Sunday, April 29, 2012

Enjoying The Tours

We've actually been doing a fair bit of riding lately. They haven't been jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring,but they have been enjoyable. And we have found some interesting things along the road.

A couple weeks ago it was a trip to the east. No destination, so we headed towards some unknown roads to see where they would take us. It was a quiet, leisurely ride just choosing roads at random. As lunchtime neared and I came to an intersection I recognized, I knew Subway's was just down the way. Let's see if we could get some Subway's and see if we could find a park.

Ok, the park was out, but Elder Mill Covered Bridge was just down the road. I think the garden club might have a bench to sit on in their little gardens.

Missed out on that score too and wound up spreading our jackets on the gravel. Oilburner wanted to go sit on a rock in, or by, the water...

But I nixed that idea when I discovered all of the paths down were overgrown with poison ivy. I can't help it, with all of the poison ivy in this state, I am always singing the Coasters song of the same name throughout summer.

Much greener now than when we have ever visited here in the past. It was nice and overgrown. But definitely not a forgotten road by the locals. And I wouldn't have minded owning the house right above the river.

Heading home on yet more previously untraveled roads we spotted some insanely ornate structure surrounded by a fence. The slightly run down appearance had me thinking it was some old school. But I wanted a closer look. We found the main entrance to the "Church"...

This structure wasn't the church itself, but rather was originally built to be the pastors residence. When it was completed he said it was too large and ornate and became the "guest" house. This place was a marvel. I just couldn't get over all of the wrought iron, staircases, walkways...everything!

Some members came upon us as we were getting ready to leave. They offered to show us inside, which I readily accepted.

Wow! I was speechless. Thosed curved railings are a marvel. They had quite a few craftsman in the congregation. And the model house is actually of 'The Little White House', FDR's Georigia home in Warm Springs when he came to partake of the geothermal baths. The model is on loan from the state. Why? I don't know. And yes, there are lights behind all the white and red ceiling panels. ;)

Yesterday was another one of those days that didn't have any hope of coming up with a destination, so it was another thought to just hit the back roads. Oilburner didn't know where to go, and all I knew was that I wanted to leave the state. He was thinking Lake Hartwell on the border of South Carolina. And I thought I would rather enjoy it from the other side. (I was right. The SC side was more likely to follow the river and lake line. GA reserved that for the rich on their dead end streets, or the hill people they were never able to evict and their land would be a superfund site with all of the dead and rotting cars slowly sinking back into the ground.)

We hit the highway (the paved one) to get out of dodge and make tracks towards the border. Close to 40 miles up the road Oilburner's bike and my tummy both need fuel. Two birds, one stone when we stop for bike fuel and there is an attached cafe. Yes, the cafe was on the corner...

After filling everyone up we headed out to find our adventure. I took the GPS out and selected to just head towards a road that sat on the lake, crossed the state line, and wasn't an interstate. This was interesting. I enjoyed turning down a first never traveled road before. Enjoyed going through town, by the newer looking courthouse and along the back of the businesses on Main Street. I don't think we were missing much being on the "wrong" side. I think most of those businesses were empty.

However, I kept seeing a sign for "Traveler's Rest State Historic Site". And it just happened to be in the direction we were headed. So when the sign deviated from our path I had a decision to make. It was actually quite easy...

This place was AMAZING!! The Traveler's Rest was an Inn to service the travelers on the Unicoi Turnpike in the early 1800's. The initial portion of the inn was built in 1815. The size was doubled in 1835. And 85% of that wood is original. Wow!

Now these are rules that I can live by:

The hidden drawers where the owner kept his gold were a little more hidden before someone in the past put drawer pulls on them. Can you identify the hidden drawers?

One of 11 fireplaces in the Inn that are not safe for fires.

How do you make cranberry colored glass? Mix a little gold in during the manufacturing process, of course.

Interesting little bathtub, completely with curves for soaking comfort.

Handrail was carved from a single log.

The cradle was carved from a solid log of Black Cherry

Ghost in the mirror. But I'm more interested in the men's [top] hat box. Never seen one before.

No more than 5 to these beds? No problem!

It's the little things...I've never seen window locks like these. I want!

I uploaded tons of pictures of the Traveler's Rest to Flickr.

We hit the road again and took a wrong turn. Actually...didn't turn, and that was the problem. But the road meandered along the river and I hoped it would be a nice opportunity to cross over into South Carolina. Yeah, that wasn't in the cars, but we stopped to turn around at the old power plant.

So serene!!

The ride through South Carolina was peaceful. We were amazed at how low the water level was. The GPS said we were supposed to be over water. The long grasses convinced me there hadn't been water here for a season or two. We didn't stop for pictures. Wasn't much interesting to photograph, but the views will live in my mind.

The return trip home still held something in store for us. The long way home took us through the granite capital of Georgia...and again past the Guidestones. We were up for a quick stop.

Remember, it's not the's the journey. Hope you find some special places on your adventures.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Highway Fines

Unfortunately some people can't seem to be responsible and dispose of their waste in a reasonable and adult manner.

No. They have to take their crap to the nearest uninhabited, or merely unlit, road and quickly offload. Therefore I agree with trying to curtail activities like this along beautiful back roads.

But seriously...would you call this a highway??

Friday, April 20, 2012

Something New

A couple weeks ago Oilburner and I did something we have never done before.

One of the first perfect days, and it has to be a Monday. It wasn't difficult to make the decision to ride to work. We hadn't ridden during the weekend, opting to enjoy the weather to catch up on some much needed work around the house. Or just sitting on the patio, listening to the birds, soaking up some time and vitamin D. (Covered patio, not soaking up direct sun.)

Sitting at my desk and facing down the 2:30 blahs it seemed such a shame to just head back home again. I was wondering what could be done with the day? We both rode to work. We both went in early and were eligible to leave about 3:30. There had to be something better than just pointing the wheel towards home.

I pinged Oilburner about going out for an early dinner someplace and not snubbing our noses at this perfect afternoon. He was absolutely game.

I started daydreaming about the open air restaurant at the marina in the mountains. A thick burger with steak fries and a good seat on the water was sounding appealing. But a quick search online didn't give me any hope that 1) they were open for the season yet, or 2) if they were open, would be open when we arrived. It was a 90 minute ride up there.

Oilburner and I met up in the parking lot where I work, and we hit the road without a clear destination, I was willing to forgo the marina, but I still wanted pub food. So we thought about the marina at Lanier Islands. We had been there once a couple years ago and found the food good, and the patio over the water excellent.

It has been a long time since we have been to this area and I was navigating from memory. (Memory was all I had considering I left the GPS at home this morning, thinking I wouldn't need it just to ride to work.) I managed to recognize enough landmarks to be successful. Too bad the restaurant hadn't opened for the season yet.

The gatekeeper was a fountain of information and directed us to another pub a couple miles down the road. It was apparent that he was a regular there when the waitress was able to tell us his name when we mentioned how we had arrived here. Gotta love the small town atmosphere that we just don't get to experience in many places around here.

Big Creek Tavern
Patio with a slight breeze
Almost a water view
Fish sandwich. YUM.
Oilburner went for the ribs was a wonderful afternoon, finding a great, new pub and enjoying a wonderful riding day in a unique fashion.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mine. All Mine.

Ya know, it's a real dilemma trying to decide which bike to ride sometimes. The hazards of having multiple bikes. Of course, the GS is the new baby on the block and is like playing with a new toy. Of course you are going to be partial to the new toy. It just begs to be played with! But the R is the tried and true bike that has stuck with me through thick and thin, I've bonded with, I have a deep seated passion for.

So I face a real conundrum when deciding which bike for what adventure.

The R has the super large capacity side cases that hold the same volume. And I have the gargantuan top box purchased from insurance after Oilburners fatal bike wounding last year. I don't love that top box, but it is darned handy on a long trip. I usually only keep the camera backpack in it. Therefore when I stop someplace I grab it and can stuff my helmet and riding jacket in it. I don't have to lock anything special. I don't have to rearrange the side bags. Easy peasy.

I also appreciate the gas mileage at a steady 47 mpg when keeping near the speed limit. But the sport style leg positioning can get a little cramped on longer rides. Mind you, I wasn't bothered too much by the leg position until I had the GS to compare it to. I had always been able to stand, stretch my legs, or scootch to the back seat for a minute to alleviate pains.

The GS, on the or hand, has a "wider" stance for all around positioning. It feels extremely natural to sit up straight, the handle bars are wider, the pegs allow for a less cramped position. But those damn Vario side cases! The expanding feature is intriguing. (In case you aren't aware, these cases have a lever that allows you to expand the side lids out about two inches to increase volume.). Which is absolutely required to give any useful storage space for the muffler side. Collapsed, that case can barely hold a jacket. Truthfully, it isn't much better expanded.

With the engine still breaking in, the fuel mileage is variable. It has been consistent between 42-44 mpg. But lately has started to creep up to 46.

So that leaves the question of a long distance ride... For slabs, the GS is more comfortable but the storage is lacking. For slabs, the R gets better fuel mileage and great storage. For twisties? They are both hard to beat. I haven't yet figured out which one is more fun.

So I ventured to make my first big purchase for the GS in the form of a top box. I had bolted my old Pelican on to the rear rack, and I really like it. But it doesn't hold a candle to being able to stuff a helmet and jacket into it.

I just happened to be flipping through Beemer Boneyard looking for an RT rack that would hold the trusty top box and could be modified to fit onto the GS rack. No luck. But I did find the matching Vario top box for a ridiculously low price.

They described the only damage being to the aluminum top being scratched and dinged. But upon arrival, we also discovered a missing back edge cover. You can't win them all. The back edge cover doesn't affect functionality and I wasn't concerned about replacing it. But at a small cost of $15, I'll do it.

Oh yeah, there is the standard crack along the bottom hook and this is the older model when they discovered there needed to be a centering pin to prevent the box from separating itself from the bike at the slightest provocation. All things that can be fixed or retrofitted thanks to those pioneers on ADVRider.

The first, and most important, thing to tackle was the lock. Someone had kindly removed the lock and all I needed to do was purchase a replacement one and key it to my keys. I had always been interested in how those things are rekeyed, but hadn't the nerve to try my hand at it.

This was my time!!

For a measly $35 I acquired a new lock cylinder with many pretty little "followers" to key to my hearts content.

This is an example of incorrect keying where the "followers" are too "proud". They should be flush with the cylinder.

This is an example of proper keying. The last follower sticking up from the cylinder is the lock. It prevents the cylinder from being slipped out. That tab will catch being a plastic tab preventing it from moving.

If you look closely at the top of the cylinder you will see the tab.

Here is the cylinder installed in the handle, with the key in the "locked" position.

The mounting rack for the bike, the lock, the retrofit locking pin, the top box, and the rear edge and I'm still at less than half of the price of a new one. Of course, it isn't quite as large a capacity as the one on the R. And as Nikos has found out, it might have difficulty holding a regular sized helmet. But it does increase storage. We shall see if it will fit the bill.

On a side note...Oilburner and our friendly parts guy continued to harass me about the ding in the top aluminum piece. They both encouraged me to replace the part. My question, why does it have to be fixed? I'm fine with the damage. It isn't extensive, it doesn't affect usage, it is only cosmetic. I'm going to damage it in some way, shape or form. A sticker will even cover the entire issue. So why do I need to spend money unnecessarily on this. What are your thoughts?