Music, and grew up in town. While it’s not common for students to live that close, the college gives hearty preference to Appalachia residents, so if you’re not from the mountains, it’s 50:50 you’re from another part of the country/another part of the world. With just 1,600 undergraduates, and no graduate programs, it’s a small school, but I’m really glad Andy took the time to show me around.

On his recommendation, I found Main Street Cafe for lunch, which was a mammoth Greek salad, followed by a burger and fries. I’d worked up a powerful craving for crunchy green stuff, and the salad satisfied. After lunch, I picked up strawberries, bananas, apples and grapes at the grocery store and visited the library to spend some time on this site and take care of other electronic odds and ends. I spent the rest of the afternoon consuming fruit, getting deeper into Infinite Jest, and working on my bike a little bit. I’m having trouble coaxing the front derailleur into serving up my big ring. An intermittent issue that needs more attention. I’d hoped to find a beer in Berea, but Madison County’s dry. Apparently you’ve got to head to Richmond County, about 10 miles away for a suds run. Sigh. Well, with coffee and fruit secured, today’s far from a failure. An early start tomorrow to Lincoln Homestead Park, just west of Maud. Should be an easy haul on fresh legs.