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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Day 14: Concerning the Kentucky Leash Ban

Sunday, June 16th, 2024

Hazard, KY -> Koomer Ridge

70.8 mi, 4211 ft elevation


The first half of the day was easily conquered. 37 miles by lunchtime, wow the body acclimates quickly.

"Good Morning" from a cute dog

Kentucky is full of unleashed dogs. Within 5 minutes of entering Kentucky a few days ago, a dog bounded across the street and began chasing us. They have laws here that forbid leashes. Today, I passed a house with the door open. A hyena hybrid ran out, nearly galloping. If the dogs keep up, we’ll break records crossing the country. Next time, send a greyhound!



Later in the day, a pit bull and the teeniest puppy came out. Brownie points for participation. Most of the time, the dogs come out to spectate, likely as brain fodder. If you pass slowly, even make eye contact, they’ll (mostly) ensure safe passage.

As I struggled up a mountain, three big white dogs almost flanked me. I was up against a brotherhood, and though they were moving slowly like rolling lumber, I was also working sluggishly, my wheels chewing the pavement. It was a real battle of glaciers.

 

The afternoon was difficult with temperature in the mid-90s. We were nearing heat stroke territory, and there was little roadside sunshade. I did a whoopsie on a gravel road. One hand was securing my water bottle which shook to the turbulence, while the other was steering. Then, a pothole.

 

The damage wasn’t too deep. I’ve applied alcohol wipes and antiseptic to my knee. Jess helped me wrap the scratch with some gauze. I enjoy getting bounced around from time to time. It reminds me of some shaky vulnerability that lies just beyond a gilded screen of perfect passage. Moreover, a few bruises validate that we’re doing something important and challenging enough to warrant scratches both permanent and impermanent.

 

When my sister Sienna and I went to ice rinks growing up, Mom instructed us to fall three times before we began skating. The worst would be if I never fell at all. I’d spend the whole skating session hands clammy, clutching the rim of the rink, in poorer form than when I’d arrived.

Jess, Varsha, and I walked down the rest of the gravel route (~1.8 miles). It gave us time to appreciate the wildflowers on the side of the road. I love the weeds, grass, and flowers of mountain vegetation. Their sparse appearance and shallow roots add up to a tremendous beauty. You could cry following the stems of a plant, arriving at a few white petals.

 

We faced some route issues with road closures and even toyed with a foray on the parkway/interstate. Luckily, we ended up doing an extra 10 miles on backroads. We refilled our water bottles in the self-proclaimed “kindest town in the county." Indeed, we stocked up on free Gatorade and Dr. Pepper from the soda fountain thanks to a lovely cashier.

 

A few sights for the visual learners. Today, I saw a baby calf and a baby horse. The calf had a white face and black body. The coats of baby animals have a remarkable sheen. They run beautifully for just a few weeks of age; the shape of their ribcages are still visible under the sun.

 

At any time, there are three or more hawks gliding in the sky. They flap those enormous wings a few times, then coast like tissue paper catching in the air. This cycle of work and play reminds me of our own climbs and descents.

I passed an abandoned gas station with hordes of laundry machines lined up by the storefront. I wanted to ask a passerby what the story behind the station was, even take a picture. But we were in a rush and the afternoon heat oppressive. I need to finagle with some Velcro straps to figure out how to easily carry the camera on my body. One of my goals this summer is to take portraits of America (I’d highly recommend On Photographing People and Communities by Dawoud Bey for his thoughtful approaches to photography). I’ve been fighting heat, mosquitos, and lactic acid for the last two weeks. Now, it’s time to make the transition to intentional work.

The most memorable sound today was from the long grass by the side of the road that shakes like a breezy maraca. You hear a gentle, shy shhhhhhhhh-shhhhhhhh-shhhhhhh. A runner-up: zipping through backroads, the sound of the wind hits your ear in a flat sheet.

 

I had a great time with the hairpin turns down the mountain. Take your hands off the brakes! Have some fun.

 

When Sienna and I were learning how to ride motorcycles, we discovered that the best way to get where you’re going is to keep your eyes ahead, ahead, ahead. Your body is a complex control system, well-equipped with damping and proportional gain, that will take you wherever you wish, so long as you aim it properly. Whereas if you stare immediately ahead, that flimsy mind of yours, overridden with worry, will shake.

 

So, I’ve been looking just past the hairpin turn, my body tilting phenomenally, cutting those corners gorgeously.

At the camp site, Rebecca made a hearty meal of spaghetti and meatballs. We told a few stories before succumbing to sleep under the sweltering heat and humidity of summer. My favorite activity is tilting my head up in a forest and seeing the canopy of green above, the window of sky peeking through. It surprises me every time. I’m sitting in a folding chair verifying how wonderful this is right now. I wish you could sit here too.

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2 Comments


Guest
Jun 19

the Canine Chronicles!!

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Guest
Jun 19

The Kentucky dogs gave me nightmares but the fact the you are petting has me wondering if it was just play time for them. Love your writing voice- so fun to read!! -duha

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