Saturday, October 17, 2020

Important Info

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....Important reading coming up. Don’t go away without reading it....
 
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Friday, September 11, 2020

Never Foget What They Did To Us

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Even with all the current unrest and disruption to our lives, the people who attacked us nineteen years ago still want to destroy us.  They may even be behind some of the current troubles.  Therefore,
We must never forget what Islamist terrorists
did to us in 2001.  


If you have forgotten, or were too young to remember the devastation on our own soil of the 9/11 attacks, look here for a short review.   The blood shed by over 3000 people is not visible in the photos. 


NOT ONE of the five masterminds of the 9/11 attack have been brought to justice!   Their trial is set for 2021.  
How is it possible that it could take 20 years to bring them to trial? 

We must stand strong against these terrorists and our sympathetic politicians forever and always, lest the freedom of this greatest country on earth be lost forever.  
While we are at it, add to that the current rioters, looters, thugs, and fake news purveyors.   They are just as much a threat to our freedoms as the terrorists of 2001. 
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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Immediate Danger and Politicians Keeping Us "Safe"

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I went for a ride yesterday.  I went up to Whitewater Falls, just into North Carolina -- about 45 miles from my home in Easley, SC.  You take South Carolina route 130 (that turns into North Carolina route 281), a fairly smooth road with many sweepers, to get there.  It is one of my favorite roads and favorite sights to see in the area. 

As I reach the entrance, there are cars parked everywhere along both sides of the road, even though there is no real place set up for such parking.  People are walking and standing along the road for a considerable distance.







They are in harm's way.

Why?  Simply because they came there to see what they own: Whitewater Falls is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.

Here is a look at what they own, taken on one of my previous visits. 


But the gates are closed and locked. The usual volunteer who stays there in his camper and oversees the area is not there because the park is closed. 

Even though the park is administered under the Forest Service, they say that their "decisions [on closings] will align with local city, county and state actions to provide for human health and safety (ie. quarantine, curfew, and other social restrictions)." 

So I suppose that North Carolina's Democrat governor Roy Cooper is responsible for the closing and endangering visitors who have to park and walk along the road. 

Again I ask, why?  The reason given by leftists like Cooper is that they are protecting our health from a virus.  Remember though, that this virus is not significantly different from past influenzas.  Old people and those already sick with some other troubles should be very careful, but the rest of us should not be punished and treated like disease-carrying vermin, keeping us out of places like this one for no good reason. 

So Cooper is putting people in imminent and immediate danger along that road so they might not get a virus while they are in the wide open outdoors.  Read that again, if you will.  Does that make sense to anyone? 

Being in the indoors has now been determined to be more likely to spread the virus than being outdoors.  So closing facilities like Whitewater Falls makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  NOT. 

Well, I note that there is a parking lot just a tenth of a mile south of the falls entrance.  This lot is for hikers on the nearby Foothills Trail.  That trail goes many places, but one of them is to Whitewater Falls right next door. 

See the immediate surroundings on this map:

So that parking lot would be a good place to park, right?

Unfortunately, since the main Whitewater Falls parking lot has been closed, and the volunteer made to stay home, people parking in the gravel lot have experienced vandalism to their vehicles.  Just two months ago, one visitor reported that they "had somebody come and knock my car window out while we were hiking. There were probably 10 other cars parked there when we first arrived and 3 of them (including me) got their windows knocked out."

So, if you can't park in the lot where there is a volunteer who can watch over it, you are subjected to vandals who break out your car windows.

You can always park on the road, remember!  Ah, yes, with cars whizzing by a few feet away from you. 

Note on the map above that the trail from the gravel parking lot has a spur that goes to the restrooms at Whitewater Falls.   Don't be expecting to use them, though, because they have been locked for months now.   You have to use the great outdoors if you need to go!


Think about how much this reaction to a virus is costing us in enjoyment, damage to vehicles, accidents, inconvenience, higher costs, and on and on?  They say that suicides and depression are on the rise, and some of the 40+ million people who have lost their jobs will never recover economically. 


Well, back to the ride today.  I manage to turn around near the entrance to the falls parking lot, but the view of oncoming traffic is poor.   Another danger. 

I go about four tenths of a mile south on 130 and turn onto the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Facility road, and follow it to the overlook on Lake Jocassee.  The view is always nice here, but there is a little rain so I don't tarry.



Instead I go back to 130 and the Wigington Scenic Byway to the overlook onto Lake Jocassee. 


A bit hazy today, unfortunately, but the rain has stopped.

Then I turn back and follow SC-130 and SC-11, then US-178 back nearly to home. 


It was a nice day for riding.  I hope they open the parks again soon.

Email, call, or write Governor Cooper to urge him to do so:

  • email  
  • 919-814-2000
  • North Carolina Office of the Governor
        20301 Mail Service Center
        Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Another Milestone -- 70,000 Miles

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On May 8, 2020, 10 days ago, I reached a mileage milestone.

I'll tell you all about how and where it happened, but first a little background to the story. 

I started riding a motorcycle late in life -- in my 5th decade.  I had always wanted to ride, but never took the opportunity or had the life situation to do so.  The spark that started me on the way was a course catalog from a local community college. 

You see, I received the catalog because my wife and I were taking a class in stained glass construction offered by the same school.  We had a good time doing the glass, and we made several decorative items for around the house and for gifts.  The catalog in question later arrived and I paged through it, finding the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Class. 

That got the wheels turning in my head. 

I asked Jeff, a guy at work who used to ride, whether he thought I could learn to ride, and he gave me a thumbs up

I started perusing the online selling sites for a bike, after researching what I thought I wanted.  I did not want a Harley.  Those are not my style.  I could not afford some of the higher-priced brands like BMW. 

I settled on the Kawasaki Ninja 650R.  It had good reviews, and was said to be acceptable, though not ideal, as a starter bike.  I found a 2006 with fewer than 1000 miles on it, in silver on a red frame offered by a fellow not too far away, contacted the seller, and asked him to let me know if he had another buyer. 

Meanwhile, I had to take the motorcycle class before buying a motorcycle.  After all, what would have happened if had I bought the motorcycle first and been a total failure at riding?  Fortunately, I did well on the written exam and good enough to pass the riding test. 



I called the seller, enlisted the aid of a friend to test ride the bike, bought it, and another friend Aaron rode it home for me.


Now, all I had to do was learn to ride it.


That began a flurry of riding, mostly to work and back and longer jaunts on Saturdays, with an occasional much longer route thrown in.


I shortly began writing this blog, and, among many other posts, were several about previous milestones:
Between September of 2007 when I bought the bike and now, I have enjoyed riding on many roads and seeing many sights. Below, you will find links to stories about some of them, along with other postings on a variety of subjects.  So, let's get started exploring. 

Now a little geography to get you oriented to the area I live in.  I am in the Upstate of South Carolina -- the northwest part of the state.   It is just a few miles to the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Click the map to enlarge.
The Piedmont, or foot of the mountains, is flatter, but still has some rolling hills.

I live in the Piedmont not far from Pickens, which is shown in the center of the lower half of the map above.

Roads nearby that lead into the escarpment include, from west to east, SC-28, SC-107, SC-130, US-178, US-276, and old US-25, and the Greenville Watershed Road to Saluda North Carolina.  There are many places to go using these roads to get there.
  • Many of my trips have included Whitewater Falls.  The road to get there, SC-130, north of SC-11, known as the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, is pleasantly smooth and has lots of sweepers.  The falls is a short hike from the parking lot, and is well worth the visit.  The falls is one of the first landmarks I visited after starting to ride.  It is located just into North Carolina.
     
    By the way, Route 11 is a quick way to get from east to west at the foothills of the mountains, but don't be tempted to speed -- they run radar frequently.    
  • Table Rock State Park is just off SC-11.  It has just a quick loop through the park, but you can get a good view of Table Rock, and there are several picnic areas and a ranger's office with a large topographical map of the park.   
  • Caesars Head State Park is on US-276.  It has a nice overlook from the top of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, and has a few trails.  North Carolina is just north of the park. 
  • Poinsett Bridge, the oldest bridge in South Carolina, and Boy Scout Camp Old Indian, are both not far off the route to Saluda North Carolina from otoursaswellld US-25. 


Campbell's Covered Bridge (also here) is a pleasant place to see a very old bridge, and maybe have lunch.  It is also a good place to see the remarkable effects of goats eliminating kudzu overgrowth. The area was covered in the fast-growing vine until a few years ago when they hired the goats.

  • There were some trips on gravel here and here and a trip on Winding Stairs and to the top of Curahee Mountain Georgia.  Some of these trips were a little hairy. 
  • Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina is easy to get to, the roads being paved almost all the way to the top.  There was a photographer who snapped pictures of bikers at some S-curves on US-178 on the way north to Rocky Bottom where you turn to go to Sassafras Mountain. I posed for him a few years ago. 
  • Another photographer, Blind Kenny, took photos on a twisty section of NC-80.  I posed for him, too.  


  • I have visited railroad right of ways that are engineering marvels.  The Saluda Grade is the steepest standard-gage railroad in the United States.  It crests at Saluda North Carolina. 
    There is a 13-mile series of loops near Old Fort North Carolina that allows the railroad to gain elevation.  There is also a geyser there among the loops! 
    The Wells Viaduct, a tall and long bridge near Tocooa Georgia is a great place to watch trains. 
  • Many of my trips have included the Blue Ridge Parkway, the closest entrance being about 50 miles from home.  That road is very beautiful and the riding is enjoyable. It is my favorite road in the area.  
 

  • Destinations have also included three weekend retreats at the Rally to Ridgecrest in Black Mountain North Carolina.  (See also the additional links at the bottom of that posting.)  The rallies included worship, inspirational speakers, motorcycle classes, a patriotic trip to the nearby Black Mountain military cemetery, great food, and many rides in the mountains. 
  • There were three trips to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley North Carolina. 


  • The BMW Zentrum shows off BMW motorcycles and automobiles through the years in a building in front of their assembly plant in Greer South Carolina.  
  • There is a satellite tracking station that was once top secret.  It is now called the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI).  It is a very interesting place to visit to see the radio telescopes, and many exhibits.  They offer tours as well. 

  • I have viewed the huge Ten Commandments on a hillside at Fields of the Wood near Murphy North Carolina.  I think they are the largest anywhere.  It happened on the day I rode the furthest in one day -- 302 miles -- and on that same day I rode into Tennessee just to say I had been there.  Nearby is the Road of Never-Ending Curves, a term coined by Stretch on one of the online forums.  It is a fun road, but it was dampened a bit by rain on the day I went there. 

There are also several compilations of odd sights I've seen.  Here and here and here and here



There are postings on politics and patriotism, too. Click on one of these terms on the left side of the page, as they are pretty important topics these days.  Our freedoms and privileges are being steadily taken away, and that someday may include our motorcycles. 



I have grabbed a few tags in the ADVRider Upstate SC Tag-O-Rama and the SC Tag-O-Rama. If you don't know what a tag game is, the first posting of each  link lists the rules.  I have been able to see some unusual places by playing the tag games. 


Safety is important for me as it should be for every motorcycle rider.
  • Every mile of those 70,000 has been in full motorcycle gear: leather jacket and pants -- both with armor, boots, gloves, full-face helmet, earplugs, and back protector.  No matter what the temperature, I always dress like this.  I have ridden in 25 degree weather, 100 degree weather, and everything in between. 
    You can learn how I dress for the ride, especially for cold weather, in postings here and here and here.   These postings also detail the handlebar muffs, one brand of which is Hippo Hands, that I use in conjunction with heated grips for winter riding. 
  • I also carry a whistle on a lanyard around my neck in case I run off into the woods somewhere and can't crawl back out.  
  • I installed a headlight modulator that helps other drivers to see me. 
  • Why it is important to carry complete identification, how to do it, and what the person back home MUST do in case of trouble. The latter is extremely important.  
  • I installed rear view mirror extenders to help rearward vision that is often poor on a sport bike. They help a lot. 

I have written a few technical articles as well:

There are some tips on riding technique that I have picked up:



A couple of guest writers weighed in with their stories here and here.



How to clean your leather gear at home makes you look good and saves money.  (Also, here)



There are a few heart-warming stories of human interest here and here and here and here.



The troubles with my motorcycle have been few.  Here are the major things, documented for the do-it-yourselfer.  I replaced the water pump seals twice, replaced the fuel pump, replaced the stator, replaced the battery twice, repaired the loose kickstand, and did the routine stuff like valve clearance adjustments, air filter cleaning, oil changes, spark plug replacement, rear shock/spring replacement, brake pad replacement, chain replacement and alignment, sprocket replacement, and so on. The fuel pump, stator, and water pump seals are common troubles with this bike. 

Tires have been one of the larger expenses, even though I get many, many miles from them because I am so conservative a rider.  I'm riding on my seventh front and my eighth rear tire.  I have used Michelin Pilot Road tires since I replaced the original equipment Bridgestone Battlax BT-20s. 

Through the magic of spreadsheets, I have kept track of a few statistics.  The bike has been out of the garage 834 times since I bought it. The average length of each trip is 84 miles, which includes many very short commutes to work and back.  I have ridden an average of 5538 miles per year. 

You can search for an item of interest on my blog by using one of the following methods:




Now, lets go back to my latest milestone, the 70,000 mile one. 

The last time I had the bike out, I was still 59 miles shy of that goal, so I need to go and made up the shortfall.  It is about 56 degrees and overcast, but it looks like a good enough day to take a ride.  Before I start out, I noodle what direction to go.  It seems fitting to use the first route that I ever rode with someone else, a  fellow named Ryan.  In March of 2008, I met him online, rode to his house near Cleveland South Carolina, and he shepherded me to Saluda North Carolina on old US-25 and the Saluda Road.  These are the roads that pass through the Greenville Watershed.  The city of Greenville and surrounding areas get a good part of their water from the lake created by the watershed.

In trying to find Ryan's house that first time, I took a wrong turn and happened to find the lighthouse on Tall Pines Lake described in this posting.


Ryan and I had a soda at Ward's Grill inside Thompson's Store on the main street of Saluda, then headed back the way we came.  He was very patient, and rode quite slowly so I, the novice rider, could keep up. 


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Here are a few pictures on the way into Saluda for the epic 70,000 milestone.  This is the view of town from the road into Saluda. 


The railroad tracks that you cross are no longer in service, since 2001, but they are at the crest of the Saluda Grade, the steepest standard-gage railroad in the United States.




The town is at a higher elevation of 2093 feet above sea level than the Piedmont, which is at 1053 feet where I live, so the temperatures are lower.   There are summer homes and rooming houses here to take advantage of the cooler climate.

Today, I ride around the town roads, and park when the odometer reads 70,640.  That is the mileage that indicates that I have ridden this bike 70,000 miles.  (It had 640 miles on it when I bought it.)  If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that this is the only real motorcycle I have owned, so the 70,000 mark is not only the mileage on the bike, but my mileage on two wheels as well. 

I park in front of the Police Department/City Hall/Mayor's Office building and snap a shot of my odometer and of Bucky in front of the building.


 
I then walk along the main street of town, the one that parallels the railroad tracks.  There are a surprising number of shops, and there are other things to do around town as well, though many businesses are still closed by the North Carolina governor's fiat.   Some may never reopen due to the severe economic effects of his orders.

I spot a vintage Oldsmobile convertible that probably belongs to one of the local residents. 



The town hall includes the mayor's office, and that space is used for the jail as needed.




Actually, the office/jail is really just a tiny closet with a plant growing in a pot.  I'm not sure many people pick up on the joke of the lettering on the glass door. 

Ward's Grill is still here in Thompson's Store, the oldest grocery in North Carolina,  They cut their own meat and have lots of other foods to pick from.  They serve breakfast and lunch, and you can have a Coke here like Ryan and I did well over a decade(!) ago.





The M. A. Pace General Merchandise store is also still here.  I met Mr. Robert Pace, the then proprietor, several years ago.  When we would walk into his store after our ride into town, he would take note of our mode of dress and tell us that we "look like you just stepped off of a spaceship."  The current proprietor is Leon Morton, who is a cousin of the late Mr. Pace, who died in October of 2010.  He is no spring chicken, but he is a spry and talkative man.  That's him hanging up a giant ice cream cone outside his store.  He was teetering on a chair to reach the hook, so I helped him a bit.




This is an enlargement of one of the pictures on the wall in the
photo above it.  It is Mr. Robert Pace, the previous proprietor.
The eyes of the picture supposedly  follow you as you move. 

 



Mr. Morton.

There are inviting displays of produce outside and within.  They still sell all kinds of hardware, food, and ice cream, and the place is filled with antiques that are not for sale. The previous proprietors had a squirt gun to use on patrons who attempted to take something for which they did not pay.  A wet head was their clue to make the situation right. That squirt gun is still behind the counter -- and loaded. 

There are several other buildings on the main street of town.  The depot was moved a few hundred yards from a place adjacent to the tracks.  The depot is now a museum and gift shop.


Other buildings have retail space, and there are several other places to eat.





After I walk around the little town, I come across this pretty girl, waiting for me. 



She has been faithful these many miles.  I get on the bike and head back home the same way I came. 

About 20 miles from home it starts sprinkling.  The rain steadily increases until it is coming down pretty heavily. 



But I didn't melt in the rain and got home safely. 

I have set up my spreadsheet for the 80,000 milestone.  We'll see if I get that far one day.
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