Into the South

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 2008

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Flag of United States  , Kentucky
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I followed Highways 159 then 50 then the 41 south through Ohio farming country.  It's early in the morning and the fields and lakes have a low-lying fog that hangs just just above them in the cool morning air.  Signs with a picture of a horse and buggy warned this was Amish country and to keep an eye out for one-horsepower vehicles.  I stopped at the Seip Mound where I met Steve who was driving a compressed gas truck and was there taking a break.  He was interested in the bike and, as so often happens, it turned out that he's a rider, too.  Not just a rider but a racer - mostly motocross and now super motard.  We talked about motorcycles and riding before he got back in his truck to go back to work and I went to read about the Seip Mound.

The mound is a large mound of earth (240 feet long, 130 feet wide and 30 feet high) that was used for centuries by Native Americans as a burial place, probably for high ranking individuals.  There were other earthworks around the mound but not many survive due to farming and erosion.  Most of the artifacts recovered from the mound are from the Hopewell Indians (100BC - 500AD) but earlier artifacts have also been found.

Farther south I also stop at Serpent Mound.  This is another ancient earthworks sculpture, in this case in the form of a serpent that is almost a quarter of a mile long.  It is thought to have been built by the Fort Ancient culture around 1000AD.  It's built on a spur of rock overlooking the Ohio Brush Creek on the edge of a large crater.  It was originally excavated between 1886 and 1889.  The head of the serpent is aligned with the summer solstice sunset.  I'm posting some pictures, though seeing the serpent is difficult.  You can kind of see the zigzag pattern of raised earth.  There's also a picture of a recreation of a Fort Ancient Indian hut but this one contained a rather modern artifact - a geocache logbook.

Going through both Ohio and later, Kentucky, I see lots of stars on barns and some on houses.  I'm not sure what they mean but wonder if they're related to the banner that was hung in windows during WWII to indicate someone serving in the military.

Once I leave Ohio and enter Kentucky I follow the roads Brian recommended and find them to be wonderful motorcycle roads.  It's been a long time since I've been able to get the bike over onto the sides of the tires (except for freeway cloverleafs) but Kentucky 10 and 22 afford lots of opportunities as the road winds through the hills and hollows of northern Kentucky.  There's still a lot of agriculture and a lot of it is the ubiquitous corn and soybean  fields but now, for the first time, I'm also seeing tobacco.  The fields all seem to be small and alternate with deciduous forest and hawks circle overhead.  There's little traffic but a cement truck coming the other way seems to think that the double yellow line is just a suggestion and he's almost half way into my lane as we both round a curve going in opposite directions.  I can vouch that my adrenal glands are fully functional.

As much fun as those roads are to ride they don't allow you to cover many miles so I hop back on a major highway to get some miles under my wheels before I set up camp just outside Mammoth Cave National Park.
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