6/19/10 – 6/24/10
6 days, 4 states, 1,800 miles
Days 1 & 2: Chicago - Elizabethtown KY - Danville KY
Day 3: Danville KY - Manchester KY
Days 5 & 6: Paintsville KY - Wilder KY – Chicago
This trip started as all our trips – we left Howard’s home at about 8:30 am, jumped on the Interstate, and rode the rest of the day trying to get as far from Chicago as we could.
The plan was to ride south to the Tennessee border through Louisville, turn around and ride north to Lexington, then turn around again and ride back to Tennessee border, and finally proceed to Cincinnati, zig-zagging along the way.
Our first stop was Elizabethtown. A curious fact about this town is that, despite being in a “dry county”, alcoholic drinks are freely available at the restaurants.
Day 2 started with the ride through The Mammoth Cave National Park and then continued through the Barren River Lake area. It then turned north across an arm of Lake Cumberland and continued along US 127 through really great scenery.
A short stop by the Barren River Dam.
Danville, our second stop, is a city of 15,000 known for housing the first courthouse in Kentucky and the first US Post Office west of the Allegheny Mountains.
While putting a cover on the bike, I discovered several cuts on the front tire. After some consideration, we decided to ride to the nearest Suzuki dealership and let them take a look before resorting to some drastic measures such as buying a new tire and shipping it overnight.
At 9 am Howard and I were standing in front of the dealership’s doors holding our breath. Fortunately for us, it turned out to be a false alarm. The guy who inspected the tire assured us that it was absolutely safe to ride on it.
All riding in Kentucky is scenic, but some rides are better than others. The 90-mile ride from Winchester to Livingston is one of the best. Part of KY 89 is designated as a Kentucky Scenic Byway.
St. Hubert’s Episcopal Church.
Coffee stop in Irwin, KY.
By the end of day 3 the weather stopped cooperating. Strong winds and dark sky didn’t promise anything good. There were a lot of leaves and small tree branches on the road. About 25 miles from Manchester we ran into a fallen tree blocking the road. Howard and I tried to move it, but it was too heavy even for giants like us. While we were considering our options, several cars piled up behind us. Eventually a 4-wheel drive pickup truck pulled the tree to the side of the road clearing the passage.
It also started to rain, and it didn’t take long before the light drizzle turned into a downpour. It was too late to put on our rain gear, so we continued in our soaked jackets and jeans. We spent the rest of the evening drying up our gear with a hairdryer.
Day 4 took us on Hwy 421 / KY 80 and then on Hwy 15 North to Campton. Here we ran into a couple of road closures, but managed to find decent detours that didn’t add too many miles to the route.
Hwy 421 is a mountain road that goes through beautiful wooded hollows and along ridges.
Howard’s new friend.
The last 70-mile stretch before Paintsville was especially scenic. A couple of locals were riding an ATV in front of us on Hwy 711. They definitely knew the road and navigated the turns with great skill without slowing down.
Cows and I. I love nature.
We found people in Kentucky to be very friendly. In one little town along the Ohio river they even formed a welcoming committee and sent a deputy sheriff to greet us. Howard and I went out of our way to show how happy we were to meet him. Fortunately, the officer didn’t insist on meeting other committee members that included a judge and a DA and let us continue our trip .
We felt that seating in a rocking chair was essential for completing our experience of the South.