Day 81 (11.4.10): Mayor for a Lifetime

We arrived at the door about the same time as an old man. He introduced himself, welcomed us to town, and then asked if we were staying in the shelter behind the Presbyterian church. Uh…maybe? We hadn't heard about this shelter before.


Start End Lodging Miles $$ Spent Weather
Berea, KY Booneville, KY Home (Jamie & Sue Brunk) 51.0 $29 Lo:41 Hi:50, Sunny, Headwind


Ahhh. Sometime in the night, it finally stopped raining. What a relief! That meant that we would at least get to start the day dry.

Of course our tent was soaked, but we, and most of our things, had stayed dry. (We learned how to keep our stuff dry early on after a night of rain left everything soaked!). So we packed up our soggy tent and wrapped it in a garbage bag before putting it in the dry bag with my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Hopefully that will keep my sleeping bag from absorbing all the water from the tent like it did last time!

After a delicious Subway breakfast, we were off. We had heard that it really started to get hilly after Berea, and we quickly learned that we had heard right. It was definitely hilly, but despite the hills, Appalachia is beautiful, and in some ways it almost felt good to be entering the mountains again. Sort of like we were coming home to an old friend.

Our motivation is still pretty low, which makes it hard to hit our 60-mile-per-day goal, especially in these hills.  To make things harder, according to our elevation profile, today we would have our first lengthy hill in a long time: a two miler! Ironically, we would know the hill was starting when we reached a town named Big Hill. Clever.

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Just before the big hill, we had a Reese's Fast Break – our new favorite candy bar – and some coffee for extra 'motivation'. When we left from our rest stop, it could've been a commercial for Reese's the way we powered up the hill! We were up and over in no time!  

The high for the day was only 50! We could keep ourselves warm as long as we were pedaling, but as soon as soon as we stopped for a break, it got feeling pretty cold in a hurry, so we tried not to stop more than necessary.

Overall, the riding was fairly uneventful. We had a few dogs come out to "greet" us, but we've found that if we just stop, the dogs stop. With our loaded bikes, we're not likely to outrun anything bigger than a chihuahua…even without the hills!  Fortunately, it's really not as difficult to stop and face down a dog as it might sound. Amazingly, every time we stop, the dogs stop. Every single time, so we've never had any trouble.

At about mile 45, we rolled into Booneville. April wanted to push further, but I was done. We stopped at the local library to try and find a place to stay for the night. No one answered their phones, so we decided to leave and go eat because we hadn't really eaten anything since breakfast and we were pretty hungry

We were just about to leave the library when it started to rain. So we ducked back into the lobby and made our grumbling stomachs wait just a little longer. It poured for about 10 minutes, and then it was done. Glad to have missed that, we got on our bikes and headed for one of the two restaurants in town.

As we were walking up to the door of the first restaurant, I couldn't shake the feeling that we should go to the other one. Fortunately, it was just down the street, so we headed for the second restaurant, Dooley's Diner.

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We arrived at the door about the same time as an old man. He introduced himself as Charles, welcomed us to town, and then asked if we were staying in the shelter behind the Presbyterian church. Uh…maybe? We hadn't heard about this shelter before.

He kind of chuckled and then told us that he was the Mayor of the town and an elder at the church, and we were welcome to use the shelter if we wanted! Woo-hoo! Plus one for God (and my gut). The only drawback was that there were no walls around the shelter, just a roof. So while it was somewhere to stay, we'd be out in the cold in our still-soggy tent, and it was supposed to get below freezing tonight. Hmmm…

Soon, we learned that Charles Long was not just any mayor, but the longest running mayor in the history of Kentucky (and probably one of the longest running mayors in the history of the United States!) at 53 years as mayor. Whoa!

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Mayor Long went over to his buddies, and we sat down to eat at our own table. After some burgers and fries, our waitress said, "Honey, no one should be a-stayin' outside tonight in this weather!", then she suggested that we check with another of the local churches that ran a "missionary motel" and might have a room available. April mentioned that we had tried calling the church and motel just a little bit ago but nobody had answered. "No problem, baby!  Hang on!" said the waitress. She told the cashier about our situation, and soon the cashier was on the phone trying to get a hold of someone for us. In this small town, it seemed everyone knew everyone else. 

When this didn't produce any results, she gave us directions to the pastor's home. So after dinner we rode over to try our luck again. The pastor didn't seem very excited to see us and wasn't all that interested in helping, but he did give us the name and number of another pastor. A little frustrated, but not easily discouraged, April gave our newest contact a call.

Jamie answered and told us that he and his wife lived a few miles away, and we were welcome to come over.  In addition to pastoring three churches, he coached high school cross country and his team was coming over for dinner and a movie before the regional meet on Saturday. We were welcome to come over and join them for the evening if we wanted. We said, "Sure!".  His directions to us were something like, "Turn right at the Methodist church in town – one of my churches. Then turn left at the Fun Town gas station, and we're up the hill on your right.  We've got a brick house and two big, 15-passenger church vans in the garage.  You can't miss it!"

One Fun Town gas station and two 15-passenger van's later, we found his house and happily introduced ourselves to Jamie, Sue, and their cross country team.

After a cold and slightly wet day, it felt great to just sit in a warm house, watch a movie, and eat pizza. Jamie and Sue also had an extra bedroom they said we could sleep in. Bonus! After the team left, we had a great conversation about God and life in a small town. Jamie had some great stories about bringing track and field to the high school despite the school not having a track. For example, the discus and shot put area was his back yard! He said in all the years they'd done this, they hadn't had a discus come through the window…yet.

Finally it was time to say goodnight.  After showers, April reapplied some nail polish to her chigger bites, which have finally stopped spreading, and we went to bed in our nice, warm, soft, dry bed! Yay!

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