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(photo by Marcia Lofts in Ron's story about their ride along the Antebellum Trail)
June 7th Edition
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The Little Weather Quickie for the Greater Charlotte Area
for Week of June 8-14, 2016
Wednesday 84h & clear, Thursday 86h & clear, Friday 92h & clear, Saturday 96h & clear, Sunday 98h & clear, Monday 92h & clear, Tuesday 93h & clear (as per intellicast.com on 6/7/16)
What Roads do you LOVE (& Love to Hate?)
Bub coined some fantastic phrases in his column this week. I am in love with the way he played around with word-blasts to get at new ways of describing the different kinds of roads that Riders love (and love to hate!) Check out this bit from Bub:
"The road has sweepers, tight curves, decreasing radius curves, wonder-which-way-the-road-turns-over-the-hill-curves, zoom-down-the-hill-and-the-road-makes-a-right-angle-turn-over-a-bridge, and beautiful-you-can-see-the-road-as-it-turns-curves, with of course; a lot of up-and-down-over-hills and around-the-mountain."
So, what kinds of roads do you love to ride?
Which ones are the kind you can't stand to get stuck on?
In my riding life, I have had aversions to curves, to uphill curves, to bridges, to cobblestone-style streets but there are times I totally love them all. Just depends on how relaxed I am, the setting, the riding partners I'm with, I guess. I'll probably never love interstate highways, however.
As for my faves, that would be the lonely and laid-back country roads, the backroads, the old towns with cool antiquities and nature all around me. I love to ride awhile and stop to enjoy surroundings or stops.
What about you?
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Sunday May 15th was a cool sunny day so I put on my heated jacket liner and rode off to North Carolina - the little village of Polkville to be specific - on my Honda CB1100. It was cool enough to require about half-setting on my jacket heat.
From Polkville I rode up to Casar to get on the Golden Valley Road. A favorite of mine (and not just because it has my name.) It is fairly long with few homes and zilch traffic. The road has sweepers, tight curves, decreasing radius curves, wonder-which-way-the-road-turns-over-the-hill-curves, zoom-down-the-hill-and-the-road-makes-a-right-angle-turn-over-a-bridge, and beautiful-you-can-see-the-road-as-it-turns-curves, with of course; a lot of up-and-down-over-hills and around-the-mountain. Golden Valley ends at NC 226A where it becomes the Bostic Sunshine road.
I went north up 226A a few miles to the Cane Creek Mtn Road. A wonderful road! It immediately begins to climb when you turn off 226A with several sharp curves. It twists and turns up the mountain and across the ridge to begin more twists and turns as it winds down the mountain to intersect US 64. There are many scenic spots on this road “if” you go slow enough or stop. When John started riding with us he had been riding with a more “sedate” group and he was used to viewing the sights as he rode. I believe this road showed him that he better pay attention to the road with us or he would become part of the scenery----LOL!
I turned north on US 64 to again join with NC 226A up to Dysartsville NC and turn west on Vein Mtn Road. While this road is good, it has few of the twists and turns of the previous roads. It’s main attraction is a 1-lane tunnel near where it runs into US 221.
Mining for Gold
I knew this area is famous for gold mining so Googled "Vein Mountain history." Did you know that North Carolina was the only gold producer in the US until the California gold rush of 1848? And that gold was discovered in 1799 by a 12-year-old in Cabarrus County near Charlotte? The Spanish found gold here [ I suspect they “found’' it around the necks and waists of the Cherokee Indians] and when they sold the Carolinas to England, the King of England was asked why he wanted to buy them. He replied for the gold and wine. (Wine ??? uuuumm another piece of history I’ll have to research personally!!)
There are several gold mining campgrounds in the Vein Mtn area where you can pan or actually dig for gold. I haven’t tried it yet, but I figure the “gold” nowadays is the green tourist pay for camping and panning.
From Vein Mtn, I rode on south 221 a few miles to Nannytown road on to Painters Gap and Painters Gap over to Bill’s Creek near Lake Lure. Where Bill’s interests US 74A, I turned west to jump on NC 9 which runs very close to Strawberry Hill ... so I “had” to stop there and enjoy a strawberry sundae before going home and watching the finish of NASCAR’s race of the week.
Here's a video that's a short section of the first 3 roads!
I was looking around for another ‘trip’ for us and saw Antebellum Trail in Georgia. The trail runs from Macon to Athens and is only about 200 or so miles from us. It sounded like it had some very interesting history, roads, and architecture so we planned a weekend. The first weekend we planned started out with heavy rains on Friday and since I am the only one willing to ride in the rain, we cancelled the trip.
Marcia and I took off on Friday late morning and headed to Greensboro, Georgia. The weather was great in the upper 60’s with the clouds waning from the rain the day/night before. The temperature was warm and got to the upper 80’s and actually was the warmest day of our travels. We left home and went our usual way through Neeses and Springfield to Aiken and picked up I-20. (Yes, we will run a little interstate sometimes to make up some time.)
We took Hwy 78 off the expressway. We didn’t take the time to stop at the Laurel and Hardy museum in Harlem. Harlem was the birthplace of Norville (Oliver) Hardy. He is said to have attended a boy’s academy in Madison Ga.
We took Hwy 78 which was a good 2-lane road. 78 wound through the small farm and timber country of middle Georgia and over to Lake Oconee. We stopped in Union Pointe when we saw a BBQ place – who can pass up a small town BBQ place in the south?, some of the best eating around! And the nice thing is that it was really good – more of an East Carolina vinegar base with a touch of hotness and a touch of the molasses. We just had the sandwich (without the bread) and some cole slaw and a wonderful conversation with Mr. Jackson, the owner, about Union Point.
It was getting hot and the trees shading the road along the way felt good. You can just feel the temperature changes when you hit those low spots in the shade crossing a small river or stream. One of the neat things about riding that you miss in a car. It is on these smooth roads that the Road Glide earns its name. It cruises along effortlessly around 60 and does just glide along where we can watch the scenery (and the road of course.) I like to see the large old trees that are dead or dying and the wonderful shapes. To think of what they have seen over their 100 years or so of existence. How many of them were there to witness some of the Civil War battles or even some of the Indian raids that we read about. Greensboro had an historical sign of the Creek Indian raid that burned out the whole village.
We made it to Greensboro (Ga) in the mid afternoon and were able to take the walking tour thanks to a map provided by the local Chamber of Commerce. As we were leaving we noticed a small restaurant, Yesterday’s Café, and were wondering if they had ice cream sodas and a man walking in front of us said they didn’t but had the best Buttermilk pie. As it turned out he was the owner and said they had been written in Southern Living and so we made a reservation for dinner.
Greensboro was what to me has become the typical Georgia town with the Confederate soldier statue, town square and ornate courthouse. One of the unusual features was the Bastille-like called The Old Goal. (See title photo above) It is believed to be the oldest standing masonry jail structure in the state, and has remained virtually unchanged since its completion in 1807. In the middle of the structure is the gallows and trap door where prisoners were dropped to their death. The jail with its two-foot thick granite blocks was patterned after the Bastille in Paris and was used until 1895. I can’t imagine the smell with buckets in the corner for ‘personal elimination’ (no outhouse) during the summer for 6-9 people and not air movement through the small barred windows.
Greensboro at one time had many ‘ladies’ academies, what today might be called secondary schools I think. These were ornate buildings and at one we read that one of the instructors was Louisa Mae Alcott of Little Women fame. We of course stopped at the local antique shops in the downtown area and even picked up a feed sack we are going to use in our renovation to cover an old screen door that was on her farmhouse.
The Morning was so Cool I had to put on my Cool TCR long sleeve shirt!
We had a wonderful dinner at Yesterday’s Café and the buttermilk pie was good (although I have to say I preferred the vinegar pie at The Jarrett House in Dillsboro NC better.) Saturday morning was cool when we left, around 56 and part way down the road I stopped to put on a long sleeve shirt under my jacket. (Of course it was my Carolina Rider shirt!)
We rode down through Lake Oconee country to stop at a really neat car museum called Memory Lane Classic Cars. It was 3 very large buildings of classic cars and memorabilia and it was all owned by the same man. There were no cars on loan. He had a Ford GT racing car and last time I saw one at Barrett Jackson it went for $900,000.00. Many of his cars were from the Barrett-Jackson auction. It was only a $5.00 admission and well worth it. I saw my first bike, Harley Sprint 250, haven’t seen one of those in years.
Our next stop was the Jarrell Plantation outside of Grey, Georgia. This is a Georgia State Park of some 200 acres first settled in 1847 by the Jarrell family and they still have descendants living in the house as a bed and breakfast. This was very interesting. At one time this was a 900-acre working plantation with cotton gin, gristmill, shingle mill, planer, lumber processing and syrup making, all typical of the self-sufficient plantation prior to the civil war, and all operated by steam engine. Following the Emancipation, many of the slaves returned to the plantation to work for the family and it operated until the early 1970’s when it was donated by the remaining heirs for educational purposes.
In one of the smokehouses was a plank boat that had been used in the river, still there. The site’s buildings and structures include the farmhouse, a sawmill, gristmill, cotton gin, a couple of outhouses, chicken houses, smokehouses, sugar cane press, syrup evaporator, workshop, barns, and outbuildings. This was very interesting. And on the way out we met up with 3 HOG members from near Atlanta. They told us of a program in their Chapter where they have a book and visit various historical sites around the state and have to take their picture with them and their bike and a numbered towel at the site and document it with prizes at the end of the year. (This sounded really neat ... a HOG Chapter that really encouraged getting out and riding! I’ve never been involved with any HOG Chapters so I don’t know what they offer, but this sounded like fun.)
We headed into Milledgeville, which was at one time the capital of Georgia until Sherman burned it out and was moved to Atlanta for a time before moving to Athens. The architecture here was fantastic, the buildings of the Georgia State College were very interesting. We also did a short walking tour and had lunch at The Brick downtown.
We headed out of town back toward Eatonton up 441 to make a stop at the Eagle Rock effigy. This is a rock structure on the ground in the shape of an eagle that is 110 feet from wingtip to wingtip and 10 feet high of piled small stones and rocks. It is believed to be over 2000 years old. No one knows for sure why it was built, but it is suspected that hunters tossed a rock on the formation each time they passed in honor of fallen warriors and for protection and luck.
We were headed to Madison Georgia, the town "too pretty to burn." This is at least what the townspeople say that General Sherman said during his march to Savannah after burning Atlanta. Actually General Sherman didn’t go through Madison but it was one of his other Generals. Also it is said that Madison was a somewhat Northern sympathizer since the Mayor was General Sherman’s roommate at West Point.
But it is a very pretty town and obvious from first entry into the main part of town that the wonderful old antebellum homes were spared the ravages of the war. Almost every home is as grand as the last one. This is where the name of Antebellum Trail may well have come from. We were headed to The Brady Inn, a wonderful bed and breakfast. We had seen that you get a 20% discount of requested in booking the day before or day of your stay. As luck would have it this was the only weekend in May they were not booked for a wedding and there was only one other couple there at the time. One more couple came just ahead of us. They were from Australia and had a business in Atlanta called Australian Bakery and made meat pies. They said they were different from the American pot pie. I asked if they were similar to the Michigan Pasties and he said very much the same. This is a more northern Michigan treat that is meat and potato or vegetable wrapped in a light dough and fried. Sometimes in a skillet or dropped in a fryer.
Anyway the Inn was fantastic. We walked downtown to an old icehouse made into a restaurant called Ricardo’s and the food was fantastic. Marcia had a shrimp sorento (or something like that, but it was better than my spelling.) I had a bacon wrapped pork filet pan seared in maple syrup – Fantastic!
We went back to the Inn and had a fire in the fire pit and enjoyed the flowers. The Confederate jasmine, the magnolia, and the gardenia were all blooming and made an exquisite bouquet - even among the fire smoke. The people at the Inn also had a farm and raised sunflowers. The Australian couple asked what they did with them and learned that they raised them and sold them to people to come and pick, but said that in the south the main reason people plant sunflowers is for dove hunting. We always meet interesting people on our trips.
We had a wonderful night and mentioned that the bed was so comfortable and they informed us that they had the mattresses made especially for them through a company in town. Not sure that was why, but they were comfortable.
The morning was a little cooler than the day before, about 54 degrees and we were not riding in the sun. We were headed up to Watkinsville to take in the Eagle Rock Inn, an antique shop we had read about, and the Elder Mill covered bridge. Along the way we saw an Artist Guild Yard Sale. Marcia was taken with the wind chimes made from fire extinguishers. I however, was taken with the building nearby that had lost its roof. It was really neat and someone was still storing things in it and using the attached building which still had a roof.
We stopped first at the antique shop where an elderly gentleman greeted us with "welcome to my hobby shop. It is not a business since I’ve never made any money at it." What an interesting place and interesting man. He had some very unusual items; an trio of dinosaur eggs that he said were 10,000 years old, a confederate civil war jacket with a bullet hole and blood stain in the shoulder (not for sale,) some very unique and one of a kind guns, along with other items from, as he said various atrocities such as the civil war, Indian conflicts, WWII and Nazi items he didn’t display. He also said he had 6,000 pipes and he collects them. He said he was 84 years old and had been smoking a pipe for 75 years and still walks 2 miles a day. Did I say we meet some of the most interesting people on our trips?
We went across the street to the Rock Eagle Inn. This was a stage coach stop from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. You paid twenty five cents to have a place to sleep on the floor. You could get a mug of grog and a meal if you could afford it. This place was very interesting with the wide pine floors. We got a tour from the ‘lady’ of the place dressed in period dress. The tour guide said that 3-4 people would sleep in a bed. I was concerned to see her navigate the old narrow mismatched stairs in the old dress, but she did it with grace. The beds of the day were rope beds, meaning that whatever served for a mattress was held up by ropes attached to a frame. The tour guide said that 3-4 people would sleep in a bed. There was not a charge for admission, but we left a nice donation in the jar.
Our next stop was the Elder Mill Covered Bridge about 4 ½ miles out of the town of Watkinsville. This was a really neat wooden covered bridge that is still in use. In fact we had to move a few times while taking pictures for cars to go through. This is all wood peg construction. The bridge was so quiet and peaceful. We wished it was a little later in the day and we could have gotten a sandwich and soda (or you could choose beverage of your choice) and sat under the bridge on the rocks and enjoyed the serenity of the area.
On the way home, a little outside of Aiken, almost to Springfield I turned the 10,000 mile mark. We’ve had it since late September and taking it in Monday for the 10,000 mile checkup and oil change.
It was as you’ve read me say before: a WONDERFUL weekend. We filled it with a lot of stops, interesting people, great food, some great riding weather, covered a little under 600 miles, and of course great companionship!
Good to see you!
FancyFree and I enjoyed seeing all you folks who came by The BIG RIDE 2 this past Friday-Saturday in Lincolnton for Hog Happenin. It was a hot couple of days but the bus gave us all some welcome refreshment off and on throughout the days.
Thanks to Caroline, Paul, and Jillian for promotional help!
We are counting the days till our next hot adventure out with The BIG RIDE 2 ... Smoke Out is NEXT WEEKEND. That's June 17-18. We're working on some fun new twists to what we have to offer folks who come by the bus for Smoke Out .. so make your plans for rockin' in Rockingham!
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