Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Appalachia is absolutely beautiful. I rode for a butt-busting 9 hours my second day, from southern Ohio to the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky. And of those 200 miles most of it was spent deep in the hills and forests, on the small country roads far away from modern life. Perfect asphalt, no police or speed limits; just curves, farms and old wooden barns on the side of the road. A creek here and there but mostly rolling hills and deep, dark forests.
Next time you drive through Kentucky, exit the freeway and take the first paved road you see pointing in the general direction you are headed, basically any road that starts with the letters "CR" you wont be disappointed with. It will eventually lead somewhere pleasant and you will have the roads mostly all to your self, and absolutely stunning scenery will surround you virtually the whole way. So general heuristic of ADV touring - stay off the highways.
My problem that second day was that I took so much time exploring and enjoying the ride that night fell on me at the exact location where the phone GPS did not receive signal - somewhere in the Daniel Boone National Forest. As the dark slowly crept up I couldn't help but think of my previous host's story of how he hit a deer with his Jeep at exactly the point of time in the evening where the trees are pitch black and the only color visible to the naked eye is the midnight blue of the skyline - my exact predicament at the time. This is when the deer love to jump in front of the headlights - absolutely the last thing I needed considering the circumstances. Lesson # 2 - avoid riding at dusk and night cause deer like to dart on the roadways, and animals are one of the leading cause of motorcycle accidents world wide.
So I am riding through these perfect back-country roads of Kentucky right, just enjoying the experience, and suddenly I ride past this slightly dug out quarry by the side of the road. In the quarry I see two figures, with two long things in front of them facing the rock face 100 yards away. So I circle back just to make sure I am seeing it correctly and sure enough they are having some good ol' American fun with high powered rifles. I park the bike off the side of the road and walk down to where they were and that is how I meet Brandon and Max, cousins who came to practice and have a little fun. They too greet me in a very friendly, "southern" manner and once the small confusion disappears they immediately invite me to join at the trigger. It was very fun considering one of the rifles was the iconic Russian WWI Moisin Nagant that sure looked like it survived that war. But none the less, my shooting skills came right back to me and I placed a round on a 8 inch target from a hundred yards away with only the iron sights. Thrice!
We chatted a little bit and after about an hour I was off on my way. The take away is keep your mind open to new experiences and things that you would like to happen probably will. It's "The Secret". Positive energy attracts positive outcomes. I actually really did imagine before departing from Detroit that this type of encounter would happen somewhere along the way, but honestly I didn't expect it until the Wild Wild West. But it's an interesting idea, especially to foreigners, that complete strangers can meet on the side of the road and share their love for firearms and shooting. The debate about the 2nd amendment and gun rights is so deeply entrenched in the American culture that it is one of those topics that seemingly has no resolution in sight.
I finally recognized a very narrow tunnel that looks like it was carved out by hand. And soon I arrived at Miguel's Pizza; a restaurant, camp site and climb shop in the heart of the Red River Gorge where a group of friends from Michigan was already waiting.
The take away: GPS is gold, when it works but learn to relay on the old fashion map. Also, the Kentucky back-country is amazing so give yourself space and time for unforeseeable experiences.