Friday, July 2, 2010

July 02, 2010 – Day 27 No rain all the way to Suches & Blairsville, GA

Looking out at the parking lot this morning I could see rain on its way, dark clouds overhead and evidence of recent morning showers. The TV weather demons were predicting rain in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon; just what I wanted to hear. Bummer, the day's not looking as good as I'd like.

Even the hotel’s gratis breakfast was a dud, whoever fixed the biscuits & gravy must have dropped the salt shaker in the gravy as it was awful. I ate yogurt. Fruity purple sissy-yogurt; very unmanly type food but necessary fuel for the body.

Real men don't shave. Eh?

I decided since I knew it was going to rain like the dickens I might as well dig out Big Red, my one-piece Aerostich Roadcrafter suit and wear it instead of the Frogg Toggs. The thing is, Big Red is cooler than the Frogg Toggs as I can wear just a T-shirt and shorts underneath it instead of jeans, etc. Plus it’s got a zillion zippers for letting the breezes blow through whereas the Frogg Toggs turn into a sauna. It felt really comfortable; I’d almost forgot about that since this was the first time I’d worn it since leaving Oregon.

Another of my scooter buds Doug aka OAD (Old as Dirt) had suggested I do the run up to Suches in the northern end of the state and I’d be close to where he lives so we could hook up tomorrow. I let Garmin & Company plot out a route but of course they always choose the quickest way which means every freeway possible. I don’t care for that when it comes to touring so to get around it I dial in lots of little out of the way towns that can’t be accessed by freeways. It seems to work although every so often the spy in the sky gets confused and runs me around in dead end circles.

Today I headed north through Alma, Soperton, White Plains, Commerce, & Hollingsworth, all of which had to be designated as “Via Points” in order to avoid the slabs.

Leaving Waycross on highway 1 I was soon on my way out of the city and onto the back roads. Within the first hour or so I felt a slight sprinkle begin and felt gratified that I’d had the good sense to wear Big Red. I’d no sooner had the thought when it quit, not returning for the rest of the day.

Not long into the ride I spotted a ramshackle little house sporting 3 Confederate Flags and I USA, all flying from separate flag poles in the yard. I stopped to do the photo thing, then noticed the county line sign across the street: Jeff Davis. Why not I thought, if you’re Johnny Reb this would be the county of choice wouldn’t it? I walked across the road and shot the sign pic, then remounted Green Girl to head out. Just as I was turning her around I noticed a rather unfriendly looking pooch in the crouched-ready-to-spring out at you position in Johnny Reb’s yard. As much as I like dogs I don’t relish playing tug-o-war with them if it involves my leg so I exited the area fairly fast with him escorting me along. Nice doggie.

As the ride progressed into the afternoon the temperature climbed and I soon realized Big Red was going to become insufferable so I started looking for a place to change. You may recall I wasn’t wearing jeans, just shorts and T-shirt so I couldn’t just step out of it and ride on. There didn’t seem to be an abundance of choices for changing, most of the gas stations looked a bit ragged and I don’t like changing in restrooms anyway; they’re often a bit nasty. Then it occurred to me if I could find a convenient bit of bushes I could duck behind that’s all I’d need. That’s exactly how it went; and thank you very much to the land owner for providing me a discreet amount of cover.

Lunch was at a Subway in a little town that I can’t recall the name of but they had a sign on the counter top that I thought was really funny. The two people working the line gave me a rather suspicious look when I took its picture but I couldn’t resist.

Just as I approached Siloam I noted a huge field of sunflowers in bloom so I stopped for another photo. It reminded me of traveling through Spain and Portugal where they grow them on huge farms; they seem to go on for miles. I wasn’t aware they were being grown commercially here in the states but evidently it’s so.

Just a bit further on the Nathanael Greene Academy showed up and I stopped to look around. It’s closed for vacation so no one objected. In this part of the country special schools like these are commonplace but in Oregon they’ve never seemed to catch on for some reason.

The busiest traffic I had to deal with was around Athens which is a typical big city with all the trappings. With the advent of the holiday weekend approaching there was an abundance of police cruisers working the area; I spotted several in some very sneaky locations preying on the unsuspecting public. I understand the need for traffic control but somehow I don’t like the feeling of being watched. I was glad when the short stint I had to do on the freeway was over and I could return to the back roads again.
Thirsty beast refuses to run without benzino...

Highway 60 took me into the area of the Appalachians where Suches is located and the road was endless tight curves. For the most part the speed limit is set at 35 – 45 mph which is good; otherwise it would be a deadly passage. By the time I reached Suches it was late afternoon and I had a bit of a disappointment to deal with; I’d thought there would be a town where I could stay the night but instead it’s just an area to visit. The nearest town of any size was another 30 miles away with much of the road having the same curves as before.

Now Green Girl is a nice enough bike, comfortable to slog along on but when it comes to riding the twisties she’s a bit on the uh, portly side and the going gets slow. Not that I mind dialing things down a bit but I don’t like to hold people up so I was glad there wasn’t more traffic than there was.

An odd bit of luck let me see Cherokee Princess Trahlyta’s grave. Her rocky gravesite was along the roadside going up the mountain and it was a bit tricky getting Green Girl all gathered up and turned around but I managed. The road is narrow right there and there’s an intersection that seems to confuse a lot of riders including me. I found a small place to park and took the photos but couldn’t find a rock to add to the growing grave marker pile. Maybe all the good fortune has been used up?

After clearing out of that area and realizing there was no town I queried Garmin & Company for suggestions on where to go for a room for the night and was directed to Blairsville. As I rode into town I had an ominous feeling I might be out of luck as there was a large group of classic cars hanging out and I knew there must be a show or rally going on.

I headed for the Best Western since it was close and when I found out they had rooms available I grabbed one. The receptionist told me the car group meets up here every month but they stay at another place which worked well for me and later, several other bikers.

She also recommended an Italian restaurant for dinner and it was just across the parking lot. After unloading my gear I walked over and had a nice dinner of Veal Parmesan, one of my favorites. Sadly I found out this is a dry county so there was no Vino to accompany the dinner. How un-Italian, eh? The waitress said there’s an election coming on July 20th to try and change that but she didn’t hold out much hope; said there were too many old people living in town. Then she looked at me more closely and disappeared. Cute. Little snit.

One thing for sure, the people supporting the change from the county's current dry status have their work cut out for them. Everywhere you look in this town you see churches and that usually means resistance to change, especially when it comes to booze. I was told there have been several special ballots already and none have done very well. Hey I didn't miss it, I had two big glasses of sweet southern iced tea.

So there ya go, tomorrow I’m doing the Tail of the Dragon if I can find it, and after that the Cherohala highway on my way to meet Doug. It should be quite a day.


  1. I used the same strategy to stay off the Interstates: pick a little town on a state route and hope the Garmin behaves. Even with the setting "No Interstates", my Zumo would sometimes take me on them.

  2. Happy 4th of July Larry.
    You look like a lobster, you're so damned sunburned. A few blue stripes and some stars / bars and yall'll be right at home down yonder.