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(photo by Randi S Photography. See more in Rebel Randi below!)
October 18th Edition
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The Little Weather Quickie for the Greater Charlotte Area
for Week of October 19-25, 2016
Wednesday 87h & sunny, Thursday 85h & sunny, Friday 69h & 40% am-showers, Saturday 64h & sunny, Sunday 71h & sunny, Monday 74h & sunny, Tuesday 70h & sunny (as per weather.com on 10/18/16)
Saving Their Best for Last?
I declare, this week's story by Orangeburg Ron may be the best so far by this prolific rider and writer! Photo-rich and detail-delish, it's got everything from a former US president to a cool hometown parade to entice you to take a ride of your own!
Ron and Marcia Lofts came to our pages several years back riding a different bike than they're sporting about now. After some fitful years with an oft-ailing bike that they loved, they are now happy to be RoadGliders with way more peace of mind (and comfort,) for their rides and that's important because this couple rides A LOT!
In fact, that's exactly what Ron shared in his story entitled "I Ride A Lot" from the May 17, 2016 edition of The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine. He gave stats on how much he rode over a 2-week period rain or shine and it was impressive but I'm betting it was on the low end of how many miles this devoted rider puts down.
So I looked back to see what stories have been told by our Orangeburg Ron - soon to be Michigan Ron to our dismay as he and his beloved are retiring and moving back to their farm there after loving their years as Carolinians. Here are my stats on what stories they have shared and some of the places they have written about over the last few years here in The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine:
They have covered the floods in SC and a number of area events including Ride for Life, the Vets ride, and Carolina Bike Fest; discussed the fun and perils of hot and cold weather riding, historical battle sites and cultural areas; and they have shared about their friend and motorcycle racing star Bill Furr, multiple day trips, a dine and ride group, and festivals around their area. With Marcia snapping photos left and right and above, they have been from Aiken to Daytona, from the mountains to the coast, from Waltersboro to Charleston, from Brattonsville to Bluffton, and from Georgia's Antebellum Trail to Helen and most recently to Andersonville.
Here are some highlights...
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Some weeks back, we received an email from this TCR Storyteller sharing, "We have sold our house effective end of August and our plan is to retire to Michigan at the end of October. So we’ve been doing a lot of packing and stuff on the weekends, but after the first of September we plan on doing hitting all those places in the south we’ve wanted to before we go." On the one hand, this isn't news you want to hear from such a grand storyteller as Ron and his faithful photo-snapping sidekick Marcia, but on the other hand, it is exciting and joyful news for them as they turn the page and enjoy a new life that they've been looking forward to and planning for a long time. We do indeed wish them well and know they will be riding and playing still in their new home state (which is actually their old home state!) Happy blessings to you both. Ride free and clear! In this story, Ron asks a question that perhaps we can all ponder: Where would I ride if I only had a few weeks more to enjoy what's around me here in The Carolinas?
Where would you go here in the South if you had only a few weeks left here? That was the question for us. We’ve ridden most of the twisties ( Tail of the Dragon, The Snake, Diamondback, Moonshiners Run, Cherohala Parkway, The Gauntlet, Devil’s Triangle, and a few that are not listed such as Hwy 64, and others.) We’ve been to many of the Historic sites, (haven’t made it to Old Ninety-Six yet;) and we’ve enjoyed the Golden Isles and Savannah area and recently the Antebellum Trail in Ga.; so I was looking around at where we could go next since we had a weekend free.
I decided on Andersonville Ga. That may not be familiar to many of you, but it was the location of one of the worst Civil War prisons. We looked around and found a nice Bed and Breakfast in Americus which was the closest town to Andersonville. Andersonville is just a small town that exists as a tourist town across from the main entrance to the Andersonville National Park and POW museum and Andersonville Cemetery.
The weather was fantastic for a ride: upper 70’s, low humidity and no clouds. One of those Carolina ("Tarheel blue,") blue skies days. We left on Friday around 11:30 when I could get out of work and were looking at a 5-hour ride to Americus Georgia.
We stayed on all secondary roads and arrived around 5:30 at the Americus Inn and Gardens. A wonderful 1847 home that had been redone. We ended up with a "garden tub" in the room and was the only room left. When I called for a room the lady said they only had the one room left and asked if we were coming for Sunday School. I said we were coming to go to Andersonville National Historical Park. She said that President Jimmie Carter is teaching Sunday School at the church just on the corner from the Inn and she had other guests that were coming for that. She added that David Osborne (Pianist to the Presidents and Vegas Showman,) was playing for the President’s birthday on Saturday night for a free concert. She said that to get into Sunday School you have to get in line around 6:30 and doors open at 8:00 for the 10:00 o’clock meeting. We said we were not staying, however, she did say that the concert starts at 6:30 on Saturday night and usually if you get there before 6:00 you can get a good seat because it usually does not fill up.
Our room was fantastic and they were such good hosts. They provided us an itinerary of the events at Andersonville. We had a wonderful dinner at The Station downtown in the historic district and did I say the weather was fantastic?! The evening was cool but comfortable as we were able to walk around the old buildings and take in the old architecture of the community.
We shared breakfast with a couple from Lexington KY who did come for the Sunday School and were planning on going out to Plains for the Carter homestead site. He is a newspaper reporter in Lexington and she works for the hospital. He was taking pictures of the wonderfully-prepared and presented breakfast and admitted to being a bit of a food porn junkie as he takes a lot of pictures of his food. The breakfast was worthy of a few pictures as it was fantastic and beautifully presented.
We headed the 10 miles up to Andersonville to watch the parade. I don’t think there were many Harley-riding Confederate soldiers in the day, but there were at Andersonville this day, along with a Kenworth tri-cycle and a whole lot of soldiers and guns.
Andersonville housed 45,000 men at one time and nearly 13,000 died. It was said that you had a greater chance of dying in a POW camp (either side,) than in a battle. Imagine 45,000 men in a 16 acre enclosure with no facilities. There was a small stream running though the camp which provided the only water. Men were responsible for their own shelter from the Georgia sun and weather. The camp was only in existence for 14 months but it was said that the people of Americus (10 miles away) would complain of the stench. There was a barricade around the outside and a line about 3 feet from the inside that when/if someone crossed the line they were shot, without question. The Commander of the prison, Capt. Wirz, was the only person to be tried and executed for war crimes in the United States, and many believe, as he said, he was only following orders and was a scapegoat for the atrocities at the camp. The pictures of the field hardly do justice to the size and them imaging the number of men there.
Anyway, it was well worth the trip. Something we all should remember and be thankful for the freedoms we have. Freedom, as they say, is not free, someone has paid the price for our freedoms and we have a responsibility to maintain it. Enough soapbox, but it does bring that out in most people. Then the row upon row of headstones close together and many unmarked is a stark reminder of the cost of freedom.
So after a somewhat depressing morning and early afternoon it was back to Americus for lunch. We had read and heard about a hot dog place that was supposed to be the “Best dog ever bitten by man.” A little hole-in-the-wall straight out of Saturday Night Live. We finally found it downtown and had a hot dog and fries. It was ok, but I must say I like the dogs at the Creamery in Orangeburg better; they are grilled dogs.
We were able to stop by an antique shop downtown (what would be one of our trips without an antique shop stop?,) and then back to the Inn for a rest and prepare for the birthday party. We were able to walk to the Church and the Lexington couple told us about their visit to Plains. We arrived at 5:45 and were a bit surprised that we walked right in and sat in the 4th row. They had the front row reserved for President Carter and family and we ended up just one row between.
The concert was FANTASTIC. He is a wonderful pianist. He said he had been coming there for 30 years playing for President Carter. In addition Miss America 2016, from Georgia and attending President Carter’s alma mater sang a few selections. Did I say it was Fantastic!!! He was to play for an hour but played for 2. I’ll let you look him up but I would describe him as in the Liberace style, without the flair, just the skill. I would go back next year if we were going to be in the area, just to hear him. And the hall was not full??? Hard to imagine, but maybe the locals have heard him for the past 30 years and heard enough.
We shared breakfast Sunday with two couples from Florida. While they came in their car they both had bikes, one a Harley Classic and the other a CVO and admitted they would have rather ridden. I noted a bit of envy when they saw Marcia climbing on the back and realized they were not able to talk their spouses into such a ride. This was a trip she at first was not excited about, and even after Andersonville the jury was still out. But after the concert and meeting Mr. Carter she became sold that it may have been one of our better trips. The Inn was great along with the award winning food (what would be an Orangeburg Ron article without talking about the food?!,) we met some wonderful people from Lexington and Florida as well as the host and hostess of the Inn, and had a wonderful concert.
Thank you for Telling your Stories
The Carolina Rider thanks all the writers who contribute to this Weekly Magazine. FancyFree highlights Ron Lofts' contributions over the last few years of his association with us. We thank him and Marcia for taking time to tell their stories and share photos of the many rides they have taken while living in The Carolinas and wish them great rides in their new home!
Last week, FancyFree and I had the privilege of having lunch with Bub and the CPR's at Strawberry Hill in Chesnee. Yes, one of the feeding troughs made famous by this group of food-lovin' big-time riders. I enjoyed hearing their stories and hope to hear more from them. They are hard-riding, good-hearted guys who get to play about as much as they like in their retired lives. Good work if you can get it, huh?!
I want to thank everyone who tells the stories of their rides in our little magazine. You make us what we are.
And, of course, I want to encourage anyone else who has a ride story to tell to please give FancyFree a shout because we'd love to publish what you have as well!
Go ride, make pictures, and write about it!
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The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine
2764 Pleasant Rd, PMB 4100
Fort Mill, SC 29708