Day 24: Chicken and Corn. Straight from the source.
Updated: Jun 27
62.9 miles. 231ft elevation gain.
Friday July 24, 2022
Maxwell here covering Day 24! We woke up at Sharilyn and Tony's house, surrounded by the gentle hills of Western Kentucky's landscape. We had breakfast at the McDonald's, the only breakfast restaurant in the area. A few different things: this McDonald's had the Ten Commandments postered on the wall, and it also had sweet tea and biscuits n' gravy. Things you can't find in a McDonald's in DC or San Francisco.
We learned that Tony was a director at the local Ohio County Hospital, and that this small local hospital is in fact a national leader in postpartum depression treatment. Tony is also building a new surgical wing right now -- we passed the construction site -- and told us about the new medical equipment they were getting, among which includes a DaVinci surgical robot.
While returning to their house, we discovered that two of their grown kids live within walking distance, in adjacent houses. It struck me how tightly knit their family was, that their children chose to return home instead of leaving for the "typical" job opportunities outside Kentucky. I've read about the "brain drain" plaguing rural areas, where college students from rural areas often don't return home. The family ties run strong in Kentucky, as I've heard, and it was heartwarming to see their kids choose to stay close to home. Like, one-minute-walking-distance close.
We said our goodbyes, pumped up our tires, and waited for Robert to apply his fifth (or 17th?) layer of sunscreen. (Just kidding, but he's the least sunburnt of us) The bike ride was enjoyable, snaking through field after field of corn. The pleasant scenery was occasionally interrupted by an unmistakable waft of ammonia-smelling gas -- we were in chicken farming territory in Kentucky. That explains the string of Perdue (chicken company) trucks passing us by.
Lunch brought us through the bike paths of Owensboro, KY to a cute nature park. We ventured off-road on our gravel bikes on some dirt trails snaking through some forest, grabbing lunch in a wooded picnic area. We had quite the lunch feast featuring watermelon, delicious Lee's Fried Chicken, and vegetables/hummus dip that Sophia bought. Post-lunch, we ran off to play with the musical instruments throughout the park and take artsy photos with rocks. We also discovered that we were very close to Indiana -- cross the nearby Ohio River, and we'd be in a new state!
Leaving the park, we were challenged to a bike race by an older gentleman who said, "I'll be your rabbit [for a greyhound race]". The afternoon riding was hot, but we continued through some beautiful single-lane roads snaking through corn and soy fields. With no cars on the road, we cranked up the podcasts and Spotify and cruised through the beautiful landscapes.
Our journey brought us to Henderson, KY, a cute town of 30,000 people situated on the Ohio River. Henderson, KY is the hometown of James Audubon, the famed bird illustrator. Audubon opened up a variety of failed business ventures; he ended up deciding to illustrate birds, kindling a national interest in birds along the way. Our hosts Karen and Roy brought us to our home for tonight, a beautiful cabin in the namesake Audubon Park.
We feasted at dinner at a local Southern comfort food restaurant, catching up and learning more about the town. We had some incredible cornbread and fried catfish, among other dishes. After dinner, we went for a lovely stroll through downtown Henderson, watching a fiery sunset over the Ohio River while learning more about Audubon. Karen and Roy, hearing that Robert is a musician, brought us a piano keyboard on our way back to the cabin. We spent an evening relaxing, listening to Robert's piano music, and going to sleep.