Day 17 - Bellevue, Tennessee

I am in a motel again. I thought I had a campground, but it's out of business. I am in the InTown Suites, which is a very strange place. This place is oriented towards rent-by-the-week customers, and it's like renting an apartment, even if you are only staying a night. This is a chain, but I've never heard of it until today. I passed three of them. All InTown Suites have free broadband in every room. It's only $50/night including tax. Interesting concept. When you check in, you have to fill out a form with marketing questions, including one on why you are staying here. Choices include "job relocation" and "divorce".

I made almost 80 miles today, but about 5 miles was spent finding WiFi. Starbucks never has it. I visited three. I went to a Hilton Suites and sat in their lobby. HiltonWiFi (288K)

It's amazing where you find yourself while bike touring.

It was good riding weather, although it was pretty cold out (40s) until noon. Smithville, where I started out, is on the edge of a plateau. A couple miles out of town you get a big 3 mile payback, and then it's flat for about 50 miles to Nashville. I made great time. I am out of the mountians.

To celebrate being out of the mountains, here is a Tennessee political joke:

The governor was visiting a remote mountaing hamlet in the eastern part of the state. He said "Next time I visit, I will come on a four lane expressway."

A guy in the stunned crowd asked "Governor, did you just promise to build us a four lane expressway?".

The governor replied, "You didn't listen carefully. I'm not building you an expressway, but somebody is going to have to before I come up to this God-forsaken place again."

I skirted the far southern suburbs of Nashville. It was brutal. I was on SR 254, a road which exists to connect townhouse dwellers to shopping. It goes straight east and west, damn the terrain. So I went up and down a lot. Everything on this road has been built in the last 10 years or so. All chains, nothing interesting, not scenic. There were lots of expressways, though.

This nightmare of sprawl is why I wound up eating at Red Lobster. Otherwise I would have starved. At least I had a good breakfast at the restaraunt next door to my motel in Smithville. Dinner was a lousy pizza from Papa John's next door. It's gonna be breakfast, too, since my suite has a microwave.

Even spending an hour finding WiFi, uploading web pages, and reading my email, I got in an hour before dark. I did laundry, since tomorrow is the start of the Natchez trace, where there are no services to speak of. I have to replenish the snack bag on the way out. I need a big salami for this leg.

Yesterday, I finished my first book of the bike ride. This book is "The Dogwoods are Blooming", by Carolyn Tyree Feagans. It was one of five books available at the Otter Creek Restaraunt back on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Four of these books were by Ms. Feagans. The other was a weighty hardcover, so I ruled it out. The lady at the Otter Creek store said Ms. Feagans books were very popular, and they should be read in sequence, so I got the first one.

This book is historical fiction, about a mountain family living on the Blue Ridge. It starts around 1900, when Heath, black sheep of the prominent Barrett family, marries Emily, a mountain girl who is pregnant at the time. For the next several years, Emily lives in a mountain cabin in a barefoot and pregnant state, while Heath works sporadically at the lumber mill, plays banjo at barn dances, and stays out all night drinking moonshine and carrousing with the other woman, Betty Lou. Eventually, Betty Lou gets pregnant too. Everyone thinks that she and her unborn child died in the big flood, until 18 years later when the unborn child appears, born and grown up into a hot babe, who marries her own half-brother, Heath and Emily's son Jonathan, just to spite Heath.

Now you would think that this book, which has all these great elements in it (cheating, drinking, incest, banjo music) would be pretty good. You would be mistaken. I should have read the recommendations on the back cover before I bought it and started in.

"This story of the three generations of the Barrett family explodes with tears and joy. In this heartbreaking tale of love and the high price of sin, the author gives us believable characters facing real life conflict in search of solutions of lasting substance."

Mrs. Jerry Falwell
Lynchburg, Virginia

This book is all about Jesus. It focuses on Emily, who is a doormat, instead of on Heath, who is interesting. Occasionally, some good things happen to Emily in her wretched and pitiful life. After the fact, she attributes these things to God looking out for her. This gives her strength to endure her miserable existence. At no point does she discern any reason to confront her misbehaving husband, develop skills so that she can support herself independently, or to do anything but sit around the cabin. God apparently never tells her to do anything to better herself or to stand up for herself. This book annoyed me considerably. It is evil.

I have a new book now. I bought it at Krogers. I hope it's better.

Here is the today's actual route traveled.

Actual17 (140K)