The morning we left our chain link fence enclosure, aka camping site, the lovely lady in this picture was kind enough to give up a couple hours of her morning to get information and pictures from us so she could send it to the local paper as well as follow us in her car around the next set of blind corners on that road. We were so appreciative for the safety buffer as well as the opportunity to relax a little and enjoy some of the fall scenery in the Appalachians. She left us at the corner gas station, but we were then escorted shortly after by a couple young guys on a 4 wheeler.
We had met Mikey and Kevin at the gas station and convinced them that this rumor they were hearing about us riding across America really was true.
They were fascinated and I thought to ask them if they were familiar with the nearby abandoned coal strip mine that we were intending to find our way across to avoid another curvy road. They were and they offered to see if they could get out of work to accompany us. We were hoping also to meet up with a man named Robert (who happened to be a local pastor) we met at our campsite who offered to escort us if
he made it back from his job sight by the time we got there. It turned out that both potential escorts were able to come, so we had a grand time together!
This was one of the most fun riding days we have had in many, many weeks. We weren’t scared for our lives at every turn, the weather was beautiful as was the scenery, the company was great, …. and I got to go off roading! Robert, who of course had to drive to get to the trails, brought his off road vehicle- some jeep type thing. He and Richard were in the mood to walk, and I volunteered to drive his car so he could get out and walk. He got to tow Apache along and chit chat to Richard, and since we were going at such a slow pace, I got to talk out the window to the boys and occasionally to Robert too. Even Bella decided it was a good day to hitch a ride! She jumped in of her own freewill!
When Robert would show Richard a way around a hill and the shortest route, Mikey, Kevin, and I would drive our off road vehicles up and over the mountain for fun. Since I havn’t driven in quite a while- let alone off road- the guys all took good care of me and made sure I was doing all right. There was one section that was quite steep downhill, very rocky, and took a little skill to drive. I think Bella turned green and was second guessing her choice to ride in the car! But I was having a blast! It was a nice change of pace to do something different. And besides, Apache didn’t mind walking with no weight on his back I’m sure!
The abandoned mine had grown quite a bit of grass and was obviously a local play ground as well as a convenient place to free range livestock. We saw quite a few cows up there as well as a couple random llamas! It was so wonderful to get up on the mountains and be able to look around and see the hilltops and fall colors instead of always being down in the valleys where the roads follow the path of least resistance…. and least visibility.
There was one spot where we saw this interesting line in the rock formation and I asked if it was coal. Sure enough it was, but it wasn’t a thick enough strip for it to be cost effective to mine.
As we wound our way back down the other side of the wide ridge line, we started getting excited; it was our last full day in Kentucky! We could have applied for residency if we wanted to- we have after all been in Kentucky for like 5 months! It will always have a special place in our hearts, but we are very happy to be moving on to new states finally!
At the bottom of the hill, we had to make a decision. There was a perfect little camp spot- complete with a corral- but it was a little short for mileage for the day. But we were informed that the next several miles would be difficult to find anywhere
to camp. Robert drove down to the owner of the corral and got us permission, so we decided to stay put. Both Robert and the 4 wheeler boys drove off while we started setting up camp, but they came back a short while later with hay and supper! We had a great day and evening with them and, like usual, regretted that we’d only had a day to get to know them. But it was a wonderful day- a break from the roads that we desperately needed, and we were glad that they spent it with us.