Unbridled Spirit of Kentucky

Kentucky brought us through the Appalachian Mountains and across the Ohio River. The “Unbridled Spirit” of Kentucky was shown in its farms, horses, friendly people and dogs. If you have cycled through Kentucky you have experienced the unbridled spirit (or unleashed spirit) of their dogs.

Most are friendly but once they see the bike approaching their property line (and they know their property lines) the chase is on. Coming into Kentucky we were asked if we had been warned about the dogs. We were warned by watching video and reading blogs of other cyclists. Some kind women at the Baptist Church in Lookout, KY even suggested pepper spray. That may have been the point where we looked at each other and wondered how serious are these dogs?

Dan did carry pepper spray but told me that his “Alpha Male” voice has worked rather well in deterring the dogs from chasing too long or grabbing on; except one. Dan’s “alpha male” voice was not working and the dog tore holes in each of Dan’s panniers. Not only did the dogs chase Dan but they also chased the SUV and camper. I guessed Dan would meet a few dogs, but the camper? They chased the camper after a couple seconds of a quizzical look like they were trying to decide what exactly to do with this new toy. Of course me being concerned for their safety, I slowed down which is what they want; ha! Luckily no dogs were harmed in the trek through Kentucky.

Dan’s Dog Count: 14

Brianne’s Dog Count: 5

Scenic Views and Underground Exploration

Our family

Kentucky continued the Appalachian Mountain climb but was full of excitement (and tough climbs) as we completed our first state. Even driving there was a sense of excitement and completion when we crossed the state line. I anxiously waited for Dan to cross into Kentucky. Dan hurt his knee coming into Kentucky as he made the climb. Luckily we were heading not too far into the state for our first overnight.

Kentucky meant our first rest days which were at Mammoth Cave National Park. We spent three full days in Mammoth Cave camping and visiting the park. We planned this break at Mammoth Cave to recover and to meet up with friends for the weekend. We definitely needed the break and most importantly needed to see our friends. This was our annual Ohtahara Syndrome Family Gathering.

At Mammoth Cave we were able to participate in a cave tour. Exploring the cave with everyone able to participate easily meant access to the elevator. This was a special opportunity and with some planning our group was able to use the elevator and take a 45 minute cave tour. We saw writing from the 1800s and experienced the cave with no light and sound. It is extremely dark; can’t see your hand in front of you, dark (I tried). Everyone seemed to enjoy the cave and both Park Rangers were very accommodating and so good with all the children. It was quite the experience and something that I am so happy we shared with our Ohtahara family. There is just something so good about being together with our extended family.

Our family also went on a couple of trails around Mammoth Cave and saw the historic entrance. The temperature change while heading into the historic entrance was immediate. It was a hot, muggy day so the cooler temperature of the cave was welcome. Gabriel also got to experience the cave, at least the historic entrance part of the cave. Our little explorers loved the cave! It was so interesting to think about the first people to be in the cave or find the cave. Cave tours have been ongoing since the 1800s. I would have enjoyed going on more cave tours but the tours book up fast so plan accordingly if you visit Mammoth Cave National Park. The park is such an interesting and unique part of Kentucky (and the U.S). Mammoth Cave is the largest cave in the world with over 400 miles and around a mile being added to it every year. I learned that volunteers explore the cave and typically add a mile of cave annually; now this is a place I could volunteer if I lived nearby! How awesome to be part of a group of volunteers that explore uncharted parts of the cave; I count that as seeking nature!

Home Cooked Meal and the Unofficial Cyclist Hall of Fame

Sebree Kentucky. If you stopped in Sebree KY as a cyclist and stayed at the First Baptist Church you already know what I am about to write. This is a must stop for cyclists crossing the U.S. The church is very welcoming to cyclists and have been hosting cyclists for 30+ years. Bob and Violet welcome the cyclists and are two of the most generous, kind, and welcoming people we have met on the trip. Three other cyclists joined our family in Sebree and we were all made a homemade meal, sat around a table like a big family, and enjoyed everyone’s bike stories. Violet shared with us her personal (unofficial) cyclist hall of fame (my words not hers). I call it the hall of fame because she has such a great collection of memories, photos, and cards from past cyclists. Many people that have past through Sebree send Violet and Bob photos and letters once they complete the journey. They have photos of tandem recumbent bikes, unicycles, couples, families, and even a penny feather (?) bike. Violet sat with us at the table and shared her stories of so many cyclists that have past through. They have both helped so many people and not just meals but rides to airports when emergencies at home arise and prayers. Dan and I both enjoyed hearing all their stories. You feel like you are loved in Sebree immediately and Dan and I are both so thankful we chose to stop in Sebree.

More Cyclists

We have met four more cyclists in Kentucky. That makes seven cyclists with the majority heading east to west like us. Katie, Brianna, Noah, and two adventure cycling group tour leaders. I am very happy to meet other cyclists (still no other families) along the way. I am interested to learn why they are cycling and where they are going.

On our last day of Kentucky we went through Amish country. I was looking forward to this part as we were told that there is a general store to buy fresh baked bread and pastries. We were heading there on the best day as the owners bake fresh bread on Friday and Saturday. We were passing through on Friday. We stopped at the general store and picked up some candies, cheese, and handmade soap. No fresh bread at the particular store we stopped at but the first shop (which we missed) sells the bread.

Ohio River Ferry

Brianne waiting at the ferry crossing

The Ohio River ferry is a very cool ride into Illinois. Just like every town and city should be entered through a passage way of trees like in Virginia, every state should be entered in some cool fashion like a ferry. The boys enjoyed the crossing the river on the ferry. We saw barges passing through and Illinois welcomed us with our first park of the state.

Despite the unbridled spirit of the dogs, Kentucky was welcoming and offered a unique chance for us to explore caves, spend time with friends/family, and meet more cyclists along the route. We were treated to a homemade meal and saw the unofficial cyclist hall of fame. Every state may have a cookie lady (Virginia) or Bob and Violet (Kentucky) that have treasured each visit from a cyclist and have collected memorabilia along the way. We hope so! Onward to Illinois.

Copyright © Go Seek Nature 2016