The Big Big Trip Journal! If you want to make the man (or woman) upstairs laugh, just tell him your plans!

OP
HobbesOnTour

HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
Day 55 Wednesday, November 05, Fall Creek Falls State Park to McMinnville 58km


Due to accommodation options, today wasn't going to be the hardest day ever. However, I had no idea just how good it was going to be!!!


I was up early enough, despite the cold morning temperature of 2C.
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It was so cold I needed the winter add-on for my trangia and the honey was very thick & gloopy, refusing to come out if its bottle.

I know I've said it before, but mornings in these parks are wonderful, especially in my secluded spot. There is such a feeling of calm, of harmony, of peace that I find it hard to break away. Mind you, the cold this morning helped me break that habit!

I was all packed up & ready to go, but before I left I stopped at the check in office to pass on my compliments. The WiFi that was out of range last night was good and strong, so I pulled up at a picnic table and did some stuff online while I could. I think it was well after 10 when I was heading off, but the advantage was that it was now warmer.

A note about Fall Creek Falls State Park. It is simply magnificent! - and I only saw a tiny fraction of it. The roads in and around the park are unbelievably perfect. There's not many places that are the perfect place to start your day, but this is definitely one of them!

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There were no big climbs today, just a constant series of ups and downs. Reasonable gradients, good roads, minimal traffic, add in blue skies, a warming sun and the Fall colours in full intensity it was a pretty perfect day.

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With no real pressure I could sit back and enjoy. So I did!
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The roads were pretty much main roads, so that meant no dog encounters. The only two dog situations they were behind fences. I needed that.

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Two drivers pulled in to talk to me today - both called John. The first John, a former engineer, was obsessed with my Extra wheel trailer. His mother was from Ireland (nearly everybody I've met here claims Irish ancestry) but he's never been. The second John pulled into the shoulder in front of me. He took his time getting out of his pick-up and I genuinely didn't know if he was friend or foe. Turns out he's a recumbent trike rider. He'd seen me earlier and told me I was on the wrong road? I told him I'd had a great day! On a trike he needs a wide shoulder so apparently my choice to ride a road without the maximum shoulder possible was alien to him.
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Near the day's end I pulled in at a filling station for some food. They had a diner style setup with Bibles on every table! Religion is everywhere here. Christian religion. Few town(land)s marked on a map will have a store or a filling station, but every group of houses will have at least one church, if not several, often at different ends of the community. Sometimes at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere there will be a church.
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Also, there are a few "camps" at some of these churches, or their lands, that will show up as Campgrounds on Google Maps. They're campgrounds, alright, but not as I know them! They are for camping retreats, mainly for young people.

Regularly along the side of the road there are homemade signs simply saying "Jesus" or "Jesus Saves". People also place signs on their lawns.

God is everywhere, it seems, except behind the wheel!

The last few Kms were all on a big highway but with a healthy wide shoulder as seems to be the norm in these parts.
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The motel isn't particularly cheap and certainly not cheerful, but it'll do as my temporary home for tonight.

Tomorrow will be more interesting! The forecast tonight is for rain that will last until well into tomorrow. Then tomorrow night temperatures are due to drop to well below zero - and I'll be camping again!

Then, all going well, Friday I'll make it to Nashville and phase one will be complete! I'm definitely excited to be meeting a couple of friends. I think they're a bit amazed that I'll be rolling up on a bike! Honestly, I'm a little amazed too!

Went out for dinner, thinking I'd try Applebee's instead of the Mickey D's, KFC, Taco Bell & multiple pizza places in the area.

Again, my starter had barely been delivered when my main course came out! This time I wasn't accepting it. I have no problem eating on my own. I enjoy the people watching, doing a little eavesdropping and watching the operation. God knows I've worked in the industry long enough! But getting dumped on just because I'm alone is not acceptable!

I got apologies and a fresh main course when it was due and then was presented with my bill before I'd finished eating. I'm beginning to think it's not just motorists that have it in for people on bikes - chain restaurants do too! 😀



If you have any questions or comments please fire ahead. For the sake of continuity I've had permission from the mod team to use https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/chat-one-for-the-big-big-trip-journal.254098/

for comments/questions/discussion
 
OP
HobbesOnTour

HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
Day 56 Thursday, November 06, McMinnville to Murfreesboro 68km

I slept poorly. The motel wasn't the best and there were more than a few odd guests.

I was awake at 7, looked outside, saw the rain and went back to bed!

When I did drag my ass out to the "Continental Breakfast" I wished I hadn't bothered. Watery coffee and teenytiny muffins are not the best way to begin a cycling day.

I packed up & rolled out into the rain. To say it was pouring would be exaggerating, to say it was drizzling would be an understatement. It was going to be a wet day!

I set off on a big highway out of town, but quickly turned off and into the countryside. Despite the gloom, the Fall colours were everywhere, a welcome warmth in the nippy air.

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All was going well, crossing Highway 70S. I ignored the dead end sign, thinking there must be a way I could bike. But the road just stopped dead. Nowhere to go except back. Thanks, Komoot! Now, it was fair to say it was pouring, too.

Taking out my phone I fired up Google Maps and had a look. I'd be able to turn off further down and link up with Komoot's route, but looking at the four lanes of 70S and it's wide shoulder, I decided I was going to do something different - stick on the highway. I figured there'd be more places to stop, less chance of another Komoot cock-up and I could take advantage of the wide shoulder & listen to some music.

I fired up my i-pod, and set it to play an entire Springsteen concert from Adelaide a few years ago, inspired by last night's movie - There's a great version of the "Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello in there somewhere.

I rarely listen to music on the bike. It takes away an important sense and I think it makes me less approachable to people with headphones in my ears. But I like it in the rain.

So, back in the shoulder of the Highway, I plugged in and pulled off. The first song was "Summertime Blues" - someone was having a laugh!

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It makes no sense - it was pouring rain, it was cold, there was a nasty wind, but it was fabulous! I was belting out the songs at full volume, occasionally even playing the imaginary drums in front of the bike!
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Rolling slowly up the hills singing along, flying down the other side with a cover of "Highway to Hell" blasting! A different kind of cycling, but just perfect for the conditions!
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At a certain point while climbing one of the gentle hills I became aware that something was bouncing around just outside my consciousness. I relaxed, tried to empty my mind of everything and eventually it revealed itself - on a windy hill somewhere in Tennessee, with the rain pouring down, with cars and trucks roaring by at 65 mph there was absolutely nowhere else I'd rather be. As feelings go, it's a pretty good one.
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About 11 I came across a filling station just off the highway so pulled in for some coffee & food. To say the welcome was warm would be like describing an iceberg as warm. The woman behind the counter was complaining that I was leaking water on the floor. I took my coffee and food outside. After a while she came outside all friendly. She needed something. I got a ladder, climbed up & changed the price for gas on the big board at the road. And got a free Coke!
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After the stop, I was a bit cold, but warmed up once I had a bit of rhythm. The four lanes were reduced to two through a town, then back up to four again for the run to Murfreesboro.
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The rain never let up and I was getting progressively wetter, although, not much colder. Even the nasty wind was manageable. Thinking ahead, I wasn't looking forward to camping in the rain, especially with the temperatures to drop well below zero.
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On the edge of Murfreesboro I pulled into another filling station for more coffee and had a quick look online. I found a bargain motel, booked it and cycled over.

The ladies behind the desk were the most animated I've come across. I requested a ground floor room (for the bike) and an old cloth to clean the bike. They couldn't have been nicer. No problem to take the bike in, no problem for a cloth - here's a pile of old towels. A hot shower, hang up all the wet gear and I was ready for an afternoon of leisure!

It's strange - a cold, wet day, riding a road I'd normally avoid like the plague turned out to be the day I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!



If you have any questions or comments please fire ahead. For the sake of continuity I've had permission from the mod team to use https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/chat-one-for-the-big-big-trip-journal.254098/

for comments/questions/discussion
 
OP
HobbesOnTour

HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
Day 57 Friday, November 07, Murfreesboro to Nashville 72km

After the rain of yesterday it was great to wake up to bright sunshine! It was cold, though. I had a decent breakfast at the motel, packed up my gear in a leisurely manner and got ready to hit the road.

Rick and George, my friends and hosts had warned me about Nashville traffic and offered to meet me close to Nashville & drive me to their place. I'm sure that really they were trying to organise a parade for my grand arrival and being a modest chap I didn't like the sound of that! In any case, they wouldn't be home until after 5pm (probably preparing all that ticker tape for the parade) so I was in no real rush. Ideally, I'd be there before dark.

Setting off from Murfreesboro wasn't exactly easy. Big, busy roads, no shoulder and heavy traffic. I took to the pavement. Despite the Sandy roads in North Carolina and the forest roads in South Carolina & Tennessee I can honestly say these pavements were the toughest, bumpiest, trickiest surface I rode on.
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One out of the city I pulled in for a coffee. Sitting down in the sun I had the chance to ponder on the relatively swift change in the weather. It was about 10C, with a chilling wind blowing from the North. A couple of weeks ago it was twice that! The cold weather seems to be here to stay.

Back on the road, I was on my friend from yesterday - Highway 70S. This time I left the music off. The shoulder was narrower, the surface worse, the traffic was heavier and today there was no rumble strip. Yesterday, if a car moved into the shoulder behind me the rumble strip noise would wake the dead.
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There were at least two intersections with an Interstate highway and several towns spread out along the highway so there was always something to be paying attention to. The shoulder often disappeared in a town, resuming again on the outskirts. After about 25 km the shoulder narrowed but a bike lane appeared. Then disappeared for a few hundred meters, then reappeared again. I'd pay good money to see the planner for these bike paths ride a bike on one!

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The intersections with the Interstates were tricky, having to move from the shoulder (right) across the filter lane into no-man's-land then back across the entry filter lane into the shoulder again. It can be tricky, especially since it seems American automobiles have a plague of defective indicators. I reckon only about 5-10% of indicators appear to be in working order!

Also, on one of the intersections I got another open window yelling experience, although this time it was a high pitched scream. It was a little more effective than the YAH of a few days ago, but a mild irritant in the big scheme of things. Giving them the finger though, did make me feel surprisingly better!
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When the bike lane disappeared for good I turned off into suburbia for a little while before passing a lake (behind trees) on a busy road with a decent bike path.

I stopped for a pee, leaving the bike leaning against a crash barrier. I stepped well away from the road and facing into the woods relieved the pressure on my bladder. Until something started moving and cracking branches in front of me. The trees were so dense I could see nothing, but the noise continued. I quickly zipped up & hightailed it out of there!

I came to a dam and turned off for a few kms of dedicated cycling trail along a river. There was a definite drop in temperature. After the trail it was back into the early evening traffic, although I had a bike path which made for easy enough progress.
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I wasn't too far away now and turned onto the road where the lads lived. Four lanes, full of traffic in both directions, no shoulder at all. And I had 7km to cycle down. No way! That was going to be a suicide mission. Instead, I pulled off the road, fired up cycle.travel and plotted a new (longer) route avoiding the crazy road.

This route was far nicer, along a two lane road with a low speed limit. It was certainly busy, but I had no problems with the traffic. Occasionally I'd pull in to let traffic by but that was really more for my benefit than theirs. Each time I stopped, even for just a minute I could feel the cold. Gizmo was now telling me it was 1C.

Then I hit a lake and ride through residential areas before making my way over a river then back on to the crazy road for a few hundred meters.
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I had arrived!! Stage one complete!

I'm going to be taking some time off here and enjoy being treated like a king! There's a few upgrades the bike should have had before I left that I'll take care of here. I also need to properly repair the cat damage on my tent fly. I also need to figure out a route for the next stage of my trip. The next intermediate destination will be Austin, Texas. I have half an idea to visit New Orleans on the way. I'll need to check out the logistics of that as well as taking a bit of time to check out the Mexican leg that comes after.

Oh, I'll also need to visit a few honky tonks and enjoy some of my favourite music. Of course, there's lots of food I need to try too!


To be continued…….

Edited to add:
I also saw my first (live) raccoon!
After wild camping in a National Forest, several campsites where lockers were provided to store food, where practically every other campsite had poles to hang food from, being marooned for 36 hours in a primitive forest site, hearing strange animal sounds outside my tent, my first glimpse of one of these beasts was from the shoulder of a busy 4 lane highway!! He was scurrying across the large lawn in front of a church.


If you have any questions or comments please fire ahead. For the sake of continuity I've had permission from the mod team to use https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/chat-one-for-the-big-big-trip-journal.254098/

for comments/questions/discussion
 
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