Last month I took a few days off work to ride from here in northern Virginia to south Georgia and the home of my wife's grandfather in Thomasville. I gave myself two days to travel down there, two days to visit, and two days to get back home. Not enough time, really, but it's all I had.
On a Thursday morning I started out, taking to the slab for a few hours to put some distance between me and home and to buy some time for more interesting roads later in the day. Things didn't work out as initially planned (too much traffic) but I made it as far as Little Switzerland, NC.
Friday morning dawned . . .
. . . with a brisk 38-degree temperature and clear skies. My hotel was located on the wonderful Rt. 226A so the ride away in the morning was instantly entertaining. I can't think of a better way to start the day.
I worked my way south to I-40, which I soon traded for Hwy. 9 and a little later Hwy. 64. Good fun, both, if a bit heavy on the traffic (at least when I went through ). Soon I was in Highlands, NC, where I turned south on Rt. 106 and dropped down into Georgia.
Rt. 106 in NC, just north of the Georgia border.
After playing around in the north Georgia mountains for a couple hours I hopped on 400 and headed south for Atlanta and points beyond, successfully enduring heavy rain and Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic to reach Thomasville by 9pm.
I spent the weekend with Papa, taking in some live music in Live Oak, FL, watching football and MotoGP on the tube, practicing my .22 rifle skills in the yard, and making easy conversation under the magnolias and pines.
Monday morning came around and I was back on the road, greeting the dawn over the land of cotton.
Something about pecan tree groves hits me where I live. The ordered planting rows, scraggly, disordered branches, and the green canopies . . . I like 'em.
A path through the pines.
By lunchtime I was in Athens, GA, home of my alma mater, the University of Georgia. Good to see the place again. By late Monday afternoon I was on the superb Hwy. 60, heading north from Suches, GA, and closing in on TN Hwy. 68 and Tellico Plains, TN. A fellow rider back in Suches had recommended I ride the Cherohala Skyway, something I had not done. A quick conversation with a store owner in Tellico Plains had me riding a mile further down the road to a woman with an available log cabin. I handed over the cash, unpacked the bike, spoke to my wonderfully understanding wife on the phone, and walked down to the corner store for a sandwich and beer, watching reverently as the sun disappeared over the mountain.
I was up early Friday morning and immediately headed for the Cherohala.
The next 50 miles featured one sweeper after another, fantastic vistas, not a single car or truck ahead, and the ocassional glance in the mirror revealed only dry leaves swirling in our wake.
A typical Cherohala corner
The Cherohala carried us over the mountain to Robbinsville, NC, and Hwy. 129, which we followed north to Deal's Gap and the infamous Dragon. I prefer the open sweepers of the Cherohala or Hwy. 60 north of Suches, but those 11 miles and 318 corners still provide a fairly pleasant way to spend a few minutes.
From there it was a short ride north to Knoxville and the slab. 450 miles later I was home. 4 days of riding, 4 states, and a little over 2,000 miles. In truth, the trip was much too hurried and I didn't have nearly enough time to do and see everything I wanted. Next time.