Staying up late last night talking with Yum warranted a later sleep in today, so we said our goodbyes and hit the road around 9. Today was our last day in Virginia, so it was fitting that we had to go over another mountain to get out. So long Virginia; I probably won't see you again until the next time I'm a passenger in a car that gets a speeding ticket while passing through your state.
The day was routine- high highs and low lows. Nothing particularly interesting happened until 50 miles in when we crossed the Virginia/Kentucky border. We took the touristy shots in front of the "Welcome to Kentucky" sign and continued pedaling. The roads got thinner, people had their names written on vanity plates instead of a front license plate (share the road, Frank in the pickup), accents got harder to understand (I had just started getting used to the Virginian dialect of English, too), there were people just sitting around on curbs and even a billboard like they were either welcoming us or asking us to leave, and then there were the dogs.
When talking to people on this trail, the only piece of advice that they have regarding Kentucky is to be careful of the dogs in the streets. They were right. Biking over the border was like in the Pixar movie Up when Mr. Fredrickson and Russel walked into Charles Muntz' lair and there were thousands of dogs looking down at them from the cave. Back on our second day on the trip, the bike shop owner in Ashland advised us to get dog mace (the bottle proudly declares that it's the "Official Dog Mace of the U.S. Postal Service for over 30 years") specifically for Kentucky. I didn't think I'd need it, but we each got a bottle just in case. As I was biking through Lookout, KY today, a few dogs in a yard started barking at me. I thought that they were gated in and paid little attention to them. I noticed a sign across the street that read "No Spraying." I assumed they meant pesticides, but then began wondering if they also meant dog mace. I began day dreaming about if some person just went around spraying the dogs and was the reason for the sign and before I knew it those dogs had gotten out of the yard and were in stride with me nabbing at my bike. I picked up the pace and looked up and saw Chris pedaling towards me with the mace in hand shouting "I'm coming, Kevin!" I was able to get away without him using it, but man what an absurd scene that was. Word of advice to those doing the Trans America trail: don't take the wild dog warnings lightly.
When we arrived at the church that we are staying at, we were greeted by about 50 people from Georgia that had traveled here for an annual community outreach. They all introduced themselves, shook our hands, and shuffled us to the dinner table. Although they had eaten hours before, they knew we were coming and kept the food out for us. They filled us with spaghetti, pb and j's, peach cobbler, and a stereotypical amount of sweet tea. It's tough to put into words how overwhelming it has been to meet such genuinely good and kind people. They give everything and all they ask is for us to sign their Biker Log for those that have passed through (Yum made an appearance here a few days ago according to the log). If all I get out of this trip are no longer having chicken legs and having full faith in the goodness of humanity, I'm more than ok with that; I do think I'll be showing up in San Fran with more than just that, though.