Chris and I both woke up groggy today and agreed that we deserved a solid breakfast, so we gathered up our lives and biked a few blocks over to a surprisingly clean looking diner to start our day. I walked in expecting to smell the morning scent of bacon, but instead was hit with a cloud stemming from some Marlboro Reds. We looked ahead and saw about 12-15 older men sitting as though they were at a conference meeting. Some were having their morning smokes and others were having coffee, but they were all focused on us. I'm fairly positive they could just sniff out non-locals, though I'm sure the helmets and funny shorts didn't help.
The waiter was quite friendly; after bringing our coffees, he told us what a good day of weather we had ahead of us. While bringing our food, he asked if we were heading east or west. When we told him our route, he cheerfully congratulated us on getting past the big hills and climbs. We wanted to keep ordering things just so that he'd continue with the positive vibes, but we paid our check and headed out. We were looking forward to a great day.
Back in grammar school, I was a member of the Forensics team. No, we weren't miniature lab technicians working on CSI cases; we competed in public speaking competitions (that's probably the opening line I used when I met my girlfriend). I don't remember the majority of my speeches, but I do remember always cleaning up with trophies with "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." If you haven't read the book, the title should give you all the information you'd need.
Despite the waiter's efforts, I was having trouble right away. The air was thick and my legs were slow. The first few lines of my Forensics speech started rattling around in my mind as I tried to keep my spirits up. I was a little behind Chris, so he texted me the 35 mile route that we were taking to Berea, KY. After a bit, I found my groove. I was able to pick up the pace and was having one of my fastest days yet.
I had just done somewhere around the 35 miles and hadn't seen any signs for Berea, so I pulled in to a Burger King for a quick snack and to take a look at where I was. I opened up the GPS app that Chris and I use and saw that he was much more than 35 miles away. I asked a family which way Berea was and, confirming my fear, they pointed in the direction that I had just come from. Yes, I may have crushed the 35 miles, but the only problem was that they were in the wrong direction.
There were alerts for a big storm coming in, but the clouds were more than enough of a warning. I knew that I would need 4 wheels to get to Berea tonight and dry, so I began looking up cab companies. It was obviously a long shot, but I can now say for sure that cab companies aren't too common in rural Kentucky. I went across the street to take cash out to barter with and began trying to scope out a potential driver. When that failed, I went back into the Burger King to make an offer to the family that I had spoken to. The mother was relieved that I had come back to ask them because she was afraid she'd end up seeing my face on a milk carton. She warned me that her engine had been giving her problems and was worried it wouldn't make it to Berea, but went outside to make room in the truck. About 20 minutes later, she came back and said that her engine wouldn't be able to make the trip, but that she had made arrangements for me. The woman that worked in the convenience store next door told her husband to bring me and my bike back up north for the amount that I had offered the mother. I knew that I was in good hands, but I still sent the license plate number to my mom when the husband, Jason, showed up.
Jason and I shared some small talk on the ride, but the rain and thunder provided the majority of the trip's soundtrack. He couldn't understand how I live in a place with over 8 million people and I couldn't understand how he lives in a place with under 1 thousand people, but seeing how others live was a driving factor behind my decision to do this trip. After a little over an hour, we pulled in to the inn that Chris had picked out. It didn't matter to me how I got there; I made it to the destination.
I always mention that there are highs and lows on this trip, but I think today does a good job of illustrating that. In the end, as long as I make it safely to the destination each night, it doesn't matter what comes my way during the day. We're taking a much needed rest day tomorrow, so we're going to head over to the gas station now for a midnight snack.