Meeting the Locals

Written on Sunday, 6/26/11

Waiting out the rain beneath an overhang in front of a Dollar General store in Elkhorn City, KY.

Elk Garden United Methodist Church

I was packed up and ready to ride by 9am when the rain came…it’s now close to 11. As I wait out the rain, I might as well fill you in on my unexpected rest day at the Elk Garden church.

As it turned out, I picked the right day to sprain my wrist; every fourth Friday of the month, the church hosts a spaghetti lunch for the community. Barbara, one of the organizers, insisted I join. Needless to say, it was delicious, and talking with the community members was entertaining. Some of their remarks:

“That tall drink of water, there, that’s Jimmy.”

“Dave, I haven’t seen as many bales of hay in one field as I have in yours!”

“Yeah, we want the hay in the barn, but the barn ain’t ready yet.”

“Well Sally hadn’t been on the barrels for five years, and wouldn’t you know it, she placed third!”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Well, don’t want her gettin’ hurt, but she knows what she’s doin’.”

Adjacent to and owned by the church, the spaghetti lunch site

I have no idea what “the barrels” are.

Anyway, after thanking Barbara and the cooks profusely for the tasty meal, I waddled my way over to the church swing and began writing this post. I hadn’t been there for long when I heard a “Hey there!” and looked up to see an older man making his way over.

“Well, what brings ya to Elk Garden? What? Crossing the country? Well ain’t that somethin’! How’d those mountains treat ya? (Sees my bandaged hand) Ah, took a fall, eh? Gotta watch those switchbacks. You’ve still got a couple of mountains to go, but it should get easier in Kentucky. Anyway, I’m Bob. Would ya like to join me in handing out Meals on Wheels?”

I agreed, excited to get out and explore the area. We hopped in Bob’s pickup, and as we took off, he explained that every month, he and other volunteers take meals to community members who have a difficult time getting out to the church. At every stop, he introduced me as “Brandon Cline, who’s biking across the country.” At one house, the man asked where I started my trip. When I said Charlottesville, he exclaimed, “Now git this boy back on the road, Bob. This here’s Hokie Country!” He then motioned to his car, pointed at his VT decal, laughed, slapped my back, and wished me well on my trip.

After delivering the meals, Bob drove me to other areas of the county, including a trout farm, produce market, and vineyard for a wine tasting.

Small vineyard in Lebanon, VA

He talked about his family, the history of the church, who owns this cattle pasture, the previous tenants of that farmhouse. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was his take on the terrain.

“I’m from the flatlands of Indiana, see. There you can see for miles in every direction. Here, with these hills, you don’t know what’s coming over the next bend. I like the surprise of it.”

I can take a healthy dose of Bob’s hill curiosity over my exasperation!

Bob, thanks for showing me around Elk Garden!


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pacificloons on July 1, 2011 at 3:37 am

    these posts are the best thing I read all week. hope to see you in oregon.



    • Posted by bcline909 on July 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      thanks dude! nearly comparable to the epic pacificloons blog. and yes! I plan to roll into Portland, probably around the end of August. reunion!


  2. sounds like an awesome day… glad you ran into some welcoming founds!


  3. err what? i meant “folks,” not “founds.”


  4. Posted by Wizzard on July 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    After reading this post (and some googling) i made the realization that i have never heard anyone be referred to as a “tall drink of water” outside of the shawshank redemption… and that i have had an unrealized desire to hear it used in casual conversation… I suspect you were described that way several times during your time in Elk Garden


  5. I love your portrait photography. I hope we get to meet more of your American characters that you are encountering.
    Wizzard – I g+1’ed Urban Dictionary’s definition on your tall drink of water behalf.


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