Days 27 and 28: Buckhorn to McKee, then to Berea
The weather was a little foggy when we started riding, but it got hot soon. We rode all the way to Boonville and had lunch at the Old Bus Stop Diner. Just as I was finishing up my bourbon burger an old pastor named Jim started talking to us. He voted for Trump in the 2016 election and is a conservative. I’m the exact opposite. We talked about politics mostly and our conversation got so heated at one time that everyone in the restaurant were listening to us. I blamed my hot head and loud mouth. Crispin stayed quiet most of the time.
(Stayed here too long, but had a great conversation with Jim)
I had to educate the pastor about the difference between socialism and communism because most people don’t know the difference. He educated me about the eastern Kentucky economy. People thought Trump would bring back the coal jobs that most people around here relied on. To me, Trump is a liar. To them, Trump is a savior. But we agreed that money is the main cause of political corruption and economic depression in rural places like eastern Kentucky. We talked for at least an hour and by the time we were done talking I felt I learned a different perspective regarding the coal industry and people who relied on it. Jim and I even gave each other a big hug at the very end.
Crispin and I spent about two hours at the diner. It was an unexpected experience, but a very meaningful one for me. We realized that we probably will not make it to Berea so instead we planned on stopping at McKee for the night.
On the way there, we took a rest stop under the shade of an abandoned house. When we saw a man about to mow the lawn we decided to ask him for some water refill. His name is Judd and he is 14 days away to his second retirement. He told us the truckers around here actually radio the other truckers if they see cyclists on the road. People are so kind around here!
(Judd, the water angel)
When Crispin and I got close to McKee, we had a meal at Dairy Queen. Crispin asked around for a place to camp for the night. A lady told us about a church up ahead. After eating my chicken strips, fries, and a blizzard caramel sundae, we got on our bikes and headed to the church. I stopped my bike after seeing a pavilion on the opposite side of the road. As I was discussing to Crispin about camping there, a young man across the street came to us. He introduced himself as Jacob and offered to help us find a place for the night. Jacob is a 16 year old high school freshman, who is also in the JROTC to get ready to join the military. On his bicycle, he led us to the house of McKee’s mayor, not far down the road. John, the mayor, was so helpful and told us where the church is and the location of another park that has a bathroom. Crispin and I felt so lucky to have met Jacob and John.
(Meet Jacob, a fine young man with a bright future)
After meeting the mayor, Jacob led us to the Saint Paul Church that’s just a little further down the road. We tried knocking on the doors but no one was there. Crispin and I decided to set up our tents in the back while Jacob rode home and then came back with a present for each of us. He gave a live bullet to Crispin and a flint stone to me. We were very appreciative of the gift and thanked him. But Crispin is afraid of the live ammunition so I took the bullet from him.
(Our camp ground for the night)
I went to bed when the sun had set. Around 10:30 PM, I heard a car pull in. I unzipped the tent to see who it was. As it turned out, it was Rebecca, the lady taking care of the church. She told us that she’ll unlock the back door to the church and provide some towels so we can use the showers. When we heard the word “showers” we were so delighted. I slept until 5 AM in my tent then took a shower inside the church. Crispin and I decided to ride our bikes to a local gas station convenient store to get a quick breakfast and coffee. When we got back to the church, I put $20 in an envelope for the church as our donation.
(Wish I had my name on a road sign)
After we left the church we rode about 20 miles to Berea. It was a nice ride. Not too many hills. The downhill from Bighill to Berea was the best downhill ride of the trip. The road was wide and long and not many sharp turns. The scenery was fantastic. I didn't take any photos of it since I was going 30 mph down the hill, but Crispin stopped to take a photo.
When we reached Berea, we decided to walk our bikes on the sidewalk. We meet a professor named Bill, who taught at Berea College. He told us that all students who attends Berea College get full scholarships, and in exchange the students have to do work-study jobs. What a great idea to learn and work! Bill said the average student debt is only $10,000 after four years of college. I think Berea College should be a model of American higher education. Bill also directed us to Noodle Nirvana, a place I was very excited about since I love noodles.
(Bill, the professor)
Crispin and I rode past Berea College and came to Noodle Nirvana. There, I had the best noodle soup I've had on this trip so far. Crispin was so delighted to have had a decent meal other than the convienent store food that we've been getting lately.
(In noodle heaven)
Now we are at the library next door, using the internet to write our blogs and to rest. I printed out more contact labels so I can give out to people along the way. Tonight, we'll spend the night camping out behind a local fire station. For the rest of the day, we'll stay in Berea and take a rest day.