Sunday, June 13, 2010

Two Hot Days - Cool and "Cool" Ending

How cool is "cool?" Well, tonight I was escorted back to the hotel by a squadron of that's pretty "cool!"

I'm in Bellville OH for the night, after two long, hot days on the road. This trip started Saturday morning at 7:00 AM as I got onto the entrance ramp to 288 south of Houston and headed northeast on US 59. First gas stop in Nacogdoches: 6 minutes 4 seconds total stopped time.

This was the most efficient stop, all the rest got slower and slower with lines for the toilets, uncooperative gas pumps, and the usual slow lines at the cash register. You see, the longer I had to stand inside an air-conditioned gas station C-store, the harder it was to go back into the heat and gear up. :-)

I had called a friend's mom who lives in Memphis and asked her if she'd like to meet me for dinner at Corky's in Germantown. She eagerly agreed, so I had this to look forward to near the end of the first day's ride. I stopped in West Memphis to call her and let her know where I was and she estimated my arrival time at Corky's to be 4:30 PM. She was right! I pulled into the parking lot at almost exactly 4:30 PM! We both had the pulled pork dinner plate: umm umm good! And we visited together for nearly 2 hours over our dinner until we realized the place had filled up and had many folks waiting for a table. Reluctantly we hugged and said good bye and I mounted back up on the bike and got back onto I-40 east to Brownsville, where I had a reservation for the night at Comfort Inn. A small ice cream sundae at the DQ next door and I settled in for the night. I was ready to call it quits for the day: It had been a long hot one!


Sunday morning: Well, this road was paved with good intentions. I thought I would get up and run 2 or 3 miles, but when I woke up at 7:20 AM, I knew that plan was out the window. I jumped out of bed, showered, grabbed my stuff and headed out to the bike. It was already suffocatingly hot at 8:30 in the morning!

Today I have a few national parks to visit. This date - June 13 - will be the start date for my 5th IBA National Park Tour. At Jackson TN I got off the interstate and rode all secondary roads toward Kentucky. First stop will be Ft. Donelson, near Dover TN. The road to get there was a mostly enjoyable country road passing through small towns like Milan and Paris. Somewhere along this road I saw my first deer of the day, a doe. I happened to look up a side street to my right and saw her standing there in the middle of that road up at the top of a little rise. It was if she was posing for a photograph.

At Ft. Donelson I bought a new Passport book and got my first two stamps of this year's National Park Tour. It was ridiculously hot outside by this time and I reluctantly left the visitor center and headed for my bike. There were many motorcycles on the road today and as I got my stuff stowed on the bike and geared up, several motorcycles pulled into the parking lot and several more passed by on the park road.

At Bowling Green, I picked up the interstate for 20 or so miles to the exit for Mammoth Cave National Park. The road to the visitor center is a pretty, winding and wooded road, the various colors of trees and grass were a rich and lush green. The parking lots were full at this national park, as folks sought out the cool shadiness of the park and the coolness of the cave. The lines outside waiting for the next tour were very long. If I come back - not on a weekend - I'll take the tour. But not this time. I obtained my stamp at the visitor center and then headed back to my bike.

Here's where I saw my second deer of the day, another doe, standing in the middle of the park road. I slowed to a crawl as I approached her and she loafed over to the shoulder taking her time, in no hurry, then moved to the grassy shoulder and took a nibble or two of the grass. Still cautious and careful, should she change her mind - since she seemed a bit indecisive - I crept past her.

Now I was undecided. I had Lincoln's birthplace waypointed in my GPS but I was looking at a 9:00 PM EDT arrival at the hotel in Bellville. Should I or shouldn't I? I needed gas about the time I got to the exit for Hodgenville. What the heck! I decided to head over to that National Park and use it as an opportunity to have a snack in the shade of the visitor center's front porch. On the way out, I bought gas near the interstate and then pressed north. This was the last stop and now it would be a straight shot up the interstate through Louisville, through Cincinnati, through Columbus, and finally to Bellville.

It was in Louisville that I saw the next 3 deer, this time a doe and two tiny little fawns eating grass along a chain link fence on the interstate as it passed through a very busy and built-up section of the interstate through one of the cities, Louisville I think.

I passed through Cincinnati and as I did, it brought back recent fond memories of the Flying Pig marathon experience. Definitely gotta come back and do it again next year! I even saw several cars with "26.2" stickers on their rear windows. I proudly display one on my bike.

As I got north of Cincinnati the temperatures dropped noticeably. It had been in the mid-90's most of the day but a quick check of the temp on the bike showed it had dropped to 85. Now that might not sound cool to you, but after running in the mid-90's all day it felt downright chilly! As I got further north, it dropped down to 81, and I was feeling a little chilled. Crazy, I know, but every undergarment I had on was damp from sweat, and the windchill was very noticeable.

Finally to Bellville, I exited, got gas and headed to the Comfort Inn. There was a Burger King right there, between the gas station and the hotel and I momentarily considered going through the drive-through for dinner - I've always wanted to do that on the bike, but haven't yet -but didn't and headed straight for the hotel instead.

The very sweet young lady at the front desk informed me that my reservation was not here at Comfort Inn but across the street at the Quality Inn...arghh! I had brought all my luggage and gear in off the bike and definitely did not want to pack back up and get on the bike again. She fixed it. Room at the Quality cancelled with no penalty, room at the Comfort Inn booked for just a few dollars more.

So here I am, tummy full from the grilled chicken sandwich I bought at Burger know, the walk that was escorted by those fireflies?

Tomorrow: A morning run to the center of historic Bellville then some OH national parks and into upstate NY.

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