From Iowa to NC, Day 3: There’s stuff to do in…Kentucky??

I woke up, and immediately checked on the bike. Thankfully, all was well there, and it was still sitting outside where I'd left it.

Checking on the bike was followed immediately by checking the weather. It rained overnight again, and there were more storm warnings, once again, looking like the best time to head out was around noon. That's normally fine by me, but for some reason I was still waking up early, and wanted to make sure I made Deal's Gap Saturday afternoon, with it now being Friday.

As I'd never been through KY, I'd also done some research on what was worth seeing, and was surprised to see, quite a bit, actually - a cool underground lake like Carlsbad Caverns that you could take a raft through, some parks, Old Louisville, distilleries and breweries, a 'shopping trail' thing, and other random scenic and entertaining places. If I'd have had more time, I probably would have head out through Western Kentucky, then gone into Northern TN, but it wasn't a great idea with the lack of time I'd been making at this point, so I figured I'd go into Old Louisville, and then head on to Bardstown, see a brewery, then cut across some back roads for an entertaining ride versus the highways for a bit.

With the rain and forecast, instead, I wound up having the continental breakfast, lots of OJ (yum!), then checking out but asking if I could leave my tailbag there while I ran to Wal-Mart for a charger for the phone. I did have the Powerlet, with a car lighter adapter, just no charger, and I get slightly paranoid being in the middle of nowhere without at least a cell phone, 'just in case' it winds up being needed.

The GPS did manage to get me to Wal-Mart.  I literally don’t shop there, ever, when home(corporate welfare while we pay for their employees health and other things - solely on Wal-Mart itself, not the employees who need to work..somewhere), but when traveling, you wind up having to go where you go..  

It was pretty useful for finding lodging, food, entertainment, plus I'd plugged in a list of all Suzuki dealers nationwide - POIs and custom POIs are great. I walked in, and couldn't find what I wanted, so asked some guy working there, who showed me a generic and huge power adapter, after I speciifcially said, 'you know, like an iPod charger.' This thing was a brick, but there didn't seem to be anything else. I thanked him, but figured there must be something else. I was about to give up, and buy the brick, when a girl working there asked if she could help. She immediately points out what I was looking for, at half the price, and 1/5th the size of the other charger. Yay!

Destination: Louisville, Kentucky

Heading back to the bike, and packing stuff, including this time, Gatorade for the CamelBak, an older guy looking like 75 or so was parked next to me, and he made a comment about the price of gas, gas mileage etc, as he pointed to the bike. I told him it's not too late to start riding as long as he could see, mostly joking..turns out he's 82, but thankfully, drives better than most blue haired Floridian retirees I've seen. I waved and went back to the hotel, packed up the bike, and headed out. Destination - Old Louisville, or thereabouts, then on to Bardstown.

The weather was OK. A few drops of rain here and there, but much lower wind, I had a working phone/MP3 player again, and all was well. I was adjusting to the bike slowly, but sadly all highway miles. A few hours later, unfortunately, it was a 'heat warning' as temperatures went up to right around 100*F.

It wasn't terrible, like when sitting at a stop light on a bike in gear, and you just drip sweat from everywhere, and air flows through my mesh gear pretty well, but it still tends to drain you a bit over time.

I remembered a friend of mine's wife was about to be due, and while I'd told him to call me if she gave birth, I figured it was probably time for a stop, and to check in, so I stopped at a rest area. NOW I was really feeling the heat...grabbed some cold water, called my buddy to find out she hadn't given birth yet, and realizing I was at the border of KY, went inside to ask the guy at the desk ('Information Clerk?' :-) ) if there was anything I 'must see.'

I asked him about time to make it to Louisville, then Knoxville, which was my unofficial planned destination for the night, as well as Bardstown en route. He had lots of ideas for places in Western KY, but they were too far off where I needed to make it to, although there was an old fort or something that sounded like it had great roads in and out of it, and he convinced me that I'd likely make Bardstown while the breweries were closing up at this point, and also said it wasn't worth visiting Old Louisville. Old Louisville is basically just a historic section of Louisville, that I picked out semi-randomly as a destination, as I like old buildings, and figured I'd stop and just take a few pictures.

Decision and…another detour

So, a decision and another detour - I'd be a few hours behind if I went to Old Louisville and Bardstown heading due south, plus whatever time I spent in Bardstown.

Or...I could head southeast around Lexington, instead, and do more highway in a straighter line towards Knoxville. Damnit. Next trip, I'm going to double the number of days taken for the trip, as it's not the destination but the journey that matters, and I would have really liked to have more time for the journey, going wherever felt right, along the way. But...ok, Lexington it is.

I saw a few somewhat odd looking people outside the rest area as I was preparing to get on the road again, and couldn't help it, asked if I could take a picture. Sometimes you see the oddest things at rest stops. :-) (and sometimes odd is kind of cool..)


Back on the road again, the heat stayed up there, and Louisville came into sight. Sometimes you sort of get a feeling about a place when you come up on it, whether it makes sense or not, but it looked like a pretty cool place to me. I check the time, thinking about detouring to Old Louisville anyways, but realize it's coming up on rush hour traffic, or whatever passes for it, so I decide against it.

I go over a bridge right next to Louisville, and traffic is pretty took 30 minutes or so to make it over the bridge. Not quite slowly enough that I could manage to get my camera out easily, but quite slow enough, considering the heat. I manage to try to take some pics from on the bridge, one of which managed to be of the ground for some unknown reason...possibly something to do with trying to not drop the camera or glove now off my hand, while having to nudge forward to not annoy people behind me...?

Lousville, KY
Attempting to take pics from the bike in traffic jame and gear...

As I make it across the bridge, I start to get pelted by something - hard!

Something big, multiple times. I thought it was bizarre hail for a second, but as I get hit fairly hard on my right knee, I see guts on my knee. Nice - giant locusts, or Cicadas (sp?), which are apparently over-running KY or something. They're huge, and their guts are added to the 'collection' on the front of the bike, and on me, but I pass through them within a half mile. Bizarre.

I pull into a rest area again not far down, to re-hydrate and glance at weather reports. An older guy and his girlfriend or wife come in behind me, on a 'SilverWing,' which is sort of like a Goldwing, but a scooter, with trunk and all. Apparently they were also dive-bombed by the Cicadas. That SilverWing also apparently does 85MPH+ on the highway. Not for me, but it's sort of a bike, anyways. No gear on either of them besides a half helmet, which always makes me feel a bit odd to see, but nice people, nonetheless.

After a quick break, I head back out, and start to enjoy the ride - it's hot, but I'm moving, the road's gotten smaller somehow, KY is kind of pretty, and I got to see horses running, which is always cool.

I'm not thinking about work, and just sort of feeling good. It's hard to explain, but there are trips and vacations that don't feel like such, like going on a trip with someone who wants to plan every minute of every day, while you're the type to 'figure it out along the way,' or vice versa (been there, done that, Hawaii trip years ago), or when everything about the trip is just stressful, instead of fun. Right now, at that moment, it was the opposite, and 'just right,' enjoying the road, the bike, the view, and being somewhere I'd never been before, even if I didn't have time to see everything I'd like to.

That momentary euphoria was soon to pass. I saw a sign saying, 'Road Construction, Some Delays Possible.' I figured, 'ok, I can deal with 'some.' I saw this sign not long after, just as Hell had started

Speed Matters sign in KY

Welcome to Hell 

Apparently, 'some' and 'speed' have different meanings in KY, as I was to find out. It was now over 100*F, and traffic slowed down to a standstill. The pic wasn't far from Lexington.

After 30 minutes in this, I started to check the GPS for exits. There was a single exit not far up, but then no easy way to get back on heading south, at least not with a chance of going around 'whatever this was.' I decided to hope for the best, and kept going. 30 minutes later, I watched someone in an SUV cut across the rather steep dividing grass, to head back up north. I thought about doing the same; it would have been no problem on my F650 or the DRZ, but on the SV with street tires, probably not the best idea. I still thought about it.

Speed Matters sign in KY

Another road actually joined with the highway I was on, all running into a pair of lanes. People's cars were overheating. I was so glad I had my CamelBak, as I felt like I was being roasted over a not so distant flame. I de-geared a bit, gloves off, modular helmet flipped up, and jacket halfway un-zipped, while sucking down my Fierce Grape Gatorade like it was the nectar of life. I made a phone call or two, and realized the SV is at least fairly light, can balance it well all the way down to 0MPH for a second or more, when the car in front of you persists in not moving when they should be.

After the second hour, there just wasn't any end in sight, just cars as far as you could see. I lane split for a while at low speeds, until a pair of tractor trailers were next to each other, and with the narrow road, their distance was less than, or right at my handlebar width, so I decided to take it as a sign and stop doing that one for a bit. More overheated cars.

At the end of it, there were a pair of ambulances, as apparently people were now, besides being utterly pissed off, also getting heat exhaustion, including some who ran out of gas in the traffic jam, then lost AC.. 

No real surprise there, and no fun for anyone.  I still had some fluid in my Camelbak, but that heat was just draining. 

It took 3-3.5 hours to go those 8 miles or so...

It started to rain lightly again, which didn't feel terrible at the moment, and it was getting dark, so I stopped off somewhere unknown, but south of Lexington, to get some food, and basically, be off the bike for a few, after the construction delay from hell. I wound up turning off an exit that I'd assumed food was nearby, only saw one fast food place to the left, so went off to the right, wanting somewhere I could sit down and relax a bit for. 10 miles later, I finally found a Sonic, and figured that was far enough out of my way, so did drive-in on the bike.

I de-geared completely, to let everything breathe and stretch, and had several iced teas. While some fast food places are nice, I swear it's an epidemic to hire the people Wal-Mart rejects at some of them. For some odd reason, they didn't think I'd need ketchup for a hamburger, nor napkins. I'm sure I looked pretty nasty right then, but I really wasn't in to wiping my mouth all over my jacket.

Drive-through on a bike at Sonic..middle of nowhere

I relaxed and de-stressed a bit, and hung out for around an hour. It managed to get late by now, around 10:30pm or so, and of course, the rain came back for a bit as I was pulling out of the lot. I figured I was going to go until I couldn't, but wasn't going to worry about making Knoxville tonight - it wasn't out of the question, but it would be what would long as I made it somewhere within an hour or two from Knoxville, no worries, I'd be at Deal's Gap by noon or so on Saturday, and if it was a bit later, so be it.

It was starting to feel like the mountains were close..

At some point, I realized I was starting to be in 'the start of the mountains.' This became apparent by the general lack of lighting on the road, and the exits becoming further and further apart. Vehicles passing me were starting to freak me out a bit, making me paranoid, and I was slowing down speed-wise, and thinking about deer.

I was getting pretty tired.

I didn't want to mess with the GPS while riding tired, so kept my eyes open for any billboards or advance notice for exits. I passed a few, and for some reason, thought after the next exit, there wasn't going to be another for another 30 miles or so, which I just wasn't up to riding at that point, so I saw the town name coming up, and felt it was highly appropriate for a place to stay on a bike, even if I did have a Sargent seat on the SV..

If you don't get it, that's ok, but Corbin (and Sargent) makes motorcycle seats.

Welcome to Corbin

At some point, I realized I was starting to be in 'the start of the The room was way overpriced, but it was around 1am now. No outside doors, but there was a bike parked right outside the entrance already, and the guy at the counter (knew his name, but not now..) said it was fine for me to park the bike there.

It's funny, I never quite grasped just how small my car is, until someone in a huge SUV parked next to me one day. Likewise, I suppose the SV is sort of small, well, compared to it’s neighbor..

I de-geared and got into shorts, and went back downstairs. I was exhausted, but not truly tired somehow, at the same time.

I talked to a local outside for a bit, to find out that apprently there was nothing to do in Corbin, but he and a friend were headed to the next town with a sports bar, and would give me a ride. His friend came out, and reminded him they shut down at 11 (long past now) -  so much for that one.

Parked for the night

I wound up talking to the desk guy for a while, hanging out outside, which was interesting overall, if parts a bit gossipy...

We saw a cop come flying into the parking lot, but not leave. Oops, busted - he was there cheating on his wife. :-/

Found out the desk guy's (I think his name was Alex, I suck at names..) wife had cheated on him, since divorced.

Had some random discussion about religion, which was interesting, as he was most certainly raised 'a Bible Belter,' but wasn't offensive, as he wasn't preachy, and open to other ideas.

Nice guy, we chatted until it was damned late, then I headed in to get some sleep. Not quite Knoxville, but pretty close, anyways. 

Parked for the night

Time for the mountains in the morning...