Leaving the log cathedral of Buckhorn and arriving to the tuition-free Berea college taught me that Kentucky values local education and craftsmanship.
Date Written: 5/30/2017
The ride today is a long push to earn a much deserved rest day in the town of Berea.
In our day-to-day lives, we often miss the chatter of animals that happens before the sun rise. I crack open the door of the Buckhorn Presbyterian Church and hear a swoosh of bird’s voices as if the entire forest neighborhood is chatting.
Most of the major hills are behind us. Berea marks the end of map #2 on the TransAmerica trail. The next map has a max elevation of 1,250 feet, where the current one is much higher at 4,000 feet. Part of me will miss the rolling hills that become major landmarks and resting points for the day.
The early jump on the day allows us to take longer rests for lunch time and in between.
Around 11:30 a.m., I spot a cemetery on top of a shady hill and pull over with Annalisa and Taylor close behind. Tombstones mark the early deaths of family members and children who live’s were cut short.
Pastor Tom Burns told us that while America’s life expectancy has increased that this county is experiencing the opposite. This is a mark of poverty and poor health that is prominent in eastern Kentucky.
Taylor and I summit the last hill of the day and descend into the town before Berea. The shale cliff sides have been blasted out to make an entrance worthy of Lord of the Rings. Our wheels spin faster and faster under blue skies. Suddenly, droplets of rain begin hitting the transition lens of my Aspire glasses. Goosebumps follow the temperature drop without a grey cloud in sight.
“What a ride down that hill! It feels like we are on a Hollywood set with that rain coming out of nowhere,” I holler back to Taylor who is shivering in her sleeveless tank.
The Berea Fire Department hosts Taylor, Annalisa, Scavenger, and I for the night. We decide to sleep in the fire tower on sight that is used to train new firefighters. Climbing to the top flight offers panoramic views of the sunset and sweeping fields.
No Student Pays for Tuition
The Berea Visitor Center is the first stop in town before bombarding Papaleno’s pizza parlor. A student sits in the windowsill weaving a wicker stool. The gallery setting has handmade pottery, instruments, and clothes on display.
I strike up a conversation with the student making the stools and he begins telling me the story of how no student pays tuition.
Everyone has a job on campus and at one point in time the college was mainly student run. According to a sign in the downtown, Berea College is established to provide equal education to men and women regardless of race. Reading about these progressive initiatives helps me redefine a state that I have always viewed as conservative.
Daily Blood Sugar
The most shocking part of the day is the 6PM to 11PM period. T and I arrived in Berea before Annalisa and order the worst diabetic meal possible:
- A 16" large vegetarian pizza
- One order of large fries
Originally, we ordered the large so Annalisa could have some when she arrived. The two of us ate everything.
And then we got fudge.
Each peak can be accurately lined up with breakfast or when I stop on the bike. Stop and BG rides up. Start pedaling and it comes back down.