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Good-bye Virginia, Hello Kentucky

New state, same mountains...
Welcome. I haven't posted in a few days - I've been camping in areas without much service. I entered Kentucky two days ago. Yesterday, I rode 78 miles spending ten hours in the saddle climbing through Kentucky's Appalachian country. And after 7 straight days, I'm resting today in Hazard, Kentucky. And although it's tempting, I'm going to skip riding over to the other side of town to visit the Dukes of Hazard Museum, the town's claim to fame. Staying in a Super 8 that hasn't been renovated since the 60's is giving me all the nostalgia I need. Especially the old school 400 pound TV that gets real snowy until you give it a hard slap on the side - when's the last time you've slapped your TV? All I need is some rabbit ears and foil to round out the experience.
Last night, I camped in the Gym of a Baptist Center in Lookout, Kentucky. These fine folks open their doors for bikers offering wrestling mats to sleep on and a kitchen stocked with Kraft Mac and Cheese and all the chocolate you can eat. Very sweet people - they love cyclists and told me, " I really admahr whut y'all doin," which put a smile on my face once I translated it :) I met a 19 year old cyclist from Blacksburg, VA that's touring with so much weight he has to get off and push up the hills - he has a stereo on his handlebars, a dog in a basket up front, five panniers and a guitar. A couple of pics of his set-up below.
These small Appalachia towns in Eastern Kentucky are the poorest I've ever seen outside of third world countries. A lot of mobile homes, trash everywhere, literally, and cigarettes can be and are smoked by everyone, in stores, restaurants.... you get the picture. And god forbid I could find some produce to eat (my biggest challenge so far), other than canned green beans and iceberg lettuce.The folks are generally very nice if you can get by the confederate flags and all that comes with them. It's a cultural time warp being passed down through the generations, with no apparent change on the horizon. I feel no judgment or feeling of superiority - I find myself thinking and inputing like a cultural anthropologist. It's interesting, sad... and just what it is.
The attacking dogs I was warned about are quite real - had to spray two of them yesterday. When I leave tomorrow, I'll be heading into the spreading remnants of the weather systems that are wreaking havoc in Texas and Oklahoma. I can worry about it - what's the value in that? The only attitude that serves me out here is, "Bring it on!"
On the physical side, I am finally getting my legs - I'll pass 600 miles tomorrow and my daily averages are picking up - a lot of my daily itineraries are based on finding food and shelter near the end of the day. Every day continues to be an adventure and learning experience. Next stop Boonesville, on the Daniel Boone Trail - my only problem, I cannot stop singing the theme song to the show... "From the coonskin cap on the top of his head... " OY.
1. "Worth a thousand words..."
2. 19 year old Xander and his dog Ella (Guitar not pictured)
3. Xander pushing out of Lookout, KY
4. Kentucky Coal mine on left.
5. Breakfast after camping at city park in Council, VA (testing Bluetooth selfie remote)
6. Pulling into Pippa Passes, KY - typical Appalachian town
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