Welcome to Kentucky: it was like an old truck loaded with rabid dogs and piles of trash hit us in the face. For the first hundred miles or so nothing but solid trash and very aggressive dogs prevailed. The dogs were so bad that I had to keep my bike pump handy for self defense (think billy-club). Joe was not so lucky. He was riding ahead of me and got attacked by three dogs at one time, one of which actually bit him - an eye opening experience. Here you can see a picture of the aftermath, several days post-bite. Joe now carries a large stick. But as quick as the rolling disaster started, it packed up and left.
As the rain started to fall in the Wal-Mart parking lot our savior came and rescued us from it all. Her name was Ronda, and with her husband’s (Craig) permission they invited us to their empty nest for the night. Because that bad storm lasted multiple days we were able join them for several great home cooked meals and a coal production tour. Between being spoiled with wonderful food and an in-depth hands on experience in the coal field, we were both spoiled rotten. Home cooking is hard to come by on the road so we had to stock up. Ronda prepared something called drunken chicken which is cooked vertically in a contraption that holds a can of beer. Boy did that taste great with all the fixings, it was quite the treat! The next morning she proceeded to outdo herself again with savory omelets that were to die for. These were only a couple of the great meals that stuck out. Craig shared with as a great song by Andrew Kerr (album: Rock Start) which depicted his life and the life in the HR department of Consol Energy. The song is about Andrew (former investment advisor) going with Craig to the coal mines to talk about the investment opportunities and the funny stories that followed involving gun collections (Craig showed us about ten of his thirty guns - I liked his Colt 1911 best), speeding, and of course hunting for Mr. Big. You can listen to a clip of the song here - I would encourage you to purchase it, it's only a buck on Amazon! *Author's note: You might notice that Joe is not pictured with Ronda and Craig because he had to ride ahead to pick up a package. Poor, poor Joe (we met back up with him for the next section).
Mammoth Cave National Park detour was really worth the extra effort and time. On the 85 mile spur route there were a lot of interesting sideshow attractions, all of them trying to extract the money from your back pocket before you got to the caves. There must have been a hundred billboards - ranging from dinosaur parks, rocks for sale, and all sorts of other cave tours and the like. Once in the park we made our way to the ticket booth and purchased a lantern tour which turned out to be really amazing. The tour was actually not even a part of Mammoth Cave, but a separate cave system called the Great Onyx. It had a wide range of features from dry and sparkly to wet with a lot of formations. The second tour was of the New Entrance to Mammoth Cave (largest cave system in the world!). It also had diverse wet and dry areas but what was most spectacular was the last room, Frozen Niagara. This room was filled with all sorts of formations like draperies, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstone. It was absolutely stunning.
The last great meal of Kentucky should have been called Thanksgiving dinner. There was a complete Thanksgiving feast in the oven staying warm for us when we rolled up. What a treat! Bob and Violet have been cooking for bikers and letting them stay in the First Baptist Church of the Sebree youth center for a very long time. They were recently recipients of the June Curry trail angel award. This honorable form of recognition is given to one host annually, reserved for people that go above and beyond the call of duty and really make bikers feel at home.
The last night in Kentucky was spent on the rim of the “Grand Canyon of the South” in Breaks Interstate Park. This park was absolutely grand, not only in sheer size but in absolute beauty. Definitely a great way to end the state of Kentucky, being that the start was not too positive.