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Old 04-27-2011, 04:21 PM   #1
pachap OP
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The Squirrel Trip

First RR filed, so be gentle...

Last week I went on a little camping trip. A three day trip probably doesn't do much for many of the inmates, but it is a rare opportunity for me. I work weekend shift, and about two years ago I returned to college to finish up my B.A. I just don't have a lot of time to right now to do the things I love, so I cherish every opportunity.

Monday, April 18th.



I packed up my trusty steed and headed out about 8:30 AM. I could barely sleep the night before because I was so excited. My bike is a 2008 Suzuki Boulevard C50... not the bike of choice for most inmates, but it works for me. This is the only motorcycle I have ever rode on. My mother bought this bike for me brand new in May of 2008. Thanks Mom!

I don't have a way to hang my camera around my neck while riding, so I was unable to get any pics while on the move. The first day of riding was fairly uneventful, but I saw a lot of nice, green farmland and flowers in full bloom.

So why is this called the Squirrel Trip? This is where I was staying. Some of you may be familiar with Unicoi State Park, just outside Helen, GA. This is a campground in the park called the Squirrel's Nest. $15 rents you a lean-to for the night with restrooms and showers right down the trail. I think it is perfect for motorcyle camping.





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Old 04-27-2011, 04:37 PM   #2
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Sweet little spot.
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:45 PM   #3
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Tuesday, April 19th

The plan was to ride from Helen out to US 441 at Clayton and head up to the Smokey Mountain National Park. But I goofed... When I got to Clayton I stopped for some breakfast at the McDonalds. When I got off my bike I realized my wallet wasn't in my pocket. So I safely rode back over the hills in perfect compliance with all applicable state laws and local statutes. Luckily, my wallet was in my bag back at the campsite.

At that point I decided to head up GA 17. I actually grew up on 17... the other end of it... 280 miles away.



I stopped just north of Helen and took this picture because I really like where it goes. Right as I was about to get back on my bike, my wife called with some bad news. A pastor that I was acquainted with back home had passed away the night before as a result of a motorcycle wreck right up in the same hills where I was at. I spent the rest of the day riding with mixed emotions. He has no worries now, and I'm happy for him for that, but he left behind a family, and my heart goes out to them.

North of Hiawasee I hit NC 64. This is one of my favorite roads. Nice long sweeping turns at speed with great views...



...and tight turns through the Cullasaja Gorge between Franklin and Highlands. Here are some picks of the river and Dry Falls.





The state had been working on a rest area at Dry Falls for a long time. It was June of 2009 since I had last been here and it was still under construction. Now it is done and I think it was worth it. You can take the trail down to the falls and walk behind it to the other side.

Check out this old rusty guardrail in this pick. I can just see myself flipping right over if I got into it. On that note, about 3 weeks ago a guy in my area high sided his bike in a corner on an overpass. Lucky for him he landed in the soft mud and marsh grass. I would not have been so lucky. If you have ever rode this section you know that there are places where it drops away right on the opposite side of the guardrail. It makes for some great views and a nice ride.

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Old 04-27-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Tuesday, April 19th... Continued.

There is a great view on the east side of Highlands. If you are heading east there is a ridge on both sides. Then you hit a tight-ish left hand turn and this wonderful view opens up. You can see the entire valley.





And a gratuitous shot of my bike. I know it isn't very ideal for the riding I want to do, but every time I think of buying something else I go for a ride and fall in love with it again. It has enough power for me, it's okay at highway speed, and it is light enough that it is easy to handle in tight corners on the mountain roads. 50+ mpg makes me love it even more. That said, I will be buying a new one when I graduate. My wife has promised me a BMW. I could buy it now, but I'm using it as a carrot on a stick to keep from slacking off. I'm on track to graduate Cum Laude. My mother has said she will kick some $$ in for a new bike if I graduate with honors.




Past Brevard and south over the hills. Nice little road-side park by the river.



I took SC 11 back west. You get a great view of Table Rock, but I didn't stop and get any pics. I was enjoying the actual act of riding my motorcycle too much to stop if it wasn't absolutley necessary. I got back to my campsite just before dark. After I got a shower I layed in my sleeping bag listening to the Braves game on my MP3 player. It had been a great day.
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:55 PM   #5
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Nice RR, nice bike, too. I'm not a cruiser type but that one looks good. I will have to remember that campground, that looks really cool.
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:34 PM   #6
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Wednesday, April 20th

On Wednesday I hit the road in a rush. The last weather report I checked before I left called for rain about mid-day. Apparently that had changed... and I had left my rainsuit behind because I didn't think I needed it and wanted a little spare room in my saddlebags.

I had to cut the ride a little short. I wanted to ride out on the Richard B. Russell parkway, take 180 to Suches, and come back south through Dahlonega. Instead I had to run as fast as conditions permitted down GA 17 to beat the rain. I still got wet. Thankfully my Tourmaster pants kept my legs fairly dry. Later down the road I zipped my liner into my jacket and changed shirts, so that took care of the wet and cold up top.

The rain didn't spoil my day though. I made good time on the way back home. No worries, just a bunch of squirrels kept running out in front of my bike. I had this epic moment riding down the road where "Midnight Rider" by the Allman Brothers popped on my MP3 player. Only bad thing about Wednesday was that I didn't get to stop and take any pictures on the way home because I had purple clouds chasing me south the whole day.

I had a lot of opportunity to think during the ride home. I was hospitalized the second week of January with septic shock and almost died. After I recovered I kept thinking about Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption. He says something about either get busy living or get busy dying. I decided I needed to catch up on some riding this spring and summer before I went back to school. This was just the first trip of the season for me.


I made 887.5 miles total in 3 days and averaged a little better than 56 mpg. And if everything pans out at work I will be going back in about 3 weeks for another 2 night stay.

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Old 04-27-2011, 06:36 PM   #7
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Good RR. In 2005 I rode from Texas to Atlanta and around that area on a 2004 Volusia. Great handling bike and good for every thing but gravel roads. The pictures really bring back good memories.
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottFla View Post
Nice RR, nice bike, too. I'm not a cruiser type but that one looks good. I will have to remember that campground, that looks really cool.
It really is a nice spot. Can't beat $15 a night. The showers and restrooms are pretty clean. The lean-to eliminates the need to carry a tent and lets you have more room on your bike. I got a strong cell signal at the my campsite. It is a short drive to a lot of great riding. It's in the back of the park so there isn't a lot of traffic going by on the road. In fact, on Monday night I was the only one staying in the Squirrels Nest. On Tuesday night, a youth pastor brought 4 teenage boys in to camp, but they stayed down at the lake fishing all night long.

Only drawback is that there is a very short but steep hike to get to the camp. No problem going down the hill to get to the camp, but going back up and trying to carry a bag, a motorcycle helmet, and a sleeping bag all at once got a little tiring. But it was worth it.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:32 PM   #9
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Thanks for the RR

Dayum! I'm digging that camping spot. I'm gonna have to check that out. And thanks for the RR, I've ridden that numerous times, good first try.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShimrMoon View Post
Dayum! I'm digging that camping spot. I'm gonna have to check that out. And thanks for the RR, I've ridden that numerous times, good first try.
It's a really nice spot, and it isn't all that far from you.
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Old 04-27-2011, 08:07 PM   #11
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Nice report. Good lookin' pics too!

2 wheels is 2 wheels-enjoy what ya' got at that moment.

Congrats on the studies & soon to be grad???
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:01 PM   #12
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Cool! Another cruiser day tripper!

Thanks for taking us along.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:30 PM   #13
JustPlainDave
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Thanks...

... for the RR.
Can't tell you how many nights I've camped and Unicoi.
Spent a few nights in the cabins and the lodge as well. Great place.
The only park I like better is Vogel.
Glad you had a safe trip.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:54 PM   #14
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Nice Report

Thanks for the RR. I always learn something about the area from reading these. Say you're thinking about moving to a BMW? You can expect a great ride but based upon my experience you'll say good-bye to mid 50's gas mileage. I have an '07 R1200GS and normally get about 37 mpg commuting on interstate at 80 mph and I can squeeze 45 mpg running back roads at or near the speed limit. (OEM bags fully expanded and a much taller than stock Givi windshield)

Wish you the best of luck completing your degree.
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