After a couple days with Sandra, her husband got home for a brief stop while on tour, and their son also stopped by for a dinner. It was fun getting to know all three together, and we relaxed into the night talking by the fireplace.
Eventually, after about three days hanging out and helping Sandra work on her new cabin, I rolled out of Kentucky, and down into Nashville, Tennesee. After a day of biking, I arrived in the early evening and sat down for dinner at a local southern food joint that I had heard was good.
As I enjoyed my meal, I began to feel a little something like the flu coming on, and as I ate, it got worse quickly. A mere 20 minutes after beginning to feel symptoms, I was out of the restaurant and struggling to make my way to the Warmshowers house that I was scheduled to arrive at that evening. I knew it was going to be a bit of a task to finish out my day.
Within 35 minutes, I was in downtown Nashville, and felt like I had a full-blown fever. I knew my destination was close, but I could only ride my bike for a minute or so before I had to stop and rest.
I breathed heavily as I slowly typed the address into my phone…567 5th Street. I could barely stand up, though I didn’t feel nauseous, luckily. When I finally got the characters entered into the GPS app, I watched in horror as the map placed my destination 3.5 miles away…on the other side of the Cumberland River.
I stared at my phone with bewilderment. I could have sworn that when I looked up the house before, it was right in downtown. Not only had I already gone out of my way since the restaurant, but another 3.5 miles seemed monumental given the amount of energy I had. But, I had no choice.
I crossed a pedestrian bridge, and turned onto a service road for the Tennessee Titans football stadium. Two times along my next mile and a half, I had to stop my bike and lay down on the pavement. I wanted so badly to just lay there for the night, my head resting on the cool pavement, but both times I forced myself up.
I had called my hosts and told them the situation, and that I was sorry, but I had to go to bed right away. They were understanding, and said the attic would be waiting for me. After another grueling mile, I finally made it to my destination. I got off my bike and lay down in the street gutter. Never over the course of my trip had I felt so accomplished. After all those miles, it was that tiny stretch of pavement that would prove to be the most difficult challenge I had faced.
After a ten minute nap in the street, I double checked the street number, and went up to ring the doorbell of the house that was surprisingly dark. I waited…no answer. I rang again…no answer. I double checked the house number, which I had correct, and got my phone out to call my hosts.
“I am outside on the porch…I don’t see you” The woman on the line said.
“The address is 567 5th street, right?” I asked.
“ohhh.” Said the woman, “We are 5th Avenue…Avenues are on the south side of the river, streets are in the north. I am sorry, I should have told you.”
“No, it was my fault.” I said, “I don’t think I have the energy to make it to your place tonight, though I appreciate the offer very much.” I hung up the phone, looking around for a place to pitch my tent. My phone map did not show any parks nearby…I decided to knock on random doors and ask if I could camp in the yard. Lucky for me, a man about my age answered my first attempt, and said yes.
“You can come in and warm up a bit if you want!” He said.
“No, but thank you…I just need to get to sleep.” I answered wearily.
I mustered my energy and unpacked my stuff. Halfway through my tent setup, I lost my southern dinner in the grass on the edge of the man’s yard, which I would later apologize for. clearing my belly made me feel much better, however, and I slept without difficulty until the sun rose up the next morning on the Music City.