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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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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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Issues and What is at Stake -- Study This Now.

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You might have noticed some problems with a few things. 

Like these, maybe:
  • Your employer isn’t giving you raises as often as you would like,
  • You or many of your friends are either out of work or can’t find full time employment,
  • Your food costs are much higher than they used to be, 
  • Your health insurance costs have skyrocketed, both in premium and in higher deductibles and copays,
  • People are moving in nearby who are not citizens and who are taking your jobs and sucking from the welfare system at taxpayer expense.
Well, all of these problems are because of bloated government.  They want to control everything you do and take as much of your wealth from you as possible. 

The answer?  Conservatism.  What does that mean?  Look here.    

And, just what are some components of conservatism, you ask?  Look here: 
  • Free enterprise (Allowing, and encouraging, every individual to have a fair choice on how to spend his money ‑‑ whether to save it, spend it for the kid’s education, start a business, or buy what you want.) Did you know that Millennials are starting more businesses than the baby-boomer generation did? They sure could use that money the government is sucking away from them to start those businesses, because they know better what to do with it that some bureaucrat in Washington,
  • Limited government.  The federal government should ONLY do the things the Constitution states that it has responsibility for, and NOTHING MORE.  Everything else is to be left to the states or to individuals like you and me,   (See the footnote at the end of this posting under "United States Constitution.")
  • Individual freedom,  
  • Traditional American values, and a
  • Strong national defense.  One of the only things the federal government is a responsibility of doing. 
While we are discussing government, there is a strong tie-in to economics.  It is important to have a basic understanding of that as well.  Here is an easy-to-understand econ 101 video. 


Now lets delve into the differences between our two major political parties. 

Specific issues where the two parties differ:  

Clinton

Trump









 
All graphics here and below are used without permission
from DECISION magazine, September 2016 issue. 

The Supreme Court one of the most important differences.  The next president will likely appoint several Supreme Court Justices.  The function of the court is to interpret the law, not make new law -- that is for the legislative branch to so.  Supreme Court justices are supposed to be non-partisan, but the Democrats always appoint people who don't interpret, but instead, bend laws to suit the Democrat's purposes at the time.  This is dangerous, because the Democrat-appointed justices always vote to take away our freedoms.

If you favor killing babies, turning in your firearms (2nd amendment to the Constitution), being unable to say what you want to without being censored (1st amendment to the Constitution), losing more of your freedoms, having higher taxes, and being required to buy health care insurance lest you be fined, then vote Democrat across the board -- top to bottom.

If you are more interested in some crass, stupid remark made by a Republican than you are about the future of our country, then vote Democrat.


If you favor killing babies that are old enough to live outside the womb, selling their parts, and doing it all using your tax dollars, then vote Democrat. 


If you are for letting more illegal immigrants into our country to take your jobs, then voter Democrat.

If you are for letting -- no bringing in by the busload -- immigrants who are military age, who will not assimilate into our culture, and will blow up innocent people in acts of terror, then vote Democrat. 

Effective military forces are all male, and as nearly all heterosexual as possible for a reason.  That reason is that they must not be distracted from their appointed task of killing our enemies and keeping us safe from harm on the home front.  If you think homosexuals should be part of our fighting forces, that our men in uniform should have to worry not only about fighting our battles, but about whether another soldier might be coming on to them in a foxhole, then vote Democrat everywhere you can. 

If you think that despotic regimes in the Middle East should have nuclear weapons they can use on our only alloy in that region Israel, and that can be used on Europe, then vote for all the Democrats you can find on the ballot. 



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Here are the Democrat and Republican Party Platforms -- the things each party stands for: 

 

The Democrats want you to pay for abortions. 


The Democrats believe that LGBT is just the beginning.  Next up will be marrying your mother/daughter/sister/dog/horse/computer/etc. because "everyone should be allowed to love how and who they want."  The Democrats want nothing to do with a marriage between one man and one woman. 

Democrats will further tell us there is "separation of church and state" that protects government from churches.  Instead, the Constitution protects churches from being restricted by government.  If you want everything religious to be removed from our culture, then vote Democrat.  By the way, the founders of this country were almost all religious people. 

If you want our Constitution, one of our bedrock founding documents, to be bent, shaped, contorted, and trampled upon, then vote for anyone with a D by his name.  That Constitution details the intended limited function of government, and the freedoms it affords us as citizens. 

Taking more and more money out of national defense so that ships, planes, and other equipment can barely be kept in service, cutting pay and benefits to our fighting men, and providing second-rate care to military veterans is the way of the Democrats.  If you want our defense to be further weakened, then vote for them.  But remember that national defense is one of the only legitimate functions of the federal government. 


Pull the lever for the Democrats if you think we can defeat an enemy that wants to annihilate us, by talking nice to them...even as they have their weapons at the ready and aimed directly at us.

If you think that foreign countries want the LGBT agenda forced on them, even though they have strongly said they don't and even though some of them throw LGBTs off rooftops, then vote for the first Democrat you see on that piece of paper in the voting booth. 

If you want those Muslim military-age men flowing over the border and setting up terror cells, then make sure you encourage others to vote Democrat.  After they do, tell them that you hope that their children's school, or a theater, or a marathon finish line, or some other place where civilians assemble doesn't get blown up. 

The Democrats just gave away control of the Internet.  Now, the last place that has been mostly a free speech zone is threatened with censoring.  Vote Democrat for more of the same. 


If you want to pay more taxes to support those who buy steaks with food stamps while you struggle to put hamburger on the table, then bring on the Democrats.  One in five families now have no one in the workforce, mostly because of Democrat welfare programs, government rules and regulations, and the Obamacare insurance mandate.  You are supporting them. 

If you think it isn't right to execute the worst criminals, and want them to live out their lives without a care in the world, getting free food, health care, and everything else, then punch your ballot for the Democrats.  ...and if you want to continue to let lesser criminals out of prison so they can commit crimes against you again, do the same. 

If you want police officers to be required to talk the guns out of the hands of criminals instead of shooting them, then go for the Democrats. ...but don't be surprised if the police are very reluctant to come to your rescue if a bad guy has a gun drawn on you some day. 

If you want us to forsake the only Democracy and our only ally in the Middle East, Israel, then vote for the Democrat. 


More: 

The Democrats want us to continue to pay high oil prices even though we have more reserves in the United States than they have in the Middle East -- that place where we want to abandon our only ally, and have given billions of dollars to unstable and hostile countries there to develop nuclear weapons.  What do you suppose they want those weapons for?  To make electricity so they don't have to burn their oil?  I don't think so.  And that pipeline they want to build here in the U.S. has been repeatedly blocked by guess who -- the Democrats -- for the sole reason of not giving an abundant, low cost source of our own energy, that is independent of the Middle East. 

Does your bike have a corroded fuel tank or fuel system?  Thank the Democrats, who insist that our gasoline be contaminated with lower-energy-content ethanol.  They say it is for making our energy source "renewable."  Well, using food -- corn -- to make fuel that is inferior to straight gasoline makes food prices higher for the entire world.  Making the ethanol takes more energy than it might ever save, too.  Stupid, again, but vote for more of this in your favorite Democrat if you insist. 

Another ruse put over on us by the Democrats is  Global Warming  Climate Change  Carbon Pollution.  They have evolved the name of this mythical “problem” that almost everyone now believes is real.  Carbon dioxide is not, and never will be a toxic pollutant.  It is required for healthy plant growth, in fact.  The real problem is that whatever this is called, it is a falsehood…and it is costing us billions of dollars to combat something that is of no real consequence, and billions more dollars sent to foreign lands supposedly because of our polluting of the air.  Read about it here. 

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One of the most important elections of our lifetimes is coming up November 8, 2016. 

If Republicans don’t win the White House and hold the House and Senate, then the country is doomed.  You and I – and our children and grandchildren – will never know the prosperity and freedoms our country was founded to provide. 

Even if you don’t like either presidential candidate, realize that we absolutely know that Clinton will continue, and worsen: The corrosive, divisive, costly policies of Obama.  With Trump, there is some uncertainty about what he would do in situations that are presented to him as president, but he would be infinitely better than Clinton because he is political outsider.  

Also, when you vote, be sure you don’t vote out of office those others on the political spectrum clear down to dog catcher, who are conservative, and mostly Republicans and Tea Party candidates.  If we lose them, the country is as good as lost, too. 


Are the Republicans perfect?  Absolutely not.  Some are almost as bad as the Democrats I have so glowingly spoken of above.

But they are a far superior alternative to the Democrats.

We have no more chances to save our country.

VOTE, but vote for Republicans, not Democrats. 

And after the election, don't stop.  Write to them and call them with instructions on what to do.  Like this basic list:
  • Cut taxes
  • Cut regulations
  • Eliminate Obamacare
  • Cut spending
  • Close the borders
  • Reduce the size of government
  • Go after terrorists with a vengeance
  • Stop political control of the IRS, the EPA, the CDC, and other agencies. 
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Footnote:
  • United States Constitution -- the document that contains the fundamental laws governing the United States of America.  The only powers granted to the federal government in the constitution are as follows:
    • To collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. 
    • To borrow money.
    • To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states. 
    • To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States. 
    • To coin money.
    • To establish post offices and post roads. 
    • To provide patent protection for inventors. 
    • To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
    • To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas. 
    • To declare war. 
    • To raise and support armies. 
    • To provide and maintain a navy.
    • To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution. 
    • and, importantly, the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.   

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Really New Guy

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A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a guy who is just about as new at motorcycling as it gets.  Although John has had his bike for about two years, he has accumulated all of two hundred miles on it thus far.  So he's pretty new at it, I'd say. We went for a ride together the other day -- his longest ever -- and he agreed to write some comments about it here amongst my scribblings.

John just lives around the corner from me, so he might become a regular riding buddy some day.  I hope so.  Right now, though he is in the earliest stages of learning.  I have done a little coaching and instruction by e-mail and a little more while talking with him in person, but riding is something he has not done other than puttering around the roads of our little suburb.  He says he likes that all right, but he really needs to go somewhere that he can experience a bit of speed and some curves. I emphasize that he must always look where he wants to go, one of a paramount rules of riding on two wheels.

He has also not yet taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic RiderCourse.  I have encouraged him to do so, since they cover so many of the basics both in theory and in practice with the coaches watching.  I did, back in late 2007, and I benefited greatly from it.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that his bike is a Honda Rebel just like they use in some of the MSF classes.  This little 250cc beast is an ideal starting bike that is a lot of fun even for more advanced riders.  He bought the bike almost exactly two years ago, and the seller rode it to John's house, since he did not yet have a riding permit.  That sounds familiar.  I did about the same thing when I bought mine seven years before he did.  He says he was surprised that you can get a permit with no riding experience whatsoever.  It does seem odd that you can go out riding on two wheels with just that piece of paper in your pocket, and with no supervision whatsoever.

Actually, it turns out that John had ridden a little bit before buying his Rebel.  His brother owned a Yamaha Seca 750 that John rode some, but John wisely picked something smaller to learn on.  He says he was seeking adventure and wanted to learn a new skill.  Well, a motorcycle can certainly provide adventure and it sure takes skill to do it even close to right.  ...and he was looking for a sense of freedom, excitement, and exclusivity.  Not everybody rides a motorcycle, after all.  I can identify with that.  I feel the same way when I am on the bike.


Anyway, I mapped out a route of less than a hundred miles heading toward the northwest, with our destinations being near Whitewater Falls, one of my favorite places to go.  The roads that lead there have lots of sweeping curves that are good for beginners to learn on.  Here is a map of the route: 

Click here for a larger map.
The return route would be the same.

John was enthusiastic about riding, so we made arrangements to meet the next weekend.

We checked out his bike -- chain tightness and lube, engine oil, and tires.  Everything was in order except the tire pressure and chain lube.  We fixed those in short order, and he learned a little bit about maintenance items that always seem to need doing on almost any motorcycle.

Since he is new to riding, he doesn't have a lot of safety equipment, though he does have a nice full-face helmet.  Here is how he showed up: 


That would not be enough protection in my view, especially for a newbie.  I fixed him up with a suit that I've used myself in the past, though it is a little large on me 'cause I am so skinny.  He fit into it, and was much more ready for the road.  I gave him a set of earplugs, too. 


Yes, that's much better.

I think he thought it was cool, too -- he sent a picture of himself all suited up to his lady friend, who I am sure was impressed by the intimidating biker figure he cut.  Nobody would think him a beginner by the look of him.

Well, he does need to get himself a pair of riding boots.  He had a set of heavy cowboy boots instead, but they served the purpose today.

Come to think of it, there are almost no standard-style motorcycle riders around here who wear full leathers.  Many of them don't wear any protective equipment at all, or maybe a leather jacket and some chaps, and sometimes a shorty helmet.  I hope John doesn't succumb to that bad example.

I remember when I was at the stage John is
.  My then new friend Ryan helped me start through my learning curve during the trip he led me on to Saluda North Carolina, way back in 2009.

I remember too, because of the sensory overload of learning to ride, I couldn’t even remember what gear I was in at first.  Ryan verbally coached me half way through the ride when we stopped for a soda pop, gave me signals on the proper gear selection from his bike as we went, and demonstrated the correct lines though the curves that, for him, were being taken at a painfully slow pace.  I didn't think so at the time.  I thought we were screaming along at a breakneck pace!

I'll try to remember that feeling when we are out riding today.


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Note: The following account includes comments made by the new guy John himself, in bold typeface
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The initial route, leading to the north and west from the town of Pickens, SC on Shady Grove Road and SC-133, is pretty easy, with a few sweeping curves. 


John seems to be doing OK on them, and we continue until we hit SC-11, which is wide and almost straight. We stop at Keowee-Toxaway State Park for a few minutes to be sure John is doing all right.  


My menacing posture in that picture above makes it look like I am giving him what for.  I'm not.  Really. 


He seems to be doing well, and he says that is the case. 
I give him some feedback from my rear view mirror observations, mostly about lane placement in the curves. 

John: During the ride, I tried to focus on applying the practice of making sure to slow appropriately before a curve, looking as far as possible through the end of each curve, taking the largest radius within my lane, and leaning into the curves while maintaining velocity.  There is no doubt that the more I ride, the better I am getting at that.  As with any skill, I think the goal is to develop such proficiency that the act does not require conscious thought.


John said a mouth full in that last sentence.  That is indeed the goal.

A few miles further on, we turn to the north onto SC-130 toward Bad Creek and Whitewater Falls.  This turn is a tight right-hander that sometimes has gravel in it.  Today it doesn’t have any gravel, but I make it a point to go a little slower than usual because of its tightness.  There are several cars at the intersection, making it unnerving for John.  



I watch my rear view mirrors.  He seems to do all right, and he doesn't go wide into the opposite lane. That is a good sign.

SC-130 has many more sweeping curves over the ten miles or so we will travel on it.  Most of them have good sight distance, so the riding is not as difficult as it could be.  The pavement on SC-130 is mostly in good condition, and they did an extensive rebuilding of the roadbed from North Little River Road to the North Carolina state line, so that part is superb.


There were several large dump trucks that pass us in the opposite direction.  Each one buffets us quite a bit, and there is some wind, even when the trucks aren't present. 


John: Traveling on highways at a speed of 55 miles per hour is okay for me, but sometimes I feel buffeted by the wind.  That was the only instance where I had some apprehension.   Maybe a windshield on the bike would help reduce that feeling.  The suit Bucky lent me also seems to help reduce the feeling of traveling at speed -- more so than the jeans I have always used before.

I am not sure why, but we arrive at the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Facility entrance more quickly than I expect.  It has been an enjoyable several miles, and I can imagine how John feels, as I recall my first trip up this road.  I slow rather abruptly for the Bad Creek entrance, and am concerned about my follower, but he does fine and I lead the way in.

We ride down the road of a million tar snakes to the scenic overlook above the powerplant.  


On our way, a deer runs out from the trees just ahead of me on my right, and paces us on the far side of the guardrail for several hundred yards before it finds another place in the woods that suits her.  We had slowed to a crawl when we saw it: We wanted to make sure she didn't dart out in front of us or that her friends were not waiting in ambush for us somewhere.

The scenic overlook comes soon enough; we park the bikes, and take a look around.  The sky is beautiful.  The crystal blue water of Lake Jocassee and the green of the surrounding forests are treats for the eyes.  I point out Lower Whitewater Falls, and as much of the powerplant as we can see from here.  (The operation of the Bad Creek Pumped Storage Powerplant Facility is described in one of my posts from 2009.) 




John: I feel safer wearing the leather suit than I do in jeans and jacket.  I think I need to get some good riding duds. 

I tell him that the suit I am wearing came from a pawn shop probably fifteen years before I started riding.  Somehow, I knew that one day I would ride.  I confess, it is true: I have longed to do this for many years.  It just took me until most of the way through my fifth decade to get started!  As it happens, my suit matches the bike I eventually purchased pretty well. 

After we have drunk in the sights, we saddle up again for the short trip north to Whitewater Falls.  

We reach the falls parking lot and walk the half-mile path to the falls overlook.  Again, the ideal lighting of the day displays the cataract beautifully, though the water flow is low because of the lack of rain.  We linger here, and snap a few pictures. 


We gaze at Lake Jocassee again in the distance on our walk back to the bikes.

I again have 
Déjà vu.  I have been here to the falls many times, but my first time here was somehow special.  I remember it well.

In the parking lot, a boy maybe four or five hears old eyes us.  We stop for a minute and explain that we are Power Rangers.  Just as he thought!  We let him ponder that for a little while, then reveal the real story: That we are riding a couple of motorcycles parked just up yonder.

When we reach the bikes, I describe the next stopping point, only a few miles from here: That "nice surprise" I have written about before.

The exit from the falls parking lot onto 130 is uphill, and requires good brake and clutch technique.  For good measure, it is sloped to the side so there is an extra stretch to get your left foot down at the stop sign.  It sometimes has gravel on it, and the sight distances are not all that long for the speeding vehicles passing by.  Outside of that, it is an easy exit!  Like our sharp turn a while ago onto 130, there isn’t any gravel today, and we get it right coming out, despite the challenges.  John is doing well.  I am proud of him.

We are again on our way, traveling a little bit to the south now.  We take a gentle right onto the Wigington Byway, and in just a few minutes, we spot the surprise overlook on the left. 

It is seldom this clear up here, so this is a chance to view the distant scenery. We can see the string of lakes below us, including Jocassee, Keowee, and Hartwell.

Here is one of us gazing at the scenery: 


Hmmm. I can't remember which of us it was.  Anyway, here is the other one on his way back to his bike: 


John: Bucky, I'm wearing the red suit and you the silver one -- the one that matches your bike.  Remember now?

Oh, that's right. 

When we are riding today, I try to set a good example for John of proper lines and a moderate pace, but a few times I feel that I may have entered a curve a little hotter than I should have for his experience. When we stop, and I debrief him, though, he doesn't let on that I have taken him too fast anywhere.

He is working on proper lane positioning for the curves.  As do most of us in the early stages of riding, he shies away from the road edge in left handers, keeping a bit too near the center line.  His positioning on right handers is pretty good, near the centerline as he should be.  (Remember these are all sweepers today.)

As we continue, I think he is getting the hang of riding. 
He doesn’t have any significant trouble that I can spot in my mirrors, but I expect that he might be feeling a little uncomfortable at times, though I don't detect any panic.  That is a good thing.

There are three or four times when cars come up behind us.  After all, we are going at the speed limit or below, and lots of drivers exceed it.  There are almost no passing zones on 130, so they are following pretty closely, making John nervous.  We pull off the road a few times to let them pass and take the stress off a bit. That is a good advice for any rider.

As we near home, I think through the ride.  John was slow and cautious at the beginning, but as has gained confidence toward the end.  We are tickling the speed limit -- and a little more -- on the last leg.  I will have to council him about the fact that most riders gain confidence faster than they gain skill.  That is easy to overlook until a tight situation develops and the sensory overload turns it into panic.

John:
Like almost any activity, the more you do something, the better you get.  The total round trip was only about 75 miles, but I believe I gained more in terms of training, skill, and experience by going on this longer trip, as opposed to taking numerous shorter trips around town.  It made me feel more comfortable and confident about traveling at higher speeds.

When we are almost back home, we catch up to these three young men on sportbikes.  At least they are wearing helmets and are patriotic.  Outside of that, I would hate to come across them if they took a tumble onto the tarmac.  



John: Certainly, the full body protective suit helps provide a greater comfort level of riding all around.  I'm glad to have it today, compared with those guys who have almost no protection.

We make it home without incident.  ...and there is another debriefing session by that menacing taskmaster: 


Here is a picture of accomplishment and victory (or, possibly, relief) as we arrive at the end of our ride today:


John's closing comments:
  • I wonder if I would feel less buffeting by the wind with a bigger motorcycle or perhaps that windscreen. 
  • I had not previously used ear plugs while riding my motorcycle; but there is no doubt that they help minimize the effect of the senses becoming dulled over time by the wind. 
  • The trip was great because we saw some beautiful sights and it was a gorgeous day. 
  • I have to say, it was also good to be out and about following another rider, so I now see the fun that can be had in riding in a group. 
We had a good time, seeing some of the many great sights God created in our corner of the world, and traveling some of the best motorcycle roads there are anywhere.  I hope I have helped John a little in his riding. We have gone a little over 76 miles today, and by my figuring, he has added almost 40% to his previous mileage on the bike. 

...and thanks again to my mentor Ryan for similarly taking me, a temperamental student, under his wing.  I am trying to pass that along, brother. 

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