Caves and Kindness

We apologize for taking this long to update our blog! It seems difficult to carve out the time some evenings to do so. We spend so much time and energy simply with the business of living: settling into camp, getting groceries, making dinner, cleaning up, getting to bed after an exhausting day of riding, waking up, having breakfast, cleaning up, packing up the camping and other things onto our bikes, then getting on the road to ride to our next destination, etc.

But not all days have included riding lately. In fact, we took a few rest days at the beginning of the week to allow a muscle in Jerry’s leg to heal. We were afraid it was on its way to an overuse injury. During that time we stayed in a campground in Danville, KY, for 2 nights (Pioneer Playhouse and campground).  This particular venue is about to begin its summer season of plays that they perform in the on-site amphitheater. The actors stay in housing at the campground. Unfortunately, our timing was off, as we were not going to be there anymore once they begin the shows this coming weekend.

 More TransAmerica cycling buddies in Danville, KY (Eileeny, Scott, Becky, and Kyle), all of whom are on their venture separately. These 4 coincided for several days and nights so were able to pal around, get to know each other, and ride together for a little while. 

More TransAmerica cycling buddies in Danville, KY (Eileeny, Scott, Becky, and Kyle), all of whom are on their venture separately. These 4 coincided for several days and nights so were able to pal around, get to know each other, and ride together for a little while. 

In order to be sensitive to Jerry’s leg muscle and in order to stay on target with some of our trip goals, we then decided to rent a pick-up truck from Danville, KY, and drive to Mammoth Cave (with all of our things). This was a great decision. Although we missed a few miles in there, we were able to meet up with a Tennessee friend at Mammoth Cave, experience 2 very interesting, fun, and different tours of the Cave, and then drive up to Sonora, KY, where the bike route would resume.

 One of our milestones and anticipatory places: Mammoth Cave!

One of our milestones and anticipatory places: Mammoth Cave!

 Here we are entering the cave. We were amazed at how cold it was down there (between 53 and 55 degrees). On one of our tours we went 300 feet underground and shimmied through “fat man’s misery,” as well as some very massive open spaces, all surrounded by colossal pieces of limestone. 

Here we are entering the cave. We were amazed at how cold it was down there (between 53 and 55 degrees). On one of our tours we went 300 feet underground and shimmied through “fat man’s misery,” as well as some very massive open spaces, all surrounded by colossal pieces of limestone. 

 Here is one of the many “rooms” that we passed through during our first tour in Mammoth Cave. This one was a historic tour where we learned about the saltpeter mining that helped provide raw materials for gun powder during the War of 1812, as well as the discovery of miles and miles of this massive cave system (over 390 miles!). 

Here is one of the many “rooms” that we passed through during our first tour in Mammoth Cave. This one was a historic tour where we learned about the saltpeter mining that helped provide raw materials for gun powder during the War of 1812, as well as the discovery of miles and miles of this massive cave system (over 390 miles!). 

 Our sweet friend Mona made the 1 1/2 to 2-hour drive from Tennessee to experience Mammoth Cave with us and she brought an amazing dinner to share with us at the campsite that evening. What a blessing! We missed that her husband John was unable to join us!

Our sweet friend Mona made the 1 1/2 to 2-hour drive from Tennessee to experience Mammoth Cave with us and she brought an amazing dinner to share with us at the campsite that evening. What a blessing! We missed that her husband John was unable to join us!

 Here is a view of the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that we saw at the end of our Domes and Dripstones tour at Mammoth Cave. The only lights in the cave were the occasional orange low lights that lit our way. No flash photography. So amazing the long process that it has taken for these rock formations to “grow.” It was also very cool when our tour guide turned off all the lights in the cave. We could see absolutely nothing! How often do we experience zero light like that?

Here is a view of the stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that we saw at the end of our Domes and Dripstones tour at Mammoth Cave. The only lights in the cave were the occasional orange low lights that lit our way. No flash photography. So amazing the long process that it has taken for these rock formations to “grow.” It was also very cool when our tour guide turned off all the lights in the cave. We could see absolutely nothing! How often do we experience zero light like that?

We stayed at a guest house (which sort of had a bed & breakfast feel with a more personal touch) in Sonora and enjoyed getting to know the owners a bit while we sipped on wine and while the boys played in their lake: kayaking, paddle boating, and swimming. (I know! Rough life!). 

 Our sweet and gracious hosts (Rose and Charlie) at the guest house in Sonora. They specifically open their home to the cross-country cyclists, in addition to hosting weddings and other events on their beautiful property. 

Our sweet and gracious hosts (Rose and Charlie) at the guest house in Sonora. They specifically open their home to the cross-country cyclists, in addition to hosting weddings and other events on their beautiful property. 

 Our view (from the back porch) of the boys playing in the lake at Thurman Landing.  

Our view (from the back porch) of the boys playing in the lake at Thurman Landing.  

 Thurman Landing, Charlie and Rose’s guest house in Sonora, KY

Thurman Landing, Charlie and Rose’s guest house in Sonora, KY

We resumed our biking the following day, and have now had 2 very hot, hilly, and challenging days (48 miles Thursday, and 43 Friday). Thankfully, Jerry’s leg now seems fine and injury free. We have also switched the boys around a bit on the bikes in an attempt to even out the work load among all of us. Because of Avery’s size, he isn’t able to contribute as much power to the pedaling as the rest of us. And we think that has contributed to the stress on Jerry’s body. So now, we are trying Russell and Douglas on the triple together with Jerry, and Avery and I together on the double. So far, it has worked out better, although the rolling hills of Kentucky are about to do us in!! We were happy to leave the Appalachian Mountains behind us, but what we have biked through recently has been very difficult, too. After our 48-mile day to the Rough River State Park, we were so thrilled that we could camp near a building that had showers and beautiful, soft grass for pitching our tent!

 Mmm! We were so excited about the all-you-can-eat catfish special at the Rough River State Park lodge, where we ate dinner with our cycling buddy, Robbie. We are so glad that our paths have crossed with him so many times! 

Mmm! We were so excited about the all-you-can-eat catfish special at the Rough River State Park lodge, where we ate dinner with our cycling buddy, Robbie. We are so glad that our paths have crossed with him so many times! 

As we have pedaled through the countryside in Kentucky, we have gone through enormous amounts of water and Gatorade. To fill up on these necessities, we typically stop into convenience stores and small groceries. Friday we stopped into a small country store and after selecting our goodies (including ice cream for the boys), the store owner filled up our water bottles with ICE water and gave us the remaining 3 pizza slices from lunch. But he didn’t stop there! As we were sitting enjoying the pizza and drinks, he came over with a big plate of cold cut meats, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, bread and let us make some sandwiches. We finished everything on that plate!! What kindness! That large snack fueled the final push of our journey to Utica, KY, where we stayed inside of a firehouse: air conditioning, shower, laundry, use of the kitchen- and all with 2 of our new cycling buddies (Robbie, with whom we have spent several days/evenings, and Becky, whom we first met in Danville) who both happened to be staying there, as well. 

We have decided to stay put today at the Utica Firehouse because Avery is feeling a little under the weather. Again, a great place to be forced to pause- since we are in air conditioning and have access to so many facilities. Our next goal is to make it to Missouri in about a week. At that point, we plan to drive up to St. Louis and spend time with my (LisaPage’s) mother who plans to meet us there.