Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Murals, Rain...and Direction Needed.

Back on July 11, 2010, I took a little trip to some destinations south of home.  I usually don't do that except in the winter and early spring when the roads in the mountains to the north may be covered in slick leaves, ice, or sand and gravel.  The roads to the south are flatter and straighter. 

This time, I chose to go that way because it was supposed to rain, and because I wanted to nab the tag posted on the local motorcycle forum, CarolinaRiders.  The picture showed a mural with a railroad theme painted on the side of a building, along with the cryptic clue, "Donald Duck could have painted this, but I doubt it."

I studied the photo and decided it was not one of the murals I have previously seen and written about, so I had to do some research.  (See, there is a cerebral side to motorcycling!)  

I started out looking on the Internet for a town named Ducktown in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia, since our forum tag game rules say the tags must be within 125 miles of The Store where a lot of riders meet.  That didn't yield any likely results, so I looked a bit further, hoping for a town called Donald, or something close to it. 

There is one in Georgia, but it is further than the mileage limit, and North Carolina doesn't have one.  South Carolina does have one, and I found that there is a building with a mural on it.  ...And it is the right mural, I believe.  Bingo!  Now, to get there and snap a picture with my bike in it, then post it on the forum before anyone else does. 

I prepared a Google Map, but since I like to do some light touring when I go anywhere, I wanted to find a few other points of interest.  I settled on an easy jaunt to Elberton Georgia, in an area known for its granite industry, and then over to Donalds to get the tag.

Here is the map of the route I took:

View Larger Map

Although it shows only about 178 miles, I got lost several times. More about that later.

On to the ride.

Because it is supposed to rain in the afternoon, I pack my rain suit and start out about 7:00 in the morning.  That way, I should be back before the rain starts.

Well, that isn't working out.  About a half hour after I leave home, it starts to rain.  Just enough to make me consider stopping and pulling on my rain gear.  I look for a place to do so, but by the time I find one, the rain has tapered off.  In a few more miles, it quits, but the sky remains overcast.  I continue on my way, going through Clemson, and down near Lake Hartwell, and the hydroelectric power dam there.  The roads are easy, in generally good condition, and I make good time.  I stop for a potty break at the boat launch south of Hartwell Dam. I stopped here the last time I came through almost a year ago, on my way to Lawrenceville Georgia for the Lee Parks Total Control Class. 

After my stop, I cruise through the countryside. some more, and spot this is along the road, at and Pushpin "B" on the map.

"King of Kings, Lord of Lords.  Jesus is Lord.  I AM the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh to the Father except by me.

That is an important thing to know.  It is found in three places in the Bible: 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, and Revelation 19:16.  It is a powerful statement of Jesus Christ's supreme authority over all other kings and lords of the earth.

I mount up again, and soon reach Elberton, at Pushpin "D," and find the Granite Museum.
Unfortunately, it is closed until 2:00 PM.  Rats.  I should have looked at their website more closely.  I don't want to hang around until two, since I want to avoid the afternoon rain that is coming.

There are some neat granite things to see even from the outside.  This is a solid granite spire, 51 feet tall.  It weighs 41,810 pounds.

Look at these granite books.  They almost look like real ones.  That's what I'd call heavy reading. 
Here is the railroad depot.  I had to stop there, you know. 

And a little history of Samuel Elbert, a Revolutionary War leader and governor of Georgia. 

Shortly out of town, it begins to rain again.  [What's new?]  And, again, it is just hard enough and long enough to make me look for a place to stop and dress for it.    And again, the rain stops about the time I find a spot.  It was supposed to rain this afternoon!  Right? 

[Oh well, be glad you are able to get out today, Bucky, despite the sputtering weather.] 

When I was riding back from Lawrenceville, GA on that cold, rainy night in October of 2009, I naturally had my rainsuit on. My ancient one-piece suit is not lined, and the rubbery waterproof coating inside makes it hard to get it on and off.  I stopped at an Interstate rest area to use the toilet, but could not get the rainsuit off over my shoulders. I had to wait until someone came along to ask them to help, then had to ask someone else to help put the suit back on. Imagine this picture: a stranger riding a motorcycle, dancing around at a nearly deserted rest stop in the middle of a cold, rainy night, fervently asking others to quickly help him undress, and then dress again. Well, it was either that or an uncomfortable alternative involving nasty bodily fluid. ...And I didn't want to ruin the leathers, you know.

I mentioned earlier that I got lost a few times during this trip.  Actually, I got lost a lot.  About five times.  Now you may recall that I am an engineer by training, so when I put together the Google Map, I make sure to mark it up with red pen so I don't miss any turns or route numbers.  I pinpoint each intersection with a red dot, and make the route numbers large so I can easily see them atop my tank bag. 

Despite this, I keep getting off the desired route today.  I am, of course, certain that it is not I who is missing the turns.  Rather, I am sure [tongue in cheek here] that the road signs are missing, so it can't be my fault.

Anyway, I thought I was smart in borrowing our son's GPS and having it help me along today -- a sort of a belt and suspenders concept: I can't go wrong, right?  Wrong.  The only thing it helped with was to get me pointed back to the right route when I got lost.

[Why didn't you use it to avoid getting lost, Bucky?]

I'm glad you asked.  It seems that I don't have a bracket to hold it at the correct angle on the handlebars of my bike, so I slip it into the map pocket on my tank bag.  Unfortunately, the glare off the top of the bag prevents me from seeing the display, and it doesn't have a way to connect an earpiece, so I can't hear it either. 

Thus, I am relegated to stopping, studying the thing, then going on a little further, and doing the same.  I eventually get where I want to go, but it certainly isn't very efficient. 

Back to the ride.

I meander through the Georgia, then South Carolina, countryside.  As soon as I cross the state line, the pavement becomes poorer.  Not terrible, but not nearly as smooth and well maintained. Our tax dollars are not working as hard in South Carolina, apparently.

I go though the town of Iva and see a building with a mural containing a train.  Naturally, I stop to take its portrait. 
The mural was painted in 1991 by Oscar Velasquez, and depicts Iva’s Atlantic Seaboard railroad station.  The mural is 60 feet by 20 feet and covers the entire side wall of Brown's Variety Store. The piece is based on an 1890 postcard of the town’s depot. Mr. Velasquez has painted several other outdoor murals, at least some of which depict railroad themes.
I wonder why a lot of these murals do not show the proper drawing perspective.  For example, the circular front of the locomotive is not properly oriented.   The engineer in me is offended by things like that. 

A little more history of Iva. 

I go a few blocks through town and spot a building with an awning sporting the word Reviva, on East Broad Street.  It is a small-town museum with a catchy name incorporating the town's moniker.  I can't pass that up either, so I dismount and go in, walking past a moped that looks a little like a miniature Honda Virago 250.  There is a guy inside -- the moped rider -- who greets me and asks what I am riding.  I tell him, and he begins to regale me with a rundown of his extensive motorcycle riding experience.  He seems to enjoy having someone listen to him speak about it, though I am a bit skeptical that his story is not embellished a bit.  A woman approaches and also greets me, with the invitation to look around.  The building is a former bank, and it contains many photos and artifacts of area events and places.  The moped rider continues his monolog for the entire time I am viewing the museum.  I have to say that I was polite to him, but a little distracted, so I failed to take any pictures inside. 

Oh well, maybe next time through. 

Next up is Abbeville, only because I missed a turn (again). It is a nice little town with an attractive square.  I wrote about it back in April of 2009.

I then manage to find my way to Due West, which is in the general direction of Donalds.  The town was named for an old trading post on the Cherokee Path, six miles west of the current town.  Due West is the home of Erskine College, the first four-year church-related college in South Carolina, founded by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1839.  

I motor onward and enter the metropolis of Donalds, at Pushpin "E" on the map. I soon spot the mural on my right at the intersection of SC-184 with US-178. I find a place across the street to park, in about the same place as the original tag photo.  I snap the shot, and start out toward home.
The mural is painted on the side of Little A's Variety Store.  This is the only link I could find describing the mural. The description from that website:
"This mural caught my eye. I like the way the smoke stack from the building was used [as the locomotive stack]! The Southern and the Piedmont and Northern both served Donalds, and both of the stations still exist. Also the short line (4 miles long), Due West Railroad connected to the Southern at Donalds. The mural is located on the side of a building where SC 184 leaves highway 178. This looks to be along the route that the Due West took from Donalds to Due West to take the students to Erskine College. The depot in Due West still stands today. The locomotive on the mural does not look like a Southern one, or one of the two that was used by the Due West Railroad. My research on the Due West locos shows that there were two of them, an 0-6-0 built by Glover, and an 0-4-4T, ex New York Elevated Railway, builder unknown. The P&N was an electric railway.
Tom Daspit, Morgan Hill, CA, Tom's Trains

I make note of the weather that is supposed to be closing in this afternoon.  In fact, it appears to be clearing up! 

So much for the weather guessers today. 

After Donalds, I go through Honea Path, and Belton.  Belton has a large water standpipe that has a crenellated top.  It is an interesting sight, visible from several miles around.  Completed in early 1909, it is 155 feet tall, and made of reinforced concrete.
Water flows through a ten-inch diameter pipe in the center of the bottom portion, and the water reservoir is within the upper section, above 100 feet from the ground. Therefore, the structure is actually a water tower rather than a standpipe.  The latter would be full of water throughout its entire height. 

There is an exterior ladder on the north side extending to the top.  There are no stairs or ladders inside. The Christmas star at the top had not been serviced in years because no one wanted to scale that exterior ladder.  A crane was available when they did a restoration study of the standpipe in 1987, so they fixed the star too. 

Interestingly, there is another Belton Standpipe.  It was built in 1914 and is in Belton Texas. It is a true standpipe, and is not as architecturally interesting as the one in South Carolina.

The trip home is uneventful, and I am now a bit too hot, since the clouds have left and the sun has come out in full force.

When I reach home, I run with my camera to the computer to post my tag.  My hands tremble as I reach the tag thread.  Has anyone beaten me? 


I succeed in posting my picture, and I am the winner, for now, until someone gets a new tag I post.  I search through my archive of trip photos and find a new tag that I think will be difficult for others to find.  It is at the end of a dead end road, where not too many riders go.  I post it and we'll see in a couple of weeks if I have stumped them. 

Today I rode 213 miles, stumbling my way around western South Carolina and eastern Georgia.

If you go:

There are other points of interest nearby.  

  • South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in the Belton train depot, 50 North Main Street.
  • Ruth Drake Museum of agricultural, railroad, industrial, and cultural history, also located in the depot.  Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 4 PM.  Free.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Get Registered!

One of the most important elections of our lifetimes is coming up November 2, 2010.

If you are not registered, here is a website that tells you how, allows you to check your registration status, and gives information about other things that are related. 

If you are not pleased with the developments over the last year and a half, it is vital that you vote in this election.  It could be the difference between socialism's failures and free enterprise's success for all of us.

Throughout history, socialism has caused untold harm to the citizens of every country where it has been tried. 

As for me, I'll vote for free enterprise every time.  It has worked for over 200 years, and has brought immeasurable prosperity to these United States for all who live here.

Here is a website that helps understand how detrimental big government has been -- and will be -- to our well-being.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


While we were away, after we passed through Vancouver, BC, we visited a few ports in Alaska, along the Inside Passage.  Naturally, I had to keep an eye out for motorbikes of all types, plus things related. 

I saw a few.  Let me tell you a little bit.

Juneau is the capital of the state, so you might expect that it has a motorcycle dealer.  It does.  Taku Harley-Davidson.  They weren't open when I went by there, but I looked in the windows.  They had about six bikes of various types on display.

OK, now a quiz.  What is so different about Juneau, related to motorcycles and riding?

One thing is that you can't get there from here.  At least, you can't drive there on land from anywhere else.  You have to take a ferry if you want your ride to be there with you.

The other thing is that even through the area of Juneau borough (county) is larger than that of Rhode Island and Delaware individually and almost as large as the two states combined, there are only about fifty miles of roads in Juneau.  It wouldn't take long to have explored all of them.  I think I'd be bored, even though I am not exactly a long-distance rider. Most of us ride fifty miles in a brief jaunt. 

There are some other cool (sorry) things to see in Juneau.  One of them is Mendenhall Glacier.  You can walk to a quite-close view of Nugget Falls (barely visible on the right), and get fairly close to the terminus of the glacier (center, across the water).

Here is a closer view with some people visible, so you can get an idea of the scale. 

While walking around back in town, I spotted this 1986 veteran. It still has air in the tires, so it may be in use, though it was very rusty. 

There were a few other bikes about, including a pair of squids on sportbikes with loud mufflers.  My picture of them turned out blurry, not because they were going so fast, but because of my faulty exposure setting.  At any rate, they seemed to particularly enjoy revving their engines in the narrow streets to hear their own echoes.  Otherwise, the mix of bikes I saw seemed to be about two thirds sporty bikes.

Another topic that I can't avoid, and one that is dear to my heart -- er, stomach, was this salmon dinner cooked and served outdoors. Yummy.  The cornbread, something I usually don't care for, was light and very tasty, and the salmon was flavorful. I had my fill, you can be sure.  (It was exercise for me -- once I got home.) 

Moving on to Skagway, we saw the Harley-Davidson dealer there, but it was just a clothing and souvenir shop.  If you want to buy a bike, you have to go elsewhere.

Here is another pretty sight, a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria. 

There is some great scenery through here on the Klondike Highway running north.  There are no other roads out of town, so this place is also quite isolated, though not as much as Juneau.  


Here is another way to travel, the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gage passenger train. We took a bus up to Frasier, and the train back to Skagway.  Both were very enjoyable. 

In Ketchikan, there was a dilemma.  We had the opportunity to take a kayak tour, or ride Harleys.  I would like to have done both, but they were scheduled at the same time.

See the sign beckoning us from the dock?  Click on the photo to see it better. Temptation was running rampant. 

You can rent a Harley Sportster for $90 per hour with a two hour minimum, or take a 3-1/2 hour guided tour for $268.

Decisions, decisions. 

Here is mine.

Yep.  I took to the sea for a few hours.

I have never ridden another motorcycle besides mine, and anyway, I don't think they had all the gear I have made it a practice of wearing when riding.

So I went for the Southeast Exposure kayak tour of the Tatoosh Islands.  We took a launch to a beach where we transferred into the 2-man kayaks, got some instruction, then paddled about for almost two hours. The islands we were near are at Pushpin "A" on the map. 

View Larger Map

The place was thick with bald eagles, and we saw some other wildlife, too.  It was downright hot out on the water, but was quite enjoyable. Since I am not a swimmer, it was good that the water was calm. Our guide Eugene was a college graduate and answered our questions very thoroughly. 

Maybe I'll rent a bike the next time through -- though I might be 80 years old by that time. 

Oh, one more thing.  On the way to the kayaks, I was momentarily confused about the signs on this building we were to use if we needed it. 

I figured it out in time to avoid trouble.

Here is a view from this ship we traveled on.  There were great views of the scenery in almost every direction. 

Well, that's it for the west coast trip.  We made it back safely and I have ridden to some interesting places around home since then.  I'll keep you posted.  



Saturday, September 11, 2010

We Must Never Forget

We must never forget what they did to us on this day in 2001.  

We must stand strong against them forever and always.