Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
Home Journal Who am I & why am I doing this?
Back to contents
Day 50: Utica to Rough River Reservoir
September 2, 2005, 6:15 PM
Where am I now: Rough River Reservoir, Kentucky (37.62362N by 86.45544W at 505 ft.)
Today's distance: 55 miles

I have to say I'm enjoying my journey through Kentucky. In anticipating and planning this trip, my psychic energy was in the west. Kentucky was a place I'm familiar with, a place to ride across and get home, a place that has mean dogs and loud pickup trucks. There are a lot of dogs, but so far I haven't had to use Halt. There're also a lot of loud pickup trucks, but so far they haven't impinged on my trip other than the noise. The countryside is beautiful, good roads, and there're plenty of ups, downs & curves to keep things interesting. And the people are very outgoing and friendly. If they could just get with it on the beer thing....

My firehouse overnight was a great interlude between the tent and motels. Many comforts of a motel and just a bit of extra baggage, it's a firehouse, right?

At some point in the evening a guy came in looking to get a shot of oxygen. He was obviously short of breath, said he had emphysema, he had hoped one of the squad folks could give him something to help him through the night. He didn't want to go to the hospital ER, didn't want me to summon help after I explained the limitations of my presence in the firehouse. In the end, the air conditioned room seemed to help him as he hung out for an hour or so. We chatted. He's about 10 years younger than I am and physically wasted. Lifetime smoker, although he's now quit. Eventually he felt up to getting back in his truck and heading home, which was about a mile away.

The squawk box in the truck bay went off periodically during the night, with garbled verbiage I couldn't quite understand from where I was sleeping, or trying to sleep, but none of that resulted in a full-bore mobilization of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department.

In the morning I watched CNN as I did the fix & eat breadfast & pack routine. The stuff I see is appalling. Let's all do what we can to help these folks. Jonathan has set up a Katrina relief page, contribute what you can & sign in. It'll be interesting to find out where folks are who are following this site. My business partner is going to Biloxi as soon as I get back, for a multi-week stint doing what needs done. Michael, I salute you!

I woke up late and it was after 9 when I finally headed out of Utica. As I was uploading yesterday's email at the gas station pay phone, a guy came up and I ended up in a fifteen minute conversation about my travels, Katrina, and the price of gas. They were changing the prices as we watched, this was the first time either of us had seen gas priced over $3 per gallon.

The roads east from Utica are more hilly than what I rode through yesterday. The land surface is above the carbonate rocks, outcrops are shale and sandstone. The skies are clear and temperatures climbing in the open areas, but half the time the road is a tunnel through hardwoods. The air is cool.

I round a curve, and there's a greasy old pump-jack and storage tank not operating. At $70+ per barrel, maybe they ought to try & squeeze some more out of this thing.

There's probably more natural gas than oil around here. Christmas trees of gas pipes and fitting pop up in corn fields, many of these folks use gas as their energy source, some metered, some not.

The road between Fordsville and Falls of Rough is a worthy ride, probably more worthy (or less, depending on how you look at it) if you're not pulling BOB. The hills are long and steep as the road goes up and over drainage divides. Out west they call these things passes & name them; in the east they are gaps. Actually, there's only a few hundred feet of relief involved according to my altimeter, but after you do this three or four or five times the numbers start to add up. Trust me.

I pulled in to the store at Falls of Rough. The owner fixed me a turkey sandwich while I gulped Gatorade and regrouped. As I sat on the bench outside the store, a local guy drove up and asked if he could join me. He has a son in Oregon, wanted to hear all about my trip. His house is just up the road. In 1976, he and his son ran a lemonade stand for the BikeCentenial crowd as they rolled through. He's been meeting cyclists ever since.

It's Friday of Labor Day weekend, trucks and campers ares are filling the roadways and campsites. I decide to call it quits at an Army Corps campground near McDaniels.

The place is a complete zoo, with crowds of people. Sort of like at Jamestown Beach on Memorial Day weekend, just as many dogs barking. How many miles ago was that?