Friday, February 25, 2011

Direction Needed, Now Found

A few posts back, I wrote of having a terrible time finding my way around, especially if my selected route is complex and unfamiliar.  Usually, I make a Google Map, then mark it up by hand in large enough letters so I can tell at a glance what the road names and numbers are, then refer to that map while it resides in the clear pocket of my tank bag.  Even then, I sometimes get lost because I miss a turn, or the road names are different. U-turns are getting easier for me as a result of the practice I am getting.

You might ask why I don't just wander around the countryside, as I might find something unexpected.  True enough, but I have limited riding time, so I like to find some places on the map or that I have heard about, then map out a -- hopefully -- interesting route to get there and back in a reasonable amount of time. 

I also wrote previously of having borrowed my son's GPS to help me get around.  It didn't.

Well, that isn't the whole story.  It didn't help me partially because I couldn't see the display with it tucked into that glossy map pocket, but mostly because I couldn't hear it at all with my earplugs in, the music of the bike mechanicals serenading me, and because of the wind noise of my swift (?) riding. 

I was fairly certain that I could find a way to mount the GPS on my bike so I could see it, but what about the sound?   Without that, I might still miss a turn.  I commenced doing some research on how to solve these problems -- and, as long as I was at it, I delved more deeply into what GPS unit would be best for my purposes, so I wouldn't have to borrow my son's any more. 

Here are my selection criteria:
  • Custom Route -- ability to accept my custom-generated routes rather that settling for the route generated by the GPS on its own.  That way I can take the road less traveled by,  (And that has made all the it might have for Mr. Frost.) 
  • Sound -- earphone jack for audio and/or Bluetooth compatibility for in-helmet sound. 
  • Tracks -- able to show where I have actually been.  
  • Price -- Less than $150. 
Since I was familiar with our son's Garmin, I started with that brand.  I looked at the Garmin website to narrow down the choices.  I also scoured the on-line forums for advice, and PMd a few users for their advice.

I was quite disappointed in the Garmin product selection pages.  I did decide that I could not spend $450 for, say, the designed-for-motorcycle-use zümo 220 or 660 or nüvi 550.  Their site mentioned some features of the many models available, but it was not readily apparent which had audio jacks and custom route capabilities.  I found myself going through each model's features page one at a time, and making notes.  Not good.  I was not patient, knowing that it would have been easy for them to expand the number of selection criteria there.  I resorted to their support e-mail system.  At first they responded but didn't answer my questions.  Strange.  I tried again.  This time, they told me what units have custom route capability, but they also said that none of the units has an audio output jack.

Anyway, after many hours of poring over specs and advice from others, I settled on the nüvi 765.

The next thing was to find the best price for the gadget.  Retail is $299.99.  Too much.  I searched ebay to no avail, then went to one of my favorite merchandise sites, Amazon, and found a reconditioned unit for $159.58.   Actually, it is a 765T, which includes a radio receiver for showing traffic congestion in big cities.

Bingo.  I put it into the shopping cart.

But wait, there are accessories listed nearby by those clever Amazonians.  There is a nice RAM mount, and a direct-wired power cord, and a leather carrying case, and a clear screen protector.  Can't do without those, now can we?  All into the cart they went.  Now, to place the order...

Oops.  One small problem.  Due to some prior negotiation, this device is supposed to be a Christmas present from my bride, so I can't just push the "Place your order" button and have them send me the stuff.

I humbly approach her and suggest that she log on and push the button herself.

...and she does!

I'll be really surprised when I open my presents on Christmas morning!

I somewhat patiently wait for the big day, and unwrap my new toys, er, navigation equipment.  I pore over the instructions, and note that the unit has an audio output jack after all.  I wonder why Garmin didn't know that. 

I attach the Cradle Holder to the back of the GPS. 
That is the thing that has the ball mount receptacle on the back so it can mount to the windshield suction cup, and it provides the place for the factory power cord to plug in.

Next, I assemble the RAM mount, and find that it clamps onto the motorcycle handlebar easily, to the left of center between the bike's handlebar clamp and the Hippo Hand over there.

Catalog pic.
The real thing. 

I snap the GPS with the attached cradle holder into the RAM mount cradle. It seems quite secure.  I adjust the location and angle so I can still see the instruments on the bike.  I turn the bars, and note that the mount does not interfere with the tank bag or with the windscreen.  The mount is easy to adjust using a large wing nut, and it is very stable when tightened.  So far, so good.

I will have to take off the fuel tank to mount the direct-wire adapter in an out of sight, and protected location, so I will save that installation for later. 
Edit: This direct-wire adapter plugs into the GPS's mini-USB port rather than into the 18-pin port on the Cradle Holder. When power is received through the mini-USB port, the GPS goes into "office" mode with lower brightness and reduced volume -- not good for motorcycle use. The solution is to use either the original power cord or an 18 pin power supply cord with a much thinner cable. (see below under "What I Bought".)

Right now, I will use the standard power cord plugged into the lighter receptacle I installed under my seat a couple of years ago to charge my cell phone and camera batteries while en route.

Edit.  The power plug and the Cradle Holder are not very substantial, and the flexing of the two during turns eventually damaged the Cradle Holder contacts.  A replacement is $25.  Ouch!  To prevent this wear and tear, secure the cable to one of the screws on the rear of the Ram Mount using a plastic cable clamp and a slightly longer screw. Like this:

See also, "NOTE" below. 
I tinker with some of the GPS settings, turning up the screen brightness and audio to maximum.  I then set out for a quick trial run.  I enter the address of my workplace, and press the "Go" button.  I can barely hear the synthesized voice, but the display is pretty legible.  I follow the screen prompts, and it gets me there, albeit, by a route that isn't as fast as the one I normally use that has fewer stop signs.  After work, I set it for home, and it gets me there by the same route. 
I note that I can fairly easily manipulate the touch screen -- only when stopped, by the way -- with my Shift Carbine summer gloves on.  Some of the smaller screen buttons, such as for entering an address by name are pretty difficult.  A stylus for a PDA might work well for that, but so far I have not needed one badly enough to get one.

Since the built-in speaker's audio output is not loud enough to hear with my earplugs in and the GPS on the mount, I need some way to amplify it.  I begin studying the on-line forums again.  Some have advocated in-helmet speakers.  You can buy some -- one source is Helmet Audio -- that are quite expensive, and you can get an amplifier to pump up the volume.  You can even connect it to a Bluetooth receiver for wireless communication with the GPS.

Because I am frugal -- well, actually, the word cheap may be more accurate -- I figure I can concoct a pair of helmet speakers myself instead, from a discarded computer headset.  I do some surgery, extracting only the speakers from the headset housing.  I try them out with my earplugs in, but can hardly hear them.  Since I won't ride without earplugs, that isn't going to work.  Now what? 

A few riders use Koss "The Plug" Portable Headphones with memory foam earpieces.  They work like earplugs that you compress and stick in your ear, where they expand, and are supposed to reduce the ambient sound level.  I go back to Amazon again and find a pair for $12.  This time I have to press the Pay button myself. 

When they arrive, I find that they come with two sizes of soft earplugs.  The larger of the two keep the headphones in my ears fairly well.  I wiggle my helmet on -- then take it off again and try a second time because I have dislodged the earplugs -- and see how they work on another test ride.  The sound is excellent.  The wind and motor noise are somewhat attenuated, but not nearly as much as with real earplugs.

Well, these will have to do, as the budget is limited right now.  Someday, I'll come up with a better solution, maybe using the Bluetooth wireless communication feature.  

Oh, I forgot one other vital accessory.  Since this GPS is not waterproof, I have to carry a zipper-top plastic bag with me to protect it should I get caught in a shower. 

Next GPS post: How I use the 765T, including getting my Google Maps route into it, and getting my track out of it.

What I bought:
  • Garmin nüvi 765T -- $159.58
  • Direct-wire Adapter, Model: GA-NHWC* -- $13.49
  • RAM Bike / Motorcycle Handlebar Mount, Model RAM-B-149Z-GA26U -- $34.40
  • Case -- $3.00 (doesn't have space for the cradle holder) 
  • Screen Protector --$1.42 
  • Koss "The Plug" Portable Headphone, Model 156407 -- $12.09 
  • Total = $223.98
...and a zip-top bag. 

*Here is a better solution for powering the GPS at full volume and brightness if you don't want to use the original power cable.  Garmin Model: 010-10747-03 -- $12.65    See "NOTE" directly below. 

The cradle holder that comes with the 765 has a very fragile receptacle that fails after a short time, cutting off power to the GPS.  That happened to me twice, so I engineered a better power connection.  It is detailed here

A few places to go for GPS advice:
Other GPS Postings:

Garmin nüvi 765T specs:

Physical and Performance

Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 4.8"W x 3.0"H x .8"D (12.2 x 7.6 x 2.0 cm)
Display size, WxH: 3.81"W x 2.25"H (9.7 x 5.7 cm); 4.3" diag (10.9 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 272 pixels
Display type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Weight: 6.48 ounces (183.8 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 3 hours
Waterproof: no
High-sensitivity receiver:

Maps and Memory:

Basemap: yes
Preloaded street maps: yes
Includes lifetime map updates: no
Ability to add maps: yes
Built-in memory: internal solid state
Accepts data cards: SD™ card (not included)
Waypoints/favorites/locations: 1000
Routes: 10


Voice prompts (e.g. "Turn right in 500 ft."): yes (internal speaker)
Speaks street names (e.g. "Turn right ON ELM STREET in 500 ft."): yes
Voice-activated navigation (operate device with spoken commands): no
Lane assist (guides you to the proper lane for navigation): yes (with junction view)
trafficTrends™ (calculates routes based on predicted traffic flow): no
myTrends™ (predicts routes based on user's navigation behavior): no
3-D building view (displays buildings in 3-D): yes
Auto sort multiple destinations (provides most direct route): yes
Auto re-route (fast off-route and detour recalculation): yes
Choice of route setup (faster time, shorter distance, off road): yes
Route avoidance (avoid highways, tolls etc.): yes
Bluetooth® wireless technology: yes (with A2DP technology)
Garmin nüLink! Services: (receive accurate real-time travel information): no
FM traffic compatible: yes (receiver and lifetime traffic included)
XM® compatible for U.S: no
Speed limit indicator (displays speed limit for most major roads in the U.S. and Europe): yes
Where Am I? (find closest hospitals, police & gas stations, nearest address & intersection): yes
Garmin Locate™ (marks position when removed from windshield mount): yes
ecoRoute™ (calculates a more fuel-efficient route) : yes
Qwerty or ABC keyboard (choose keyboard layout): yes
Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest): yes
Garmin Garage™ vehicles compatible (download car-shaped icons to your device): yes
Garmin Garage™ voices compatible (download custom voices to your device): yes
Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos): yes
World travel clock, currency & unit converter, calculator: yes
Picture viewer: yes
MP3 player: yes
Audio book player: yes
FM transmitter: yes
Headphone jack/audio line-out: yes
Garmin Lock™ (anti-theft feature): yes
Touchscreen: yes
Motorcycle-friendly: no (oops!)
Trucking-friendly: no
Geocaching-friendly: no
Marine-friendly: no



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Mill at Newry -- Off the Beaten Path

January 29, 2011

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been out on the bike due to weather and other priorities, but there is a place I have been wanting to visit for some time.  It is an old textile mill about twenty-five miles from home.  Since the mountain roads are still covered with salt and sand, it is a good time to head out for this less-challenging terrain. 

I have to work for a while today, so I bundle up, as the temperature is about 29 degrees.  After a few hours at work, the temperature has risen a few degrees, so I start out on my adventure. 

Here is the route I have plotted out, so you can follow me today. 

View Larger Map

I wend my way west on mostly secondary roads, stop for a few minutes at Cateechee (at Pushpin "B" on the map) to watch them remove a dam on the Twelve Mile Creek that used to provide power for an old mill, long since torn down. 

After a spell on main roads again, it gets very secondary on Substation Road.  Catchy name, eh?  It is so named because there is an electrical substation near Old Clemson Road at Pushpin "C" on the map.  The road surface is well-graded fine stone, and is firm and flat in most places.  Before I go a quarter mile, it feels as though I have gotten off the beaten path and into the mountains.  It is quiet, and peaceful.
 Somebody's motorcycle is on the road in the right background here.  I wonder whose it is. 
I stop a couple of times, then begin to follow the Little River on my right.  I get my first distant glimpse of the mill I am seeking.  It looks majestic and stands proud in the distance in the bright sunlight.  I can almost imagine smoke billowing out of its chimney, powering the machinery within.  I take in the scenery for a few minutes before mounting up again.  Just a little ways further, completing only a mile and a quarter of gravel, I reach the thoroughfare called Broadway Street in the town of Newry.

Even though Broadway is one of the main streets, it is not so much of a thoroughfare these days, for two reasons.  One reason is that Newry is not on the way to anything else.  There are only two paved roads out of town, and they both go in the same general direction.  Only Substation Road leads out another way.  The other reason that Broadway is not too heavily traversed is that there is no other economic activity here.  The mill was the only major employer, and it closed many years ago. 

From the Oconee Heritage Center website:   
"On April 21, 1893, [William Ashmead] Courtenay and his associates received a charter from the South Carolina secretary of state 'to establish a factory in Oconee County for the manufacturing, spinning, dying, printing, and selling of all cotton and woolen goods.'
"To his stockholders, Courtenay wrote, 'It was in a sparsely settled and unfrequented corner of the county; labor had to be brought there, shelters built for them; in fact all the primitive conditions of the distant border had to be dealth with, machinery for brick making and other purposes had to be transported from distant points, one and a half miles of railroad must be graded and built...'"
The mill was built in 1893 by Mr. Courtenay, a former mayor of Charleston South Carolina, 1879 to 1887.  He found this place for building his new cotton mill that reminded him of his ancestral home in the town of Newry in Northern Ireland.  Both town sites are located in a river valley surrounded by wooded hills. 

Mr. Courtenay's portrait from the Courtenay Society website:

Courtenay was one of the pioneers of the industrial movement, which had transferred the bulk of the American cotton industry from New England to the Southern states where the raw material is produced. The South in the days before the Civil War had despised manufacturing, but the men who rebuilt the war-ravaged Southern states were well aware of the importance of industrialization.

Most of the buildings here in Newry were erected between 1883 and 1910.  The mill's waterwheels first turned on June 14, 1894, starting production. 

I arrive at the town square, which is flanked by the company office...

...and the company store with its second floor assembly hall and adjacent post office building. 
Photo circa 1935

The small, frame post office was replaced by this nondescript addition to the store about 1940.
Photo circa 1980

The mill entrance is located on a third side of the square.

I make my way closer to the mill grounds.  The gate in the fence is non-existent, and there are, surprisingly, no signs warning of trespassing.  I can now see that the building is in poor condition.  The once-numerous windows are mostly bricked closed, blotting out the natural light that was so important in days gone by, and there is not an unbroken pane of glass to be found.

The mill was designed by one W.B. Smith Whaley, and consists of four floors served by a stair tower in the center of the front, but I note that the wood-framed warehouse visible in the aerial view is gone now.  I look back at the gate, and visualize the workers coming to work through it.  It was just a short walk to work for the residents of the town. 

I park and venture toward the stair tower.

The wooden stairs inside are rickety, and the floors are rotted in places.

Please do not enter this building due to the danger.  

I peek in.  There is little to see but desolation, where once there were 10,000 spindles (some sources say 18,000) for spinning thread from fiber, and over 250 looms for weaving the thread into cloth.  It now lies silent except for the echos of my footsteps. 

The concrete dam that originally powered the mill still extends across the Little River, but coal boilers were installed in 1905 to provide more power and thus increase production. 

Mr. Courtenay died in 1908 at the age of 71.  His sons continued to run the business until about 1920. In 1946, the Courtenay Manufacturing Company merged with Anderson Cotton Mills, Panola Mills, and Grendel Mills to form a corporation called Abney Mills. 

Smallpox and influenza epidemics, droughts, floods, and lack of raw materials all hindered the operation of the plant over the years, but it was finally offshore competition that caused it to close in 1975. 

After I leave the mill building, I wander all of the streets of Newry town.  The mill village is much like hundreds of others in the south.  This one has about 115 houses in four styles, mostly doubles, plus a few larger houses for the boss men, and a Neoclassical house, named Innisfallen, built for the mill founder.  The latter, located on a ridge southwest from the village, is now in ruins.
The four types of double worker houses.

All of the houses were served by a sewerage system, running water, and electric lights.  Some of the houses are now well kept while others are run down.  This particular house has seen much better days, but some, er, ingenious roofer has solved his too-short ladder problem in an innovative way. 
Yes, that is a stepladder standing on a wooden platform attached to the roof of the porch. 

The textile industry was by far the largest of any in South Carolina.  In 1880, there were fourteen mills in South Carolina involved in cotton manufacturing.  By 1900, the mills numbered around eighty.  The industry employed about 45,454 wage earners in 1909.  In 1890, workers in South Carolina textile mills earned an average weekly wage of $5.17.

I leave the little town and climb up to SC-130, to Pushpin "C" on the map below.  This road crosses an earthen dam that helped Duke Power create Lake Keowee in 1971.   Lake Keowee covers Keowee Town, site of the capital of the Lower Cherokee Nation.  Keowee, meaning "Place of the Mulberries," was visited by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto when he came through the area in 1540.

View Larger Map

I can see the village of Newry from here, on the right below me...
...and the water of the lake and the distant Blue Ridge Escarpment to my left.

The elevation of the mill site is about 700' above sea level.  The surface of the lake is about 797' today, so it is, in round figures, 100' above the town.  I hope this dam holds!

Lake Keowee covers 18,372 acres, with 300-miles of shoreline, and is used for hydroelectric power, cooling of the Oconee Nuclear Station reactors, boating, and other recreation.  Upscale homes line its banks.

After I wander about a bit on some nearby roads, I find others that lead generally north until I reach SC Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, which runs along the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.  I motor north on it until I reach US-178 and the Holly Springs Country Store where many bikers gather.  I ride through the lot, but don't see anyone I know, so I continue south on 178.  This is the somewhat curvy section that I like, so I go at a pretty good clip until I get backed up by some slower traffic near Pickens. 

It has warmed up to 62 degrees by now and I take familiar streets until I reach home.  My odometer says that I have traveled 123 miles today -- a short ride to a historic place.

I've enjoyed taking you along.  Come again! 

If you go:

Coordinates of Newry: 34°43′33″N 82°54′25″W

Get there by boat:  See the Paddle to Newry posting by Tom in his Random Connections blog.  He paddled his kayak from the Lawrence Bridge over the Keowee River branch of Lake Hartwell.  He has posted many more photographs of the mill and of Newry.

Videos by others



The black and white photos in this posting are from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, National Register of Properties in South Carolina.  Note that the name of the mill founder, Mr. Courtenay, is misspelled on this page.  Must be government attention to detail and efficiency.