500 Miles Away from Home

Three more rides...another half-century...time to report on my trip again! *

1/16/2014: A rest day, just over the state line in Tennessee. "Oh, good...you're home," say those that know I'm from Tennessee. Uh...yes, but no. I'm "in" East TENNessee. I'm from WEST TennesSEE. World's apart, longitudinally as well as linguistically. Geographically and by state law, Tennessee is divided into three distinct regions: East, Middle, and West...each with a star on the state flag. And I'm a long, long way from Memphis, in West Tennessee. Five hundred miles away...give or take.

Speaking of Memphis, a cuz recently asked on Facebook if my ride was going to bring me through the city of my birth. Sad to say, it isn't. Although Google keeps changing the exact route it maps for my bike ride across the USA, neither of the most commonly recurring routes has me crossing the Mississippi at Memphis. One of the routes takes me all the way up to St. Louis for a crossing from IL to MO at Alton on the beautiful Clarke Bridge (been there, done that). A shorter route (by about 100 miles) has me crossing the River from KY to MO on a ferry. I've decided to go with...Route Number Two!

This route will take me through ten states: NC, TN, KY, MO, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV, and CA. And, as far as I can tell, I will ride through only one city or town where I have family and/or friends: Portland, TN. So, Cousins W&I L, W L, and S McC...get ready, 'cause here I come...virtually!

Just one, you ask? Actually, I am astounded at that...because I know folks in all but two of those states...have lived in four of them myself. Forget Disney's version...it's a BIG World, after all; it's a BIG, BIG WORLD!

1/17/2014: Today's ride took me 17.6 miles in 1:34. On the map, I rode from about Buck Creek Road near Roan Mountain (elevation 6285'), TN, to a right turn from Simerly Creek Rd to TN 107 W, near Erwin, TN...from Carter County to Unicoi County. 

If this had been the third weekend in June when I was making this ride, I would have taken a detour for Roan Mountain State Park, to view the explosion of color that is the Rhododendron Festival (www.roanmountain.org). Momma and I came to the festival a number of years ago, when it was still held on the mountain top...which was ablaze in color. Alas, other than the mountain vistas, there are few destination-stops in this area, especially in the dead of Winter.

If, however, I had packed my genealogy research, I would be in hog heaven: you can't swing a bicycle chain around here without hitting a family cemetery. They are well-marked on my Google-map, and when I investigated further online, I discovered...

To my knowledge, I don't have any lines in this area, since my Lunn and Holland lines seem to have arrived on the Cumberland Plateau (Middle Tennessee) via river rather than coming over the mountains (although I did discover that a Sparkman line came from NC, possibly passing through?); my Stewart line came to West Tennessee from Elyton (Birmingham), AL (and before that...SC, maybe?); my Currie and my Ivie ancestors, originally from PA, migrated to Caswell County, NC, but seemed to have gone from there straight to West Tennessee, to claim and settle their land grants; my Cummings clan came to Middle Tennessee with the rest of the Scottish-Irish migration from PA; and the jury is still out on where the Keatons were before Woodbury, TN in the 1850s. Who did I leave out? Oh yeah...Garnets and Farrises...from VA, if I recall correctly. 

Still, I've been known to spend an afternoon strolling through an "unrelated" cemetery, looking at headstones, just for the fun of it. (Immediate family members and close friends are rolling their eyes after reading that 'cause they know me; friends, relatives, and casual acquaintances are probably worried for my mental health; and other genealogists are nodding their heads in understanding and solidarity. You know which category you fall.)

Moving on...

1/18/2014: Today's ride was 17.7 miles in 1:32, taking me through Erwin, TN, over the Nolichucky River (for the first time) and plopping me into Washington County...turning onto Gov. John Sevier Highway heading toward Greeneville. 

Here is a picture I found on Wikipedia that purports to be taken near Erwin, looking toward the Nolichucky. Looks to be taken in the dead of Winter, too. Appropriate. 

Quick! In what state was David Crockett (he never called himself Davy...why should we?) born? Hint: he was born in 1786. If you said, "Tennessee" because you saw that highway marker (which clearly called the man Davy) back there on TN 107W, you would be wrong. Tennessee didn't become a state until 1796 (as most Tennessee school children learn in history class). If you said "North Carolina" (because the land that eventually became TN was formerly part of the colony of North Carolina), you would be wrong again...technically. No, David Crockett was born near present day Limestone, TN, smack dab in the middle of the Lost State of Franklin.

John Sevier, an Indian fighter and Revoluntionary War hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain, was the (1) first and only governor of the State of "Frankland," as the original petition for the 14th state to the Continental Congress was written, and then (2) the first and only executive of the independent State of Franklin. (Hence, the reason there's a highway named after him, along with a county, a city, and more than a few children.) The state capital was Greeneville (named for Nathanael Greene, another Revolutionary hero...and namesake of Greensboro, NC). The eight counties briefly returned to North Carolina's rule (more or less), then became a part of the 16th State.

Thus endeth the Tennessee history lesson for today. WARNING: expect more of the same. Love history. Can't help myself. Read at your own risk!

1/19/2014: Today's ride of 17.0 miles in 1:28 put me in a little rest area off the Erwin Highway (don't you just love the satellite view on Google maps? I can see the spot...and the nearby rapids on the river!), looking at the Nolichucky (again), heading west (more or less) out of Erwin to "near" Tusculum, TN, in Greene County, elevation 1495'. 

Tusculum is home to the oldest college in the state, Tusculum College, laying claim to the city motto: "First in Education." This area is also the old stomping grounds for one of Tennessee's three "native soil" presidents: Andrew Johnson. A tailor by trade in nearby Greeneville (where his modest brick home and shop are preserved as a National Historic site and worth a visit), he honed his oratory skills by often walking the five miles to Tusculum College to participate in debates on the topics of the day. (Not sure where he learned to drink more than he should have. Ahem.) While his political fortunes rose higher than he ever expected, he is mainly remembered for having been impeached...and acquited. Still, his life had a happy ending...he was elected as a Senator, returning to Washington and making a speech denouncing President Grant's  Reconstruction .policies.  He held to his beliefs, even when faced with overwhelming odds. Time has been kinder than his contemporaries were.

Told you...I can't help myself.

OK! Drum roll please! Total so far: 161.2+17.6+17.7+17= 213.5 miles. 

Time for another Day of Rest! Which is good because I think the weather tomorrow (Monday) just might permit doing a little work in the garden...which is, after all, what I am doing all this riding for in the first place!

* Footnote: To bring you up-to-date, in case you are just joining me...

My plan to get/keep in shape for gardening this year is to ride my stationary bike. Because I always need a reason to do something...or at least to continue doing something, I have decided on a program based on a distance of 2600 miles...which is the distance from our house to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, as Google-mapped using the (beta) Bike function. I started 1/3/2014...and am continuing the saga today. 
BTW, I am tagging all the posts about my ride "Where in the USA is Patricia" on my blog, and #WhereintheUSAisPatricia on Twitter. While I won't be blogging about my ride on a daily basis, you can check my Twitter Feed over there in the right column for daily updates on my ride and location. Happy pedaling! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


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