The point may be to get out and ride. But most of the time we like to have a destination; a place to stop, take off the helmets and see or eat something. Oftentimes we make it the destination and eating is secondary. Which is usually how we end up at some disgusting fast food chain. Sometimes we do stumble across the quaint local eating joint that serves some delicious food. And trust me, we do prefer that. But small town Georgia tends to be closed on Sunday's. Somewhat limiting the choices.
I remember growing up in a small-ish community that did value its Sundays off. And somehow we managed to get by. So it is no skin off our noses when we hit some community on a Sunday and the sidewalks have been rolled up. We think it is a treat to see and enjoy that some places still believe in the slower pace of life. Which is exactly what we encountered on Sunday.
We generally enjoy looking for new and interesting places to ride towards. We don't go in for riding the same route, or to the same destinations over and over again. That is not the point for us. And we have become very creative at finding new places to visit. I picked up a book on Weird Georgia that outlines some strange facts and locations of the state. Some still exist to visit, but some don't. Another source of information is RoadsideAmerica.com. Which is similar to Weird Georgia, but for the entire US. Of course it isn't definitive, but it is a great place to start. Yet another source for us is an adventure riding forum that we belong to that plays "tag" games. The idea is to ride to an interesting location, take a picture of your bike with the site, post it and then let other people figure out where it is and go "tag" it. It isn't a free-for-all though. In order to post your tag you have to first "capture" someone else's tag. So it is a race to capture it and post your spot. Now they have highlighted some very interesting locations throughout the state that we reference sometimes.
Last year we discovered there is a Stature of Liberty right here in our very own state. It is in a little town called McRae, south of Macon. The most direct route is Interstate and still 3+ hours away from us...one way. We have put off visiting this since that would make one very long day for us...and who wants to ride Interstates??
But the second weekend that was [almost] good enough to ride had us entertaining McRae once again. We threw caution to the wind, planned a route that did not include Interstates and determined that a 7 1/2+ hour round trip ride was doable finally. Sunday looked to be the better day in the forecasts. It was supposed to be warmer and less windy going into the weekend. But the day dawned quite chilly and unexpectedly windy. We found this out taking the pups for a walk and a treat before suiting up. But walking back into the nice, warm house had us seriously rethinking our plans. We hemmed, hawed, talked, looked up weather and managed to shrug through another hour without reaching a decision. Approaching a now-or-never [this weekend] point the deciding question was "will we regret it tomorrow that we didn't go"? Since the answer was yes we suited up.
Of course, that now meant that we were an hour behind our optimum schedule. Leaving at 11AM meant that we didn't expect to arrive back home until at least 7:30PM. On a Sunday. Having to go to work tomorrow. After spending 361 miles in the saddle. OK. Still a GO.
I had been on most of the planned route at different times over the past couple months. Mr. Oilburner had only been on it down to Eatonton. Beyond that was all new to him. I didn't mind the route because I was really itching to get back on Hwy 441 south of I-20. This is one of those new "forgotten" highways. Someone, at some time, had lobbied to have a two-lane state route upgraded to a four-lane divided highway. But most of Hwy 441 stretches between relatively small areas. So who is it a cut-off for? I don't know and don't care. The highway is mostly quiet and has few stoplights. There isn't much built up along it, meaning miles and miles of farmland or trees. Unfortunately it also bypasses even the small towns sometimes. (OK. After a little more research US Hwy 441 is A LOT longer than I expected it to be, running between Miami, Florida and Lake City, Tennessee. It does run through some pretty large cities down in Florida. But the most populous place it touches in Georgia is Athens. Yes...Athens, Ga. Just like there is a Rome, GA too.) Still, it is a wonderfully empty, scenic highway that is great to ride.
Despite the calls for warmer weather the day started out cold and stayed cold. To jump start our time a little we did venture onto I-20 to make up a little. It's only about 40 miles and not big in the grand scheme of things. Sidebar: it frustrates me when people think that motorcycle riders are always speeding and doing crazy things. They might notice the few on regular city streets that are zipping through traffic quickly. And lane-splitting is legal in some states. But in general people FAIL to notice motorcycles on the highway because they are rapidly blowing past any motorcycles in their air-tight, climate controlled cocoon. When I am on the interstates I am generally riding 5-8 mph over the speed limit...if that. And people in cars and SUV's are consistently rocketing past at 15-20 mph over the limit. And they make US out to be the bad people... Sidebar closed. Thank You.
Anyways...when it was time to jump off the freeway we stopped for gas and to warm the hands up. Luckily there was also a little diner attached to the station. Lunch! We had been hoping to have something in McRae. But realized another 1 1/2 would be too long. No matter, the BLT's were great and I had a fresh apple pie sliced up to transport home.
The roads were great. As expected. We managed to mount my smaller camera on my windshield bracket. So I do have some "from the road" shots. They aren't great, but better than nothing at all.
Sharing the road with some "not quite" street legal machines. But out here I don't think it matters too much.
School Bus parking lot...permanent parking lot.
Miles and miles and miles of trees and smoke.
Bot this has become long-winded. To get to the point, we arrived in McRae and espied the Statue immediately. It was rather hard to miss perched on its pedestal on a little postage stamp size piece of real estate.
She is a little scary looking. I've read that her face was carved from a local tree stump from a swamp with a chainsaw. The hand holding the torch is a lineman's glove and her arms are made of Styrofoam.
The Liberty Bell was the old town fire bell. But I really wouldn't go so far as to call that weld line a crack...
We took our pictures and figured we best be on our way. We needed a little pick-me-up and navigated to the McDonald's a block away. In a town where absolutely no current business is open, and most shops we passed were vacant, the McDonald's was certainly hopping.
The economy and no one wanting to live a rural life has all the small town businesses closing up.
OK. Head home! Again, for times sake we just reversed the route and hurried home. It never did reach the temps we had hoped for. And we were getting chilly and only saw more of it coming with the sun going down. The last thing to make us giggle were the "Georgia High Tech Corridor" signs planted every 10 miles on Hwy 441 south of I-16. The most advanced business we saw included the rural airfield and the raceway with the hand-painted sign. It is interesting to think about the possibilities though. :-)
8 hrs 52 minutes, including stops
A very cold 60 degrees (the temp gauge on my bike is more accurate than Mr. Oilburner's bike. HA!)
Glad that I can say I have seen Georgia's Statue of Liberty, but don't think I will be making the trip again any time soon.