This area of the state is under-developed. Not many farms or houses. Though they are here. No, this area is for tree harvesting pure and simple. The terrain isn't quite as hilly as the north, but there are still a few peaks that give you a view of the miles upon miles of trees.
I've heard that New Zealand does not have any poisonous spiders or snakes. I've also heard that 22 of the 21 species of poisonous snakes live in Georgia. (...think about it...) These thistles are not poisonous, but given the threatening appearance it should be.
I'm on some of the craziest back roads to reach the park; back alleys of a town of twenty houses, barely paved roads cutting between farm fields, some strange cross road in the middle of tall, thin pine trees and dense ground cover. Approaching the park from the direction I did is obviously more fun than the main roads. And I can't believe that I am in the park when I see a large swimming pool. But given the industrial design and purely functional lifeguard tower, I have to be.
I''m still not seeing anything I would associate with Indian Mounds. Until I encounter a mown field and look over my right shoulder. Temple Mount is towering over me.
I have definitely entered the park from the less traveled direction. The visitors center is the last thing before leaving the park. :) And I find it a little strange that there is only one car in the lot. Is the recession taking its toll?
For all intents, this place should be open, but it it looking a little desolate. So I decide to give it a peek. Low and behold they are open! And this is where my road weariness becomes evident. When the ranger asks me what she can help we with my basic response was "I don't know." When she asks what I want to do, I stammer "See the mounds, but I won't be doing much hiking in these boots." But otherwise I just don't know my options. She looks at me as if I am mildly retarded and kindly lists out a couple options:
- Pay the $5 park fee and wander outside to my hearts content
- Pay $4.28 to wander through the museum, watch a short video AND wander outside to my hearts content
hmmm...Air conditioning, watch a video, see a mount up close for less money? That's for me!
I pay my fee and we meet up again in the room with the excavated mount and video screen. It's a great room with seating set up in a stair fashion, and I have it all to myself. The lights go down, the video starts and my boots come off. My feet are burning up and I am hot. I had haphazardly pulled off my thermal shirt, but I was going to have to go to the restroom to remove my thermal pants. (Temperature/body cooling always seems fine while riding, but try walking in the heat with silk thermals and they will overheat you in seconds!)
I have never removed my boots for a refresh before. I always wait until the end of the riding day, seeming like too much work to get back into them. Boy is that WRONG!! I sat there leaning against the next riser and scooched by butt backwards a little. The seating/steps were so long that the platform that I was sitting on hit me about mid-calf. So i was sitting there like a little kid with my legs stuck straight out and just flipping my feet up and down. Just that little air flow produced a good windchill on my hot and sweaty feet. Sometimes my attention wandered from the video as I concentrated on the cool feeling of my feet. Pure bliss. As the video ends I hustle back into my boots. Hopefully the earthen smell of the Indian Mound masks my stinky boots. :)
Now that I have my history I am fee to wander the mound and museum. I'm not sure how I feel about a partially excavated mound being on display. Part of me wishes we would leave sacred places well enough alone. But another part of me understands mankind's curiosity and this allowed people to learn about another culture.
This mound happens to be the burial mound of a chief. The pit holding the ashes of the chief is 9 feet deep and the height of the mound is 11 feet. Please note that it is illegal ti display Native American remains. All skeletons are reproductions.
In building the museum they build a platform walkway over and around the excavated mount that really makes this a treat.
Temple Mound is 57 feet high (17.3m). And those 83 steps aren't terribly fun in motorcycle boots... :( But climb it I did for some great views.
Can you believe there is at least one place left in the US this is not bisected by cell phone antennae? I found it!
I was getting tired, but Bainbridge was only about an hour down the road. It is 5 PM by this time. Was I prepared for another hour on the road? Could I, in good conscience, call this my Southwest Corner? I don't have to head home tomorrow, but the thunderstorms and severe weather is predicted for Saturday. It would be nice to snuggle on a sofa instead of ride through thunderstorms.
I decide to head towards Bainbridge. Five miles down the road is a Day's Inn that appears clean, well kept and empty. The only vehicles are huge powerline utility trucks. I again ponder my moral "southwest" and pull into the lot. Still no cell coverage to call Oilburner and mull it over with him. If there isn't cell coverage now, there won't be any in 2 hours and that means no talking with Oilburner at all tonight. How am I gonna live without talking to sweetie?!?! No way. I'm going to Bainbridge. This way I also don't have any moral dilemmas :) Oilburner pointed out later that we could have Skyped. But I'm glad I didn't remember.
The ride into Bainbridge is easy. The hotel is nice. There are about 5 restaurants/fast food joints within walking distance. The hotel is directly behind a gas station for fuel in the morning. The Holiday Inn next door is newer, but here my bike is parked directly outside my room door. No such amenity next door. hehe
I go back and forth between reading a book, playing on the internet and watching Monster Quest on cable. (We don't have satellite or cable at home. We rely on rabbit ears. So it can be a treat seeing some interesting shows.)
I toss and turn most of the night. Not really sure what was on my mind, or if the bed isn't terribly comfortable. But I am ready to get on the road in the morning and see something new. I have the requisite fight with the air pump in the morning. This time I remembered to check air pressure before suiting up. And confirmed that it is the same two pounds low as it was yesterday. I planned ahead for that and was just going to air up at the gas station. The trouble?? I only have 3 of the required 4 quarters. And I'm not leaving all of my stuff in the back lot of this forsaken gas station to get the last one. I resort to unpacking one bag to get at the pump and just give it another go. I let it chug away for awhile and the on-board needle jumps from 34 to 44 in the blink of an eye. I've been siting here watching it and there wasn't any incremental increase, just this gigantic jump. But it is infinitely easier to let air out and all is well. Sweating and hot and grouchy, but well.
I believe I hit my groove yesterday at the mounds. Stress and worry had left me. I was good to stop and see some sights. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. My big decision for the route home was to take a more direct, back roads route or hit the slab. The back roads would be enjoyable but the slab led in the direction of the ONLY "Q" city in Georgia. And also near the current location of the Georgia tag. Hmm..."Q" wins. I don't know when I will be down this way again. (Yeah, I know precedence says I will be back within the month. LOL.)
The highway I am on, heading east, is one of the "updated" ones that is four lanes, divided. Makes it safer, but usually bypasses the interesting stuff, so you have to keep a sharp eye out.
I can't help but stop to collect a "C" city. I missed the town and should have circled back for a picture of the post office, but it's still cool.
Looks like I have found another "W" city. I love the old grocery story for Whitesville, but I prefer the police cruiser for Whigham. :)
Then I spied a strange historic site sign as I sped past it. Only to see another decrepit house over the edge of the road on the other side. Nothing unusual in itself, however, the rock monument and plaque is. I do turn around for this.
There isn't any information, just the plaque with the name of the place. The internet reveals a little history, but not much. And I'm no daring enough to take the bike down the rutted dirt road, but Google map view reveals that it might have been interesting. The Paul Hansell Bennet Wetlands Site was donated by said man to preserve the wetlands in this area that were partially destroyed by the building of the highway. I read that it is a good place to bird watch.
Back on the road and only three miles to "Q"! Yay! GPS says there isn't a post office, which can't be correct. But how do you navigate to someplace that software says doesn't exist? I stopped at the first spot that displayed "Q", but it isn't very attractive.
Another mile into town brings me to the city square with the courthouse...but no name.
Still, there is some great architecture here.
After Quitman it is ALL Super Highway to Atlanta. Boring but quick. I still have one more detour before heading that front tire directly home. There is the matter of this Georgia TAG sitting for the last two weeks down south. A small detour takes me to "E"nigma. The tag and another "E" city in one shot. Ephesus or Enigma. I can't decide between the two as they are both so cool!
Only two more things of interest occur on the way home. The winds are kicking up fiercely as the front starts moving through. Oilburner calls to tell me the wind is picking up in Atlanta, not knowing that I have already been fighting with them the last couple of hours.
And then comes the police... I'm only 90 minutes from home, but I absolutely have to stop for a stretch and get myself out of the saddle. (Reinforcing the term "saddle sore"!) The next off-ramp doesn't have any nearby amenities, so I just pull over on the on-ramp. This isn't generally a busy area. However, just across the way is the Argirama...an extremely busy area when an event is going on. I can see them gathering, but nothing too bad.
So I am standing on the side of the on-ramp and I happen to see a police car traveling down the frontage for the Agrirama. I don't think much of it until I hear a powerful engine revving up and I look up in time to see that the cruiser has turned around and is speeding up the frontage road to the entrance. My only guess is that he saw me and is coming to investigate. And I am correct. I feel it is in my best interest to remove my helmet now, hopefully to show him I am not a threat. When he takes all of 3 seconds to reach me from half a mile away I thank him for his prompt concern and attention and assure him that I am OK. All the while thinking in the back of my mind that my bike had better start when I get back on!!
All is well that end's well. Of course I have to deal with crazier drivers the closer to Atlanta I get. Knowing that I am getting tired and that it has been a long day I just take it easy. Home is good to see, but depressing at the same time. The adventure is over for another while.
The storms ripped through the state. Lots of rain, thunder and tornadoes. We were spared.
It's nice to be home. I am so excited about visiting my five little corners. Hmm...how about other states? :) Still find it humerous that Oilburner has only visited one. Hehehe. He has some catching up to do.
I can feel the pull of the open road leading me further astray for longer and more distant destinations. Oh when will I get to fulfill those dreams???
My total trip mileage was 851 miles for the three days.
The weather was perfect, except for the impending storms.
Things that I learned:
- Check tire pressure BEFORE getting all your gear on
- Pack the compressor where it is somewhat accessible
- Take your boots off and let your feet cool down regularly - does wonders for your outlook
- Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" sounds great on empty country lanes with a fog over the fields