#101 PNW - White Castle Burgers & Ms. Bettye

2007 July 30
534 miles
PNW Trip
Day 23
Monday

I feel the trip winding down even though I know I will stretch the remaining miles into two days. Part of me is ready to be back home, but I am hesitant to let go of the road. It's 72 degrees when I pull out of the Super 8 parking lot in Mount Vernon, Illinois.
I take I64 across Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.
It's a low key kind of Interstate running past a lot of farms and corn fields and without heavy traffic...at least not today.
Though I was only in Kentucky for less than 200 Interstate miles, a couple interesting things happened.
First, I saw a sign for White Castle Burgers on one of the exit info signs. I've heard the interesting history of the White Castle Burger and the place they have in history of fast food, but I have never personally partaken of that burger of history. http://www.whitecastle.com/_pages/about.asp
Here's my chance. It's 2:30pm and I haven't had lunch (big surprise there, huh?!) and I need to make a fuel stop -- the blinker goes on. Turns out that the White Castle is not one of the business right near the Interstate so I head "inland from the Interstate about 2 miles into the Frankfort area. I finally see the White Castle sign and pull into the parking lot. I pull off some of my riding gear and leave it on Fleeter parked in a shady spot in the parking lot and head in to study the menu. I've heard that White Castle burgers are a "quantity burger" -- meaning you order a pack of smaller burgers rather than one larger, fully dressed burger. I make my choice, place my order, take my order number, and go sit in the near-empty dining area.
While I am waiting for my dining experience, I take note of an older (late 70s) woman in the dining room. She is sitting by herself, with a book, but not reading. She seems distracted and unsettled. By the time I finish my meal and ready to head back to gear up and get back on the road, she is also leaving. I hold the door for her as we walk outside together. She still seems to be stressed...so I ask if she is okay and if there is something I can do for her.
Turns out that her dog that she's had for over 10 years is ill and having to be put down. She couldn't stand to be there when it happened so she left to let her son and daughter-in-law to handle the details. She didn't know if it was over yet and if she should go home or what she should do. Her husband is a local pastor and she feels a bit lost and out of sorts that this is happening while he is out of town. She talked to me for awhile about this and that, then gave me a big hug and thanked me for being there when she needed someone to talk to. She wanted to give me something before we parted ways... She thought a few seconds as she fumbled around in the backseat of her car. She came up with a gently used book, "Stories for a Woman's Heart" -- collection of stories to encourage the soul. She promptly opened the cover and wrote a personal note to me, signed it and handed it over to me with another hug. We then went our own separate ways.
Sometimes there's more than one reason to travel down a particular road. When I took the exit, I thought it was to experience the White Castle burger, but this time it was so I'd be in the same place, at the same time as Ms. Bettye.
By the way, I didn't care that much for the burgers. I won't go out of my way to find another White Castle. Give me a good Whataburger any day!
I get back on the road with a warm place in my heart that comes from helping someone...even if you didn't know them when you reached out to them. As I'm riding down the road feeling good about the day, I get a jerked back into another world when I see the huge semi tractor trailer's tires crossing over the stripe right into my lane. Seems that it wants my lane whether I'm there or not. I hit the throttle hard and move over to the shoulder as I pull past it as it takes over my lane. As I pull past the cab of the rig, I see it slightly jerk away from me as the driver sees me for the first time. But it's too late for him to avoid me, I've already done the work of avoiding him! I zoom on and put some distance between us and let my heart slow down to a normal rate. Actually, it wasn't that close...the rig was moving over slowly and I had plenty of time to use the shoulder to pass. I'm just glad I saw him coming over and it happened on a straight away where there was a good open shoulder. A twistier road with close rails would not have been a good place!
Miles later, I see some wild turkey on the side of the road and recall that the last time I was in Kentucky I also saw a few wild turkey. Then I started thinking that that makes sense... Wild turkey is probably distilled and bottled here in Kentucky. Matter of fact it is... in Lawrenceburg -- very near Frankfort.

In Charleston, West Virginia, I get on a different flavor of Interstate...I79.
I79 twists and turns through the mountains.

The mountains even sported a hazy fog as the sun started dipping low enough to hide behind the tips of the mountains.It was just after sunset when I pulled into the Super 8 in Weston, West Virginia. Still, it was a good day on the road.

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