T R I P   J O U R N A L

W E E K   # 1 8


DAY OF REST - Monday, November 1, 2004

Not much going on today. Spent the day visiting with Uncle Donald in the morning and in the evening after he returned from the office. In the middle of it all, I just work on the website and polished off a bit of travel writing.

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DAY OF REST - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Another day of rest and relaxation. Just the usual; visiting with Uncle Don, travel writing, breathing, eating. In the evening I have a near encounter with the cops while pilfering an Internet connection on a quiet residential street in High Point, NC! Oh, what fun!

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DAY OF REST - Wednesday, October 3, 2004

In addition to hanging with good ole Uncle Don, I spend a little time caring for my travel weary bicycles. Upon inspection, I see loads of rust on my mountain bike and a bend front rim on my road bike. A bend rim?!? How did that happen? I make a trip to a local bike shop where I buy a $40 used replacement rim as well as supplies for my mountain bike. Ha! Considering what I've put the bikes through so far on my trip, I think I'm getting off easy!

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ROAD TRIP TO KENTUCKY - Thursday, November 4, 2004

After saying goodbye to Uncle Donald, I hop in the van and head due west. Today I have plans to drive to Kentucky, home of Mammoth Cave National Park, where I've reserved a ticket for a 4-hour cave tour. Even though the tour isn't until Saturday, I feel the need to push on and restart my road traveling ways. The drive is long and wet, but uneventful. After taking a nap for about 3 hours at a rest area along the way, I find new energy that propels me to Glasgow, KY where I park and spend the night.

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CHILLIN IN GLASGOW, KY - Friday, November 5, 2004

Waiting for tomorrow's tour of Mammoth Cave National Park, I spend part of the day performing maintenance on my bikes. First I attend to the mountain bike. I replace the worn rear tire then change out the front brakes. After finishing up, I have the fortune of witnessing antiquity in action. A Quaker in a horse and buggy parks his rig tight next to my van. How fun! After the little show, I attend to my road bike, swapping the damaged front rim with a used replacement. After my bicycle maintenance fun, the evening winds down and I find myself travel writing.

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TOURING MAMMOTH CAVE - Saturday, November 6, 2004

Oh joy! I've been looking forward to this day from my trip's inception. Today I'm going to get a good look at Kentucky's underground offerings! No, I'm not planning on dying in the Bluegrass State and being buried there, rather, I have plans to attend a 4-hour tour of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park.

After a short drive from my overnight digs in Glasgow, KY, I arrive at the park, pickup my ticket, then wait for the tour to begin at 10:15am. The tour begins on time, and after a short orientation talk from our tour guide, we all pile into 3 buses that take us to Mammoth Cave's Carmichael Entrance.

Once inside, the tour takes us through about a mile of a cave passageway, all of which looks a lot like a subway tunnel. Lunch time arrives and the tour group is instructed to take lunch in the Snowball Dining Room. It is there I meet Ernesta while eating. After striking up a conversation and learning we are both alone, we decide walk the rest of the tour together. Sights are always best seen when in the company of someone else, no?

After lunch we launch into the remaining 3 miles of the cave tour. In the process, we see all sorts of interesting sights, cavernous chambers, piles of rubble rock, stalactites, stalagmites, you know, cool cave stuff! Our tour hums right along, and sooner than later, we find ourselves outside once again.

After saying goodbye to Ernesta, I hop in the van and drive south into Tennessee. After an evening of driving, I find a place to overnight in Pigeon Forge, TN. Tomorrow I have plans to tour the Great Smoky Mountains which are located just a stone's throw away from where I'm currently staying.

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ADVENTURE IN THE SMOKIES - Sunday, November 7, 2004

Today I'll be spending a whirlwind day in the Smoky Mountains. On the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I encounter the General Lee in Gatlinburg, TN. As a kid, I was a huge fan of The Dukes of Hazzard, a silly TV series that ran from 1979-1985. The General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger, was the star of the show. Ha! This must be one of the few cars they didn't wreck in the show's many car stunts.

Entering into the park, I ascend up the mountainside almost 5000 feet in a little under 15 miles. Once at the ridgeline, I soak in the sights and snap off quite a few shots of the haze filled mountains that stretch out before me in the distance. Truly a great sight to see, I now understand why more than 9 million folks visit this park per year.

I then drive to Clingmans Dome, the park's highest point at 6,643 feet, to partake in two relatively short hikes. The first, Andrews Bald, takes me to a grassy meadow where the panoramic views entice my sense of wonder about the Smokies. My next hike takes me to Clingmans Dome, where I climb up a 5-story observation tower whose viewing platform looks a little like a UFO. From the tower I receive an unobstructed, 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.

Evening finally sets in and I stick around to capture the sunset. The wait proves to be worthwhile, I manage to capture an amazing sunset. All the colors of the spectrum are present with the exception of green. But, in the end, I manage to give green its overdue recognition, if only through photo-editing.

After the sun goes down I drive back to Pigeon Forge, TN and van camp for a second night.

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Badger Pass, Yosemite National Park, CA
Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, Buzzards Bay, MA
Old Faithful, Yellowstone
The Whitehouse, Washington, DC
Glacier National Park
Rose Parade, Pasadena, CA
Yale Lake, WA
Las Vegas Strip Skyline, Las Vegas, NV
Grand Teton Range, WY
Central Beach, Indiana Dune National Lakeshore
Central Oregon Coast
Old Romance, Pacific Beach, CA
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
Somewhere in Northeastern Arizona