– Nashville, Tennessee to Summersville, West Virginia –

Another long day. We probably should’ve gotten up at 5, but that extra hour of sleep was so nice. I already miss that cavernous hotel room, too. I don’t think we needed any of the extra space at all, especially for just the three of us, but there’s just something nice about having it. I think the room was bigger than some people’s apartments. Hell, maybe bigger than many people’s apartments.

It was already light outside when we headed out for our run, which had been the goal, but it was even lighter than we expected. We only decided to sleep in that extra hour because the sunrise time seemed so late, but we were about a half hour off. It will be worse today, when the time changes. We’ll have to be careful about that. After our run, we packed up and had our hotel breakfast. It wasn’t bad at all.

Getting ready to go for our run

I figure now is a good time for some more general information, since I didn’t mention it yesterday. Those that followed along on our Atlantic Canada Trip will remember that our camera died with about 5 days left in the trip, and we had to resort to using Mark’s iPhone instead. As soon as we got home, Mark shipped it off to Olympus to get it fixed, but that kind of thing takes time, and it didn’t make it back to us in time for us to bring it. The shipping company says it will be on our doorstep tomorrow. Someone will have to go out and rescue it for us. Our poor baby.

We had originally planned to take the really nice Nikon camera from Mark’s office instead, but when we got it out to get it ready for the trip, we realized that it, too, needed to be shipped off to the manufacturer for some maintenance. It had some kind of shadow on the sensor, which we suspect was the shutter closing too slowly.

Find tiny Ripley at the Lincoln Birthplace Memorial

Now that our backup is also gone, we’ve switched to a huge Canon DSLR that’s also from Mark’s office. It is heavy and awkward, but it does take pretty nice pictures. We aren’t really used to it, though, so we’re having a little trouble getting the hang of its functions. We will probably be experts when we finish this trip, but by then our camera will be home and we won’t need to tote that giant thing around anymore.

One more note: we are reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, which I highly recommend. Jon Krakauer is a journalist who was climbing the mountain during the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. The book is fascinating and enthralling. We can barely put it down. If you’ve never read it, it is definitely worth it. We’re now obsessed with reading articles and watching videos about this stuff. It’s hilarious. We were talking about it while we were running this morning.

Ripley, Lizard Hunter

Whew. With all that out of the way, we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming. From Nashville, we drove about two hours to our only major stop for the day: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site. I’m not sure if this feels weirder than visiting Civil War battlefields or not. I’m leaning towards yes.

Anyway, the park has a memorial, and a cabin, and a lovely visitor center. It’s even situated next to the spring, called Sinking Springs, where his family had a farm. It’s nice enough, and it had way more visitors than I expected. I should point out that he only lived there for two years, which makes it a bit weird, like that Clinton one in Hope, Arkansas. I guess Arkansas and Kentucky had good senators the years those were made into parks. Eesh.

Down to the spring

In particular, this Abraham Lincoln one is funny because it has the massive memorial, which you saw pictured above. It’s a great memorial, and it’s a very cool-looking building. But… inside the building is a cabin. It’s supposed to be the cabin Lincoln was born in. Only… it’s a replica. They have a replica, stored in a giant memorial vault, and are keeping the thing air-conditioned. It’s the weirdest thing. I can’t imagine whose idea this was.

While Mark was inside the memorial building, having his fun with the weird replica cabin and taking photos, Ripley and I were hunting blue-tailed skink. I think Mark thought I was crazy when I told him that’s what they were called. You might wonder how I came to know that, being that we don’t have them at home, but I couldn’t tell you. Young Kristy watched a lot of nature shows.

Cute puppy at the well

In any event, Ripley was utterly spellbound. She and one particular skink flirted around a bench for several minutes, with the skink disappearing around or under the bench just before Ripley could get her nose on it. She thought it was a fun game, but the skink probably thought he was going to get eaten. Who knows? He might’ve, if he hadn’t been quick enough or I hadn’t managed to pull Ripley away in time.

Now that we’d seen the cabin thing, we walked down to take a look at the spring. I wonder if there’s more water somewhere, or if it used to produce more water? Right now, it is barely a trickle of water down into a massive hole in the ground. There wasn’t much signage around the spring, so I can’t say for certain how it was used or how much water it might’ve had. It’s neat, and the temperature is ten degrees cooler down in the hole beside it, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Well spring

The time had changed just before our arrival at the park, so it was pretty late when we made it out of there. Later than we’d intended, anyway. It was definitely after noon as we were pulling away. It’s a little hilarious how much fun we can have at something as ridiculous as Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. Our effort to get all of the little parks in the national park system is turning out to be a perfect mix of odd and funny. I’m glad we are visiting these. Americana, right?

Anyway, we stopped for lunch in Elizabethtown. When we arrived, we were resigned to having Panera, but we changed our minds when we saw Topp’t, which we thought must be a local variety of those 5-minute chain pizza places. We were right, but it was very local- there are only two of them. We each had a small three-topping pizza for lunch. They were much better than the other places like it I’ve been to, I have to say.

Lunch at Topp’t

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving through rural West Virginia, which is about as fun as it sounds. The weather has certainly been getting nicer, though. Highs today were closer to 85 than 95, and I think they will drop a few more degrees as we continue north. It’s not a lot, but it is enough.

Since lunch was late in the day, and the time change had our clock all out of whack, we didn’t actually get hungry until we were almost to our destination in Summersville, and we didn’t get there until after 8pm. Sunday night after 8pm is a terrible time to get food in a small town.

Cheese Man

We ended up going to the local Food Lion grocery store, where we picked up a few odds and ends to make ourselves a passable cooler dinner. For some reason we didn’t boil eggs for this trip, which is a decision I am now regretting. What’s a girl got to do to get an egg salad sandwich around here?

Also, and this is just a side note, never buy black bean “hummus.” It isn’t hummus. It’s southwest bean dip. When there’s corn in it, they are lying to you. Hummus should have tahini in it. At home, we make black bean hummus with black beans and chickpeas, and after that it is almost exactly like regular hummus. I also saw carrot and edamame “hummus.” This is blasphemy. They should change the name to bean dip.

Grocery store dinner

Tomorrow we’ve got a much bigger day, with three local river national parks to visit between here and Blacksburg. If we just drove to Blacksburg, it would take us about two hours, but I bet we spend all day looking around by the rivers. It should be a lot of fun. We have to be in Blacksburg by 5 for a dinner with Mark’s colleagues, which could cut our day short. We will see how it goes.

– Trip Total : 1,185 miles

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