Day 26: Hindman to Buckhorn

Two nights ago, Crispin, Tom, Dineke, and I had a simple dinner bought from a convenience store in Hindman. We chatted a lot. Crispin is a very talkative guy and Dineke informed of us why this area is considered the poorest in the United States. It was because the money never came back to the area after the coal companies got their profits. The people here were all coal miners and suffered health issues.

I also noticed in Kentucky every house had at least one pickup truck and at least one dog. And the only other thing on the road are churches unless there’s a major town.

Where I slept in the youth center

I ended up getting 9 hours of sleep and woke up at 6 AM the next day. Tom and Dineke had slept upstairs and they woke up later. Crispin and I decided to get some breakfast at the same convenience store where we bought our dinner the night before. After walking back to the youth center, we sat in the front and talked for about 45 minutes about our lives. Crispin studied nuclear engineering in college but worked in software engineering. He bicycled across the United States in 1974. He’s 69 years old now and is doing a bicycle trip to Iowa, then making a loop back to his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. We had an emotional conversation about life on earth and what it means for each of us.

Tom’s pedal assisted bike is broken so Tom and Dineke decided to call the bicycle shop in Washington DC and will rent a car to carry their bikes to the shop. Crispin and I decided to ride together. We left the youth center at 10:15 AM.

Crispin is in better shape than I am. I usually walk my bicycle up the hills but he just rides on. We did a total of four or five hills through out the day. Every time there’s an uphill, Crispin would go ahead of me and every time there’s a downhill I would go in front of him.

Crispin taking a water break

Mining coal

We passed by a coal mining plant since we are deep in the coal country, with many coal trucks passing us on the road. There were many election signs all along the road as well since I got into Kentucky. I think the local elections are coming up soon.

Do you really need to vote for a jailer?

Around noon, we arrived in Combs. Inside France’s Diner, we had lunch. But the portions were so tiny. I tried to get a Warmshowers host in Combs, but had no luck. After some thought, I decided to ride with Crispin to Buckhorn and maybe camp there.

Small lunch portions

By 4 or 5 PM, our water was running low and there wasn’t any stores nearby. So I suggested to ask for water at one of the houses along the road. We pulled up next to a house and an older couple were chilling on the porch. They were very nice and allowed us to fill our water bottles from the garden hose and even gave us bottled waters. Crispin is a friendly guy so we ended up chatting with the couple, whose names are Dan and Ruby. Later, their son came out to talk to us, too. They lived around here their entire lives and so did their parents and kids.

Me, Dan, Ruby, and Crispin

After this blessed encounter, we rode up more hills to get to a dairy bar that served sundaes. I didn’t think a place like this existed on top of a mountain since it wasn’t marked on the map. But Dan, the local we had met, told us about it and he was right. Crispin and I had sundaes there. We checked the weather and it seemed there will be no rain at all. So we took our time to ride the last leg to Buckhorn.

Enjoying our sundaes

In Buckhorn, Crispin asked a convenience store clerk about where to stay for the night because we really didn’t want to spend the money on a campground. The clerk told us to ask the pastor at the Log Cathedral Buckhorn Lake Area Church across the street. Gayle, the pastor at the church, was so kind and told us we can stay inside the church where there’s a shower. We are so fortunate!

Church in Buckhorn, where Crispin and I stayed

We had dinner at Cody’s Corner, a convenience store and a restaurant. Their chicken salad was so filling and so good. Much better than my lunch. After we got back to church, I took a shower and went to bed at 9:30 PM.

Breakfast is served!

This morning, Crispin and I got up around 5:45 AM. We came to Cody’s Corners again. I had western omelette for breakfast. Today’s ride will be 66 miles to Berea. If I make it, it’ll be the longest distance I will ride in a single day on my trip so far. We plan on starting out soon.