I'll let the pictures do the talking. At left is the nice bike path north of Williamsburg that parallels US 5. This was head and shoulders above what the rest of Virginia offered.
Dave and I took the morning off and found lots of hokie things walking around Brandsburg this morning. Hokie burgers, hokie haircuts, hokie shirts, etc. I suppose that makes sense given it’s the Virginia Tech campus and their mascot is the Hokie. So just what is a Hokie? Today it is equivocated with a turkey, but its origins go back to the late 19th century when O.M. Stull won $5 in a contest to determine the school's spirit yell. In case you are wondering what that spirit yell is...
Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.
Techs, Techs, V.P.I.
Polytechs - Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, V.P.I.
Later, the phrase "Team! Team! Team!" was added at the end, and an "e" was added to "Hoki." If a school as smart as Virginia Tech comes up with something like that, it sort of makes you wonder what your school has, doesn't it? For more details, please check out: http://www.vt.edu/about/traditions/hokie.html.
Fellow bike bloggers report that eastern Kentucky is known for loose dogs. We've only had two dogs get pavement on us (i.e.-chase us on the road) prior to today, so we figured it was hound hyperbole...but changed our view shortly after taking some backroads leading out of Berea to Irvine. 16 dogs romped on the road after us...mostly onesies and twosies, and at least twice as many barked from behind fences or hedges. No bites and only once did a pack push Dave into the other lane of traffic.
It was stressful...I had to have a Ale 8.1 ginger ale afterwards (shown at left). This is the local drink Dave's brother Mike (who used to live in the area) recommended and it proved good enough to give chocolate milk a run for its money.
Kentuckians make a big deal about bourbon, so Dave and I did a little investigative work (purely for posterity) on our day off. In full disclosure...Congress declared bourbon “America’s Native Spirit” in 1964 (sorry Wisconsin brandy fans). We learned that all bourbon is whisky but not all whiskey is bourbon. How so? Bourbon has to have a grain mix of 51% or more corn, must be made in the US, distilled at less than 160 proof, be free of additives except water to cut the proof and must be aged in new, charred, white oak barrels for at least two years. Rather complicated, but high standards help ensure a high quality product.
We stopped at Wilderness Trail, co-owned by a mechanical engineer and a biomolecular scientist, where Jared gave a great technical tour that expanded my knowledge of yeast...this company even has yeast in the International Space Station and someday hopes to make a Space Bourbon. In the interim, they are stuck shipping 40 tons of yeast a month to brewers (and to think home brewers need only a few ounces to make two cases of beer...) We then saw the hottest of tours - Kentucky Cooperage - where they make the barrels that are used to age the bourbon and later used by brewers to add bourbon flavor to stouts, porters, etc. A decade ago, these barrels were being given away after their bourbon days were done...now used barrels sell for as much or more than what the bourbon makers buy them for. Our last bourbon bop was to Maker's Mark, a high end, sweet mash maker of bourbon where the tour mixed tradition and technology, featured the only Dale Chihuly glass piece tied to alcohol and the only piece within Kentucky on a ceiling of a storeroom that houses some of the aging bourbon.
Interesting stuff to be sure, but Dave didn't like the bourbon one bit. Maybe if they made chocolate milk flavored bourbon...
Whenever I complain to Dave on how bumpy the rumble strip roads are in this part of the country, he reminds me we are in the lap of luxury compared to the earliest cross-country bikers.
The first male coast-to-coast bike trip was completed in 1884 by a British man named Thomas Stevens who left San Francisco on April 22nd 1884 (foreshadowing Earth Day?), riding a penny-farthing bike with a big front wheel and a tiny back wheel. He biked 3,700 miles across wagon trails, canal towpaths and public roads, arriving in Boston on August 4th, 1884. In his bike bag he carried only a spare shirt, a pair of socks and a rain slicker that doubled as a sleeping bag.
Twelve years later, a lady named Margaret Valentine Le Long biked from Chicago to San Francisco in two months, mostly following railroad tracks. She carried a pistol in her Spartan packings. Not cross-country, but impressive all the same.
I have to throw out yesterday's question...the secret site visited today was not a birthplace of an individual leading to a famous 1970s TV series but was where the lead character spent much of their life. The answer?
If you guessed Ork, the planet that Mork from Mork & Mindy hailed from, congratulations! You win a creativity award. Truth to be told, the internal combustion engine on this two wheeler runs during the day on Pop-Tarts, chocolate milk and bananas and doesn't have the horsepower to get to Ork and back to a free Wi-Fi zone in a day for Dave to keep up with his blogging.
If you guessed the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer of the books leading to "The Little House on the Prairie" series, congratulations! You win. Now stop that...stop that...there'll be no crying around here. No tears of joy, please. Heaven knows enough saline detritus dribbled down the cheeks of the show's stars each episode.
Laura and her husband Almanzo lived on Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield, Mo (pictured above) while raising their daughter Rose (a successful author in her own right) and stayed until their deaths. Ms. Wilder was actually born in Pepin, WI...I had forgot that. The house was something of a shrine, kept with mostly original furnishings from the 1950s (she died in 1957). It reminded me of seeing the Liverpool childhood homes of McCartney and Lennon, except that furnishing and accoutrements were rightsized to accommodate Laura's height of 4'11''. Pa's fiddle was on display in the museum as well....I didn't recall that from the series. I do remember lots of crying.
Dave got time with one of his favorite Presidents earlier in the week. This morning was my turn. In Lamar, MO is the birthplace of the humble haberdasher Harry S Truman, 32nd President of the US. Truman's parents bought this property for $685 in 1882. It came with six rooms, a well, smokestack and outhouse and was Harry's boyhood home only until he was 11 months old.
Why is Harry my favorite president? Why, for his most famous saying of course..."The Bark Stops Here". Dave says it really was "The Buck Stops Here", but caninely, methinks that's just the human media acting to keep us dogs down.
Tomorrow we hope to take in another birthplace, this one that lead to a famous 1970s TV series that was a combo of Breaking Bad, House of Cards and Game of Thrones...except it lacked action, plot development was far weaker and the acting pale in comparison. After all, this was the era of All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore and Grizzly Adams. Any guesses?
The variety of school mascots through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and now Missouri is interesting. Many are named after western animals (e.g.-Bulls, Mustangs), others after birds (e.g.-Eagles, Hawks, Prairie Chickens) and some even take after weather elements (e.g.-Tornadoes, Lightnings). Yet the most frequently seen thing on our road trip so far are the dead animals on the road. Must have seen over a hundred today alone...which gets me thinking (and I have plenty of time with Dave on the bike eight hours a day)...is there a school system insane enough to parody this? Picture the fictional town of Riley, Mo. Their mascot could be the "Riley Road Kill" and the baseball team's slogan could be "We will tire you out".
I hope things are well with you and that you are keeping your biting under control.
Three hours into Kansas and I get the whole "human owner knocked out by wind" thing. Three days into Kansas and I'm still not feeling the "no place like home" love. The people are nice enough in a quiet and unpretentious way. It's the wind...the wicked wind...
Dave thinks he has an answer and it goes back to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. He recently read "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan, et. al., which talks about the poor land management practices of the Plains farmers in the 1920s leading to the huge loss of soil in the early 1930s. One of President Roosevelt's grandiose ideas was to plant 300 million trees in the Plains to combat wind-related erosion and help alter the micro climate. Roughly 30 million trees were planted by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp), but when the rains returned and WWII spiked demand for grains, most of the farmers plowed over the young trees, leaving the mostly denuded landscape. Occasionally, Dave and I would pass a row of trees and think "Thank you CCC!"
There's still time to feel the love...despite 97 miles today, we're a little less than half the way across this long state.