pages fly away 48

Before leaving Nashville, I stopped at McDonald’s for a meal, part of my immersion into the consumer culture that I’d just stepped out of, dripping with grease.  There are the old times and there are the greasy times.  I was filling up my tank with both.  As I sat in the restaurant with my book of maps, I saw I wasn’t far from the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, or the grave of Daniel Boone. 

I’d just contacted an old girlfriend, Jenny, who I hadn’t seen in nearly thirty years.  She was living in Virgina.  It looked like I might be in her neck of the woods.  That hadn’t been in the plan, but yet again, there hadn’t been a plan.  Kentucky.  Ohio.  West Virgina.  I’d vaguely been thinking along those lines.  Now I was charting the course.

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park was mostly a straight shot on the 65 north.  Then I quickly switched from one highway to the next to reach the 31E.  When I pulled up in front of it, a ranger was just closing the gate, but there was another car, pulled over on the driveway in front of me.  I waited until the ranger left, then approached the family that was stepping around the gate, pushing an old woman in a wheelchair.  They told me the ranger had given them permission to look around, but that all the buildings were closed.

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky.  From what I could see of the memorial on the property, it resembles the one in Washington D.C., something of a Greek temple.  Inside is a symbolic log cabin, like keeping a manger in a cathedral.  I heard a squawking and saw that the old woman in the wheelchair was exerting her independence, defiantly lurching forward in it, requiring the whole family to rush over and restrain her.  There were a few other cabins, also replicas, but not much else to see.

Ten miles down the road, I came across another Lincoln site, that of his childhood home.  He lived at the Knob Creek Farm between the ages of two and seven, before moving to Indiana with his family.  A younger brother was born and died here, and Lincoln himself nearly drowned in a creek before being rescued by a neighbor.

It was late afternoon by now, and I realized I needed to start looking for a campsite.  Google came up with one called My Old Kentucky Home that I headed towards.  It was a half hour away, north on the 31E, outside of Bardstown.  Once I got close, the phone signal dropped out a few times, and I was lost for a while. 

By the time I reached it the sun was starting to set.  The campground was next to a golf course and full of RVs.  There were no open spots, and I was starting to panic when I saw that people had set up tents on some grass across from it.  There were a few picnic tables and fire pits, but no designated places to camp.  I popped the trunk on the car and threw up my tent in the cover of early evening.

Later I walked over to the main site and saw I guy on a golfcart returning to the entrance booth.  I was glad he hadn’t been there when I’d showed up, as I probably would’ve been turned away. Now it was my full-time job to avoid him.  There were loud voices all around, people who’d reserved their sites months in advance, out celebrating, with enough supplies to last a month.  I had an apple and a bun. 

After dinner, I climbed into the tent and kept my flashlight aimed at the ground.  If I could make it through the night without attracting any attention that would mean another narrow escape.  Even when things got tight, however, they still kept working out.

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