But not this weekend!! This weekend was supposed to give us temps in the low to mid-80s with relatively low humidity. Sixty-four percent humidity is low for us...and we weren't complaining. So our plans were to definitely get out and ride.
We were really hoping to hit the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina. The 11 miles with 318 curves stretch that I have mentioned before? The road experienced a bit of a rock slide a couple months ago that has shut the route down. We've heard rumor that cleanup and road repair is basically complete, but the road hasn't been opened for thru-traffic. Means that motorcycles can approach from the south and ride the 11 miles, but will have to turn around and come back. Darn the bad luck!! ;-)
We have also heard rumor that the states (crosses NC and TN) might open it up by the end of the month. Which means that all the mecca seeking riders, regular cars and infrequent semi's will be back and hitting it hard. This would be about the last chance to ride with relatively light traffic until cold temperatures and frost keep motorbikes off.
A late Friday night of dinner, shopping at Fry's and hitting Sheridan's Frozen Yogurt hard with friends had us sleeping in on Saturday morning. For us, the Dragon is a 12 hour riding day. The earlier you take off, the better. So our bleary 9:30 rising wasn't going to cut it. We flopped on the sofa looking at each other and trying to figure out what to do now. One step outside reaffirmed what an absolutely spectacular day it was and just could not be wasted. We showered and hopped on the bikes in a half-hearted attempt to pick up the Georgia Tag.
We really didn't have a hope in h-e-double toothpicks of getting the tag. It has been sitting there for a week or so and this was just one perfect weekend. But we headed towards it just to give us something to do. We took back roads all the way across town and into the northwest-ish corner of Georgia.
Since we hadn't eaten breakfast we were keeping our eyes peeled for some little corner cafe or restaurant. We were simply astounded by the changes that had occurred passing through the city of Ball Ground (no sniggering please). We haven't been through here in over a year. Then, it was a quiet, dirty little down with wonderful rock and brick buildings full of...rock...seen through dust grimed windows. Nothing was open and everything was just dirty! Now? The curbs and brick sidewalks have just been installed and look great. The buildings downtown are being emptied of their rock storage and bringing in actual businesses!
Downtown Ball Ground. New sidewalks and curbs!
We spotted one eatery, but it was closed. Passing the last corner of downtown we hear music blaring from a coffee shop. Being used to Starbucks and such in suburbia we figured the shop just might have a sandwich or something to nibble. So we turned around to enjoy the music and a stretch off of the bikes. We are immediately greeted by a wonderfully smart-a$$ed women that welcomes us in and starts reciting the menu. Our fuddled minds don't really comprehend what she is saying and we just kinda nod and give her these blank stares. She catches on that we aren't quite the brightest and questions us with mono-syllabic words. Now we can get it. :-) Mr. Oilburner orders a root beer float and I am steered towards the best chocolate iced coffee I have ever tasted. Even though this is the first chocolate iced coffee I have ever had, it was still better then the two other flavors I have tried in the past.
She was correct in warning me it would be the best and I would hate it because I live so far away. This is just beginning to make Mr. Oilburner and I try to figure out how we can get one of our motorbike groups out here to enjoy this. Did I mention that she has only been in business for a month? And the shop can be rented for private parties for $10/hr? She doesn't have a food license yet, but is working on it. Until then she serves pre-made cake, pies and pastries. If you are ever in the area please visit The Bus Stop Coffee Shop and introduce yourself to Michelle, the owner. Oh...and she has live music on Saturday evenings. GO!!
The owner of The Bus Stop, Michelle.
After enjoying ourselves entirely too much playing cards, swapping smarmy quips and meeting Michelle's mother (proprietor of the flower shop next door) we hop back on the bikes and head for that tag.
We didn't know the exact location of the tag. We had worked enough clues to know it was on Old Federal Rd in Murray County. We figured that out because that was stated directly in the clue. It was the Dennis the Menace reference that didn't mean much just yet. I managed to navigate us to the beginning of Old Federal, and we just figured we would ride it and see if we could find the tag. One of the first streets I pass is Dennis Mill Rd and I think I see the rusted barn roof before zipping past. Hmm...that Dennis the Menace reference seems kinda obvious now. Yes, we found the place. We still believe that someone else has already captured this probably, but we didn't care.
Barn Tag on Dennis Mill Rd, Murray County
After capturing our tag pictures we need to decide on a possible location to put the tag. Just in case we do actually get to tag the barn. Our desired location was over 150 miles away, but I had an idea for one that would move the tag more towards the center of the North Georgia at least. We decide on the long way around and head into the mountains.
Since we are passing through Blue Ridge...and Tennessee is only about 10 miles away...and Tennessee sells fireworks...we decide to take another detour... A restaurant a couple minutes outside of Blue Ridge beckons us since it is almost dinner time. We just can't pass up some of Pat's Southern cooking at Pat's Kountry Kitchen. YUM!! I opt for the trout sandwich and Mr. Oilburner goes for the country-fried steak.
See this huge piece of machinery on the flatbed, ready to be moved. It isn't even tied down yet!
It was only another 5 miles up to the fireworks. But one of the big attractions to the place (as if it needed anything else) were all of the military vehicles. See...we really only went for the vehicles. No way were we gonna buy the goods they were selling... :-)
Would be a great truck if not for all of the cancer.
Time is starting to slip by a little fast and we are still 2 hours from home. We take a look in the store, just to see what they have to offer... then hit the road. We still stop by my tag idea, just in case. You just can't beat some objects left outside of closed businesses...
Just what exactly is this dinosaur doing here?
Looks a little more like a termite from this direction.
We did indeed lose out on the tag. Since we were expecting it we just figured we had a great day seeing a part of the state that we don't get to very often.
Perfect 84F with 64% humidity
Actually enjoyed a couple roads we have never been on
A closer look at the dinosaur that I have been passing for months
It may not look it, but we actually did get into Tennessee...but no we didn't buy any fireworks...
Assorted images during the trip can be seen here.