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Monday, July 11, 2011

Best Laid Plans

Now, isn't that just the cutest little cabin? It's at Babcock State Park above the New River in West Virginia. I had originally planned to pitch a tent at this park but the torrents of rain that just didn't quit talked me into a cabin instead. I sat inside the screened porch and enjoyed my dinner while the showers continued. I played my uke while the showers continued and when I tucked myself in to the bottom double-bed bunk and the showers were still continuing, I let go of the idea that I was a camping wimp.

My rule about camping is: I don't put up a tent unless I'm staying at least two nights. It's too much work. Of course, I only use a tent that I can stand up in and I like a few accoutrements like a cot and a chair and a table. I basically set up house. It's fun, it's comfy. Hence, I did not stay at Babcock State Park for two nights as was listed in my well-planned itinerary and now was a day ahead. A great reason to take back country roads instead of the interstate to get to my next camping destination, which I hoped would be Mammoth Caves Natl Park. Well, 9 hrs later and 100 miles farther than I thought it was, I made it but was completely exhausted.

Why, do you ask, didn't I just find a camping spot sooner? That thought occurred to me in mid-afternoon and I had stopped in London for a wi-fi check-in at the local Starbucks. As I was looking up Kentucky State Parks info, two Forest Service employees came in and I asked them where a good spot might be. They informed me that I had just left the national forest area behind me.They described Kentucky state campsites as a lot of RV's lined up in rows and they said it would be a "social" experience. Yuk. Couldn't I just go back to that little cabin in West Virginia? Well, I drove on, already really tired and decided that I'd get close to Mammoth Caves, stay in a motel and then I could go in early the next day and get a site. My first motel at a freeway interchange - you know what they look like.

9 hours of driving had its toll and the next morning I had the worst lower back pain I've ever experienced and it just got worse... meaning spasms everytime I used the clutch. Kentucky just wasn't working for me. Could I park the car and get a flight to California? Would Missouri be any better? Could someone please point me to a decent restaurant (culinary experiences to come in a later post)? I bit the bullet, got in the car and moved down the road a bit farther. It was Sunday, the roads were quiet and I had been curious about Paducah, KY. Unfortunately, an 18-wheeler flipped somewhere up ahead and stopped traffic cold for well over an hour and I was low on fuel because the last place I stopped for diesel the night before had an over-sized nozzle plus I really needed to pee. Things were not going well. Why would someone drive across the country by herself, anyway? But, I was still one day ahead of my itinerary.

I made it to Paducah following umpteen signs about their historic river district only to miss it and end up in the worst of freeway interchange strip malls. I am in pain, I am hot, I am hungry and all thoughts of a quaint inn along the Ohio River disappear as I check into the Thrifty Inn and then have dinner at a Texas Roadhouse (a rather new entry into the Olive Garden - Red Lobster - Chevy's - Buffalo Wings "upscale" dining experiences available across America). It was not a good meal. Is this post too long?

OK.... a good night's rest, swimming and stretching made me a new girl by the next morning. I only drove 145 miles today and am in yet another motel at an interchange strip mall. This one had a happy hour, however, with 3 free glasses of wine. I really am feeling better. I have crossed the Mississippi and have torn up my itinerary. I have no idea what I am doing tomorrow but I'm pretty sure I am still one day ahead of schedule.

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