With most of my friends and the Rocky Mountains behind me it was time to make it to my friends’ wedding.
Nov. 1, 2020 – Kansas
I spent a bit of the morning walking with my friend, his sons, and the dog around the beautiful Chatfield State Park. I soon headed out of Denver and off towards Kansas. The mountains soon faded into hills and the hills into flat planes as eastern Colorado faded and Kansas came closer. Kansas rolled by with barely a whisper of a hill and I spent an uneventful evening in a lovely rest area.
Nov. 2, 2020 – More Kansas
Kansas continues. Eventually Missouri, but just another day on the road before resting for the evening at a small park and boat ramp in the midst of freshly harvested wheat fields.
Nov. 3, 2020 – Gateway Arch NP
I continued on after two long days of driving in need of a break. As I entered St. Louis I decided to look for a park at which to break. Quick glance at my maps reminded me the St. Louis Arch was indeed in St. Louis, a perfect opportunity to visit the Gateway Arch National Park.
The park provided ample walking area and I was even able to ascend the towering arch to see the city and the mighty Mississippi river from far above.
With my reset break over I headed across the Mississippi river and into Illinois then Kentucky. This drive was an important mile stone. I’d officially left the “west” and I was in 3 states in one day (a new record and evidence I was no longer in the west).
I spent the evening camped at a boat lake along Kentucky Lake.
Nov. 4, 2020 – Thug Lyfe
Morning surprises are never very welcome. After an uneventful night an morning walk near the lake shore I headed out towards Tennessee. I hadn’t made it long though when an over zealous k9 cop decided the white van from Oregon must be carrying loads of mARiJUaNa 🥴. After finding bullshit reason for pulling me over and searching the van thoroughly…he tried to tell me my tobacco pipe was “paraphernalia”, and I was being “let off” cause he was “nice”. But this was only round 1 with me and the fuzz on this day.
I made it to Tennessee and headed to the near by Lowe’s to finally install my table top. I had the arm to hold the table, I just hadn’t had time to add a table top. Lowe’s had the perfect wood and were able to cut it to size for me. I applied a couple coats of tung oil in the parking lot and was a very happy man. No more balancing plates and laptops on the arm.
I did some resupply and laundry in town before heading to a trailhead on the outskirts of Ashland City for the evening. I knew it probably wasn’t a condoned site; but there was no signs forbidding parking, it was out of the way, and I was there for 1 night and going to be using the biking trail the next morning.
The fuzz decided to knock at 12am. I happened to be awake because I was nervous about this very thing. He was nice enough, wanted to make sure all was good, and said I was fine to stay if it was just the one night. He could have just fucked off and not knocked but…cops.
Nov. 5, 2020 – Bike rides and Nashville
I woke and headed out on my bike ride down the Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail. This is s rails-to-trails conversion that follows along the edge of the Cumberland River. It was a beautiful morning and perfect weather for my first bike ride from the van. This was also my first taste of the kind of forests that presides along the Mississippi and in much of the south: deciduous and swampy.
I wrapped up my ride and headed into Nashville to try and find a shower. I had no luck. A friend of mine was playing a show that night and invited me to go. I was a little weary with corona-virus but made the mistake of assuming people would care about social distancing. I had no sooner arrived than I regretted the decision. I huddled at my own table, wore a mask, and mostly ignored people.
Nov. 6, 2020 – A walk in the woods
Tomorrow is the wedding but I had plenty of time and left Nashville towards Chattanooga. I found site and hiking in a Wildlife management area but arrive to find it all shutdown for hunting season. I found another nearby hike and headed to it. This was also the Cumberland Trail…just not for biking. This short day hike was again an interesting as it again showed me the many differences between hiking in most of the west and the south. The deciduous trees left a thick layer of leaves over everything, including the trail. But the beautiful fall colors and running river made this a beautiful and worth while hike.
After the hike I drove through Chattanooga into Georgia to spend my first night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.
Nov. 6, 2020 – Wedding Day
It was finally time, I crawled out of bed and pulled out of the Cracker Barrel parking lot and headed towards Rockmart, Georgia. I arrived a bit early and took some time to cleanup and get fancy for the wedding (I brought a suit). I had met Sunshine(Abigail) and Trailmix(Cody) during my thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. We met in Big Bear, California and hiked nearly 500 miles of trail together in the Southern California desert and Sierra Nevada mountains. That generally makes people friends for life. Needless to say I was excited to be invited to and able to attend this small wedding and huge moment in their lives.
When I bought the van back in May I had one goal. Make it to Georgia for my friend’s wedding. This was done. I had spent 6 months outfitting the van and 3 weeks crossing the country for this moment. I wasn’t sure what was next, it was time to try and find remote work I could do from the road and explore the south.