Sixteen: Turkeys Can Fly (Mammoth Cave National Park to Falls of Rough)

by davidharries

Miles: 86

Time is an interesting concept. I woke up in Central Time, had lunch in Eastern Time, and went to sleep in Central Time. Nuts. This temporal border’s existence probably explains why the park’s visitor center says “Central Time” over the doorway and why a disembodied voice announces multiple reminders for tours.

This morning I descended to the Green River, where a ferry took me across, but left me to climb the other embankment on my own. The nice thing about ferries is that you know when a car’s coming from behind, based on its frequency — there’s no other automobile access point. I flushed a turkey out of a ditch on a climb. These guys fly like I dance. It’s all elbows and no one’s having a good time. Eventually the song changes and you creep away for some punch, or something.

I rejoined the main route in Sonora, which sounds awfully utopian/like the name of a midsize sedan for a town of 513 souls. Coming out of the Dollar General, a silver Cavalier pulls up and asks me The Usual. He (being Larry), recommends I stop at a store that’s not really a store … But I’ll supposedly see a lot of cars parked along a side street and there’s a faded sign that says Brook’s Grocery. Go in, says Larry, they have a book dating from 1976 with cyclists coming through. Oh, and you can get a real meal there. I hope Larry’s on Brook’s payroll, because I notice lots of entries in the book that start with, “thanks to Larry for recommending … ”

But it was worth a stop. I page through the book, which was started by the now-owner’s mother, and there are entries dating to the inaugural Bikecentennial. Lunch wasn’t bad, either.

Fortified, and somehow back in EST, I push on and meet two eastbound cyclists. One started in San Diego and took the Western Express, the other’s from San Francisco, but started in Pueblo, Colorado, and is finishing part two this summer.

The wind really picked up this afternoon. Mostly a cross-current, almost as annoying as a headwind. The wind tends to be most vigorous during the heat of the day. Another reason to start early. Both eastbounders said they had headwinds in Kansas. Maybe I’ll luck out.

The afternoon heat snapped with a quick 15-minute downpour. I was about to turn left on SR 79 when I found shelter under a liquor store overhang. I’m not a religious person, but I took that as a sign and picked up a sixer of Sweetwater IPA, a beer not distributed in my neck of the woods. Divine intervention continued, when I reconnected with BJ, Matt and Louis at Falls of Rough campground, my home for the night. I spent the day with them in Afton, and they had some stories to tell. Matt popped a spoke, so they ended up hitching a couple of times to a bike shop, then renting a U-Haul to get them and their bikes back on schedule. We share the campsite and the beer. Everybody wins. The state resort park (everything’s classier in KY) has an attached lodge where you can sleep in comfort. Said lodge has a buffet, which we ran a train on. Frog legs really do taste like chicken. Like delicious, deep-fried chicken.