Wait a minute!! What am I saying? It was the best of times!! Today was going to be beautiful and we were hopping on the bikes for a very long ride.
Yeah, the day started chillier than expected. Much chillier. The thermometer read 33F (0.5C) at 7:30 AM. Brrrrr! Especially knowing that it would soon be nearing the 70F (21C) mark. Bed was too warm and comfy to get up for that. So we took our time waking up and getting out. But get up we did and hit the road. Road construction had us thinking up creative ways to get to the other side of Atlanta. And a fuel stop turned into some good-natured ribbing.
In case you haven't been listening, I live in Georgia. :) And Georgia isn't flat. So when stopping for fuel, or anyplace really, I will generally try to exit the facility so that I can turn right. Just makes life easier and less dangerous. Sometimes you do have to make those lefts, but I attempt to mitigate them. And I also try to avoid having to start moving on an up hill. Dry clutch and all that. (You do believe me, right??)
The entire time we're fueling up I'm weighing my exit strategy options in my mind. If we exit the one we came in we can turn right (safety) but will immediately need to turn left at the intersection to enter the freeway on ramp. But if we use the other exit we are more likely to have a green light to directly enter the on ramp, but I will have to turn left out of the gas station AND start on an uphill.
With all these heavy decisions going through my head, I haven't mentioned any of this to Mr. Oilburner. But I decided to try on my big girl panties and headed for the uphill exit. All turns, stops, starts and lights are executed flawlessly. As soon as we are out of the lot, not even through the intersection yet, Mr. Oilburner admits his wonderment at my choice of leaving the exit I did. (Sometimes he knows me too well...) I had to admit to him that it was an internal debate that I had struggled through. He had a good laugh at my expense. I'll get even...
Today we are headed towards Providence Canyon State Park. It's one of those places that is just on the cusp of needing to be an overnighter if you go there, by any mode of transportation. It is about 3 hours away, by slab. But there is so much to see and do and hike and what-have-you that it makes for a stupendously log day if there is an automatic 6+ hour travel time.
Unfortunately, I have had this particular bee in my bonnet since autumn. It's south and is very, very, warm in the summer and I wanted to get down there before it became too hot. I was also hoping for some photo ops on the quiet back roads.
Awhile back I read on someone's blog (I wish I could remember who) about the camaraderie of motorbike riding "back in the days." It was a thought provoking little piece of when there was a time when you, as a lone rider, could hook up with another rider on the road. Swoop in to be the wing man, share a nod, the road and some miles. When it was time to split up, a nod or a wave acknowledged the appreciation of this forged bond and it was back to singleness.
I had the thrill of being able to experience this today. One of my times looking in the mirror I saw another bike behind Mr. Oilburner, falling right into formation. I assumed he would be passing soon and didn't give it much thought.
He didn't pass...
There wasn't much traffic, but every so often I would switch lanes to pass someone. I took our new friend into account and only changed lanes when he was clear. I also tried to keep us moving and his tail clear of rushing cars. He was in sync immediately, moving lanes as soon as I turned my signal on showing my intent. And since he remained with us for 80 miles he must have enjoyed our pace. Imagine a big, pretty Harley Dyna voluntarily filling in our little BMW pac.
For a very long time Mr. Oilburner and I speculated on his intentions. Was someone all the way on the other side of the world, who knew where we were going and had access to Mr. Tell-Tale, my SPOT track, having us followed? Was this guy following us to conk us on the heads at the next stop and steal one of our bikes? Conspiracy theories abounded. Especially when he stayed with us through a freeway change to a lesser traveled thoroughfare. After the theorizing stopped we settled in for the camaraderie. There was only a small pang of disappointment that he didn't follow us down the off-ramp to relieve our 100 mile saddle soreness. It would have been nice to share stories over a soda. I guess that is just part of the romance of the open road.
|Ferocious little beast trying to steal my M&M's.|
By this time we realized that we had left lunch on the kitchen counter. We weren't thrilled with the prospect of going into town to get anything. So we decided to see if the convenience store at this gas station had anything deli-like to offer. Not much luck for anything that looked good, but we settled on a couple hot dogs and a box of wings. It was only another 30 miles of empty back roads to our first destination, Florence Marina State Park.
Ok, faithful friends. This is what middle Georgia looks like...
Ok...if you have looked at a map...that is actually Alabama over the waterway. But the view behind me is fairly similar. :)
We enjoyed the sounds of the birds, watching the squirrels and listening to the occasional boat on the water. We took some time for a couple photo ops of the bikes under the Spanish Moss. Since I wasn't willing to do the dirty deed of putting the bikes on
Providence Canyon is only 8 miles down the road. And we are treated with the splendid sight of two C-17's crossing our path; huge and cumbersome on the ground but so powerful and graceful in the air. Such a rare treat to see two in flight.
Arriving at Providence Canyon with full tummies on a warm and quiet day has us thinking of a nap. Why not take advantage of it? We find an empty parking lot and prop the bikes in the shade. Ourselves as well. Mr. Oilburner sets to sawing logs, but my mind is wandering. I take a few pictures of the world from ground level. I listen to the birds. I hear the people walking along the paths. The cars buzz by. And the I hear the first "Plane of Summer." The high and far off plane with that perfect drone marking SPRING for me. AAAAHHHH!!! Mixed feelings that winter is going away and summer will be here too soon. But right now is absolutely perfect.
It's nearing that time when we need to think of heading home. I stroll along the canyon rim path for a few shots while Mr. Oilburner folds the blanket. Honestly, how far can you hike in armored pants and riding boots? I didn't travel far.
We decided on a more direct route home instead of back tracking the way we came. Only more direct equals longer time as it will be along the back roads; a 4 hour tour compared to a 3 hour blur. I start seeing signs for other landmarks that were also on my hit list. But we are out of time for today. Until we pass a sign for Plains, GA and I asked Mr. Oilburner if he wants to see The Peanut, one of those ludicrous weird landmarks that we enjoy collecting. So we did. :)
The back roads home were gorgeous. We passed through smoky valleys filled with the aroma of burning wood. We floated through quiet neighborhoods where the smell of back yard barbecues wafted on the breeze. We passed through small towns where the sidewalks were being rolled up for the evening. We waved to families sitting on front porches watching the cars speed by. We exclaimed about hearing the Spring Peeper frogs in the swamp through our helmets and over the engine noise. Nearing the major metropolis the slow life dwindles and we jumped on the freeway to make some time getting home.
We parked our steads in the garage a little before 9PM. Luckily these steeds don't require feed and watering after their rub down. Our trusty steeds had carried us 410 miles (660 KM) in the last 9 hours. They received well deserved hugs and pets. Then we left them in a dark garage for a little slumber.
More pictures from the day can be viewed at Flickr.
And our track: