Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 4, 1776


In between your morning ride on the bike, your afternoon of hot dogs at the lake, and your evening of fireworks, consider the real meaning of the day we celebrate.

A History of Independence Day
from the History Channel

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.

By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in the bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published by Thomas Paine in early 1776.

On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee – including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York – to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

On July 4th, the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.

Our freedom comes from that document declaring our independence and from our Constitution, both so masterfully crafted by the patriots who came before us. 

Enjoy your day!


Monday, June 25, 2018

No Drone Zone at Caesars Head

I rode up to Caesars Head a few weeks ago.

Caesars Head is a South Carolina State Park, 26 miles from home, and it is fairly easy to get to.  The twisty road that goes up the Blue Ridge Escarpment to the park is only about eight miles long, and is in fairly good condition in most places.  The twisty part of the road is not nearly as long as on the nearby US-178, but there are several tight turns along the way. 

Caesars Head

Twisty part of US-178

The reason I went to Caesars Head was that it was an easy addition to a route that I rode called A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt that had appeared in an issue of the old and gone Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine

Anyway, the overlook at Caesars Head (that is correct; there is not an apostrophe in Caesars) is usually a good place to see the mountainous countryside from a birds-eye vantage point.  That photograph at the top of the post gives you an idea. 

Pretty country, yes?  Here is a slightly different angle:

You can see the back side of Table Rock Mountain, with Table Rock Reservoir this side of it.  This overlook is really the only place you can see into the distance from Caesars Head Park, and the overlook is very close to where you can park your bike.

As I was parking that day, I noticed something new.  

Did you spot it?  Here is a closer view:

Now do you see?

It says I can't fly my drone here any more.  (Not that I have one.)  It is mounted on a very substantial post. 

That's unfortunate, because I like to see videos of places like this taken from a drone.  Some of the drone pilots are quite good at getting the right views and motion, and their editing can be very effective in enhancing their work.

Like these: 
There are some large houses adjacent to the park, and I suppose some of those residents could have been buzzed by some irresponsible pilot.  If that is the case, there are probably civil actions that could be taken against the pilot, instead of banning drones entirely. 

I did a little research and found that drones are outlawed in all national parks.  Citing safety and noise issues, drones are banned until the National Park Service comes up with a long-term policy.  [I wonder how long that could take.]  The ban covers not only the 59 full-fledged national parks but about 350 national monuments, seashores and other sites run by the NPS, about 84 million acres in all.

That is a lot of territory now off limits. 

Seems like our freedom is again under attack here.

Oh, by the way, the ban carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and six months in jail!

Try this website called Know Before You Fly to learn some of the rules.   

For recreational use, you can fly under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft:
  • Fly for hobby or recreation ONLY
  • Register your model aircraft
  • Fly within visual line-of-sight
  • Follow community-based safety guidelines and fly within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization
  • Fly a drone under 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization
  • Never fly near other aircraft
  • Notify the airport and air traffic control tower prior to flying within 5 miles of an airport*
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts
Or, you can get a Remote Pilot Certification (14 CFR part 107).  For that, you must:
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center
  • Undergo Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security screening
  • Register your aircraft with the FAA
Part 107 Operating Rules:
  • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
  • Fly in Class G airspace
  • Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight
  • Fly at or below 400 feet
  • Fly during daylight or civil twilight
  • Fly at or under 100 mph
  • Yield right of way to manned aircraft
  • Do not fly directly over people
  • Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area
If you fly for commercial purposes, then the rules are different.

Whew.  That is a lot of hoops to jump through just to fly a little airplane.  I think that the regulations include all of the model planes that many of us flew when we were kids (and now, sometimes as adults, too, like I saw back in 2014).  

As I said, I think our freedoms are being encroached upon. 

For state regulations, you can look here or here, but know that these websites may not be completely up to date.

Local municipalities may also have rules and regulations, so you will have to contact them to find out what they require.

Anyhow, our freedom to do almost anything is getting cut more and more these days.  So, fly 'em while ya' can.  (But not at Caesars Head.) 

Fortunately, the park is still a nice place to go to look at God's creation. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Odd Sights I've Seen -- One in Minnesota(!), and a Bear's Head Nearer Home

As I ride around the Upstate of South Carolina, western North Carolina, and eastern Georgia, I sometimes spot unusual sights along the way.  Some of these are simply new to me, but others are strange and out of the ordinary.

Here are a couple of recent examples, all from the same day of riding:


This is a photograph of the sign for the Amsterdam Hotel in Duluth Minnesota.  I just popped up there to see the sign the other day.  I'd say the prices are certainly reasonable, with running water, telephones in all rooms, and a bath for a bit extra! ...and it is just half a block from this sign. 

The approach: 

Surprisingly, it didn't take all that long to get there from home.

Now the truth of the matter.

In actuality, the sign is quite nearby -- about 12 miles from my house, in fact.

[What? Please explain, Bucky ]

Well the sign is really located in Greenville South Carolina (about 1177 miles from Duluth), and was painted on an old manufacturing building around 2007 for the movie Leatherheads, shot, in part, in Greenville.

The movie is set in 1925 Duluth, and is a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of America's nascent pro-football league.  Dodge Connolly (played by George Clooney) is a charming, brash football hero who is determined to guide his team, the Duluth Bulldogs, from bar brawls to packed stadiums.  But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star and war hero Carter Rutherford (played by John Krasinski) to join his ragtag ranks. 

Here is the movie trailer.  

The hotel sign is located within view of the Swamp Rabbit Rail-to-Trail, but you  can go right up to it as I did at 111 Welborn Street between Willard and S. Hudson Streets. 

This is a picture of the Vance Hotel in Statesville, NC that was used in the movie to represent the Amsterdam.

Elsewhere in the movie, Clooney rides his 1918 Indian motorcycle up to the 1924 Poinsett Hotel which is still open in Greenville. 

From the movie:

Interestingly, the 1918 Indian motorcycle is not vintage, but rather a custom-built electric-powered replica.  It was fabricated in El Segundo California at Customs By Eddie Paul.  Why electric, you ask?  The Leatherheads script required a functional vintage-looking motorcycle that could be ridden and operated by the actors during recording of dialogue.  Thus the need for a quiet motor.

Leatherheads Links:


The next odd sight is the head of a bear, also in Greenville -- and not in the zoo, by the way.

Here it is. 

Looks like a bear's head, right?  Looking right at you.  Snarl on his mouth.  Rounded ears. Right? 

Take a closer look.

Now do you see it?  It's a bear.  Correct? 

Actually, it is a burl on a tree on Richland Way which parallels Richland Creek.  About here on this map:  34.850730, -82.383861

The bear from a different angle. 

Looking right out of the tree, he is. 

In the creek nearby, there are a number of concrete footings for a railroad trestle that stood here from 1886 to 1991. 

You have to look over top of the lush kudzu growing along the bank here to see the footings at this time of year. 

The trestle that once sat on the footings served the former CSW railroad, and looked like this.  The railroad right-of-way paralleled Traxler Street, visible to the east on the map cited above. 

The Swamp Rabbit Trail may be extended on the former railroad right of way, requiring a new bridge to be erected across Richland Creek ravine to replace the wooden trestle. 

So, there were two odd sights today, both in the city of Greenville.

What kind of odd sights have you seen in your two-wheeled travels?

See more Odd Sights I've Seen by clicking "odd sights" here or on the left side of the page.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Celebrate our freedom symbolized by this wonderful banner.

...and keep this in mind,that Winston Churchill, in the U.K. House of Commons, November 11, 1947, had this to say: 

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…
Churchill clearly did not originate this famous remark about democracy, but it is certainly true. 

It is good to remember that about our form of government amidst this world of chaos.   Remind your kids, too, that their freedom depends on it.



Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Your Favorite Bucky's Ride Postings

Blogger keeps statistics on the number of views each blog posting gets over time.  Unfortunately, the counter can't differentiate between bots that hit on a posting and human hits, so the numbers have to be taken with a healthy grain of salt.

Anyway, with that caveat, here are the postings having the greatest number of views among the almost 300 postings on Bucky's Ride. 

All time, since the first posting on January 25, 2009
(I bought the bike in September of 2007):

·        Visit to the Deeley Motorcycle Exposition
Aug 22, 2010
·        Valve Clearance Adjustment Tips
Feb 4, 2012
·        Wheels Through Time
Oct 15, 2010
·        Dressing for Cold Weather Riding
Nov 26, 2009

Month Ending June 5, 2018

·        Odd Sights I've Seen
Apr 30, 2018
·        Valve Clearance Adjustment Tips
Feb 4, 2012
·        Unused Tread Width -- aka Chicken Strips!
Jun 14, 2014
·        Skyuka Mountain Road
Sep 22, 2013

Week ending June 5, 2018

·        Skyuka Mountain Road
Sep 22, 2013 
·        Unused Tread Width -- aka Chicken Strips!
Jun 14, 2014
·        Old Mill at Newry -- Off the Beaten Path
Feb 10, 2011
·        Piedmont South Carolina -- Mill Town
Jan 29, 2010

See whether some of these also become your favorites. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Well, we're most of the way through the month, but it makes sense to say a few words about Motorcycle Safety. After all, it is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.  Interestingly, I have not heard any ads about this at all. 

Anyway, first, some stats, from the National Safety Council (NSC): 

  • In the U.S. in 2016, 4,976 motorcycle riders and passengers died in crashes, and nonfatal injuries that year totaled 88,000, according to NSC Injury Facts® 2017.
    More than 40,327 people were killed in all crashes on U.S. roads in 2017, according to estimates from NSC.  
  • Motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles and only 0.7% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., but motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2016
  • 91% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were male
  • 26% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were alcohol-impaired
So the odds against us are pretty high compared with other vehicles. 

That last item is totally preventable, though -- if you drink and ride, you are stupid and are likely to be counted in that statistic one day.  ...Let alone any damage you do to others while you are killing yourself. 

In South Carolina, you are at an even further disadvantage, because the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle-miles for all vehicle types is the highest of all 50 U.S. states at 1.89.  You can see a chart of fatalities by state here

This is a map from that website:

Red is highest.  Green is lowest. 

I think there are some things we who ride can do to reduce the probability of such trouble and reduce the magnitude of the trouble if there is some:

  • Wear motorcycle-specific jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and helmet.  No excuses here.    
    Remember this about pavement and other things on and near the road: They are just as hard, whether you are dressed for it or not.
  • Ride like you are invisible to others.  Assume that everyone else on the road doesn’t see you.  
  • This one amplifies the previous point: Pay attention to what every vehicle around you is capable of doing, in addition to what it is doing. Anticipate and formulate a plan to avoid what could happen. 
  • Don't ride at your skill level.  Ride under it.  Leave a little leeway between the road situation and your ability to handle it.  And remember that your confidence as a rider increases faster than your skills.  
  • Practice swerves, threshold braking and other maneuvers.  
  • Install a headlight modulator.  It used to be that only motorcycles and military convoys used their headlights in the daylight.  That made them stand out.  Nowadays, many vehicles have daytime running lights, so a motorcycle can get lost in the glare.  I recommend a modulator to restore some of the contrast. 
  • Wear fluorescent gear.  It might look a little dorky, but it certainly helps you stand out amongst the crowd on the road.  Here is a photograph from the start of a rainy, day-long ride: 

    Rally to Ridgecrest, Memorial Day weekend, 2011.

There is something you can do with your family to help prevent future accidents where other motorists fail to see you on the bike.  This one comes from another blogger, Borepatch:

And the same thing related to bicycles:

On the lighthearted side, this Allstate Insurance magazine ad:

See you on the road, safe and sound, I hope!

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.