|08-13-2012, 08:45 AM||#1|
Mayor of Swampyville
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Yo Mommas House!
Southern HighCountry Tour
The Introduction: In The Beginning
You know how it all comes about. family vacation, plans changing almost daily, etc, etc, etc. Well this one was no different. Right up to the last minute.
"Sure no problem. I'll ride up on Saturday morning instead."
"Yeah, I'll let the dogs out before I go."
"What time am I gonna be there? I don't know, around 6-ish?"
"When do I plan on leaving? About 6-ish."
"No I won't be able to meet you guys in Valdosta. I'm heading a different way up. I'm not taking the interstate on my bike!"
..and thus began the last minute (really, last minute!) routing of my ride to the vacation house we rented on Lake Hartwell, Georgia!
So bright and early it begins. Yes, I let the dogs out, thanks for asking. Those of you that know me, know that I love Florida in the morning. Especially on motorcycle. It's quite and still. The sun rises as does the mist. There's just something special about an early morning ride...
It give you time to have a clear head, no pressures or concerns. Just taking in the dawn of a new day and the possibilities and opportunities that come along with each new day.....
One minute you're heading down a road appreciating the morning, the next you come face to face with remnants of the local rains and flooding that is still plaguing the area...
But along the way, you discover something you've been by a hundred times before but never gave a second, or in some cases, a first look. Not until you have had an opportunity to slow down! And sometimes conditions allow you to slow down, and when you do, things just sort of pop-out at you that you have to go have a look-see!
... this, and I haven't made it North of Brooksville yet...and the Adventure Begins...
Chapter One: Leaving Florida
Always sound funny that to reach the South you have to go north, but that's what you have to do from Florida. But as always, there's something along the way to stop and see.
If you look for it....
As morning drew on a little ways, I pointed the Tiger North on Hwy 41. A two lane northbound that wanders through the old small towns of Florida. Towns with old downtowns and court squares. Brick buildings and lamp posts. By this time a little farther North I was contemplating breakfast. Gal dang it, I just couldn't figure out where to have breakfast..... until.....
Until I saw the Dunnellon sign! Dang it, why didn't I think of it before! The Front Porch! Good country cooking in a clean place, at a reasonable price. And if you ever get chance, get yerself a piece of pie... The lemon merangue stands about 8 inches tall, the coconut cream is to die for, and the pie cooler is a little slice of heaven on earth....
Breakfast was done, mt belly was full and it was time to continue. We had daylight burning after all!
So it was back onto Hwy 41 heading North.... As I roll, the mind wanders. So many times in a car people get tunnel vision, or talk on the phone, or have a passenger yapping at them. It distracts you of what is around, the changes in scenery, the little pieces of life that go by.
I clear the mind and focus on the ride, focus on the sights and smells. I start to see things along the way.
North of Dunnellon and Rainbow Springs I came across these charcoal kilns. They were built by The Pioneer Charcoal Company in the 1950s to process the Blackjack Oak that grew abundantly around Romeo (the town where these are located - between Williston and Dunnellon). The raw dark wood from the trees were stacked inside the kilns and slow-cooked until it carbonized. It was then compressed and sold as briquettes or lump charcoal. back in the day, I hear tell the smoke from the kilns was so thick at times that it obscured the highway in front of the plant. They haven't been used since the 1960s when the plant was sold and a modern charcoal facility was built just a few yards south of the site.
The road continues through towns with names like Trenton and High Springs. This is rural country. Country of cattle farms, old homes, blue skies and wide open spaces.
Hwy 41 takes me through Lake City and beyond. Once past I-10, the buildings get scarce, and the population dwindles. Open spaces gave way to woodlands lining both sides of the road as far as you can see. Empty roads on a trip through nowhere... until a small outpost appears.
In days gone by, when people would go "motoring" small gas stations lined the highways and byways of the country. Over the past year or so, I've become more attuned to old service stations. Located in the middle of nowhere, these were a motorists reprieve. Manned by attendants who would check your water, and oil, fill you tank and wash your windshield. The kind of place that could repair or replace your tire if need be. The kind of place Goober ran in Mayberry.
I wonder how many cars passed through here. How many Indian Chiefs may have stopped along a hazardous strip on their way to Florida....
A few miles farther up the road, the invisible line is there to be crossed, though the only way to do so and know that it was done, is to pay attention to the signs. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign....
So in the middle of the woods, I'm welcomed to the Peach State!
Stay tuned for the ride through Georgia....
Swampy screwed with this post 08-13-2012 at 08:55 AM
|08-13-2012, 08:58 AM||#2|
Mayor of Swampyville
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Yo Mommas House!
Hwy 41 takes me up and drops me in Fargo. Talk about heading North, 'eh! Doesn't look cold like in the movie, but hey, this is Fargo, GA.
Running through this area is desolate to say the least. More trees, more swamp, more roadside water. This is the lower edge of the the great Okeefenokee Swamp afterall...
And as always, something strange pops into my head that's amplified by the warped sense of humor that hides in the recesses of my brain... I just see this sign and LMAO.....
I go North. It's getting near lunch time now. But I have a goal for lunch. There must be a decent local place where I'm headed...
North of Hazelhurst a river must be crossed. Today by motorcycle, in the past by boat and rail. The lumber had to be moved and in the day, it was moved as best they could...
The Southern Railway Trestle in Lumber City is one of the last surviving rotating bridges in Georgia, though no longer in use, it stands as a sentinel to days gone by.
Different sources list the date of construction for this landmark "through truss" design as 1916 or 1930; the architecture of the pylons tend to point to the earlier date, as does the fact that it’s a rotating bridge, and most steamboat traffic was long finished on this river by 1930.
In this picture you can see the operator’s shed or watch tower, which allowed the worker to see steamboat traffic on the river, as well as oncoming trains.
So I pull back on the highway, dodge all the bark and strips of wood in the road to reach the destination I was sure would have a decent local place for lunch....
No dice. No food. Just a right hand turn and head North.... Rural Georgia is one of my favorite places. Probably because it can be interchanged with southern Alabama, they are so much alike, from terrain, to red clay, to the agriculture history and lifestyle and small towns with long forgotten downtown districts...
Life can be good, and tough, in rural America...
Toombsboro is one such town that time has forgotten, and the present neglects. There are For Sale at just about every building, and one large sign for the local realty agent that stated "property for sale, and almost the whole town, make offers"
A town of history, waiting to be rescued and revived...
I say goodbye to Toombsboro, thinking in the back of my mond how cool it would be to win the Powerball and buy the whole town and turn it into a living 1920's era museum... ah to dream.... you can do that when you ride a bike... dream of what was and what can be... and I still ride because I must.... continuing on a Northbound trek...
More Southern History comes alive. There's always something to learn, something to creep into you thoughts as you ride, something that ads to the overall trip, that gives the area a little more meaning....
...and onward through Milledgeville....
North of Milledgeville, I headed into the Oconee National Forest to grab a road I had heard about. Macadonea Rd is one of those twisty turniny low-country roads you came across every so often. It reminds me a lot of the catskills in Upstate NY. All too soon, the ride is over as it dumps onto Hwy 77 North in Maxeys. Yet another small railroad town from days gone by.
I pick up GA Hwy 172 as it winds towards hartwell, my final destination. The land is beginning to roll now. Over one rise the road drops sharply as it crosses the Broad River...
The day draws on, the clock ticks down as I roll through Hartwell. It's been a long day, but I only have a few more miles to go until I can rest. The sun is dipping in the sky, casting long golden shadows. The tree canopies block out the lower rays. under the canopy, the heat of the South Georgia summer afternoon is calmed and the temperature drops....
526 miles and 12 1/2 hours after I pulled out of my driveway, I pull into the garage at the house.
Brian and Tim trailered up. From here, the best laid plans would change.....
|08-14-2012, 09:41 AM||#3|
Mayor of Swampyville
Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Yo Mommas House!
Chapter Two: Letting It Happen
Sunday came with no riding. A day left to rest after the trip and hang out with the family (kids and grandkids), and just relax. After all. That's what a vacation is for right?
And then it happened. My wife asked if I was going riding the next morning.
Why I hadn't thought about it. Brian, Tim and I planned on riding Tuesday and Thursday and we were all planned for that. But now..... now..... now she brings this up! The boys didn't want to go since they wanted to spend time with their kids at the lake, so that left a solo run... but where at this short notice?
Hellllllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo maps! My friends. How I missed you!
So I do what I like to do. Just stare at a map....
A funny thing happens when I stare at a map. Routes start popping out at me. I don't know what itis, but they just seem to materialize.
So good. MapVision is engaged. Let me do a search of some of the things I like to see:
First search is State Parks... why? Because this is where you'll find points of interest, historic things, and scenic areas!.... check!
Second search.....covered bridges and mills..... oh how I love these... search returned and research done. Targets chosen..... Check!
Now to plot locations of what I want to see, connect with all the best roads in the area. Total mileage and adjust to meet time frames and WHAMO-PRESTO! My planned route for tomorrow! Now to just write it down so I can put it in the map holder in the tankbag....(my Nuvi 500 doesn't allow for uploading routes so it's old-school this week!)
Let's get some rest!
Sun comes up. Wife is in the kitchen and there's fresh blueberry buckle for breakfast. Yummy! Okay, one more piece.
I wheel the Tiger out of the garage and fire it. A click let's me know I'm in gear and up the driveway I go....
A great sunny blue sky Georgia morning awaits and greets me as I make my way. I plotted out a short cut to the Interstate.... well "shortcut" being a subjective term as I chose to stick with county routes...
Why stick to low traffic, curvy, county highways instead of hi-traffic, straighter and wider State Roads? Well here's one reason why....
Yeah, I know I said I was heading towards the interstate. I abhore interstates on motorcycles. But this was, well, is necessity as I-85 the only way to cross the river to....
Once across the lake it was off and onto SC Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills Parkway:
The Cherokees called these heights the "Great Blue Hills of God." Following an ancient Cherokee path, this road arcs through peach orchards and villages, past Cowpens National Battlefield and over Lake Keowee.
But not for me. It's way to get to side roads, narrow and twisty. Taking a Scenic Parkway to those roads? Priceless!
Chapter Three: Oconee Station
So as with any trip it has to meet some criteria for myself. There has to be a motorcycle, interesting roads and destinations, and a tankful of fuel. Yup. That pretty much sums it up! A bonus is nice weather...
And on this morning it was gorgeous....
Once again, SC 11 heads north and arcs through the South Carolina Hill Country. Overall it's one of those thick line on a a map. The kind where when we were kids, even though it says "scenic parkway" it's scenic from the back of a station wagon scenic. Wide, a major route. Traffic. The kind of road that city slickers go on and think they're in the great outdoors!
I'm heading North on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Parkway up past Westminster and Walhalla making my way towards my turn-off up past Lake Keowee when suddenly....
(Insert dramatic music here)
I run past a brown sign! (For those of you who don't pay attention when you are out riding, brown signs are usually for some type of park or historic spot. Just an FYI to keep your eyes open for adventure!)
So I grab a handful of Triumph anti-lock braking and swing to right before making a u-turn and running back the 50 or so yards for the turn. I'd seen this name during my searches the night before, did a brief investigation and relegated it to the "if I had time" file in my memory.... but I didn't understand it was RIGHT HERE!
I mean really. How could I be so excited at 0900 on a Monday morning? Afterall, I'm on a motorcycle, away from work, ready to turn down on a twisting county road going to a state historic site I didn't plan on stopping at. Awful. Yuck. Get me outa here!
Yeah. You know I dig this stuff and you guys that ride with me know I'm prone to do a "Crazy Ivan" at any time....
A quick 2.5 mile run down this pitiful boring terrible side road called Oconee Station Road.....
Led me here. To this place...
Ironic really once you find out what it is!
A short ride in and I park in the parking area. There are about 5 mini vans already there and a bunch of backpacks and water bottles on the picnic tables. Looked to me like some group of kids were headed to the pond and waterfall.... so I wasn't going that way!
I chose the trail uphill that lead to what I came here for in the first place....
And since you can't read them, here's what these markers said....
Oconee station & the William Richards House
This site was a frontier outpost and a meeting place between European American and Cherokees of this region during the late 1700s. The first building here, known as Oconee Station, was built as a garrisoned fort for armed troops and included a military blockhouse. Its initial purpose was to protect white settlers in the area from Indian attack. Soon Oconee Station became used as a trading post. Trader William Richards came to live on the property in 1795 and, in 1805, built a brick residence next to the station building.
Military Outposts and Trade
The sturdy stone structure at Oconee station housed as many as 30 soldiers at a time over a period of about eight years. We can only guess at the number of deerskins that passed through its doors during and since that time. Deerskin was in high demand in Europe, and Southwestern Indians responded by hunting millions of deer annually for trade. In exchange, they received weapons, cotton and linen fabrics, rum, ornaments, metal tools, and other items. European guns made it easier for Indians to hunt deer, but weapons were also valuable to them in defense against their enemies. Though trade was beneficial to both sides, it was
In exchange for their valuable deerskin, many Southeastern Indians received clothing made of European cotton and other fabrics, wearing a mixture of European and traditional Indian apparel. The attire of the white Americans living on the frontier also showed a blending. The fringed deerskin jacket associated with the frontiersman is European in construction but Native American in its materials and decoration. The sharing of material cultures between European-Americans and Native Americans revealed the amount of contact between these two groups and symbolized the complexity of their relationships, which ranged from inflamed animosity to friendly cooperation.
Defending the South Carolina Frontier
As Europeans and European-American settlement expanded across South Carolina, the "frontier" moved west. Beginning in 1792, Oconee Station and six similar military outposts served as the westernmost defensive points for new settlers. Scouts based in these stations roamed the frontier areas and served as an early warning network of imminent Indian attacks, giving the alarm to local white settlers.
Oconee County Through a Traveler's Eyes
In May 1775 William Bartram, a British naturalist, crossed the Savannah River from Georgia and explored the Keowee River Valley in present-day Oconee and Pickens Counties. At that time, he was traveling through Cherokee lands. Two years later, most of this land would be lost to the Cherokee. Bartram's writings express the beauty of this part of South Carolina. Bartram was especially interested in the plants of the area. He sketched local species and described magnificent vistas.
Visitors to Oconee County today can experience the beauty that William Bartram found more than 200 years ago, including the sites highlighted on this panel.
I always try to put myself back in time to when places and actions occured. It's a way a use to help history come to life....
Walking the paths, listening to the trees, another time...
Over two hundred years ago this was a major trading post. The sights and sounds of that outpost, the goods being traded....
It just kind of makes you wonder exactly how difficult times were back then, and how easy we have it now...
I finished my visit and began digesting the information and era. It slows me down and puts me in the right frame of mind. The frame of mind that opens me up to the possibilities of adventure where ever I find it today.
I return to the Tiger and gear up. Press the button and the motor growls. Horse loaded with pelts and wagon filled with cured meats were here hundreds of years before me.
I twist the throttle and head back out towards Hwy 11....
This is going to be a GREAT day
The Complete Ride Report is Available Here
Swampy screwed with this post 08-14-2012 at 09:47 AM
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