A Restart in Two Parts

Found it! If you are looking for a lost virus, look no more...'cause I think I found what you lost. Or what someone "lost." Have been doing battle with some kind of upper respiration invader for a few days now. Was the fever the worst part? Nah. Definitely the sore throat and hoarseness...meant I can't talk as much as I usually do. Ahem.

Took more than my usual one rest day from my bike ride*...and the other activities in my life...to encourage a speedy return to good health. Not all the way back yet, but I'm tired of being sick. And bored with "recovery." So, it's back in the saddle (seat) again...hitting the RESTART button. Mindful of my body's need to take it a little easier than usual, I did divide today's ride into two parts...but, hang on...I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Where were we? Oh yeah, I had ridden 305.4 miles total by the end of January, took a Rest Day on the 1st, and then added 10.2 miles on 2/2, to get me all the way to the outskirts of Oak Ridge, TN. Let's pick up the travelogue there.
2/3/14: Completed 10.1 miles in 47 minutes, riding through Oliver Springs, crossing into Morgan County near Coalfield. Here's a nifty note from the Tennessee Vacation website:  

Back Valley Public Library: The Smallest Library in the USA located in Coalfield...

"This 1956 building measures just six feet by five feet, and served as the town’s library for many years. Founder Dot Byrd used the $200 courtesy check she received as a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to start a bank account for the construction of the library, opened in 1994. Today, it sits in the shadow of a newer facility. Stop in to learn the entire story of the famous little library here."

Coalfield is just what the name sounds like it is...in the middle of coal-mining country. What? You didn't realize Tennessee had coal to mine? Yes indeed-y. And I'm riding through an area that was once a coal battleground.

Ever hear of the Coal Creek War? That's the phrase used to describe the armed conflict that took place in the early 1890's right here, when coal mine owners in the Coal Creek Watershed, looking for a source of low-cost labor, decided to use state-leased convicts to replace "free" miners. Although the miners ended up in nearby Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, it was the beginning of the end of the convict leasing era by Tennessee. It was also the beginning of what came to be known as "The Appalachian Coal Mining Protest Music," one of the earliest examples of which was "Coal Creek March." Without that, there may never have been a "Sixteen Tons" for Tennessee Ernie Ford to cover!

And today? There are still strip mines in this area, and much ado about mountain top mining, where explosives are used to blast the "tops" off mountains to get at the coal "inside." But, what I find most encouraging is that the Coal Creek area is known for another brand of energy: windmills! There are "18 windmills standing 260 feet tall along two miles of ridgeline atop Buffalo Mountain. As the 135-foot-long blades spin, they provide 29 megawatts of green energy and power for 3,780 homes." Here's a picture I found on Google:

Wait a minute! Did you say State Penitentiary?! Yes, yes I did. When I was growing up, Brushy Mountain...or "Big Brushy," as it was sometimes called...located in nearby Petros, was one of three Tennessee state prisons, this one serving the Eastern part of the state. There was Tennessee State Pen. in Nashville (Middle Tennessee), and of course, the West Tennessee State Pen., which we in Lauderdale County just called "Fort Pillow." Daddy (like Papaw before him) carried the mail to the prison; used to get his hair cut by the prisoners and love to eat a steak raised on the penal farm that he could buy for $1; and once "captured" an escaped prisoner in Henning. [The man was hiding in a 55-gallon drum that was used as a trash can by the Johnsons' Gulf station. Daddy had stopped for a fill-up and a snack and was throwing a candy wrapper away when he heard the "can" say: "Please mister, don't shoot me!" (What with, I wonder...a Hershey bar?)]

Brushy Mountain was (it is no longer in service) considered "escape-proof," due to its isolation in such a wild, untamed part of the Cumberland Mountains. I wonder if you remember who was sentenced there...and who did, in fact, manage to escape...for a couple of days, at least? And the answer is: James Earl Ray, the man who confessed to killing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis in 1968.

2/4/14: Did 9.2 miles in 42 minutes, making a right turn on Hwy 27/29 near Wartburg, county seat of Morgan County.  Here's some info from the Tennessee Vacation website:


Founded in 1845 by 15 families of German-Swiss settlers, the town is named for the Wartburg Castle in Germany. Many area residents still hold the dream of replicating that famous castle here on a hilltop overlooking the city.

This ride took me past some of the most beautiful areas in the state, IMHO. The nearby Frozen Head State Park would be worth a stop...if I were there in person. Check it out here: http://tnstateparks.com/parks/contact/frozen-head

Frozen Head State Park

These 24,000 acres contain some of the richest wildflower areas in the state, as well as one of the highest peaks in the state at 3,324 feet. In the winter, Frozen Head is often covered with snow or ice, even though the sun may be shining. Stroll or hike over 50 miles of foot trails with waterfalls and rock shelters, bring a picnic, or plan for camping. Events throughout the year include Wildflower Walks in April; the Echo in the Mountain Bluegrass Festival in May and Heritage Days in August celebrating traditional Appalachian music and crafts. This is an access point for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, a 300-mile linear State Park.

2/5-2/8/14: prolonged Rest Days, trying to recover from this URI. Better now, thank you.

2/9/14: Today's ride of 11.2 miles (done in two sessions) moved me west of Wartburg, into the middle of Morgan County. I was happy to be back on my bike...and to be making some progress again.

If all goes well tomorrow, I'll gain an hour as I cross over into the Central Time Zone. Looking forward to it!

* Bike Ride 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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