Subject: Wanderlust 14 - Nashville, Tennessee
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 1997 15:15:47 -0700
Wanderlust 14 - Nashville, Tennessee
Lady Luck got in one last lick while I was sending Wanderlust 13. I had a communications error, so if you didn't get all of it let me know and I'll send another.
Starting the morning in Cincinnati in the company of friends, I failed to follow my normal routine eating pattern, and it nearly brought me down later. My at-home pattern is unusual to begin with, but I have adapted to all day riding by fueling myself with sugar while fueling the bike. I don't actually recommend this to anyone else, it is just what works best for me. Years ago I got used to not eating any lunch so I could run a few miles during mid-day (being nocturnal, and too lazy to get up early). Now, any mid-day food leaves me very sleepy, which is not a good thing during the most prevalent heat of the riding day. So I usually start with a pastry and coffee to build a good sugar high, replenished 3 hours later at the gas stop. This day I foolishly skipped the starter and suffered hypoglycemia and drowsiness after 2 hours on the road. The "low brain" warning light came on quite brightly when I almost rode straight off a sharp left curve. Fortunately, my macho bull-through-it forces are well tempered by self-awareness safety concerns, so I did stop early and I did 'refuel', but it is a reminder to us all that the body is an engine too. If you haven't thought about how to change your eating/drinking pattern for a long ride, especially a long summer ride, give it a careful study. It may be a good excuse for eating sweets. :)
Another macho standard is not asking for directions. Unlike many males, I am not pride-restricted in asking - but I do rather prefer to ask someone who may actually know the answer. I had the, uh, opportunity to exercise directional interrogation this day ... which is to say it was the first time I got thoroughly lost. Better yet, I was lost in what looked like Deliverance County, Kentucky. After the sugar low, I was still a little spaced out and flubbed a map reading where two interstates crossed. Forty miles later I realized I was almost to Louisville (pronounced 'Loo-vul' by the locals) instead of southwest of Lexington. No problem ... I'll just take what the map shows as the second exit from here. Ah, but the paper map does not show all the exits. The second exit dumped me somewhere between Okolona and Zoneton (could I make these up?) in Bullitt County.
How do you know you are lost? I know by the number of digits in the route number. A one or two digit road, like US1 or CA25, is easy to find and means you are not lost. When you get to three digits, you are near the edge. Finding KY480 or KY155 would have been nice, but instead I found myself on KY1819, which lead to 1319 and then - I actually saw a 5 digit road. Lost. Definitely.
Eventually, KY44 decided to rescue me. Except for one thing. Not knowing where I was, I wasn't sure whether to go east or west (since my target for the day was actually south). Ah, there are two men sitting on the roof of a house, nailing shingles. Good, all I need to know is which way is Shepherdsville. I ask. Without looking at each other, they simultaneously point ... in opposite directions. Then seeing themselves, THEY get into an argument about which way is shorter or faster. I don't think they even noticed I left. A more simple approach succeeded. It appeared most of the traffic on the road was headed east. So did I. When I got to the unsigned crossroad where my next route should be, I tried asking one more time. An older gentleman in farm attire was sitting in the well worn pickup beside me at the traffic light. "Excuse me, is this 31E?" He looked slowly in both directions (what did this clarify?) and said "Suh, Ah don't rhatly know. Where are you going?" "South" was an insufficient answer. So he offered "If you want to go to Bardstown this road will take you there." I didn't, but it did. And that's how I make a lot of 'decisions' where to go on this trip.
Bardstown, as it turns out, has a hidden meaning in its name. It is the home of My Old Kentucky Home, right there on Stephen Foster Way. I declined to visit for fear it would take days to stop singing Foster songs if I started. And I don't sing well. :)
The next route through a lovely narrow valley taught me something about American history. Although I knew he was born elsewhere, I thought Abe Lincoln grew up in Illinois. Nope. Abe's first school and his 'boyhood' farm are on the road to Knob Creek, 'bout 'leven mahl (i.e. 11 miles) from the Birthplace historic site. But somewhere deep down inside me the old cynicism bell started clanging. Sure. He probably attended school 2 days and then left for the farm - where he helped a neighbor pull weeds. I know I should feel more reverence to these icons, but why? It wasn't the farm and the school that made Lincoln a strong character. We too often look for the circumstances and not often enough for the substance. I can attest, however, that Abe lived in a fine area for riding motorcycles.
Just a few miles from the Lincoln sites, the time zone boundary follows the county line. Of course the line has to be drawn somewhere, but can you imagine how it must affect the lives of the people who live right there? For most Americans a zone is something you only cross occasionally. In this case, as I rounded the corner I saw two houses barely 100 feet apart, separated by an hour. What if there were two children, one in each house? Come over to my house at 2:00 to play! What if a Central Timer is dating an Eastern Timer? I'll pick you up at 8:00 sharp! If there were a store nearby open 24 hours, would it have to be open 25? There must be a simple way to live with all this.
"A good holiday is one spent among people whose notion of time are vaguer
- John Boynton Priestly, English Writer
Riding south I was approaching the lower lands of the gulf states where "popcorn thunderstorms" are frequent afternoon occurrences. They are called popcorn because their clouds suddenly poof and expand. I had the visual experience of following one from cloudbirth to cloudburst. There was this one cumulus ahead of me which caught my eye. (Hey, after umpteen hours on the road you look at anything - even clouds. :) It had just a bit too much roundtop fluff. As I watched, during less than one half hour, it grew three times taller, darkened to near black on its flat bottom, and suddenly dumped its charge as though someone flipped a switch. It reminded me of the 'summer storm' film everyone has seen on PBS but it was more enjoyable for my being on the bike. One of the special aspects of motorcycle travel is full participation in the air around you. You get to smell more, like the change from heavy vegetation to earth aroma when you pass from a wooded area to a field, or the dry flavor of concrete and buildings as farmland gives way to city. This storm took me through several changes of air temperature and moisture content that were as much tactile as sensory. And in its wake, the mist steaming from the road had a refreshed softness to it, like the smell of fresh laundry. Motorcycling rewards the senses as much as it demands their attention.
Because of all the heavy rain in this area in recent weeks, the streams are full to overflowing, and chocolate brown with runoff. At a rest stop I chatted with a farmer who was taking a break near a creek at the edge of his field. He noted the "crik's gone floody muddy". His observation was much like his life, simple yet complete.
Cincinnati I75 I64 I265 (cr=country road) cr1819 cr1331 cr1319 KY44 US31E Nashville
FuelPlus statistics: 333 miles, 7:03 engine run, 48 mpg average
Have Bike, Will Travel
Wire: Sam Lepore, San Francisco
88 R100RT and 95 K75RT