Grand Rivers, KY
Home (Lawson & Beth Mabry)
First for some personal news: Today is my half-birthday! I'm 27 and a half today; yay!
OK, now back to our trip: The 26mph wind started promptly at 2am this morning just like it was predicted. It woke us up (not that we were sleeping real great in the super-bright boy's bathroom to begin with) and kept us up most of the rest of the night.
There were big insulation panels stuck to the walls with duct tape way up near the ceiling. The panels covered the entire length of the wall on two sides of the bathroom. Every time the wind would blow, the panels would squeal and squeak as they rubbed against each other. Eventually one of the panels blew off and fell onto the floor. That's when we realized that behind them was not a wall, but just screen. The panels had been put up because of the cold weather, but because they were on top of screen, the wind pushed them around pretty easily. Not a great thing in "severe weather". And apparently, the severe weather hadn't really even begun, because it was still just windy. No rain, or hail, or whatever else comes with "strong storms" had started yet.
Nathan made breakfast, then we packed up our sleeping bags, turned the computer on, and stared at the weather radar. There was a long line of red coming right for us. A little after 9am, it hit us. It got even windier, and we had a terrific downpour of rain. We peeped out of the bathroom door at it and were SOOO glad that we weren't out there on our bikes!
After the red part passed us, it kept on raining, but now it was just a normal kind of rainstorm, so we prepared to ride. Nathan killed a GIGANTIC spider. Fortunately, I didn't see it before he killed it. I only saw its guts on the wall after it was dead. There were LOTS of guts on the wall. It gave me the heebee jeebees just to think of how big the spider must've been. Nathan said he thinks it's the biggest spider he's ever seen...bigger than a tarantula!
*OK, we need to pause the story right here. I'd just like to say that I am SO GLAD that we didn't see that spider until this morning. If I had know that there was a spider bigger than a tarantula in the bathroom, I NEVER would've slept in there!! I'd rather be out in the wind and the super downpour of rain than anywhere near a spider even half that size! Ick - it still gives me the heebee jeebees just to think about it! Nathan gets major points for killing it on his own without showing it to me first!*
So, where was I...oh yeah, we were getting ready to leave. I was changing clothes when a vehicle pulled up outside. Nathan peeped through the door, and it was one of the camp hosts! This was not how we hoped to meet the people who didn't know we were here and that we hadn't paid yet! I was nervous she was going to come in and find me in the boys bathroom, so I hid. Nathan went outside to talk. The lady was startled to see Nathan. She said she was coming to lock up, but we could take our time, and then she drove off. Phew! We finished changing into our super-awesome rain outfits and then went to talk with the camp hosts and get moving.
When we rode up to one of the camp hosts, I started explaining our situation and that we wanted to pay, but he said that the campground was closed for the season, so we could just go on our way and not pay. Yay! I think that we were as surprised to not have to pay as they were that someone had camped there last night!
We were in a beautiful area called the Land Between The Lakes. It's a big National Recreational Area, and it's super green and hilly and beautiful. Only a few miles out, we had to stop because the plastic bags Nathan had put over his shoes kept catching in his gears and getting holes in them. Nathan kept putting more and more duct tape on them, but to no avail - his shoes started getting wet. Poor guy. I already knew that my shoe covers didn't work, so I didn't even try to keep my feet dry. They were totally soaked in the first few minutes.
We rode for 20 miles to the visitor's center before our first food break. When we got there, we were totally wet. We took off our gloves, rang them out, then stood under an awning to drip and shake as much rain off of us as we could before we went inside. It was cold, and we were really, really, really looking forward to some warm food or at least something warm to drink. Our hopes were dashed when a sign on the door read "No Food Or Drinks Inside". Bummer.
So we went to a covered picnic area outside to eat our snack instead, and by the time we were done, my whole body was shivering and I could hardly repack my bags because my hands were shaking so much. Water had gotten in through my rain jacket, I was wet and super cold, we still had about 60 miles to go, and it was already noon - that meant we were going to have to push pretty hard because we were running out of daylight. This was not a good combination. I didn't want to bike any further. Nathan, seeing me start to pout, suggested we change into dry clothes inside, add some more layers, and then keep going. The thought of going inside (the magical indoors) sounded so good to me that I agreed.
Changing clothes turned out to be a great idea! I was warm, and dry, and feeling much better! We kept biking, and I thought we'd be out of the Land Between The Lakes and to a town called Dover around mile 40. However, as we approached the 40 mile mark, we were met with a sign that said Dover was actually at mile 53! So on we went.
Before Dover, we crossed the Kentucky/Tennessee border and went into the welcome center (more warm and happy indoors, yay!) and got a Tennessee map. We needed one to plan our route down to Nashville, so this was a great find!
Finally out of the Land Between The Lakes, we arrived in Dover and headed straight for a McDonalds where we thoroughly enjoyed 4 McDoubles, a parfait, some fries, and a coffee. It had finally stopped raining, so we took off our rain pants (left our jackets on for warmth), and found that our bike shorts were all wet from sweat - ew!
We had 30 miles to go, and before we left, we called Lawson, our host for the night in Clarksville, TN and told him where we were. He told us we had good, flat road ahead of us, but we had better get a move on because it was getting late. Yes, sir!
We sped out of there and onto Highway 72, our new road, which was indeed nice and flat, and it even had a shoulder! It felt like a reward for a tough first part of the day.
We ran into construction for about 6 miles. During the construction, our nice, wide, multi-lane highway became a two-lane, shoulderless, busy, yucky thing. Nathan did a great job of leading, and we got out of it without any problems.
Back on our shoulder, I realized that Hwy 72 runs along the southern border of Fort Campbell the Army base my brother is stationed at when he's in the USA. Cool! Evan's in Afghanistan right now, and I thought of him a lot as we rode down 72.
We arrived in Clarksville, TN, where Lawson lives, and I was reminded of Evan again because this is where his condo is. Nathan and I passed a bunch of places we remembered from visiting Evan before. That was neat. We didn't go by his condo though, because it was on the other side of town.
We showed up at Lawson's house just about the same time he did. He showed us the place we would be staying - his carriage house. It was an apartment that was above his garage and totally separate from the rest of the house. It was really nice, and we were excited to have so much space to ourselves. There were 3 rooms in the apartment, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a combo living/kitchen/office room. Lots of windows, hardwood floors, and fresh linens made it feel very homey.
After showering and putting our things in our room, Nathan and I had dinner with Lawson and his wife Beth. Beth's parents were in town, and they had cooked most of the dinner for us, but then they went out to eat with Lawson and Beth's kids, so they weren't there when we ate. We had mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage, and fried apples, and Lawson cooked up some pork tenderloin on the grill. It was AWESOME! Nathan ate helping after helping of pork, and I ate helping after helping of the cabbage. I don't know if I've ever had boiled cabbage before, but I loved it!
Then Beth and Lawson really won our hearts when they served ice cream for dessert. :-) Nathan and I put the left-over fried apples on top of our ice cream; it was superb!
As we were eating, Lawson started telling us about some of HIS bike trips. He has some wild and amazing stories. If I had heard his stories before we started this trip, I might've thought to myself, "How in the world do you get into that kind of crazy situation?!", but now I know that crazy things can happen pretty easily - haha! Lawson is a great story-teller, and he kept us all (including himself) laughing the whole time!
Then Beth's parents and the kids got back home. They were all really nice, and I thanked them for the great food. The kids worked on homework (kind-of :-)), and we all chit-chatted for a little longer, and then Nathan and I were off to the carriage house for the night.
We were pretty tired from our long, cold, wet day. Before bed, we put our still-soaking shoes over the vents to dry out and hung all of our damp clothes from the top railing that went around a beautiful queen-sized 4-poster bed. When we got in bed, there were so many clothes hanging from the railing, it almost looked like we had a canopy! Bonus!
Nighty-night everyone :-)