Wednesday, January 18, 2017

25° then 75° in the Same Week -- So Ride When You Can!

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The weather this winter in South Carolina has been fickle.  We had snow and below freezing temperatures, then, by the end of the same week, we had mid-70s temperatures and sunny skies.

A man doesn't know how to dress for the weather these days! 

The cold and snow certainly did cut into our riding time, but I guess I should be glad that for most of the winter here it is possible to ride, with the right gear.

Here are some pictures taken in our yard on an obviously non-riding day:

Brrrr.
My wife's little garden pond.

I stayed in the house most of the time when the snow was around, since most South Carolina drivers have no earthly idea how to drive in it, and they don't have much snow removal equipment because we don't get snow very often.  They do scatter some sand and road salt around, though, to their credit.  The only bad part of that is that the sand stays on the roads for weeks afterwards creating quite a hazard for two wheels. 

Once the snow melted, the weather got summer-like, so I had to go out and make sure I ran the bike enough to charge up the battery.

Naturally that meant go for a ride.  Of maybe 70 miles or so, at least.  That should do it, wouldn't you say?  Don't want to kill that expensive battery, now do we. 


I start out from home and go northward on SC-135.  This is a easy road with only a few curves.  The riding is easy, and I make good time.  There isn't much sand on the road, so that is good.

I reach SC-8 near the thriving crossroads called Pumpkintown.  Just before I reach there (at point B on the map below), I can see Table Rock to my left in the distance.  It stands in stark contrast to the tree-lined hills that surround it.


Just look at the blue sky.  It almost looks like a painting.  In a way, it is -- God's painting, though. 

I continue on until I reach SC-11 (at point C on the map), the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.  This is a nearly straight road that runs along the southern side of the Blue Ridge Escarpment about 18 miles from Easley, SC where I live.  Lots of cruisers use this road, and the sporty bike riders use it to get to the many twisty roads to the north.

Here is a view taken from SC-11 of Table Rock: 


And a closer look from the road that runs thorough Table Rock State Park (at points D, E and F on the map): 


I go a bit further south on SC-11 to US-178 and stop at the Holly Springs Country Store (at point G on the map) to stretch and see of there are any other bikers there.  As I am surveying the parking lot, I spot a fellow I know, Tommy.  He is a few years younger than I am and rides a sport-touring bike.  Today, though he is in his cage and stopped to chew the fat with the locals on the porch at the store.

When I am through chatting with Tommy, I head back toward Easley on US-178.  They have recently patched this stretch of road, and they made it worse than it was as far as lumps and bumps.  They also created some edge traps where they replaced only part of a lane width.

That's our federal government at work.  In all fairness, they are not done yet, so I will reserve final judgment until then.  (...but I am not holding my breath.) 

Anyway, I reach the town of Pickens and head toward home on SC-8.  The DMV is along here (at point H on the map) and they have a motorcycle certification test layout in the back part of their parking lot.  I stop for a few minutes and practice my low speed maneuvers and lane changes.  I find that if I don't do this periodically, I get rusty and less sure of myself on the road when I have to use one of these techniques.

Here is an aerial view of the DMV.  See the test layout at the bottom, center of the photograph:


Here is a collage at the DMV of some GoPro screen grabs:

Makes you a little dizzy, doesn't it?

After that, I went home.  I only had time for this short jaunt of 69 miles, but it was a great day to be out on the bike. ...and the battery is now fully charges, I might say. 

Here is the map of the trip, less some of the meandering I did in between points:  

Click for larger interactive map.
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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year 2016 Ends

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Well the year is almost over.  It has been a good one, I think.

Our family has been blessed by God beyond all possible imagination.  Have there been problems?  Sure, but nothing we can't get through. 

I have not ridden the bike as much as I would have liked, though.

Thanks to the magic of spreadsheets, I figure that I took the bike out of the garage 40 times, and rode a total of 4274 miles, for an average of 106.9 miles per outing.

That compares with the two previous years, and for the entire time I have ridden this motorcycle (my only one, so far), as follows. 

2014  49 trips       5319 miles   108.6 miles/trip (last year of work) 
2015  59 trips       6353 miles   107.7 miles/trip (first year of retirement)
Total  696 trips  56,733 miles   81.6 miles/trip (includes many short trips to work)
I bought the bike 9 years and 3 months ago, and have ridden an average of 6117 miles per year since I started. 

[So, Bucky, how come you are not riding more?]  

Church duties, piano playing, and home/auto repairs have taken up my time to a greater extent that I thought they would.  There is more to life than the scooter, you know. Our cars are getting old -- the newest is 2008, the oldest 1979.  So is the house getting old, and I try to do all the repairs myself, being a tightwad since birth.

Also, I didn't take any overnight trips like I have in the past.  The Rally to Ridgecrest has not been held for the last few years, unfortunately. 

I did meet a new guy and took him on his first longish ride in the mountains.  I hope to ride with him more, but he does something during the day called work, or something like that, so his time is limited. I had a good time that day, and he wrote some of his impressions as a guest blogger. 
A Really New Guy

There was also a potentially life threatening incident on the road this year, that I'd rather forget, but highlights the need for vigilance when riding. 
This Could Have Ended It All
Found! The Van That Could Have Killed Me.
Fortunately, I managed to avoid great bodily injury.

There was lots of political maneuvering in our country, certainly.  We have a new president who will be worlds better than the last one, and certainly better than that screechy woman who was running this time.  The snowflake college kids and bleeding heart liberals are hugging their Teddy Bears and shedding tears over this whole thing, but they will look back and see that this will have been a turning point for the better in our nation's history. 
The Issues and What is at Stake -- Study This Now.
We Have One more Chance

I gave some advice on a topic or two that might be helpful to other riders.
Vision: Eye Glasses or Contact Lenses?

And, there have been some Odd and Interesting Sights I've Seen


Anyway, here are some photographs of places I visited near the end of the year, with some older description links:

Have a great New Year. 

See you on the roads of the Carolinas in 2017! 

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fire!

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It's been dry.

Very dry.

Tinder dry.

On the 10th of November, I took a short ride up SC-135 and SC-8 from Easley, SC toward the north.

This is the way I started out:


As I approach the little crossroads of Pumpkintown (Point B on the map), I notice that there is a good deal of haze in the distance.


I hadn't realized that the fire on Pinnacle Mountain had grown so much, and was generating so much smoke.  The further I go, the worse it is.  When I get to the intersection of SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway, I turn left and ride to US-178, and then a few hundred yards south to SC-288, Table Rock Road.  I turn right into the cemetery across the street from Holly Springs Baptist Church (Point D on the map, and note that Pinnacle Mountain is marked on the map).

This is what I see from the cemetery:

Click on photo for a larger view
Pinnacle Mountain is to the right.  It is the highest point entirely within South Carolina and can be reached on foot from table Rock State Park a few miles east of here. 


The fire started from a campfire on November 9, and has spread significantly.  As of November 21st, the fire is only 35% contained and now encompasses 5,100 acres.

More than 120 brave personnel are working 12+ hour shifts to put out the fire by hand, using bulldozers, off-road tankers, and chainsaws.  The fire is now the largest fire ever in Pickens County since the S.C. Forestry Commission started keeping records 90 years ago.

I am startled by a National Guard helicopter overhead carrying a red water bucket.  They are making repeated trips to Lake Olenoy at Table Rock State Park Visitor center on SC-11. I go back there by way of West Gate Road that also leads to an entrance of Table Rock State Park. 

The helicopter has stopped at the Table Rock Wesleyan Camp where the men are sleeping and getting their meals.


Notice the man sitting in the copter doorway.


I circle back to Lake Olenoy and catch the helicopter picking up water from the lake, then flying off to the fire.










I decide to see if I can view the fire from a different angle and head toward Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina, though the mountain shares its base with both North and South Carolina.  Sassafras is also shown on the map above. 

Once I get there, I walk to the overlook.  I can see the smoke, but not the source of it. 

Here is a panorama from the overlook near the top of the mountain:

Click on photo for a larger view
And here is a 360-degree panorama from the top of the mountain.  The smoke from the fire it at the far left.  

Click on photo for a larger view
I do get to see some very nice leaf coloration on the way to Sassafras and back on US-178 north of SC-11.






I head back toward home on US-178, pass though the town of Pickens, do some practice of low speed maneuvers in my neighborhood, then put the bike away for the next time. 

Except for the fire, the day is beautiful.  It has been good to be out and about. I traveled only 88 miles, but it was worth it. 

I pray God's protection for the firefighters.


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Update on Thanksgiving Day. 

I went up north for a look at the progress the firefighters had made.  I went up SC-135, and SC-8, then headed over to Aunt Sues Country Corner, a tourist stop the firefighters were using as a command base.  (By the way Aunt Sue's has great ice cream when they are open.) 


There was nobody there.  I did stop and take a look at the map of the fire's progression and the map showing the various methods they had used to contain it.  These are on the signboard at the far left of the photograph below. 






Here is a closeup of the fire's progression by day:



Notice the tremendous progression of the fire on November 17, the black.  It consumed 1457 acres on that day.  The total burn had progressed to 6022 acres by November 21.  That's quite a bit more than the 5,100 acres I stated in my previous post above. 

The circled red X within the blue circle and green area toward the left of the map above is the origin of the fire -- a campfire.  It is a fearsome thing, fire, in such a dry land.

Here is a news release from November 22, that explains the then-current situation.


And here is a detailed map of the various efforts to stop it.






The orange dots are hot spots.  The black line represents containment.  The orange line is as yet uncontained. 

I ran across the landing field for the various helicopters on Table Rock Road at the Palmetto Cove Campground


There are both Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters, plus a small copter for observation.

I have never been able to see any of the fire directly because they keep the public far enough away so we don't interfere with their efforts to contain the fire.

It was another good day to be out riding.  We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day.  It is unfortunate that there is such an extensive fire going on. 


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Final Update. 

FIRE SIZE: 10,623 acres, as of Dec. 5, 2016, when it was contained.

ESTIMATED COSTS: $4.8 million

FIRE BACKGROUND: Human-caused / Nov. 9, 2016 / Table Rock State Park, 10.5 miles north of Pickens, S.C.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Have One More Chance

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So, Mr. Trump is president. 

Trump
...by a large margin. 


Only the liberal Democrats on the east and west coasts and a few in the middle didn't vote for him.  

Here is what it looks like by county.  

By Mark Newman, University of Michigan
Notice that there are only a relatively small number of heavily-populated counties that voted Democrat -- the big Democrat-run cities, mostly.  The rest of us with some sense voted Republican. 

And lest you think that the Electoral College is obsolete, look at the effect just four high-population states would have had on the results if the presidential election were done by popular vote.  

From The Daily Signal
Besides those four states, none of us would have a say in the election if it were done by popular vote. That is why the founders devised the Electoral College -- a brilliant invention. 


The rest of us, who have been struggling for the last eight years to make ends meet and deal with big government are the ones who voted for a major change -- away from the failed, harmful policies of Democrats.

We have avoided the certain disaster of a Clinton presidency.  

We should first get on our knees and thank God for saving us, and ask His help to mend our evil ways of voting unsuitable politicians into office from now on. 

Then, get ready to tell Mr. Trump what he must do as your president.  

Here are four things you can tell him that would make a huge difference in our lives, and that he can accomplish immediately. 
  1. Close the borders to illegal immigrants.  He would just be enforcing the existing laws, so this can be immediate. 
  2. Drill for oil on our land.  There is more than enough to stop buying oil from the unstable Middle East.  This has already been approved by congress, so this can be immediate. 
    Approve the pipelines that have been held up by the Democrats.  The interruptions in service by the recent pipeline damage shows how vulnerable we are. 
  3. Appoint only Supreme Court justices who will interpret law, not legislate from the bench.  This will affect the basic freedom of our descendants for decades -- no, generations --  to come.  There is an opening now, so this can start immediately.  
  4. Stop voter fraud by purging the voter registration roles of people who have not voted in three elections or who have died, by requiring valid identification of every voter, and by rooting out those who during every election stuff the ballot boxes with false ballots.  

If he does nothing else, these four things will cause the greatest economic boom that we will experience in our lifetimes, and give back the freedoms we have lost to big government. 

But, the Republican Senate and House must now work with Trump on all things.

So, write to them too.  Tell them -- and to never try to compromise with the Democrats. They are the party of failed promises and oppression of us all. 


Here is where you find out how to contact them:  


OK.   

Now get busy, and send your instructions so they get there as soon as the officials get into their offices.   
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