I needed to spend some time clearing my heart and soul. What better way than on the bike. Unfortunately my last two weeks of stress prevented me from even thinking about the how, when or where. So the time crept up too quickly and I hadn't made any decisions.
I did know that my tires were not up to the task at all. I had ordered the Michelin Pilot Road 3's two weeks ago. But I hadn't been notified of their arrival. Since my shop isn't open on Sunday or Monday I was having a difficult time with the whole "wait" process. I contacted another shop that was open Monday to find out that the tires are still on back order everywhere. I wasn't going anywhere if I couldn't get new tires.
Tuesday morning rolls around. I contact my shop and after a couple misunderstandings they have a set of tires for me. And they actually were the Michelin's! Makes me happy since I don't have to make the decision of going for another set of the ones I have on. Or not going on my trip. It takes about 20 minutes to remove the rims from the bike and I hightail it to the shop for the swap.
Reinstall goes quickly. The bike is checked over and it appears as if it is ready. I really have some catching up to do!! I am no where near that state.
I still don't have a clear idea of where to go. The Blue Ridge Parkway is alluring. Nice, slow, relaxing ride with wonderful vistas. It even crosses my mind that I could meet Riepe and Stiffie since I won't be able to attend the BMWMOA rally in July.
A look at the weather shows that rain may be coming into the area on Friday and stay for the weekend. However, if I head south the rain chance still exists on Friday, but the weekend has a better chance of being clear.
But where do I go if I head south???
I guess I could finish my 5 corners trip. Yea. I would love to have done them all in one trip, but I don't really have to. That seems like too much time pushing it. Now, Georgia is shaped a little strangely and I personally feel it requires 5 points to say you have hit the "corners" of the state.
Mr. Oilburner and I had ridden to the Northeast one. There are some great roads around there. As well as the fun of the Eastern Continental Divide. And it was then that I realized that I had visited two other corners without Oilburner?!?! Two Thanksgivings ago I had gone to Savannah and St. Mary's. You know, when I chickened out of going to the Southwest corner? :)
I am excited to be going on a road trip. This will be my second solo, long distance, multi-day trip. I was planning on camping last time. So I am a little nervous this time around on how to get hotel rooms, as I will not be camping. I guess I will have to wing it. Should I stay in big or little cities? Should I stay at a large chain hotel or some little motel? What is safe it you don't know the town? So many questions and so little experience.
All of this has me dragging my feet a little in packing. Luckily Mr. Oilburner isn't feeling my butterflies because he is busily running around piling all my stuff together. While I am just lollygagging around collecting stuff.
Sidebar: Does anyone use saddlebag liners? We purchased the Cee Bailey liners awhile back at a great discount. I used them for the first time on this trip and LOVE THEM!! They made life so much easier taking just the liners into my room, not having to lug the hardcases. And if it fit in the liners, the liners would fit in the bags. Nice.
So all this time I am kinda sitting on the floor staring at my liners while Mr. Oilburner is fetching everything he thinks I will need and is piling it all around me. Damn. I am packing more stuff this time than I did when I had all of my camping gear! What is going on?
Then we begin discussing my top case. My little Pelican will hold only my camera and my little tool case. And if my saddlebags are full, that means I am carrying my jacket and helmet wherever I go, or will have to lock them to the bike. Mr. Oilburner offers his massively humongous 49L top case to the adventure. Surprisingly I accept. I figure that the only thing I really intend on carrying it it is the camera. There won't be much weight in it to mess up the bikes center of gravity. And it would give me lots of space to snug my helmet and jacket away if I want to go someplace.
Yeah. It is quite huge, but really does come in handy.
Sorry Geoff...this was somehow deleted with the first rendition:
Geoff: Even after 850 miles I can't yet give an impression of the tires. I was experiencing some strange "skipping" and "wandering". And right now I can't be sure if it is a tire issue or a buffeting issue with that top box. I will let y know what I think of the tires when I can ride it again without the box.
Wednesday dawns with perfect blue skies clear of clouds. It's a brisk and unexpected 46F (8C). Oilburner gears up in his Gerbing's heated gear and I put on my armored pants when we gas up. I'm still on the fence with direction of travel. Figuring that I will ride to the two west side corners, I follow Oilburner part way to work towards downtown Atlanta. Lucky me, I peel off towards I-75N just as traffic starts backing up (normal rush hour traffic). I am forced to leave the carpool lane and delve into merging, and watch longingly as Oilburner remains and quickly pulls away from me. Crackling headsets and staticy "Love You's" and "Have Fun" punctuate our parting.
I head north with a little trepidation and a lot of excitement. A freeway clear of cars allows me to run at regular speed and the upper body is getting chilly. I soon stop to put on my sweater and warm up. An hour on the road and hunger starts creeping in. I finally spot an IHOP at the next exit. Been looking for that for quite a few miles. :) (Don't ask me why the helmet isn't in the top box. I really couldn't tell you...)
Breakfast is a standard two eggs, two bacon, 2 pancakes. It is small enough, but proves too much for the zipper on my armored pants. I continue on down the road, but just don't like the feel of the open armor. It's easier just to pull them off. Its warmed up by now and I am exiting the freeway soon. I won't have to worry about high wind chill.
My first corner will be the northwest one. I originally intend on chickening out of really getting deep into the corner and visiting Cloudland Canyon State Park. Tales of climbing and twisty roads, no guardrails and gravel has me nervous. But dammit! Get over it and live a little! So I head up the canyon roads. Turns out the back door roads up to the rim are very easy. There aren't any overlooks, so no view pictures from the back roads. But I think the images from Cloudland Canyon itself will suffice. :)
I'm trying to slip into the spirit of the adventure and actually make a u-turn to snap an image outside of the Villanow general store. I think I will start collecting my A-Z cities of Georgia. "V" starts my list.
I believe it is being renovated. (Duh Cupcake!! Was it the scaffolding that gave it away?) I heard some hammering inside, and probably would have been welcomed, but I decided not to enter.
I headed in the correct direction again and pulled over within 1/2 a mile to take these:
The colors are so vibrant! Though I am depressed to realize again that power lines permeate our society. It is difficult to take an image now-a-days in which they aren't present. Oh well, continue on with my adventure... A few more miles has me paying my $5 park entrance fee. I still find it humorous to wonder just where we are supposed to put those little yellow parking tags on our bikes. I mention this jokingly to the attendant and she nicely lets me know that the rangers that would check are not in today. And if I do get a ticket, just leave it with her when I leave. How very nice. for now, without any open bags I just stuff the maps, pamphlets and pass down my jacket. Hope it doesn't slip out!
I ride through all of the congested parking areas and wade through the throngs of people. OK. Fine. There are all of three cars parked. I veer towards the restrooms...to discover the "outlying" ones are closed during the off-season to conserve water.
The top box immediately pays off by being able to shrug the jacket off and stuff everything into it. And the bike looks so clean without stuff draped all over it. I'm still hiking in my motorcycle boots, but I will have to figure that out another day. Hey Bobskoot! Would you take off the boots and slip into the crocs? Where do you stash the boots?
For some reason (blond) I don't even glance at the park map and I just hit the path. The bright green leaves catch my eye:
So it won't come as a shock to any of you that I didn't have a clue what to do when presented with a fork in the path since I hadn't looked at the map, nor even thought to bring it along with me. Sure, what the heck. I will take this "path" down some rocks that seems official only because there isn't a barrier preventing me from going.
And I was rewarded with a great view.
I continued back up the path to the Nature Center...which was closed...
I made my way to another viewing area to see more waterfalls. A little difficult through all of this greenery! LOL I also noticed some people across the canyon at another viewing area. Unfortunately "out of sight, out of mind" really applied in this case and I forgot to get over there. What is our motto? "Gotta save something for next time." :)
Time to hit the road and figure out where I am going.
I had previously looked at the map and noticed little Hwy 100 closely followed the border south. So plan one was to find 100. I decided my first opportunity to head south in search was this Hwy 157 that I was coming up on. Cool. It took me a couple miles of riding down a curving, manicured path with a large swath of mown grass edging to trees to realize that I was on a plateau. I finally noticed some houses on the left with a spectacular view of sky and valley far below. The one area appearing to have an overlook was stuffed to capacity with one senior citizen bus and a mini-van. And I'm have too much fun to stop.
Teaser for next installment:
You can scroll through the images here if you haven't watched the video yet. :)