How did I not meet Doris until today? After I planned my route for the day and as I was checking out, I got to chat a bit with Doris. She told me that her title is Conference Concierge of the Scarritt Bennett Center. I was sharing my excitement about the historic buildings throughout Nashville and Doris told me that I just had to see the Chapel. I wish I had words to describe and the talent to photograph the beauty of the interior of that building. No longer used for church services, the Chapel was voted best place to have a wedding in Nashville. It is truly breathtaking!
Doris also gave me two Scarritt Bennett magnets, each one with a picture of one of the buildings on the campus. I’ll tell you what – it’s the people who put the finishing touches on great trips!
As I rode out of Nashville, I realized that I had just barely scratched the surface of this city. I’ll definitely be returning!
I decided to knock out a quick 50 miles on I40 heading east, mostly to avoid multiple stop lights while getting out of town. Traffic was not bad and I felt no un ease on that 8 lane highway. As I had entered Nashville on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but notice a series of signs that announce the number of fatalities that have occurred on Tennessee highwasy (“please don’t be the next” it reads). On Wednesday the sign showed the number 598; as I rode under it today it read 603. Sure makes you think …
I had planned to take 70North to start my ride to Knoxville but was having difficulty finding the access point. When I stopped to check my directions, a group of guys at the store told me that I was wrong, that it was 70E, not 70N. I kept insisting that it should be North but they assured me it was East. Against my better judgment, I got on 70E.
Next time I’ll trust myself and my map. I was on the wrong road. I didn’t need to do any backtracking but the mistake did add some extra miles. Then again, if I had not taken the wrong road, I wouldn’t have driven through the historic downtown of Watertown. What a lovely little place … cafe, newspaper, bank, grocery store … THIS is why I stay off the interstate. Not only do back roads make the ride prettier and more interesting, they allow for little surprises like Watertown.
And then there are the big surprises that occur whether you ride big roads or small ones.
I saw the storm clouds gathering and I knew that I was trying to out race them. 70N took me through tiny towns, across beautiful farm lands, over mountain passes, past horses and cows, and along constant curves. Absolutely beautiful … even in a downpour! I was drenched, but able to keep riding. As the rain let up, I came through Cookeville and stopped at Moogie’s BBQ for some much needed lunch and a bit of drying off.
I was glad that Moogies had outside seating as I was soaked!
Unfortunately, once I was back on the road, the rain (and thunder and lightning) came in earnest and I was soaked to the skin. I pulled over for the first time and sat under a covered gas pump. The owner of the place was kind to let me stay there without purchasing gas and expressed great concern over my safety. His kindness was a bright spot in the rain. When the storm seemed to be lightening up, I got back on the road.
Well, what I thought was hard rain before, became even harder and I could not even see the road. I had to ride another 5 minutes before finding a place to pull over (again, under a covered gas pump). My clothing and boots felt like lead and I was a bit discouraged. I went into the gas station and called Michael, knowing he would be the right friend at the right time. I needed his brand of “it’s all part of the deal, LD”. Down to earth, matter of fact – “just wait it out and you’ll be fine, but call if you need anything”. I guess what I’m saying is that I needed someone who would share concern but mostly just let me know, hey this happens, be safe and smart and you’ll be fine.
And he was exactly right. After about 30 minutes, the rain did let up and I was able to get back on the road to finish the trip to Knoxville. Thankfully, I only had another 45 minutes or so to travel. I was cold, wet and ready to be done. Funny though, I was still able to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I wish I could have stopped at a few places – like Frozen Head State Park (where on earth did that name come from?), the Obed Wild and Scenic River, and Oak Ridge Laboratory – but I had to keep riding. Hopefully I’ll get back that way again someday.
I finally arrived at the home of Jen and Justin and their daughter Eli. How wonderful to be able to come in, strip off all the wet clothes and do a huge load of laundry. In borrowed t-shirt and sweat pants, I was warm and comfortable. Being able to catch up over pizza and beer made for a really nice evening and I really enjoyed having a good long chat with Jen.
Now … time to sleep. 225 miles today … not sure how many were ridden in the rain.