Bike Ride Blog
A daily log of the Marge's Cycling for Recycling Tour
In October 2007, TennCan (then known as POP, for Pride of Place) coordinator Marge Davis rode her Trek Portland bicycle 880 miles around Tennessee in a push to raise awareness of the bottle bill and explain its many benefits and innovations to citizens, officials and media along the way. The effort resulted in 4 television segments, 5 radio interviews, at least 2 dozen newspaper stories (some of them front page), 1 glowing editorial, 4 public presentations, and photos of more than 150 people from all walks of life who support a return to returnables. It also convinced her that support for a deposit was at least 70 percent. Turns out she was almost right: See our Supporters page.
DAY 1: Saturday, October 6, 2007: Nashville to Dickson—40 miles.
The PRIDE OF PLACE BICYCLE TOUR got started today, with a rally at 9 a.m. at Nashville's Legislative Plaza. It wasn't a big group, but it was an appreciative one, watched from the fringes by at least two lobbyists from the beverage industry. They're everywhere! The bill's lead sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson), led off the remarks, followed by Bob Keast, owner of Birdsong Resort and Marina, Gary Dunham, director of operations for Al Gore's The Climate Project, Penny Brooks representing Tennessee Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, Jeremy Doochin of Vanderbilt's Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Recycling (SPEAR) and legendary conservationist Mack Prichard. I read remarks from several others who couldn't be there, including farmer Bill Troutt of Gallatin and glass recycler Strategic Materials of Ashland City. Channel 4 News aired highlights on their evening broadcast. My husband Paul took some great photos, but unfortunately I would lose the camera before I'd even had a chance to download them.
After being escorted out of town (on bikes, of course) by Richard Cochran, Twyla Lambert and her boyfriend Mike, Richard and I stopped for lunch at the Alpha Bakery in Bellevue. Sherry Wang met us there, and she and Sue (Sherry's friend and owner of the bakery) presented us with a beautiful salad and some equally beautiful fruit. After saying goodbye to everyone, I continued solo and made it to Dickson by 6 pm, and was powerfully glad to see the Highland Motel on Highway 70, even if it was a bit bedraggled. I was too exhausted to ride to a restaurant, so I walked across the road to a convenience store and bought an orange juice and a prepackaged chicken-salad sandwich for dinner. On my way back to my room, two young fellows in a passing actually whistled! Who knew that bike shorts could be so flattering?
The sandwich was surprisingly fresh, but to my consternation I couldn't swallow. Literally. My throat muscles just weren't responding. I guess it was the stress of the first day combined with not drinking enough water and the unaccustomed exertion of pulling 60 pounds of DoggyRide for 40 miles. (I hadn't ridden so much as a furlong to get in shape before this adventure). So I put the sandwich aside and opened my little iBook to check e-mail and start this blog.
DAY 2: Sunday, October 7, 2007: Dickson to Camden—42 miles.
The pretty ride to Camden was marred only by my realization, as I stopped to take a photo at the Tennessee River, that I had left my (actually, Paul's) digital camera on top of a soda machine about 30 miles back near McEwen. The reception at Camden made up for it, however. As I turned a corner into the town center, I was stunned and delighted to see a line of middle-aged women, holding a garland of empty plastic bottles strung together with green bows on a length of cord, like recycled Christmas lights. These were the utterly delightful women of the Camden Garden Club, my hosts for the night. After treating me to dinner at the Catfish Place (where they introduced me to numerous local leaders), they drove me to Walmart so I could buy a new camera and thence to the super-nice Best Western where they'd already paid for my room. The garden clubs of Tennessee have been wonderful allies of the bottle bill effort.
Left to right: Donna Brown, Luwana Bawcum, Jen Whitehead (president), and Mary Benton of the Camden Garden Club. (A fifth member, Jean Ferry, joined us for dinner at the Catfish Place.)
Already this trip has taught me a great deal--for instance, there are lots of armadillos in Tennessee (dead ones, anyway). But I think the most important lesson I'll take away from this experience is that Tennesseans, especially the ordinary citizens, are READY for this bill and want it to pass, and not just for the litter-busting aspects. They really GET that we need to conserve resources, save energy and reduce waste. I've started taking photos of everyone I talk to who is in favor of the bill, so that when the 2008 legislative session gets underway, I can mount their pictures (with names and towns) to large panels and have supporters carry them into the hearing rooms when our bill comes up.
DAY 3: Monday, October 8, 2007: Camden to Jackson—38 miles.
I spent the morning enjoying my nice room and catching up on e-mails; then I met the garden club women at the "Welcome to Camden" sign on the west side of town, where Highway 641 converges with Highway 70. The club is transforming the formerly nondescript ground in front of the sign with plantings and other landscaping. It was so late by the time I was on my way out of town, I didn't know if I'd make it to the home of Pat and Russ Patrick, just northeast of Jackson, before dark. In fact, the sun was setting when I still had eight miles to go. So dear Pat, who heads the water pollution unit of TDEC's Jackson field office, came and fetched me, my bike and the DoggyRide in Russ's truck. She and Russ not only treated me to a home-cooked meal; Pat let me do my laundry, which was a real gift, as I've been washing one or the other of my two cycling outfits in the hotel-room sink each night and hoping it will be dry by morning.
DAY 4: Tuesday, October 9, 2007: Jackson to Somerville—52 miles.
Pat dropped me off at radio station WTJS in Jackson for a very enthusiastic interview with talk-show host Mike Slater. Mike is from New York, went to college in Connecticut, so he knows about and is very supportive of container deposits. I then headed for Stanton—but somehow missed the turn from Rt. 45 onto U.S. 70. By the time I saw my error I'd gone 7 mikes—so decided to take Rt. 18 toward Bolivar, and turn onto U.S. 100/64 toward Somerville. This proved to be a blessing, as Rt. 18 is absolutely gorgeous; and though it is not as wide as the big roads, the drivers were kind and thoughtful about passing me with care—and Hwy 64 also runs through some lovely country. Found a nice hotel, and got great Mexican across the street. Owner Gus Gomez is considering becoming a redemption center.
DAY 5: Wednesday, October 10, 2007: Somerville to Memphis: 45 miles.
I had a lovely, oasis-like rest stop at Digger O'Dell's nursery in Arlington on Rt. 64. Here, everyone I talked to was totally in favor of a return to returnables. Soon afterwards, my Mount Juliet neighbors the Sizemores, returning to Tennessee from Arkansas, got off the interstate to meet me--and load me up with bottled water and yogurt-covered raisins.
The ride into Memphis wasn't really hairy, but it was noisy! Car engines and alarms and ambulances and radios--it was a joy to finally reach the home of Diana and John Threadgill on the western side of Overton Park (the one that forced Interstate 40 to detour around it in 1971, due in part to the new National Environmental Policy Act signed the previous year by President Nixon). Diana is executive director of the Mississippi River Corridor–Tennessee (a natural, recreational and economic development project involving all six river counties on Tennessee's western edge); John is a member of the corridor's board as well as director of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce. James Baker and Nancy Ream of the Chickasaw Group of the Sierra Club met me at Diana's, and we went off to Bosco's to meet other Sierra Clubbers for drinks and appetizers. (My tab was picked up by chapter president Tom Lawrence and his wife Janet Partridge.) Despite a half-dozen mini-egg rolls, I still had plenty of appetite left for a fabulous pot roast dinner at the Threadgills.
Thelma Johnson at Digger O'Dell's; Adam, Susan and Mike Sizemore
DAY 6: Thursday, October 11, 2007: Memphis to Covington—43 miles.
Getting out of Memphis was a lot more relaxing then getting in to it. I enjoyed crossing the Wolf River, talking to the guys at an auto body shop (owner Lamont Gray wants to turn the empty lot next door into a redemption center) and being interviewed in Millington by Clay Bailey of the Commercial Appeal. The freelance photographer, Chris Desmond, was fabulous and so energetic. He kept driving ahead, then jumping out of his car and setting up another shot as I rode by. At one point I thought he'd left, but then he rose up out of the grass and took more pictures. Two of the images were in Friday's Appeal.
Spent the night in the very nice Deerfield Inn in Covington.
Bryan Presley, Lamont Gray, Tonye Smith and Quillon Blayde at Lamont's body shop in Memphis. Lamont is interested in opening a redemption center.
DAY 7: Friday, October 12, 2007: Covington to Dyersburg—42 miles.
Another nice day, which began with the news that Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize. (I am one of the folks who've been trained to give Al's Climate Project slideshow.) A reporter from the Tennessean called me for a comment, which was good exposure for the bike ride, and gave me a chance to talk about the greenhouse gas emissions that are saved by recycling tons of beverage containers.
When I got to Ripley around lunchtime, I turned onto Cleveland Street just behind the Walmart, and into the gracious, garden-rich home of Bille Ann Hendren, one of Lauderdale County's aldermen. Here I had a lovely lunch with a group of Lauderdale Countians who are determined to do something about the county's litter. In additon to Billie Anne, these included Lynn Herron and Anne Tate of the county's litter committee, Pamela Cherry-Kerby, coordinator of Keep Lauderdale County Beautiful, her husband Ronnie Kerby, a cotton merchant, Trent McManus, mayor of nearby Halls, and Libba Shoaf Burns, who has lived in Maine and so knows firsthand the wonders a bottle bill can work. Though he could not be there, County Mayor Rod Schuh is to thank for putting this meeting in motion.
Lynn Harmon, Ann Tate, Billie Anne Hendren and Pamela Cherry-Kerby of Lauderdale County; Billie Ann and her grandson Roberson.
Pamela told me that there would be barbecue and bluegrass at the square in Dyersburg that evening, so that's where I headed after leaving Ripley. Dyersburg's Mainstreet Program is doing fabulous things in this historic city and for the square, which apparently is used frequently for community events. I got to talk briefly with Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill, and county clerk Diane Moore invited me to have some barbecue in what I think was the Firemen's tent. Pamela and Ronnie joined me, and it was almost dark by the time I got to the Best Western on the north edge of town.
DAY 8: Saturday, October 13, 2007: Dyersburg to Union City: 37 miles.
Made a major detour today. The plan was to go to Tiptonville and Lake County via Rt. 78 out of Dyersburg. But just outside the city, the paved shoulders disappeared entirely, and I was faced with pulling a bicycle trailer in the traveling lane of a rather narrow--and amazingly busy--county road. I just knew somebody would die. So after calling Paul to get his opinion, I pedaled back into town, consulted my map, and phoned to cancel my "reservation" with my Tiptonville hosts, writer Kathy Krone and retired TWRA wildlife manager Jim Johnson, whose Rivers Under Siege, an analysis of the disastrous West Tennessee Tributaries channelization project, was recently pulished by UT Press. Then I got back onto US 51 and headed for Union City. It's a nice road--almost like an interstate (in fact, the official state map designates most of this stretch as Interstate 155, but apparently I-155 only lasts for one exit out of Dyersburg.) This is homecoming weekend at UT Martin, and I was lucky to get a room--albeit second floor--at the very nice Hospitality House.
Jean Ross, head of housekeeping at the Hospitality House in Union City, would like to see a bottle bill for Tennessee.
DAY 9: Sunday, October 14, 2007: Union City to Martin: 15 miles.
Having bypassed Tiptonville yesterday, I had plenty of time this morning to spend in my room at the exceedingly nice Hospitality House in Union City, answering e-mail, downloading photos, updating the website, making press contacts and so on. Around 2 p.m., Phil and Sandy Davis and their friend Ross Cormia arrived by bike to accompany me the 15 miles to Martin, where Phil and Sandy had volunteered to put me up for the night. Phil is a professor of chemistry at UT Martin and Sandy is one of those people who seem to do everything, from volunteering for the La Leche League to making origami greeting cards. We had a lovely dinner out on the deck, after which I spent at least an hour talking about the bill to a reporter and photographer from the UTM student paper.
Phil Davis, me, Sandy Davis and Ross Cormia in Union City
DAY 10: Monday, October 15, 2007: Martin to Paris: 34 miles.
After a brief call-in to the "Good Times in the Morning with Chris Brinkley and Paul Tinkle" show on WCMT-AM, I left for Paris by way of Dresden. (Which compels me to mention that my sister Jan and her boyfriend Jim were biking in France last week--and yesterday my best friend from high school was biking through Dresden, Germany. Weird, huh?)
Sandy Davis, bundle of energy that she is, accompanied me the 12 miles from Martin to the town square in Dresden, where she dropped me off in front of the law office of Sen. Roy Herron. Sen. Herron, a member of the Senate Environment Committee, is one of the most interesting legislators in the General Assembly. An author and ordained minister, he recently completed an Ironman triathlon (26.2-mile marathon, 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bicycle ride). Compared to him, my 40-miles-in-8 hours looked pretty ho-hum. Nonetheless, Sen. Herron seemed most appreciative of the effort and the cause behind it. I hope he votes for the bill.
Since my bike was parked in front of the Weakley County Courthouse, I stopped in to the office of County Mayor Houston Patrick. He wasn't in, but as I chatted with his assistant, Beverly Oliver, it turned out she knows my next-door neighbors in Mount Juliet (the Rowletts, not the Sizemores)! Small world.
Just before I left Dresden, reporter David Fisher of the Dresden Enterprise met me at TJ's Market for a photo and quick interview. (Small newspapers have been terrific in their coverage of this ride.) My lunch stop was Meme's in Como--a charming little cafe on Rt. 54. The family who owns the store were salt-of-the-earth types, generous and friendly, but the highlight of that stop was a regular customer named Richard Collins. Richard remembers recycling "everything" back in the '50s, and he said he would welcome a bottle bill. As he was leaving, he placed a $10 bill beside my plate--"buy yourself a steak dinner tonight"--and told me he had taken care of my lunch tab! I'm almost in tears just writing about it. How kind he was. Really, everyone should go on an 800-mile bicycle tour for a good cause.
Richard Collins of Como--my benefactor at Meme's
Speaking of kind--the drivers of Tennessee have been amazingly patient and thoughtful. Today's road, for instance, SR 54, was pretty hairy--no shoulders to speak of, and the many hills made for dangerouly limited sight distances. I found myself pulling off onto the grass constantly. But as they have been from the start, the drivers lined up behind me were exceedingly patient, any many gave me a thumbs-up as they passed. Nary an angry horn nor yelled admonition to be heard.
Tonight I'm in the newly renovated Sunrise Motel on Rt. 79 in Paris. Lots of good lodging choices on this ride.
DAY 11: Tuesday, October 16, 2007: Paris to Dover: 27 miles.
Today I saw the first signs of fall foliage--harbingers of what is to come in the east. I'm glad the drought didn't deprive us entirely of autumn colors. Today I also saw the first rain of the trip, but it was over by the time I left my room at the Sunrise Motel. David Phillips of the Paris Post-Intelligencer met me not long after I got on the road and took some photos; he is a recent transplant from Michigan, and, like almost all bottle-bill staters, he marvels that Tennessee doesn't have such a system.
Route 79 is a great road--lovely scenery, wide shoulders (though they need sweeping, big time) and of course a fabulous view from the bridge over the Tennessee River (Kentucky Lake). This time I was able to photograph the crossing with my new cheapo camera.
The Tennessee River at Paris Landing (Rt 79)
I bought toothpase and Gatorade at the neat little Paris Landing General Store, just west of the river. Store owners Harlan and Jo Olson listened very attentively as I described the role of a redemption center; they are both willing to look further at this possibility for their store.
I was lucky to get a room at the almost-full Dover Inn, a wonderful, locally owned place that obviously has a big following among the fishermen. Owner Brenda Lord agrees that we need a container deposit--"We have to do something about the trash."
Two women who own businesses with their husbands: Jo Olson of the Paris Landing General Store; and Brenda Lord of the Dover Inn.
DAY 12: Wednesday, October 17, 2007: Dover to Clarksville: 35 miles.
Rain was again forecast, but it didn't happen, though the air was unusually humid and hot, and the winds from the southwest buffeted me and the DoggyRide pretty mercilessly. Tomorrow may be the day to try out my new rain booties.
I had to make good time in order to be in Clarksville by 3, so I didn't stop as often as I normally would. Nonetheless, the stops I did make--at JT's Bait Shop in Indian Mound and the Kangaroo Exxon in Clarksville--yielded more supporters and more photographs for the display boards. WKAG TV out of Hopkinsville, Ky., sent a reporter out to get a brief interview, and I had a long chat with Matt Rennels of the Leaf-Chronicle.
Got to Clarksville in good time to meet Dottie Mann, my overnight host. Together we delivered my bike and trailer for safekeeping at the police offices at Austin Peay State University. Since I'll be speaking to the Sunshine Rotary Club at APSU at 7 in the morning, then leaving for Nashville immediately afterwards, we decided it was easiest to leave my transport in the safest place on campus. Thanks, Lt. Elliston!
Rodney Burlin lives in Lebanon and drives a Harley; Dottie Mann put me up in her park-like home in Clarksville; Barbara Wilbur and her wonderful grandson Miles stopped by to visit before they left to deliver meals to shut-ins from Barbara's church.
DAY 13: Thursday, October 18, 2007: Clarksville to Nashville: 48 miles.
This last day of the western leg started with a front page, above-the-fold story (with big color photo) by reporter Matt Rennels in The Leaf-Chronicle. (I've got to get all these stories added to the "In the News" page of this website.) Next was a breakfast presentation to the Sunshine Rotary Club of Clarksville; and soon after that was finished, three local Scenic Tennessee members showed up, as well as four supporters from Nashville. Three of them--Kim Sparks, Richard Cochran and David Irvine, all with TDEC--were equipped with bikes to escort me back to Nashville. The fourth, Sherry Wang, delivered the green POP t-shirts my husband Paul had ordered from yet another of our excellent Mount Juliet neighbors, Cyr Zin.
Amazingly, the predicted thunderstorms held off, but the winds were brutal. Pulling the Doggy Ride, with its big yellow sign, was like dragging an anchor through heavy seas. My escorts insisted on taking turns pulling it with their own bicycles--a most blessed relief. Kim wound up pulling it almost all the way to Nashville. She's a powerhouse.
We met up with Richard Connors at the clubhouse at Ted Rhodes Golf Course, a few miles north of town--Sherry showed up with more t-shirts--and a reporter from Channel 4 captured the five of us pedaling up Metro Center Boulevard with the Nashville skyline looming. And then I gratefully spent the night in my own bed.
Return to Legislative Plaza: my escorts (Richard Cochran, Kim Sparks and David Irvine) flanked by Sherry Wang and my best-of-husbands, Paul Davis a.k.a. Ped.
DAY 14: Friday, October 19, 2007: Home in Mt. Juliet: 0 miles.
Happy to take a day off—but NO INTERNET ACCESS! Horrors! Thanks to the storms that finally swept in during the previous night, the Comcast service folks couldn't get to us until almost 5 pm today. I was up until 4 am answering e-mails and printing out maps for the second leg.
DAY 15: Saturday, October 20, 2007: Murfreesboro to Hillsboro: 48 miles.
Despite getting only three hours sleep, I felt great for today's start of the second half of the tour, which departed from Civic Plaza in Murfreesboro at 10 am. Four Murfreesboro cyclists accompanied me: Gib Backlund, president of Recycle Rutherford, and Brandy Potter, a student at MTSU, rode for the first 12 miles; Jim Barden and Richard Martin rode all the way to Beech Grove. Linda Martin and Leslee Dodd Karl, my colleague in Scenic Tennessee, were there to see us off--along with Twinkle (my dog) and Ped (my husband, a.k.a. Paul E. Davis).
The Murfreesboro send-off
A front-page article in the Daily News Journal earned us lots of thumbs-ups as we headed out of town, and long-time activist Frank Fly, who remembers many an earlier bottle-bill battle, pulled over to wish us well with this one.
US 41 proved to be the most beautiful road of my trip so far. Gorgeous farmland valleys, lots of trees, easy terrain and virtually no 18-wheelers, thanks to the nearness of I-24. I've decided (during the many hours when I have plenty of time to think about such things) that Tennessee absolutely needs to become a bicycle-touring state, like Vermont is now. We've got the scenery, the small towns, the friendly little hotels, the local cafes and charming local attractions. Once we've passed a bottle bill to clean up litter and eliminate most of the broken glass, all we need is a plan, some funding, and a commitment on the part of the counties and TDOT to make some of our roads more bicycle friendly. This means shoulders that are at least 2 feet wide, swept routinely, and with NO RUMBLE STRIPS to shake the teeth out of a cyclist's head. I've been talking to Vermont Bicycle Tours (the one my sister used in France; www.vbt.com) and I know such green tourism would be a boon to Tennessee's economy, image and tourism.
I got to the Home Depot in Manchester at 3, where I had an interview with Bob Kyer, a veteran reporter now with the Tullahoma News; and Rebecca McElvey, daughter of my hosts for the night, James and Elaine McKelvey. Rebecca is an attorney in Nashville, active with Team Green; in fact, she and her friend Rachel Hampton had gone sky-diving with Team Green earlier that morning. When she learned of my bike ride, she made sure she would be back from the airport in time to meet me for the 11-mile ride to the McKelvey farm in Hillsboro.
I had met Elaine at the Tennessee Federation of Garden Club's 2007 Conservation Camp in September; her husband, James, is active in the Tennessee Farm Bureau. They are kind, generous and unaffected, and their life on their farm seemed straight out of the movie Babe (Mr. McKelvey even looks a little like Farmer Hoggett): a yard full of dogs and cats, a landscape of fields, farm buildings and distant mountains; and the warmest homelife you can imagine. On Saturday evening, Elaine prepared a feast of chuck roast, vegetables, home-canned green beans, home-grown tomatoes, salt-rise bread from the Dutch Maid Bakery and homemade pumpkin cookies; on Sunday morning, Farmer James got out his 50-year-old Montgomery Ward bicycle and rode with Rebecca, Rachel and me to the main road. Lucky trotted along beside.
James McKelvey of Hillsboro on his classic bicycle
DAY 16: Sunday, October 21, 2007: Hillsboro to Jasper: 37 miles.
Restored by a full 10 hours of sleep at the Hogett--I mean, McKelvey--farm, I felt ready to ascend Monteagle Mountain with Rebecca and Rachel. Mr. McKelvey and Lucky the dog accompanied us as the three-quarters of a mile to US 41.
James McKelvey, Rebecca McKelvey, and Lucky
The mountain rises abruptly from the valley: one moment you're on level ground, the next you're climbing. I got off at the bottom to share the moment with Paul via cellphone--and I never got back in the saddle until I'd reached the top. I walked the whole way, filling the hour or so by phoning various relatives. Rebecca and Rachel got so far ahead that I only saw them again when they were riding back down. I didn't mind the solitude in the least; US 41 was so quiet, and the road so thickly shaded by trees, that it felt like hiking in a park, with an occasional view to the valley below.
Left, the view from the mountain; right, Rebecca McKelvey and Rachel Hampton. (I was intrigued by the air-catcher design of Rachel's helmet--until we all realized she had it on backwards.)
I reached the hundred-plus-year-old Dutch Maid Bakery & Cafe in Tracy City just before noon, where I was met by Wanda Bell, environmental studies teacher at Grundy County High School, and two of her students, Jordan Esparza and Jaycee Hill. Wanda's class took part in our 2005 separated litter cleanups; her students have been following the progress of the bottle bill ever since, and now they are following the progress of this bicycle ride. Greg and Marcia Denton of Murfreesboro also showed up at the bakery, en route from a fiddle championship in Georgia, where 8th-grade daughter Maddie took second place. (Maddie has played at the Grand Ole Opry.)
Tracy City was supposed to be my stopover town, but as it was so early when I got there, I continued on to Jasper, where I lucked out to find a great room at the excellent Acuff Inn--once owned by country music legend Roy Acuff (his photos are all over the lobby).
Left: Grundy County High School science teacher Wanda Bell met me at the Dutch Maid Bakery and Cafe, with environmental science students Jordan Esparza and Jaycee Hill. Right: Marcia, Greg and Maddie Denton also showed up at the bakery, en route to Murfreesboro after a fiddle competition in Georgia, where Maddie took second place.
DAY 17: Monday, October 22, 2007: Jasper to Chattanooga: 30 miles.
The promised rains finally started falling today--actually, late last night. I hung out at the Acuff Inn until 11, then pushed off for Chattanooga in a steady drizzle. It wasn't so bad, really. My new Trek Portland has disk brakes, which work well even in wet weather, my helmet keeps the rain out of my face, and my Pearl Izumi cycling booties kept out much of the rain and all of the dirt--once I managed to wrestle them on over my cycling shoes. (All Pearl Izumi clothing seems designed for a race of Munchkins. Maybe it's the Europeans' way of telling us Americans to lose weight, but I'm not all that large, and I can barely zip up my Pearl Izumi cycling jacket, and it's size XL.)
Restaurants are great places to find new bottle-bill supporters. In the Dairy Queen in Jasper, I met the Nelson family (left) of Hermitage, who were traveling with grandparents Dennis and Donna Bowers of Mt. Juliet. That's Dennis with the choclate-covered ice-cream cone.
I reached Chattanooga in a steady rain around 4 pm, and went straight to the plaza in front of the fantastic Tennessee Aquarium. I'd told local supporters and media that I would be here at 5, so I had time to run inside the visitors' center, dry myself off as best I could, and change into long cycling pants and my fleece jacket, after which I felt like a new woman. There were no media this evening, but supporters Carol Farmer and Christine Bock, both Aquarium staff, soon showed up, followed by my host for the evening, Pam Glaser, a board member of Scenic Tennessee; Pam's boyfriend Steve Fry of the Appalachian Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Jim Johnson, president of the Chattanooga Bicycle Club and founder of Bike Tours Direct (www.biketoursdirect.com), which contracts with European tour operators to offer more than 200 guided and self-guided cycling tours in 30 European countries.
Carol Farmer, Steve Fry and me in the rain in front of the Tennessee Aquarium.
We had considered going out for drinks, but nobody felt like it in this weather. In fact, I didn't even want to get on my bike for the last mile to Pam's house. So Steve loaded my gear into his truck and drove Pam and me across the bridge into the trendy, funky neighborhood where Pam lives--all cool shops, nice restaurants, charmingly restored bungalows and plenty of sidewalks. (Pam's an urban designer and appreciates such amenities.) While I lounged on the sofa with Emily the dog, Pam poured some Shiraz, made a delicious chicken Caesar salad, and for dessert, served apples, Montana caramels and goat cheese with cranberries.
DAY 18: Tuesday, October 23, 2007: Chattanooga to Cleveland: 32 miles.
It poured all night, but when Pam and I left her house at 7 (still dark outside, since Chattanooga is in the Eastern time zone) the rains had stopped and a breeze was blowing the clouds around. Jim Johnson met us at Aretha Frankenstein's, a funky fixture in Pam's wonderful North Chattanooga neighborhood. No time for more than a cup of coffee, however, as Ruthie Cartlidge, events coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga, had arranged for me to be on Jeff Styles' talk show (WGOW) at 8 am, and I needed to ride my bike the 3 or 4 miles to the station near Moccasin Bend. Jeff is terrific--clearly engaged in the Chattanooga community--especially the outdoor stuff (he moved there for the hang-gliding!). His enthusiasm for the bottle bill was obvious and gratifying, and he promised that www.tnbottlebill.org would be the "website du jour" for Wednesday. (Today's was www.extremepumpkins.com.)
Back at the Aquarium, Pam, Jim and George Bartnik, an Aquarium educator, came out to see Carol Farmer and me off. Carol rode out the Amnicola Highway with me as far as Chickamauga Dam, about 10 miles; by the time we parted, we could actually see patches of blue sky. It was not to last, however, as the rains returned while I was having breakfast near the intersection with Highway 11. At this point I made an uncomfortable discovery: Highway 11 briefly merges with Interstate 75 at this point. After looking at my map, I decided that my only alternative was to go many miles out of my way. Forget that! So I went ahead and rode up onto I-75, praying that no state trooper would pull me over before I got to the Ooltewah exit. It was only a mile or two, and I exited unscathed, but the traffic noise was absolutely deafening, the speed of the passing cars was harrowing, and I felt almost as vulnerable as those road-kill armadillos I'd seen in West Tennessee.
Here we are--me, Pam Glaser, Carol Farmer and Jim Johnson--taking cover under the arches at the Tennessee Aquarium.
Once in Cleveland, I rode directly to the very nice Cleveland Daily Banner building on 25th Street. Managing editor David Davis (his people, like Paul's, come from Oklahoma) introduced me to city reporter William Wright. All the newspeople I've talked with during this trip have been interested in my venture and concerned for my welfare, but William was downright solicitous--especially since the rains had now developed into a monsoon. (Cleveland got 2.2 inches of rain in a matter of hours; one town further north reportedly got 6 inches!) Luckily, the Banner building is surrounded by motels; I chose the Knight's Inn, where I immediately shed my soaked gear and took a long, hot shower. Then I treated myself to a fabulous chimichanga and 2-for-1 frozen margaritas at Las Margaritas.
DAY 19: Wednesday, October 24, 2007: Cleveland to Athens: 26 miles.
I slept in today, waiting for the skies to clear a bit before heading off for Athens. It never rained a drop after 10 am, and I had a lovely ride up Highway 11--nice farmland, pastures, cows, bales of hay--all classic Tennessee. Take away the roadside trash and you'd have perfection. In Calhoun I stopped at a mechanics' shop to get air in the DoggyRide tires. The two fellows there were delightful, and I would have photographed them had not my camera ceased to respond. I was about ready to give up on cameras, but then it started working again in Riceville, and I was able to get this fabulous photo of the four family members who operate Riceville Greenhouse at the juncture of highways 11 and 39.
Left: At Riceville Greenhouse, just south of Athens, owners Gerald Manis, son-in-law Allen Dowdy, Allen's wife Lisa, and Gerald's wife Karen stand in front of the red-clay-lined irrigation pond that Gerald built. Right: Gerald with Helen Stagnaro of Athens, chairman of Civic Roadsides for the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, District IV.
Note the red waterwheel in the photos. That's part of Gerald's brilliantly self-designed, self-constructed recirculating irrigation system--complete with fountain, stonework, and a network of sprinklers--that has allowed the greenhouse to reduce its city water bill from $500 a month to $0! Gerald lined the pond with native red clay (no plastic liner), and introduced 100 koi (Japanese goldfish) to help keep the water moving and oxygenated. Talk about sustainability! Of course, a fellow like this is all in favor of a bottle bill.
From the greenhouse I took Rt. 39 into Athens--six roller-coaster miles that felt ten times harder than all of Monteagle Mountain. I finally arrived into Athens, where I met Anthony Dake, a charming young photographer/reporter with the Daily Post Athenian. After taking some photos, he followed me to the utterly gorgeous Majestic Mansion Bed & Breakfast (www.themansionbnb.com), just off the courthouse square, where we sat on the sunny porch for an interview. Innkeepers Elaine and Richard Newman have restored this cottage-style, white frame home to its 1909 splendor (with the added splendors of wireless internet, heated towel racks and those beds with adjustable softness control. My room, full of antiques and with its own little porch and private bath, was called (appropriately, I like to think) "The Ambassador." When I described my cause and the reason for the bicycle ride, Elaine Newman graciously gave me a huge discount on this fabulous room.
Left; the Majestic Mansion B&B in downtown Athens, with innkeeper Elaine Newman barely visible at the top of the stairs; working on my laptop (and drinking coffee) at the antique desk in my room at the inn.
I learned of the Majestic from several local supporters, including Austin Fesmire, director of Athens' parks and recreation program, and Helen Stagnaro, a leader in the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs' District IV. Austin and I serve on the Tennessee Recreation Advisory Committee (a group charged with updating Tennessee's 5-year recreation plan); and Helen has recently emerged as a local leader in the quest to pass container-deposit legislation for Tennessee. Tonight, she and her husband Charlie took me to dinner at Gondolier's. When I returned to the B&B, another couple had arrived, and the Newmans were serving pound cake with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce.
DAY 20: Thursday, October 25, 2007: Athens to Loudon: 32 miles.
After helping myself to early-morning coffee and a biscotti at the Majestic, I walked around the corner to radio station WYXI, in the historic Robert E. Lee Hotel on E. Madison Avenue, for an on-air interview arranged by Austin Fesmire. This small local station looks and feels like something out of the 1950s, with host and co-owner Bob Ketchersid announcing local birthdays and fundraisers while working dual computer monitors and playing CDs. After the interview I met Helen Stagnaro and a fellow garden-club member at Hardees, where I encountered the local Liars Club--a dozen or so gentlemen who convene here every single morning to have coffee and, I assume, trade tall tales.
Liars' Club regulars Wayne Parkinson (left), Joe Crabtree and Glyn Barnes, all of Athens, meet every morning at Hardees. All three men support a return to returnables.
Highway 11 to Loudon proved to be a nice ride, much flatter than I'd expected, and I arrived at the Astec Underground plant in Loudon well ahead of my scheduled 3 pm tour. Astec Underground, a subsidiary of Chattanooga-based Astec Industries, manufactures earth-moving equipment, from walk-behind trenchers to horizontal directional drills, and sells to clients as far away as Russia and the Middle East. The plant is located in a beautiful, hilly area just north of I-75, but the roads leading to it are, like so many in the state, heavily littered. Concerned that the litter left a poor impression on international customers, potential clients and visiting executives, Astec, led by credit manager Bert Burgett, created an employee cleanup program that now does regular patrols of the grounds and Corporate Park Drive. In fact, on the day I arrived for a tour of the plant with State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, crew member Tim Barber was out on the Gator, picking up what he said were mostly bottles and cans.
That's Tim Barber on the left, on Astec's litter duty; on the right are Bert Burgett, State Representative Jimmy Matlock of Loudon; me; Astec Underground president Alan Odgers, and executive vice president Klane Kirby.
After the tour, Bert drove me and my gear to West Bicycles in Farragut for a checkup. I'd been hearing what I thought were some strange noises coming from the front wheel--or the crank?--or the rear wheel?--or the trailer hookup? Manager Kelly Hamm could find nothing amiss, though he did think the chain was worn out. Despite being almost closing time, Kelly put on a new chain, adjusted cables and pronounced my bike ready to ride. My confidence restored, Bert and I went to dinner at the Calhoun's overlooking Fort Loudoun Lake, thence to his nice home on Watts Bar Lake.
DAY 21: Friday, October 26, 2007: Loudon to Knoxville: 32 miles.
Bert saved me 7 very hilly miles by dropping me off at the junction of Highway 11 and Sugar Limb Road. Before I took off, I called Lou Livengood of Tellico Village, one of POP's most active supporters, to ask for a local press contact. Though this was obviously something I ought to have done before, Tammy Cheek of the Loudon County News-Herald promptly sent a reporter to meet me at the Dairy Queen in Lenoir City. Later that morning, I met Knoxville News Sentinel veteran photographer Clay Owen, who took photos of me riding along Kingston Pike. Four of the photos ran in Saturday's paper, along with a great story by John Shearer on page B1.
Here's one of the photos by News Sentinel photographer Clay Owen.
As I passed through Farragut I stopped in at West Bicycles to thank Kelly Hamm for his service the evening before and to take his picture. When I returned to my bicycle, I found a fellow waiting: Bob Hill, chair of Farrugut's planning commission and a member of the Tennessee Sierra Club's executive committee. He'd seen my sign as I pulled into the shopping center, he said, and wanted to wish me well, especially since he had been involved in earlier efforts to pass a container deposit. I assured him that the Sierra Club was--is--one of our top allies.
Two nice guys: Kelly Hamm of West Bicycles in Farragut; and Bob Hill of the Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club
I had another surprise encounter as I headed for a brief detour onto one of Farragut's greenways. Up ahead, a dark-haired woman had pulled over and was gesturing excitedly. It was Tami Coleman, my local mentor in The Climate Project and also the state's director of Project CENTS (Conservation Education Now for Tennessee Students). She had just been at a workshop with Farragut teachers, she said, and none of them had any idea that the bottle bill was still alive. Which, we both agreed, is one reason this bike ride--and local press coverage--are so important.
Kingston Pike wasn't as bad a ride as some had said it would be--but when it turned into Cumberland Avenue near the University of Tennessee, it was worse. No offense, but I can't believe that a major university town, especially one as congested as Knoxville, would have so little accommodation for cyclists. With absolutely no shoulder or bike lane to ride on, I was forced onto the sidewalks, sections of which seemed more torn up than the ruins of Pompeii, and were obstructed by power poles and fire hydrants and various other fixtures. I know it's a major undertaking to redesign roadscapes, but it has to start somewhere, and why not in the hometown of Tennessee's flagship university?
The rough terrain slowed me down, but by 3:20 I had reached the TVA Towers, where my husband Paul and numerous colleagues were just leaving a meeting on a watershed issue. After a most welcome, very cold Diet Pepsi, followed by a round of photos, one of those colleagues, Paul Schmierbach, loaded me up in his pickup and took me to spend the night with him and Jeanine in Strawberry Plains. We joined several of their nice friends for dinner at Cozymels, after which I fell into a heavenly bed.
Tami Coleman, director of Project CENTS and my mentor in The Climate Project, flagged me down on Campbell Station Road; Paul and a bunch of his environmental-agency colleagues welcomed me as I arrived at the TVA Towers in downtown Knoxville.
DAY 22: Saturday, October 27, 2007: Knoxville to Morristown: 35 miles.
Like all of my overnight hosts, Paul and Jeanine Schmierbach were incredibly kind. They did my laundry, invited me to hook up to the Internet, helped retape my handlebar wrapping, allowed me plenty of quality playtime with Annie the Manchester terrier and filled me up with bacon, eggs, toast and homemade blackberry preserves. After all this, Jeanine rode with me out to the main road.
I have to say that, win or lose this legislative campaign, I wouldn't have missed for anything the chance this journey has given me to spend time with people like the Schmierbachs--and their friends (that's their neighbor Janet, who brought over the morning's News Sentinel)--and all the others I've met along the way: folks like longtime Knoxville supporter Tom Wachster, who drove up and down Highway 11E looking for me; new supporter Joyce Sayers (and her Lab/Great Dane mix Lucy) of Knoxville; and Willis Williams, who was recycling newspapers at a church in New Market. My photo files are full of many more, just like them.
Paul and Jeanine Schmierbach of Strawberry Plains, with neighbor Janet Franklin and dog Annie; Joyce Sayers of Knoxville with Lucy the Lab-Great Dane mix; Tom Wachster of Knoxville with his little yellow sports car; and Willis Williams of New Market, at the newspaper recycling bin.
I arrived in Morristown around 4 pm to see lots of vintage (1940s and 50s, I think) automobiles on the streets, then to find that most of the hotels were full or nearly so. Obviously there was a connection somewhere. I considered myself lucky to find a first-floor room in the Days Inn on the east side of town. (Second-floor rooms are okay, but they mean dragging the DoggyRide up the stairs.)
DAY 23: Sunday, October 28, 2007: Morristown to Greeneville: 31 miles.
Another first today: my first flat tire! Despite the constant roadside plague of broken bottles, it wasn't glass that took down one of the heavy-duty tires of the DoggyRide. It was a tiny, ordinary staple, the kind you use to hold together business papers. In fact, I'm sure I picked it up in my hotel room, because that's where I discovered the flat--as I was checking out of the Days Inn in Morristown. It was easy enough to fix, once I figured out how to use the Shrader-valve side of my new dual-valve pump. (I think the last time I fixed a flat was in 1979, the year I rode from Tennessee to Maine.)
I didn't get back on the road until almost 1 pm, so I didn't have much time for chatting on the road to Greeneville. Not that there was much opportunity. Other than a lunch stop at Sandy's Cafe in Bulls Gap, I encounted very few live humans along Highway 11E. Plenty of cars, yes; but almost no business owners or customers (this being Sunday); nobody in their front yards; and in fact, almost no front yards, period. (Like most of my route, 11E is largely commercial or agricultural.)
At Sandy's, the only other party eating lunch at this late hour was a large family on its way home from church--I think it may have been the pastor himself--and it would have been rude to interrupt them; so the only person I managed to engage on the issue of a bottle bill was the cafe owner. He was interested in having more accessible recycling, and he agrees that we need to do more about litter. However, when I asked him to call his legislators, he said he was disgusted with the whole lot of them, since they just voted to ban smoking in restaurants. I don't think he was likely to help push for more government regulation, so I left Bulls Gap without any new photos to add to the gallery.
The home of Mark and Martie Benko was a perfect stopping place, and not just because it's on the east side of Greeneville, just seconds off Highway 11E. It was perfect because it was SO relaxing and warm. Mark and Martie met me in the driveway, and we entered through the garage into an enormous, wood-panelled, thickly carpeted rec room (at least that's what we used to call such rooms), with a huge, lovely bar in one corner, reclining sofas and entertainment area in another, and everywhere the mementos of Mark's lifelong passion for the outdoors in general and duck-hunting in particular. The walls, shelves and bookcases are covered with gorgeously framed wildlife prints, mounted waterfowl, photos of Mark with various hunting dogs and a bevy of plaques and awards for service in the Tennessee Conservation League, now the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. This is how I know Mark and Martie: through TCL/TWF. When I wrote TCL's 50th-anniversary history in 1996, Mark was one of the longtime board members who served as a resource and interviewee. Mark has also been a good advocate for our bottle bill and would like to see Tennessee's sportsmen get behind this one. (TCL tried to pass its own version in the 1970s.)
My camera behaves badly in low light, but even this out-of-focus photo of Martie and Mark Benko gives you a good idea of the cool sportsmen's den in their home in Greeneville.
After a fabulous dinner of pot roast, vegetables, mashed potatoes, cheesy biscuits and cherry cobbler with ice cream, we all sprawled on the reclining sofas in the downstairs den and ended the night watching a Robin Williams movie about a family who takes an RV vacation. It was goofy and suspiciously derivative of Chevy Chase's summer-vacation movies, but I laughed till I cried.
DAY 24: Monday, October 29, 2007: Greeneville to Johnson City: 30 miles.
During a great breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and biscuits, Martie, Mark and I talked about our respective families, especially the logistics of getting together for holidays. (Martie and Mark have 7 kids and 12 grandkids, so their gatherings take place over several days or even weeks.) After breakfast, reporter Nelson Morais from the Greeneville Sun arrived for an interview and photos. (In the course of the day I also met with the Jonesborough Herald & Tribune and the Johnson City Press.) Nelson described me in his story as "slim" and "ebullient." What a great vocabulary--and what charming compliments.
Weird highlight of the day: As I was coming up a hill on Highway 11E at Rheatown, I encountered a horse, of all things, in the middle of the road. Obviously he'd gotten out of an adjacent pasture, which was next to a large, noisy construction site. (I suspect that all the truck-and-backhoe traffic had knocked down a section of fence, but in fairness, it wouldn't have taken much knocking, as the fence was little more than two strands of barbed wire between cockeyed posts.) Though he was clearly nervous, the horse came right up to me and seemed eager to be taken care of. He was not wearing a halter, but he let me sort of guide him with my hands over to a gate in the fence, which was locked by a flimsy chain and latch. I undid the latch and worked the gate open, and the moment he was through, Old Paint lifted his head and tail and lit off down the the hill toward his buddies. Over at the construction site, I couldn't find any supervisors to warn, so I called the Greene County sheriff's office, who said they would "send someone out." Finally a construction vehicle drove up, and the fellows inside said that the farmer's animals were constantly getting out of their enclosures. In fact, one horse had already been struck and killed. Ouch. Unable to think of anything more I could do, I turned the subject, naturally, to the bottle bill. They both like the idea, and Vic thinks he or his mother, who owns a cafe/market in Rheatown, might want to open a redemption center:
Jim Hales of Chuckey and Vic Shelton of Rheatown. They couldn't help me rescue stray horses, but they are in favor of a bottle bill.
By the time I reached Johnson City I was famished (having had nothing since the oatmeal breakfast), so I splurged on a salmon-and-grilled-shrimp dinner at Red Lobster--thence to the Days Inn on the north side of town.
DAY 25: Tuesday, October 30, 2007: Johnson City to Bristol: 17 miles.
Vinnie Whitright and Joanna Simmons, Sierra Club members from Chuckey, arrived at the Days Inn at 10 am to ride with me out of Johnson City. Vinnie recently succeeded James Baker as head of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club's container-deposit initiative, and he is full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. He also knows the value of the media, and had recently managed to get a full ten minutes on the Marc Bernier show (WFHG-FM in Bristol), talking up the container deposit bill. Marc had been extremely upbeat and supportive, said Vinnie, and Joanna added that I should phone the show myself the next morning. Good idea; I just hope I don't forget.
Owing to a flat tire--Joanna's, not mine--and numerous incoming phone calls--all mine--we stayed together only as far as Winged Deer Park on Boone Lake. However, those few miles made for a pleasant send-off on what was the final leg of my tour.
There happened to be a recycling depot across from my hotel in Johnson City, so that's where Vinnie and Joanna got their photo taken. While we were there (and as I tried to keep my bicycle out of the carpet of broken glass), we met Cindy Kozlowski, recently moved to Tennessee from Virginia and already an enthusiastic bottle-bill supporter.
As I rode these last miles up 11E, the weather and scenery couldn't have been more perfect: deep blue skies, temps in the 70s, no wind to speak of, no fugitive farm animals, cloudless views of the Smokies and fall colors that were surprisingly pretty, considering the drought. I was met halfway to Bristol by a reporter (Mac McLean) and photographer (Earl Neikirk) from the Bristol Herald-Courier; not long after that I arrived at the home of my hosts for the evening, Margaret and Robin Feierabend. I had never known of them until now, but they are friends of Bob Mueller, a Bristol physician and bottle-bill supporter, and apparently they routinely volunteer to host wayfarers like me. Margaret is a member of the Bristol City Council, with a special interest in issues of children and youth. Robin is on the faculty of ETSU's Family Practice Residency Program in Bristol and still sees patients a few days a week. They have a terrific, rambling older house on the south side of Bristol, full of interesting angles, books I'd like to read, and posters celebrating Bristol's cultural and music heritage (did you know that Bristol--not Nashville--is the birthplace of country music?) Margaret and Robin had to attend a reception, but I got to stay home and hang out with Ginger and Daisy (the dogs), plus three cats whose names I didn't get. I'm quite homesick for Twinkle.
DAY 26: The Last Day: Wednesday, October 31, 2007: Wrap-up in Bristol (7 miles).
Today really felt like fall: morning temps were in the 30s, and frost was on the pumpkins, literally. While Margaret made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, Robin posed with Daisy and Ginger for a photo op--but once again my cheapo camera didn't work, so I had to let Robin go off to work undocumented. Later, when the haunted camera began cooperating again, I got pictures of the two pooches:
Daisy and Ginger, the Feierabends' pooches
At 9:30 I headed off for downtown Bristol. It was brilliantly sunny, but still so chilly that I wore every layer of clothing in my duffel bag, including a size XL Pearl Izumi shirt that was, of course, absurdly tight. I was just crossing State Street at 10 am when Joanna Simmons phoned to remind me to call the Marc Bernier show, which I had completely forgotten about. Vinnie was right: Marc was a delightful, enthusiastic interviewer, very supportive of the bill, and he let me chatter on about it for a full ten minutes. My next stop was the Bristol Herald-Courier offices on Bob Morrison Boulevard. The exterior of this modern brick building looks more like a museum, with extensive, gorgeous landscaping interspersed with delightful bronze sculptures of turn-of-the-century newsboys--including one (my favorite, of course) of a fellow delivering papers from his bicycle. Inside, I bought a copy of the day's edition, which had a nice bike ride write-up by Mac McLean on page 1 of the Region section, along with two photos. Mac had taken the initiative to contact Betty McLaughlin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute in Glastonbury, Conn., and get an expert's take on container deposits. I wish every journalist covering this bill would interview people in other parts of the country--in particular, people who live and work in states that already have such programs. I'm confident that they would overwhelmingly confirm everything we've been saying.
That's why, when I met for the next hour with Herald-Courier publisher Carl Esposito, managing editor J. Todd Foster and opinion editor Andrea Hopkins, I relied mainly on the "Bottle Bills Mean Business" DVD. This is one of the two DVDs that we've compiled from various video clips shot in Maine over the last two years--totally unscripted interviews with citizens, redemption center owners, recyclers, administrators, store owners, legislators and even a bottler. Nothing I can say about the merits of a container deposit is as convincing as this sort of first-person testimony, and I know it made an impression on the editors, because the next day's edition bestowed on me--and by extension on the bill--its "thumbs-up" icon.
When I got out of the editorial meeting, Bob Mueller was waiting with his folding bicycle, and together we rode the short distance to KP Duty cafe, on the Tennessee side of State Street, in the heart of the wonderful and historic Bristol downtown. Margaret Feireabend was among the folks who joined us, along with Bob's wife Ellen Mueller; Sue King-Marschalk, president of Steele Creek Nature Center and Park (the third largest municipal park in the state); Jim Elliott, a Bristol attorney and avid cyclist; Fred Testa, another member of the Bristol City Council; and Bristol businessman Edd Hill, one of the early supporters of a Tennessee bottle bill.
At KP Duty's in Bristol: Bob Mueller, Jim Elliott, Ellen Mueller, Fred Testa, Margaret Feireabend and Edd Hill. Unfortunately, Sue King-Marschalk left before I remembered to dig out my camera.
After getting Bob and Ellen to take my picture under the famous BRISTOL VA-BRISTOL TN arch, I walked over to Java J's, a cool coffee shop with free wifi, located a few steps from KP Duty's but on the Virginia side of State Street. I ordered a cup of Cowboy blend coffee, a slice of Godiva chocolate cheesecake, opened my Apple iBook and sat down in unspeakable contentment to check e-mail, read the newspaper and await my ride back to Nashville with Richard Martin and David McKinney, who had spent the day mountain-biking the Virginia Creeper Trail near Abingdon.
It was past midnight when Paul met us at I-40 in Hermitage, and by 1 am I was reunited with the Twinkster. Mission—for now, anyway—accomplished.