Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt

Here is another route from the local magazine called Motorcycle Lifestyle, published by Norm Blore around 2007 through 2009. It had lots of good articles about riding and related topics.

This one is called A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt because it could be completed in that amount of time if you don't stop too often and if you move right along. 

This route appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of the magazine.  Mr Blore described the route as follows:

Route length: 82 mile loop
Begin at the closest point to your location and ride clockwise or counterclockwise.  It feels entirely different in the opposite direction so you'll get two rides out of one route.  Watch for the lighthouse. 
Here's a fun route close to home.  It combines all kinds of interesting and picturesque roads which will bring a satisfying smile to both cruiser and sportbike rider alike.  You'll see more cows and horses than cars, and hundreds of goats.  

These are quiet country roads with farms and lots of driveways.  Please respect their space and keep your speed down. 
Here is the map of this route:

Copyright 2008, Norm Blore.

I start out from my town of Easley, SC and ride to the town Pickens, on SC-8.  I follow 8 northward to and beyond SC-186.  (See that intersection on the map.)  I follow 8 until just before reaching the crossroads at Pumpkintown.  Where SC-8 and SC-135 join is a place that once was a pleasant rest point.  It is called Edens Garden after the family that owns this little corner, some surrounding land, a house, and buildings.  There has not been much maintenance done in the last few years, likely because the old gentleman who owned it passed away.  It is a shame, certainly, because it was a restful place to slurp down a root beer or some snacks you'd brought along.

I stopped there, and rested a while, back in 2012.  The little private park was well maintained at the time.  Some years before those photos were taken, this was just a country road intersection, that people had dumped their garbage on.  Mr. Edens had turned it into a shady place to unwind.

See these pictures from back then: 


The view of the Blue Ridge Escarpment from the park is nice, too.

Edens Garden has gone downhill since then, unfortunately.  Look:

A shame, indeed. 

I mount up again, travel a little further on 135, and turn left onto Oolenoy Church Road, then jog a little at SC-288 onto Liberia Road.  This is a place where Africans settled many years ago.  There is a church along here that is called Soapstone Church for the outcropping of that soft type of stone adjacent to the building.  They maintain a church and former school building here, with a cemetery nearby.  The congregation also serves meals once a month to help fund the maintenance of the buildings. 

View of the Blue Ridge Escarpment behind the church sign.

The former school building.
The soapstone outcropping. 
Up-close view of the soapstone with the Blue Ridge Escarpment behind.
We live in a beautiful place, as evidenced by the fine views of the mountains. 

I take a detour from the map to cut over to US-276 and take this section of twisty road about seven miles to Caesars Head State Park.  Watch out, as there are some rough sections of pavement.  I stop there to take in the view, just a few steps from the parking lot.  I have been here many times before, so I only take one shot of the overlook and Table Rock Reservoir just this side of Table Rock Mountain.

I go back down the hill the same way I came, then go down Blythe Shoals Road to get back to the map route.  Blythe Shoals is a narrow road that runs along a series of shoals -- shallow, rocky sections -- of the South Saluda River.  Unfortunately, there is almost no place to stop and the shoals are privately owned, so there is no access.  I did manage to get this photograph.

I then cut over to Moody Bridge Road.  This is the road that passes Tall Pine Lake with the lighthouse in the middle of it.  You can see it in this aerial view, and from the roadside: 

There is a pulloff on the side of the road to park in.  The lighthouse is a picturesque and interesting sight that is quite unexpected amongst the many of the other points of interest in this area.

I cut across SC-11/US-276 to River Falls Road.   This road is fairly narrow and a little bit twisty in a few places with no warning signs.  I explored most of the roads near here in this posting.  Jones Gap State Park is also in this vicinity.  There are some good hiking trails there.

I turn to the right at Devil's Fork Road.  By the way, if you look at any of the map websites, you will see Tankersley Lake at this intersection.  Unfortunately the lake was drained several years ago and is grown up in small trees and underbrush now.  

I continue on to Gap Creek Road, where there are a number of summer youth camps.  There is also a gravel road named Watson Mountain Road.

The map shows that it runs into Awanita Camp, but the road sign warns that there is no place to turn around, and I don't think it connects any longer to the camp itself, which is accessed a little further north.  Some day I will explore further. 

At the end of Gap Creek Road, you turn north on US-25.  Be careful here, as 25 is four lane, divided by a concrete barrier that partially blocks the view, and the traffic is usually moving right along.  At the next interchange, take Bob's Creek Road, then turn right on Old US-25.

This section of road is very rough, but runs though a nice forested area that is part of the Greenville (SC) watershed for the municipal water system.  There are signs along here to warn that stopping is not allowed.  The water people are concerned that someone will dump something into the watershed, contaminating the water, I believe. 

I only stopped for a minute.  I promise, I did. 

Shortly beyond this sign, there is a turnoff to the left that goes to Saluda North Carolina.  The road is nice, though rough, and the town of Saluda is a good place to have lunch.  It is also very close to the twistiest road I know of, the steepest railroad grade in the United States, an interesting bridge/tunnel, and a pretty little park with a waterfall called Pearson's Falls.   I don't go that way today, however. 

Near the bottom of the grade on US-25, I turn sharply left onto Callahan Mountain Road.  I follow it for a little way to Poinsett Bridge, the oldest remaining stone bridge in South Carolina.  Just a little way up the road is Boy Scout Camp Old Indian. If you like bridges, Campbell's Covered Bridge is only a few miles from here. 

I continue following the map until I reach my starting point.  I have gone 131 miles, so that is about 49 miles further than the route.  Getting to the start of the route and detouring to Caesars Head made the difference. 

I didn't see any goats, but there were a few cows and horses along the way.  It was a nice time out to see the sights.  Try it for yourself when you can get away for a couple of hours.

Other maps from Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine:
  • The Pumpkintown Loop: Get Lost! -- Early Spring 2009 issue.  Explores "great roads you've never ridden", centered on the crossroads known as Pumpkintown.  56 miles. 
  • Lake Country -- Fall 2008 issue.  Explores two of the lakes in Upstate South Carolina, Keowee and northern Hartwell.  120 miles. 
  • A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt -- Spring 2008 issue.  Covers and area centered on Tigerville, SC.  82 miles. 
  • Spartanburg, Saluda, Rutherfordton Route -- Summer 2008 issue.  This route goes into North Carolina, and includes the twistiest road I know of.  98 miles. 


Monday, April 30, 2018

Odd Sights I've Seen

As I was riding by some local businesses on the main bypass for our little town, I spotted one of those advertising signs where you can change the letters to spell out whatever you wish.  You know the ones; they usually have irregular spacing between the letters, and some of the letters are sitting crooked, and occasionally the letters are of various colors. 

Well, what caught my eye was the following message:


Now that is something every tree-hugging, advocate of living healthy would go for, I think.  Perhaps this is a new way to purge the body of all those toxins that they say build up in there.  

Well, I squeezed the lever and pressed the pedal for the binders and down shifted as I entered the parking lot of the establishment to see what this is about. 


What I saw was not some healthy-living store, but an auto salvage yard.  It says this is Monty’s Used Auto Parts, according to the sign on the building or Monty’s Auto Parts, Service, Auto Sales, as it says above the sign advertising the healthy oil change out in front. 

See for yourself:

Obviously I have been mistaken about something here. 

I motored up to the building, shut down the mill, and dismounted.  I shucked off my gloves, extracted my noggin’ from the helmet, plucked out my ear plugs, and went in the front door.  I noted that the outside of the building seemed to be pretty well kept considering that this is not the cleanest or most orderly type of business there is. 

There were two guys behind the counter, a young man and an older one.  The young man greeted me and asked if he could help me.  I told him I was Bucky and asked him who thought up the sign out front.  He admitted, a bit sheepishly, that it was he who had done so. 

He hastened to say that there really is no such thing as oil with or without gluten in it, and no, it is not some new medical treatment. 

Well, now we had those things out of the way. 

The inside of the building was similarly surprisingly neat.  I have seen some places like this where you have to rise onto your toes to talk with the man behind the counter because of all the stuff piled there. Not so here.  There were a few parts on the counter, but not many. 

The young man took a customer, so I addressed myself to the older man. 

Monty Smith, Jr.
It turns out that he is the owner, one Monty Smith, Jr.  His father ‑‑ Monty Smith ‑‑ opened the doors of the business around 1964, and it has been in the family ever since then.  The young man I had been talking to at first is Mr. Smith’s grandson Monty Preston Smith.  He goes by Preston.  The elder Mr. Smith’s son Monty E. Smith is also part of the business, but I didn’t meet him today. 

Quite a good name for their business, I observe: Monty’s. 

Now stop and think for a minute.  Here I am, riding in on a motorcycle, and dressed like it, asking all these questions out of the blue about their business.  I think I noted a slight look of curiosity about this situation in their eyes and I heard it in their voices. 

After we chewed the fat a little, and I had explained a bit more about me and why I am out riding around looking at scenery and things like their shop, they seemed to settle into a comfort zone.  Both of the men were very polite and patiently answered my prying questions.  

Preston and Monty Smith, Jr.
Monty, Jr. made it a point to say that this is, indeed, a family business, as I had noted by the two men before me today.  They try to give better service than their competitors, and those competitors can be around the corner or on the other side of the continent these days.  He also stressed that if a lady walks in, she is treated with the respect due her as a woman. 

I imagine there are lots of places like this where that might not be so much the case. 

Mr. Smith, Jr. also said that his is a tough business to be in not only because of that competition, but because finding good people who can identify parts correctly and properly remove them from a vehicle without damaging other components is difficult nowadays. 

They mostly buy cars at online auctions now, not seeing them in person until they arrive on a truck.  That means that they never really know what they are getting until it shows up.  It also means that there are thousands of possible bidders in competition with them.  He said that there was a day when they only handled U.S.-built cars, but they long ago realized that they must cover imports as well.  And so they do.  Nothing in the BMW, Mercedes or higher range, though. 

They have a tiny foreign car up on a rack outside, also to attract attention.  It is a Honda 600 sedan from the early 1970s.  It is in bad shape, but I expect that it does attract the eyes of passersby. 

Here and here are some links about this model vehicle.
Mr. Smith, Jr. also said that the Great Recession cut their sales for salvage parts about in half.  It was at that time that they decided to add a couple of mechanics to do service.  Thus, among other things, the need for that oil change sign out front. 

I’m afraid I don’t need an oil change today, since I recently did one on the bike.  They don’t work on motorcycles anyway. 

They say that they are making a real effort to be community friendly by donating 10% of their net profit to charitable organizations.  Not many businesses do that, certainly. Admirable. 

Now that I have met these fellows, I think I would consider them if I needed something for my cars in the future. 

Meanwhile, here is their contact information if you need to do some shopping:

4104 Calhoun Memorial Highway
Easley, SC 29640
864-269-3461 or 800-822-9003

Well, that sign was certainly an odd sight that attracted my attention, but now we know the story behind it.  Sounds like a nice family of conscientious people. 

Look for other odd sights I’ve seen by clicking on the "odd sights" link in the left column of this page. 

Hmmm.  I wonder what young Preston will put up on the sign next.  I’ll certainly be watching.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Lake Country Route

You may recall that I previously posted a ride route from a defunct local magazine, Motorcycle Lifestyle, published around 2007 through 2009.  The magazine featured motorcycles and motorcycle-related events, accessories, news, and other information. 

You may also know that there are several large man-made lakes not far from Easley, SC where I live, and there are many roads that circle them, and even run right into them.  The reasons for the latter are that the roads that were there before they formed the lakes are still there, but now end in the water instead of continuing on through as they used to.  There are also lots of houses that have sprung up around the lakes, some old, but many new and high dollar -- way beyond my means, I'm afraid.

So, here is a route that circles some of the lakes, from the Fall, 2008 issue of Motorcycle Lifestyle

The explanation of the route from the map:

Looping Lake Keowee and Northern Lake Hartwell.
120 miles of two-laned country fun, with nine lake crossings and dozens of lake views.  There are plenty of places to stop for photos and to regroup.  And a surprising number of gas stations in unexpected places.  Watch for slow-moving vehicles with boat trailers.  And you're likely to see possums and raccoons in the road (flat, of course).  It's all paved but you might encounter a spot or two of sand.  Be careful.

There are several bonus roads around lake Jocassee.  Take a chance and discover some on your own.  You'll hit a few dead ends, but that's part of the adventure.  Visit Devil's Fork State Park, Whitewater Falls, and more.  Google the area before you go.  Zoom in really tight and click between map, satellite, and terrain.  It's very revealing.  Enjoy the best the Upstate has to offer.

I decided to take the route of mostly sweepers on a 50 degree, windy, late winter day recently.  The roads were clean and the ride enjoyable.  Come along for the ride and the scenery.

Now here's the map.

Copyright 2008, Norm Blore.

March 8, 2018

When I start out, I'm glad I have my heated grips and Hippo Hands on yet. The temperature and the gusty winds blow away a man's body heat with ease.  The sky is beautiful, though, so that makes up for the chilly, windy conditions. 

I choose to ride the route in a clockwise direction starting at Clemson, the nearest point to my house. 
I turn south on SC-28/SC-76, then turn to the right onto SC-187.  There is lots of traffic around here, probably because of the nearby school, Clemson University, and a fair amout of industry and other businesses.  It is especially busy around Clemson and the lakes on weekends and on Clemson game days. 

I cross I-85, then turn right onto SC-24. 

The first lake crossing, an arm of Lake Hartwell, occurs on SC-24, and is the widest water crossing on the route.  There is a historical marker on the west side of the crossing for Portman Shoals, the location of the first hydroelectric plant in the area. 

The power plant was over there beyond the bike. 

Here is a circa. 1920 picture postcard of the dam and power plant, from the Historical Marker Database

Portman Shoals Power Plant, Seneca River
That postcard looks to be highly edited -- by hand, back then. 

The description on the back of the postcard: W.C. Whitner conceived the idea of the long distance transmission of electric power in 1894. The Portman Shoals Power Plant, on what was then the Seneca River, was built by the Anderson Light and Power Company.  Construction began in 1896.  It used Stanley Electric Company's 11,000-volt generators.  The Portman Dam, swept away in December of 1901, was rebuilt and returned to service in September 1902.  The plant caused [the nearby town of] Anderson to be called the "Electric City."

All along the route today, there are many boat ramps that usually have good views of the water, like this one.  Watch for the signs that call out access to the lakes. 

Those are not aliens landing in the upper left of the photograph.

And there are an ample number of places with picnic tables to sit and take in the view or to have a snack. Here are two: Search for Friendship Recreation Area and Oconee Point Park and Campground at the end of S. Friendship Road along and off of SC-65. 

Next, watch for J.P. Stevens Road, named after a textile manufacturer that was once prominent in the area.  At the intersection of J.P. Stevens and Cherry Road (near 191 W Cherry Rd, Seneca, SC 29678), is something interesting I stumble upon: An extensive new housing project for Clemson University students.  It is called, variously The Pier, Pointe West, and Highpointe.  It is located on the site of the former textile plant, and is considered a brownfield project.  That means that there was once an industry there, and the ground is probably contaminated, but remediation has allowed it to be used for certain new purposes.   In this case, a student housing development. 

The development consists of tiny houses, larger houses, and still larger houses.  There is a clubhouse, athletic fields, and walking trails.  Oh, and a bar and grill.  Naturally college students couldn't be without their booze.  Some of the houses are on the waterfront -- pretty posh for student housing, I'd say.   It looks as though they are going to build many more.  This place is about 4 miles from the campus, so I suppose it is convenient.  I expect that they run buses from here to campus to reduce road congestion. 

No aliens landing here either.

I continue on into the town of Seneca.  I ramble around the downtown section for a while, and spot what must be a couple of the buses that service the Clemson/Seneca area.  (I searched a little bit when I got home, and found that all nearby routes are serviced by catbus, a reference to the Clemson Tiger teams, and Clemson Area Transit.) 

I note that "Everyone Rides Free!  Clemson Area Transit (CAT) is a public service provided fare-free through federal, state, and local partnerships. Just board the bus, take a seat, and enjoy the ride." 

That means that you as a taxpayer are paying the fares for all these people to ride free. 

In Seneca, I spot an unusual pod hanging above a bus stop. 

See that thing on the left?  That's what I talking about. 

After I circle the downtown area a bit, it becomes obvious what that is used for.  It is a charging station for the battery-electric buses used on some of the routes.

The bus connects with the overhead pod and gets a partial charge from the electrical mains.  I sidle up to the curb and wait to see how long the bus stays there charging.

I wait, and I wait, and I wait some more. 

I finally get bored and leave. 

It turns out that the buses are manufactured by Proterra of Greenville, SC, and are battery powered, which means that they must be periodically recharged.  I note that the side of the buses proudly display that they are "ZERO EMISSIONS".  That is bologna, of course.  They have to get their power from somewhere, and that somewhere is a power plant that is burning coal, oil, or natural gas, using nuclear fission, or hydroelectric generation to make electrical power.  We have all of these in the surrounding area, and the leftist tree huggers don't like any of them.  I suppose if those power plants are out of their sight, and they don't have to think about it too much, it is OK with them that they are riding a bus that is really not zero emission at all, and, further, that they are riding at the taxpayers' expense.  By the way, the electric bus manufacturer is also subsidized by you the taxpayer. Read on. 

Here is a news story about Proterra's bus pricing and payback.  A quote from the article:  "...electric buses cost more up front — about $700,000 (not including charging infrastructure), compared with about $450,000 for a typical diesel or natural gas bus. But, according to Proterra, agencies win in the long run because the lifetime operation and maintenance of electric buses is more than $400,000 less."  Because there is such an interest on spending taxpayers' money for "green" transit, I suspect the calculations leave out some key factors and make some dubious assumptions that are not real world. 

Here is a fact:  The Oconee Nuclear Station power plant here in the upstate of South Carolina provides a large percentage of the power consumed in the area.  It is the longest-operating nuclear station in the United States, and has produced more power than any other in the nation.  In fact there are six nuclear plants in South Carolina.  Outside of hydroelectic plants, the nuclear plants provide the cleanest power. 

At any rate, the likely smug students riding on other people's backs probably believe they are having no impact on the environment when they take these buses.  Oh, and lest they think that windmills, and photoelectric systems simply need to be expanded to make more clean power, they should also know that such installations are expensive to build and will forever generate only a tiny fraction of our power needs.

The Federal Transit Administration published a list of Low-No [low-emission, no-emission] Grants during 2017 alone.  The Greenville South Carolina Transit Authority received $1,450,000 of the total of  $54,992,016 of your tax dollars.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather these projects stand on their own payback calculations instead of skewing it by giving away my money to make the payback look better. 

OK.  End of rant.  Back to the ride. 

I continue my journey on the route today, and find Nimmons Bridge Road (State Highway S37-128).  I spot a historical marker for Keowee Town at the intersection of Nimmons Bridge and Keowee Town Landing Road (State Highway S 37-98).

From the historical marker inscription:  "Keowee Town, which means 'mulberry grove place,' was the largest and most important of the Cherokee 'Lower Towns' in what is now S.C....  Keowee was also a major town on the main trading path between the British and the Cherokees....  The town and fort sites were covered by Lake Keowee (one of the lakes we have been circling today) in 1971." 

When I reach SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, I deviate from the map a bit.  I can't help myself. 

I turn south on 11 and go a little ways to SC-130 (in the very northwest corner of the map), where I turn to the north.  Whitewater Falls, located on one of my favorite routes, lies just about ten miles from here on a road that is mostly well maintained, usually clean of debris, and filled with sweeping curves. You can read more postings about it by clicking the "Whitewater Falls" link along the left side of the page. 

I circle the parking lot,

stop for a few minutes to eat a snack and drink some water, then turn back to the south to rejoin the intended route.  I love riding this road. 

I also find that I have again forgotten to turn off the GoPro while I am parked at the falls and get to watch myself pacing around on camera. 

Next, and heading back toward my starting point today, are SC-133, then SC-130 again (but a different section than before). 

The little mill town of Newry is along here. Watch for the sign that points to Newry, otherwise you can easily miss it.  The textile mill here is long closed, but there are still many houses near it. I have been here before as well, and written a few postings about it.  I enjoy revisiting some of the places I have ridden through before, like this one.  It hasn't changed much. Oh, there is also a twisty gravel road that leads in and out of Newry.  Look it up in the blog posting. It is good enough for almost any street bike. 

Just a little further south on 130, I reach SC-123.  This is a too-busy four-lane road that bypasses downtown Seneca and Clemson.  It is a quick way to get back to Easley, though. 

I have traveled 169.9 miles today, so that means I added about 50 miles to the map by intentional detours, getting to and from the starting/ending point, and accidental mistakes.  The roads were good, the scenery pretty (and will be much prettier as spring develops and the flowers appear). 

Go enjoy yourself on this watery route! 

Other maps from Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine:
  • The Pumpkintown Loop: Get Lost! -- Early Spring 2009 issue.  Explores "great roads you've never ridden", centered on the crossroads known as Pumpkintown.  56 miles. 
  • Lake Country -- Fall 2008 issue.  Explores two of the lakes in Upstate South Carolina, Keowee and northern Hartwell.  120 miles. 
  • A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt -- Spring 2008 issue.  Covers and area centered on Tigerville, SC.  82 miles. 
  • Spartanburg, Saluda, Rutherfordton Route -- Summer 2008 issue.  This route goes into North Carolina, and includes the twistiest road I know of.  98 miles. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Constitutional Right, Plainly Stated

I recently heard something about the mayor of Greensboro, NC, Nancy Vaughn.

Ms. Vaughn says she recently had a conversation with her daughter, a high school student, about the Florida school shooting.

Now that is a topic of discussion in many families nowadays, unfortunately, because mentally deranged people go into places like schools where the occupants are defenseless, and open fire on them.

Ms. Vaughn's discussion was certainly an opportunity to explain to her daughter, who at her age, is formulating her views of the world, why these shooting are happening with alarming frequency, and what would be effective in preventing them. 

Unfortunately, instead of using logic, she took the shallow-thinker route and announced that she and the entire Greensboro City Council are in support of canceling a gun show scheduled for August 25th and 26th at the Greensboro Coliseum.  

That is what her daughter, with her limited understanding of the world, would probably believe to be an easy way to prevent such crimes -- ban the sale of firearms.  Her daughter would also likely believe that this effort should begin right there in Greensboro in late August at that gun show.

Her daughter would certainly feel good about that move -- that she had done something

But would it have any real effect on preventing that type of crime? 

Listen to what this Greensboro resident has to say:

His name is Mark Robinson.  He does not own a gun. He understands the United States Constitution clearly, especially its second amendment. 

I agree with his points in their entirety.

Ms. Vaughn, should stop listening to her child, and instead, use actual logic, not feelings, to put forth real-world solutions to major problems.

It is plain as day -- and should be to Ms. Vaughn -- that leftists like her, apparently, want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, resulting in our having only those with criminal intent or those who are deranged to posses weapons.  They are certainly not going to turn in their weapons no matter what the laws say. 

Those defenseless school children in Florida were less well protected than the money in a Brinks truck or the jewels in a fine jewelry store because there is a sign on the door like this one:

Those children are sitting ducks for violence against them. 

By the way, the proposal by the Greensboro City Council is a regulation of the sale and purchase of firearms and components by an action of a municipality and, as such, is a direct violation of North Carolina law. 

Now read about a town in Georgia -- one of six nationwide -- that requires households to own a firearm.

I would think twice -- no at least three times -- about going there to shoot up a school or commit some other crime.

That is a good way to stop school shootings, and, indeed, almost all other kinds of crime. 

Oh, and reopening mental institutions to treat those with troubles like that instead of "mainstreaming" them into society is another facet of an effective solution.  

Nevertheless, Democrats and other leftists are working their hardest to further restrict the ability to own firearms.  Think about the misguided, naive Ms. Vaughn, her daughter, and the City Council of Greensboro. 

I am with Mr. Robinson.  How about you?

Write to your government officials, show up at their meetings, and visit them in their offices to tell them what you think about this serious matter. 

Here is where you find out how to contact them:  

Check the Internet to find your state and local politicians.