Church Guest House (Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church)
L:42 H:51, Rain
The house was quiet and all the lights were off when we got up this morning. We didn't see a note saying Jamie and Sue had left for the day, but then again, we didn't hear or see Jamie or Sue either.
Thinking that we were alone, and that it was a little odd there was no note, we set about making our usual oatmeal breakfast. We had just sat down to eat when Jamie wandered in, looking a bit sleepy. He said that after we had gone to bed, he had gone to the church and worked until about 1:00am!
After we finished our breakfast, Jamie offered us some Gatorade juice boxes for the road. He also reviewed the route he and Sue had suggested we take, which was a bit different from our map, but would be less hilly. Then he prayed with us, gave us his contact information in case we "ran into any trouble in the next few hundred miles", and we were off!
It was pretty chilly again this morning and took a while to get warmed up. According to the weather report the high was only supposed to be in the upper 40's! Brrr!!
With the new route that Jamie and Sue recommended, we were hoping to miss some big hills on the official route. The new route was still hilly, but at least the hills weren't too steep. It was beautiful too - lots of fall colors on the trees.
At our first rest stop, the lady at the gas station was so impressed by our story, that she told us to help our selves to some coffee to warm up! So we did, gladly! There weren't any tables or chairs, so we ended up sitting on some cases of pop while we sipped our coffee and, of course, ate a Reese's Fast Break. We couldn't help but notice the Coke cans were already the Christmas editions. Sheesh!
When we were done, we said thanks and headed back out in the cold, only to discover it had started to rain. So, we put on our bright yellow rain suits and pushed on. As we rode out of the parking lot, we noticed some teenagers seemed to be laughing at us from inside their car. It was a pretty miserable time to be riding, so we couldn't blame them.
Twenty or so miles later, as we approached one of the major intersections, we stopped at the gas station on the corner hoping they had some tables so that we could eat inside, since it was still raining. Unfortunately, they didn't have any tables. And even more unfortunately, as we looked at our map to figure out where the next stop would be, we realized that our gentler, flatter, route had added about eight miles of extra riding - that's about an hour's worth of time! Boo!
A little ways up the road, we found another gas station with some tables inside, so we stopped to eat lunch. April went to start making our sandwiches and I went to buy something to drink. As April sat down, the five or six guys at the other tables all stopped talking and looked at her as she walked in, then went back to their conversations. Must've been the brightly-colored all-spandex outfit she was wearing... I picked out an Ale8 in honor of being in Kentucky, and joined April at the table.
We finished our lunch and reluctantly headed back out into the cold, wet weather. It had finally stopped raining while we were eating, so at least that was one less thing to deal with. Unfortunately, April's spirits were pretty low from the tough day, and she began to have trouble finding the motivation to keep up.
It was pretty clear that it was April's turn to have a very unmotivated day and that it would be pointless to try and push on farther than we had to. So, shortly after rejoining the official route (which was really hilly), we left it again to head into the nearby town of Hazard, KY. Surprisingly, I had to convince April that it was a good idea to stop for the day even though she was the one that was running so low on energy! And this isn't the first time I've had to convince her to stop when she's tired either. Weirdo.
I succeeded, and eventually we located a McDonald's and pulled out the laptop to call around for a place to stay. The first place April talked to said that they didn't have any place for us to stay, but that she should try the local Catholic church. So she did.
At the Catholic church, Father Mike answered the phone. He never said we could stay, but he did say to come on over and we'd figure something out. The ride to the church wasn't too far, but there was a huge part of it that was uphill. One part was so steep that instead of a sidewalk beside the road, there was a set of stairs! 17 stairs! We walked up that one, and even then we weren't sure we would make it!
When we got to the church, Father Mike greeted us and introduced us to Pat, a lay woman at the church. Father Mike then showed us the guest house where we could stay. It had showers, and beds, and laundry, and a kitchen! It was great!
Father Mike had to go to a brief meeting, but while he was gone, Pat explained that there were four people that lived at the church: herself, Father Mike, Brother Mike, and Brother Ed. She also told us that the three men were Friars of the Franciscan order. It was pretty interesting.
Then Father Mike returned and invited us to join them for dinner at a local diner. I told April she could decide since she was the one that was so tired. Of course, she was excited to meet new people and already getting a second wind, so she said yes.
We loaded up into Father Mike's SUV, and went to the little restaurant. When we got there, instead of getting water like we usually do, we ordered soft drinks to go with dinner. Apparently, the water had been shut off because of possibly contamination. Father Mike and Pat reacted like this was no big deal, and when April questioned them about it, they said it happens all the time. Huh.
So, over soft drinks, burgers and fries, we all got to know each other better. We learned about the area and what life was like in the Catholic church. We learned that Father Mike was in charge of three churches, one of them being "over the mountain", so he had quite a commute, and actually spent the night every time he went to that church during the winter because it would be hazardous to drive home. And of course we talked about our bike trip and the journey to get here.
We also learned that Hazard was a coal-mining area and that the government was trying to increase safety expenses for coal mines. This meant people were losing their jobs, and that meant workers were striking, and that meant that generally anyone who wanted to 'fuss' with coal mining was considered an adversary. April looked around and said, "It's been a long time since I've heard anyone being pro-coal". Almost before she could get the words out of her mouth, Pat leaned over and whispered very firmly, "You don't say that kind of thing around here! Coal is these people's livelihoods, and if they hear you say that, they'll think maybe you don't want them to make money and have a living. I know that's not what you mean, but don't say things like that."
Woah. Different culture indeed.
After dinner, Father Mike then told us we were welcome to spend an extra day at the guest house if we wanted, and on the way out of the restaurant, he paid for our dinner too! Wow!
On the way back to the church, he took a slight detour to show us Hazard's one and only tourist attraction: the mother goose house.
Built in the 1930's, the rafters are designed to be like a goose skeleton. It was even featured on Oprah! Father Mike gave us a bit of the history in this video.
Once we got back to the church, we got a quick tour of the sanctuary along with a brief history of the church. It has recently been rebuilt, and it was really a beautiful building. Unfortunately, we never got a picture of it.
Then it was back to the guest house, where we watched a bit of TV. April's second wind was rapidly leaving so we decided to call it a day. After checking tomorrow's weather and discovering that it wasn't supposed to get out of the 30's, we decided to take Father Mike up on his offer to let us stay for an extra day. We were originally planning to skip our rest day this week since we'd had so much down time recently, but our bodies are pretty tired and biking in 30-degree weather tomorrow doesn't sound like fun, so both of us are happy to just stay here.