Saturday, April 23, 2011

Western Corners - Part I

Hello Friends! Thank you for your patience (I will be asking for more after this post). I am still working through some major upheavals in my daily routine. I haven't slipped into a groove yet and it is throwing everything off! But I do have the start of the adventure written down and would love to share it if you would enjoy reading it. To commence:

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 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. :)


  1. Lori,

    Now that's what I call a sensationally good post!! That delicious anticipation of getting ready for the ride - almost a ritual in itself!

    What stunning photos too, simply breathtaking. You live in a gorgeous part of the world and trips like this are so good for the soul.

    BTW, I do use saddlebag liners - they're called 50 litre plastic heavy duty garden bags! Same principle as your classy ones except that I have Ventura soft luggage!

    Wonderful post - thanks so much.

  2. Great post Lori, so makes me want to visit. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your adventure.

  3. Beautiful pictures and great RR. I didn't even know about the canyon in Georgia. I have to visit Georgia again, last time I was there I visited Helen and loved it :-)

  4. 5 Corners...great idea! I didn't realize it until now but Utah has 6 corners! Your ABC thing is also cool! Looking forward to more.... :)

  5. lori:

    you didn't finish the part about the closed washrooms. If I had to go then I would be in deep trouble. you take such beautiful photos. From your photos you had great weather and encountered few people. You had the place to yourself.

    I have not yet mastered the art of travelling light. I like to lock my helmet in my topcase but there is no room for my jacket nor riding boots. I use a cable lock to secure my jacket but I leave my boots under the bike and hope no one steals them. I cannot walk far in boots so I change out into Sandals/crocs

    My bike looks like a ghetto clothes hanger

    I hope you had a great time and managed to relieve some stress and recharge your internal batteries.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Very nice blue skies in your photos. It looks like you got some great riding in. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Too bad you and Mr. Oilburner aren't making it to the rally in Bloomberg. We are visiting my wife's dad about an hour south then going up to the rally for a couple of days.

    I do have a set of Kathy's liners and I use them all the time. They make carrying stuff easy and maybe add a little more water resistance.

    Great post,

  7. Great post. Kudos to you for another solo adventure.

    The pictures are absolutely beautiful What a great state you live in.

    I agree with Ken the ABC city game sounds cool. Wonder if we have enough cities that start with different letters to give it a go in Oregon.

    Can't wait for the next installment.

  8. Saddlebag liners are good. I have the set made for my bike.

    Obviously, the fact that you are writing about the trip bodes well for your planning. Sounds like a good move. Plan the skeleton but leave room for surprise and wonder along the way.

    We take our helmets into restaurants so we fell less self conscious about walking in with our riding gear on, don't you know? The helmet provides a visual clue that we are riders, not random weirdos. Although that line can be a bit fuzzy at times.

  9. @Geoff: Thank You! It was a great ride and I am working on day two. So much to recollect. I didn't think much happened, but I sure do have lots to write about.

    I find it amusing that you think my corner of the world is gorgeous, coming from where you live. But I will take it. It has been great exploring and seeing so much. Now I just need to move to the 49 other states and do the same thing. :)

    I thought of plastic bags, but they rip easily on me...and definitely do not look like Gucci. LOL

    @Raftnn Thank You! We'll get you on that bike over here and ride your butt off! Of course, you won't know what to do with yourself when you can ride 70 MPH (113 KMP) in long stretches without turning. ;)

  10. @George: Come on down! I wish I could have given you a guided tour, but new job, no time off. I can offer maps and maybe a long weekend!

    @Ken: 5 corners and one inverted corner. LOL!! I think that would be great for Utah. Can you please go to the Golden Spike for me and take a picture sometime? One place I always wanted to go and didn't make it to while there. A

    And don't you have most of an A-Z cities already??

  11. @Bobskoot: Alas, the washroom wasn't an emergency. There was one up the way across from the nature center and it was open. I guess they leave it open since it is across from the picnic tables.

    Your ghetto clothes hanger routine sounds exactly like mine when I don't have that huge topcase. But I haven't yet gotten the gumption to leave the shoes under the bike.

    @RichardM: The skies were great! Thank you for noticing. I couldn't have asked for better weather.

    I'm excited that you are making it to the rally. I need to get on my game now that summer is here and find some Crocs (R) for someone from across the pond. Oilburner and I wonder if we can change the vacation days...

    We looked at the Kathy Liners. They are highly reviewed. But went with the Cee Baileys since there were offering a huge discount on veterans day.

  12. @Trobairitz: Thank you! Daunting and exciting. And pure exhilaration once you get 10 miles down the road and completely forget about the daunting aspect.

    I would love to see some ABC cities of yours. Some great ones in your state!

    @irondad: I had resisted liners for awhile, thinking the kayaking bags would be sufficient. But twining 7 of them through your fingers and climbing hotel room stairs was enough to convince me liners would be a better way to go.

    Yes, the trip went very well! Probably should have gone out longer. Next time!

    And we usually take our helmets into the restaurants with us as well. But it is so easy to stuff in an empty saddlebag. And the helmets will usually start up some interesting conversations depending on where you are, right? :)

  13. This gets me excited for my long trip this summer. Not sure where I'm going but there will be many good roads and parks to see.

    I'm glad you weren't too nervous to get out and explore. You obviously figured out your sleeping system. I just sleep wherever. Haven't had a completely life-changing experience at a hotel to this day, whether good or bad. These days I just try not to spend too much money.

    This totally depends on the ride, I'd have to say. Now that I've driven my Kawasaki I'd be more inclined to take my father-in-law's Goldwing out for a run. But considering my only bike experience was on sub-liter class machines, it seemed like too much (particularly weight) when compared to my little machines.

    I would agree, people worry a lot about wrecking machines. Be careful, know your limits. I would have reservations about jumping on an unrestored Vincent... but if they offer, consider saying yes.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life