I’m sleeping well at the KOA campground, and it’s finally cool enough to lay in my sleeping bag without sweating. Then, I’m abruptly woken up by rainfall at 1:30AM. I spring up like a jack in the box because I remember all my stuff is exposed outside. The campground custodian had told us there was basically no chance of rain that night, so I’d left my rainfly off my tent and all my junk sitting on a picnic table. I’m scrambling trying to setup my rainfly and gather my gear and throw it in my tent while getting soaked, but I get it done in a few minutes. I finally get back to sleep, but it certainly upset my sleep cycle and I felt pretty tired when I eventually woke up for good. We start making breakfast, and I’m talking and not paying attention and for some reason mix my oatmeal with the water before I’ve cooked the water. Next thing I know I smell burning coming from my pot as my oatmeal is cooking. I tried to eat some of the stuff on top and put extra brown sugar with it, but it still tastes bad. Oh well, I’m hungry so I eat it anyways. I pour the burnt part out in a ditch, so maybe the herd of rabbits will eat it later or something. I try to clean the burnt part off the pan, but I’m not making much progress, so I make a mental note to buy steel wool the next time we stop in town. We get packed up and get on the road. When it’s finally lunch time, we randomly pass a Captain D’s in some town and Damon wants to stop, so I say sure. It reminds me of when I was kid and my dad used to love this place. I hated everything they served except hush puppies, which are just friend balls of corn meal basically. I got a three piece catfish dinner that was pretty good, so I was happy.
For some reason, today starts getting to me mentally. I think it was just everything compounding. When I started off on this trail, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I’ve read parts of a few ride reports on ADV rider, but I guess I got a false impression of it. I knew it wasn’t going to be one continuous dirt road all the way across the country, but I didn’t expect what I actually encountered. The ‘trail’ has been about 90% paved road, which was disappointing but whatever. However, on top of just being paved, the guy tried to stay on the smallest possible paved road possible. Think smaller then a county road or farm to market road. These are usually roads like ‘Burch Lane’, etc. They are really only wide enough for one car, so you both have to pull over to pass each other. Still this is fine in concept, I love seeing the country. The problem is, these roads are full of turns and stop signs. So you can’t go fast. And half the time, we’re not even heading in the right direction. For example, we’ll cross over a major road you could go 55mph on, and actually be heading east, so we can intersect with another road that heads south. So at the end of the day we may ride 200 miles but only go 70 as the crow flies, and take all afternoon doing it. It’s frustrating. The stuff we were seeing on these small roads was nothing spectacular. However, there was nothing on the map to indicate where the cool off-road sections were and where the boring stuff was, so if you skipped these stupid roads and went for a major road to go straight and fast, you risked missing the cool parts of the trail. At the same time, we were spending so much time driving down these pointless roads that we didn’t have time to stop and see the cool stuff along the way, because we needed to get to Oklahoma before 05Aug for my work. It was a frustrating catch 22, and we stopped for a break and decided to lay down under a church’s carport. I was close to just abandoning this whole ‘Trans America Trail’ idea and just making my own trail across America using major roads and seeing cool stuff along the way and saying screw the off-road stuff. After stewing on it a while, I finally decided I’d be mad if I missed all the good off-road sections, and that I could do another road trip to see the cool sights another time. So I start looking back at the route on the trail and looking for a place to camp, and found the Old Stone Fort State Park (http://tnstateparks.com/parks/campground/old-stone-fort). It had decent reviews and included a bathhouse, so we headed there and found it to be nice.