Eastern Time

Day 123 • July 2, 2012 • Mammoth Cave to Hodgenville, KY • 51 miles

Today we crossed our final time zone heading east.  Next time we cross a time zone we should be peeling back time heading home on the train.  At this point in the trip we have significantly more time and miles behind us than ahead of us.  We have just two more major stops planned before New York—a car shuttle to Charleston West Virginia to spend time with Lisa’s family and sightseeing in DC.  I’m beginning to plan out the final days of the ride, much further in advance than usual to ensure we make it to NYC on schedule.  It’s beginning to feel like the end game in other ways, too.  Our equipment is getting ragged:  a failing tent zipper that may not have another field repair left in it, growing cracks in the fenders, holes from critters in one of our pannier pouches, tires worn flat, tattered flags and a broken flag pole, stained, stretched, and sun-faded clothes, a failing power supply, sleeping bags with an odor that may never wash out.  And we’re tired.  We’re finding more and more excuses not to ride.  Eating is a constant chore.  We’re talking less and pouting more.  We’re pining for the fjords.

The cool part is that there are lots of great ways to avoid riding in the East.  Today we spent a lot of time in Munfordville, a critical site in a pivotal state during the Civil War.  Kentucky was a border state considered by Lincoln to be a bellwether for the war—whichever way Kentucky went, the country would likely follow.  Kentucky officially declared neutrality early in the war but was contested by both sides, particularly a strategically important railroad bridge in Munfordville that was destroyed and rebuilt several times during the war.  Munfordville produced two Civil War generals, childhood friends who chose different sides in the war.  I think three battles were fought in Munfordville and the battlefield has been preserved in it’s 1860’s state as a park.  The town is planning an elaborate reenactment in September for the 150th anniversary of the war.

Cloud cover today kept things cooler for the beginning and end of the ride.  The middle was still pretty hot, probably reaching 100 degrees.  We even got rain—a few drops in Cave City and a downpour in Hodgenville.  Thunderstorms can be stealthier in the East.  With the humidity, outlines of building cumulus are less distinct.  Instead of seeing towering cumulus build and approach from long distances, the hazy sky just gradually gets darker.  Even the thunder is more subtle—was that a truck or a plane?  No, just some thunder coming from somewhere in the direction of the darkening skies.  But there was nothing subtle about it when the storm finally hit.  About three miles from Hodgenville the situation suddenly changed from a gradually darkening sky behind us with gradually increasing tail wind to intense cloud-to-ground lightening and immediate, deafening thunder claps directly in front.  We had been cruising pretty fast for a while with a strong tailwind and downhill topography.  Now we could add strong motivation to the list as we flew down the road seeking shelter.  We skidded to a stop under a gas station awning in Hodgenville about two seconds before the sky let loose.

In about a half hour the heavy rain began letting up so we moved to a nearby Mexican restaurant we’d passed on our way in so we could eat while the rain continued to subside.  This place was strategically located but still we knew better—it was the first Mexican food we’d dared since Norton, KS and nearly as bad.  After choking down our food, the rain had mostly stopped.  We moved on to the Larue County Park and pitched our tent with only an occasional sprinkle.  As much as this place needs rain, I think the only real impact of this storm will be increased humidity tomorrow.

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