Fantastic day today!
I had another great night of sleep indoors and Seth brought me breakfast in sleeping bag: coffee, biscuits, and donuts. We took our time packing up since we were only doing 53 miles, and left Utica just before 9.
We again had a beautiful sunny morning and the air was thick with humidity. We are back on the TransAmerica route now that our detour is finished, and the country roads made pleasant riding. We had 2 dog encounters this morning, making 4 total for Kentucky so far. The first was just a small dog that I feared we would run over or kick with our pedals. He wasn't threatening but followed us for a good half mile before we sped away downhill. The second incident was much more intense: two boxers that seemed to be waiting for us at the top of a hill. I am much more afraid of the dogs than Seth, so I usually try to use him as a shield. The dogs were barking and growling and charged at us as soon as we approached them. Seth gave them a stern warning and we both had our pepper spray in hand. One of the dogs came just to the edge of the road while the other stayed a few feet back, but they both followed us along the road for probably 50 yards, and we were peddling uphill and couldn't go very fast. Seth said he thought the one dog had been sprayed before because as soon as he lifted his hand, the dog would stop its charge. My heart was pounding for 10 minutes afterward as I seriously thought we were going to get chased or bit. We talked to a guy coming west and he warned us of many more dogs in eastern Kentucky, two of which had bitten his panniers and nearly caused him to crash!
Seth and I took our time today and took a long lunch break at a convenience store about 8 miles from our destination. We ended up at Axtel Recreation Area in Rough River Dam State Park, at a beautiful campsite right on the lake.
George arrived about an hour behind us and Josh and Claudia an hour later. We made it to the restaurant nearby just before they closed and I ate a satisfying barbecue sandwich with French fries and green beans.
Today was a wonderful relaxed day; in fact the past two days have been very casual and enjoyable. It's been a good rest before we enter the Appalachians in a few days!
I'm typing this as I sit on a rock down by the lake enjoying the shallow waves and peaceful evening sounds. It's amazing to think we only have two weeks left in this trip. In many ways I will be sad to see the Atlantic.