My revised plan was not going to score me big points but it would keep me busy for the next two days. Today I would cross back through Kentucky entering Virginia and finally stopping for the night in Johnson City, TN. This would set me up for a nice ride to the finish on Saturday.
Into the rising sun I traveled on Illinois SH13 until crossing into Kentucky on SH56. Thank you, Lord, for the noticeably cooler temperatures. This is going to be a good day.
Slogging past the maze I encountered yesterday trying to get out to this highway, I passed into Kentucky and swung around Owensboro where, surprisingly, I then crossed over into Indiana. The ELC bonus was a memorial to the passengers who perished aboard a Lockheed Electra in 1960.
At this point I was coming alive again rejuvenated by the cooler temperatures. Passing back into Kentucky is was short work to make my way back down to the Mammoth Cave National Park and my next, and arguably, the most unique bonus of the rally.
The Green River Ferry is touted as the shortest ferry ride in the world. Linking parts of the Mammoth Cave National Park, it is maintained and operated by the Park Service. A maximum of 2 vehicles can fit on it at any one time. While the Rallymasters allowed us to take a picture of the ferry while waiting (motorcycle, flag and mid-river ferry had to be in photo), we had the option of taking a picture of your motorcycle ON the ferry while crossing. It was quite the challenge to park, hop off the bike, pull out the rally flag and camera, snap the picture in the middle of the river, stow everything back, and remount the bike to be ready to exit all in the span of about 60 seconds.
|Some of the many Barrel Houses at Heaven Hill Distillery|
Next up was the WLD bonus located in the Daniel Boone National Forest. This proved to be one of the most challenging bonuses to collect. The rally book clearly states that the last 2.5 miles to the bonus is a "narrow, one-lane gravel" road. Apparently, Garmin didn't get the message. In the map shown from Garmin's Basecamp route planning tool, my arrival to the area was from the NW (upper left) corner (follow the red line). After passing through the small town of Livingston, the Garmins emphatically tell me that I missed the turn. I'm thinking what turn? I didn't see a road. I u-turn and go back to the point where a small, and I mean almost unnoticable, gravel road heads down the trail to the river. Ok, we are supposed to take a gravel road to this bonus so there I go. It becomes very apparent very quickly that this ain't going to go anywhere but straight into the river! Later I learned that there was once a low water crossing at this location but it had been washed out decades ago, however, the County still has it recorded as a county road. Garmin interprets it as a 55 mph road. With no room to turn around on the downhill road, I am forced to go all the way to the waterline before I can attempt a turn around. Parts of the 20 point turn had my rear wheel slipping into the river. I'm not amused at this point. F*n Garmin. ***somewhere in the back of my mind is the mantra, Don't Always Follow the Magenta Line.***
Escaping from this trap I stop at the highway and fire up the iPad and CoPilot to get my bearings. I see an alternate approach (blue line) to the bonus a little further to the south so I take off that way. Sure enough the Garmins pick up the change and route me properly to the bonus which is the Camp Wildcat Battle Monument. The last 200 yards into the bonus is nice, fresh asphalt leading to a new looking monument area. Our task was to answer a question from one of the interpretive signs. Done. Now looking at the Garmins, I see that they are trying to route me out in a direction that simply does not exist! Being a little wiser at this point I head out the way I came in and would deal with the rerouting once on the highway. This bonus cost me about 45 extra minutes that I really didn't have that day.
Thankful to still be upright, I headed off to Jackson, KY for my next bonus, a historical marker dedicated to some really angry people following the Civil War. The marker states that probably around 100 county officials were killed in the time between 1870 and 1920.
Continuing my eastern trek the next bonus was fortunately right on my path and was easy to get to. The Battle of Middle Creek where a young Col. James Garfield would elevate his stature by leading his Union troops to a victory over the Confederates of eastern Kentucky. This event launched Col Garfield on his path to the Presidency of the United States.
The next bonus was special in a personal way. If you recall the TV mini-series "The Hatfields and McCoys", the feud between the two families started with the trial of Floyd Hatfield for stealing one of Randolph McCoys' hogs. The trial was presided over by Judge Preacher Anderson Hatfield. Long story short Floyd Hatfield was acquitted and everything spiraled out of control from there. My In-laws were raised in nearby Williamson, WV and some family had married into the McCoys. Our bonus was to photograph the Hog Trial Site marker located at the log structure where the trial was held.
Heading south on US 119 through the long ridges of the middle Appalachian Mountains the roads became decidedly more twisty. While a whole lot of fun to ride on, they don't really help when you're on the clock in a rally. Passing through Pikeville and Cumberland, KY, I finally reached the turn off to Lynch, KY where my next bonus was located. Lynch was a company town where the coal mine owners owned everything, including the housing. Workers had to "rent" housing from the company, purchase food from the company store, etc. Even the local police force was run by the company. Their main job was to deal with workers trying to unionize the mine. The bonus, P31, was to take a picture of the Portal 31 entrance to the mine which is now a tourist attraction.
|The Trail of the Lonesome Pine|
Arriving in Big Stone Gap I collected my bonus and started looking for some hotel options. I was going to be able to make it to my planned stop in Johnson City, TN but would be a bit behind schedule.
I needed to make sure that this was an 8 hour stop in order to maximize my rest bonus points. I just was not confident that I had good receipts from last night so I made sure that I got good ones tonight. The clerk at the Best Western gave me a check-in receipt that had the proper timestamp on it and he assured me that the check-out would also have a good timestamp.
After lugging my gear up to my room I ventured down to the attached Chinese restaurant in the hotel. Risky, I know. But I was too tired to go anywhere else. As I'm eating my dinner a couple walks up and starts asking me about my bike. It turns out the hotel is hosting a Women's Motorcycle event that weekend. They are very nice and quite interested in what I'm doing on this rally. I do the best I can but I have to finally tell them that I have to get upstairs to bed.
Ah, a shower. A nice relaxing shower. Today has been a good day. I captured everything that I had planned for. Started my learning on not to blindly follow the _____ magenta line (not entirely learned yet). I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow.
Points collected today: 3502. I'm ok with that.
Day 6 coming up...