Tonight, I ate a trout.
He used to live in the pond next to my tent. He was rolled in cornmeal and deep-fried and served on a bed of wild rice, with cole slaw and hush puppies.
He was one tasty trout.
When I ate the trout, my chair was vibrating. That's because I was sitting on the second floor of a 150 year old mill that was grinding cornmeal, just like it had ground the cornmeal that coated my trout and made up my hush puppies.
It's just amazing what you come across sometimes. I am at the Crosseyed Cricket Campground, north of Lenoir City, Tennessee. I found it in the Delorme Street Atlas USA software, just like I found the decrepit campground from last night.
But tonight is totally different. This campground is immaculate, decorated to the nines for fall, and run like a military camp. There are loudspeakers across the whole place by which the whole operation is coordinated. You can hear the seating announcements at the restaraunt, as well as the need for ice here and there, and the status of the defrosting pies.
There is a swimming pool and a fishing lake stocked with catfish and trout. There is the very good restaraunt, restored and operational mill, and gift shop. There are abundant activities, detailed in the newsletter.
The story I got was the restaraunt is most of their business here at the Cross-Eyed Cricket Campgound, but they started it as an afterthought because they had more catfish and trout than they knew what to do with. That trout with pie for dessert should be good for about 25 miles.
The campground is full, and there are even some other tenters, which makes me very happy. When you are the only guy in a tent in the whole place, you start to question your sanity. I've been the only tenter every night camping since Maryland.
I've been eating well today. Breakfast was the remaining cheddarwurst from last night. I was a tower of power this morning, you better believe. Lunch was an all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet, which is a Friday tradition among my cow-orkers. The China Buffet is awesome bike fuel. I did great today.
So while the engine was stoked, and the weather was perfect, the scenery left a lot to be desired. The morning was great, I did two-lane highways for 50 miles to Knoxville. Scenic, despite the auto salvage yard every two miles.
But then there's Knoxville.
Downtown Knoxville had a lot of promise. I went to the Visitor Center, which is next to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. (Knoxville apparently aspires to be a cosmopolitan center up there with Canton, Ohio, and Cooperstown, New York.) I asked where there was a WiFi Hotspot, and they called the library and determined that I could connect my laptop there no problem. And the library was just three blocks away! I was sure excited. So I rode up to the library, and it's right downtown, and the pasty-faced weasel functionary dork in charge wouldn't let me bring my bike inside. He helpfully offered to let me carry my 90 lb bike down a flight of stairs to the basement entrance and leave it outside the door there. I blew off the library. It's not worth risking someone grabbing a pannier when I can't watch it.
So I was in a pretty annoyed state with Knoxville, even though downtown Knoxville is pretty nice. But to get out, there is only one road. Two lanes each direction, no shoulder, heavy traffic, for two miles. I created quite a backup, let me tell you, since it was mostly uphill, and I was making about 6 mph. I think the dozens of drivers who blew their horns at me and yelled stuff should realize they are misdirecting their anger and they should go vent on the loser who designed the Knoxville road system.
After this, there was a shoulder, but there was also 10 miles of strip mall hell. This is US 70, which runs right alongside I-40/I-75 for 10 miles. I thought this would be a good option, but I was wrong. US 70 is just an access road for 10 miles of strip malls. At least it was pretty safe riding, because I was going faster than the traffic most of the way. But it was very, very ugly, loud, and full of choking exhaust fumes.
I am now west of I-75. This is an idiosyncratic milestone. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, which is on I-75. So now I am past Dayton. I am west.
Today is the 1/4 point of the trip. I have come 918 miles so far.
Here is today's route actually travelled.