Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quiet Parks and a Winter Route

Last time I went out for a ride, I looked at Google Maps to find some new places to go.  Since it is winter, I usually don't go north into the mountains -- might be ice or sand on the road.  I don't need to be slip sliding around. 

Instead, I look for sights that are new to me in the other three directions.

I pick out three parks, generally south of home, Sadlers Creek State Recreation Area, Hart State Park, and Tugaloo State Park.  By the time I complete the route, I will have gone into Georgia and circumnavigated the major part of Lake Hartwell, shown here in a satellite view, and found a highway with some nice sweepers: 

© Terra Print

The three rivers that form the lake are the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca. It covers 56,000 acres, about 88 square miles.  

It is a little cold again this morning -- 28 degrees -- but I can handle it fine if I dress right, and it will warm up later. 

I start out on US-178, the road that, to the north, is a favorite of motorcyclists around here.  In the direction I am headed, however the road is very mild.  There is not much traffic this morning, so I can move right along and enjoy the sights.

I find Sadlers Creek and go in.  There are a few boat trailers, parked, so there must be some fishermen and recreation seekers about.  Not where I am, though.  It is quiet and there is no human in sight.  The water level is low, due to the recent dry weather, so there is a lot of normally-submerged area at the edge of the water.

This would be a serene place to enjoy the view and maybe drown a few worms. 

I snap a few pictures of my trusty steed.

From the shore. 
It would be pretty in the fall here, I expect, but probably not as quiet. 

There is a fine picnic pavilion on the water with this entrance forming a frame for the focal point of my photo, my silver Ninja.

They even have a basket of various balls and rackets for visitors' use.  How thoughtful. 
I don't take them up on using them today.  .

Next up are some more mild roads, and then to Hart State Park, for another pic of my baby.
This time, I spot a speedboat out on the water, near the far shore.   No skier behind, though.  Must be wimps, since the temperature must be way up into the 40s now. No telling what the water temperature is, though. 

No other people around.  Again, quiet, but a nice place to sit and watch the water and wildlife.

Nearby, there is a boat ramp with this important road sign on the way to it: 
I didn't keep on going into the drink.  [Pretty smart of Bucky, don't you think?] 

After I leave Hart, but before I reach Tugaloo, in Georgia. I cross the bridge over the Savannah River with a nice view of the Hartwell Dam a little to the north.  Since 1963, this dam has generated quite a lot of clean hydropower. 

A little road west of the river crossing leads to the powerhouse.  Being an engineer, I can't pass up this opportunity to see some engineering on a grand scale.  Just before reaching the powerhouse, I stop and take my bike's picture. 
When I get closer to the powerhouse, I see a sign that says that photographs are forbidden.  Oops. Well, nobody seems to be ready with the handcuffs just yet.  Maybe I was further away when I took the picture than they care about. 

There is a little place to camp and have a picnic along the Savannah River downstream of the dam.  The riverbed is very rocky, with rounded-top lumps sticking above the water's surface, like a multitude of bald heads grouped together.  The dead end road along the river passes under the road I came in on, US-29.  A guy riding a Monster and wearing a race suit passes me on this little road as I am taking the pictures, but he seems to be in a hurry and doesn't stop to chat.

Here is a photo from near the top of the dam, looking downriver toward the 1958 highway bridge, taken on my trip to Lawrenceville Georgia in 2009. My current location is on the other side of the river, beneath the bridge.  Downstream of the bridge is Lake Russell, another large, man-made lake. 

The river is lower today than back then, exposing more of the lumpy bald heads.

The view from under the bridge I had passed over a few minutes earlier:

I don't see Monster guy again.  He is probably tearing up the roads somewhere way ahead of me. 

Next up is Tugaloo State Park, Georgia.  I couldn't find many picturesque views, and, again, there are no people around.  I guess it is too cold out.  There is a nice picnic shelter, and a playground nearby. 
(Before you comment, there were no handicapped people there, and I only stayed a minute.)
I spot a road hazard nearby. Can you see what it is?

Look closer:

Acorns.  Lots of them.  Like ball bearings.  Even a car might be in trouble here.

I avoid the hazard, though.

Now to the highpoint of the ride today.  A road on the way back home.  It is on this map, between Pushpins D and E. 

View Larger Map

It isn't very twisty, but it is a 15-mile series of sweepers that is enjoyable to ride, like a shorter version of my earlier posting about Sweepers, Galore!  This surface is clean, and in good condition.  It makes part of a good winter route.  I will have to build on it some time.  There isn't much traffic, and I like the free feeling of guiding my two wheels through the curves.  Another road that is all sweepers is the one that leads to Whitewater Falls, my first trip there is described here

I think this is one of the ways I most enjoy my scooter.  I like a few tight twisties in the mountains, but I am not that fast there, a little error could be a big deal, and there are certainly many hazards that could cause trouble around the next bend. 

At the other end of the road spectrum are the almost straight roads.  They are not technical enough, and it is easy for the mind to wander -- not a good thing in any case. 

I enjoy my 182 mile ride today, especially this curvy part. Yes, the sweepers are the best for me.  How about you? 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cold Ride to Cool Bridges

It was cold this morning.  22 degrees.  Should I ride?  Take the cage to work?

Well, it hasn't rained in a couple of days, so the roads should be dry, and likely no ice.  So.... 


I bundle up as usual, turn up the wick on the heated grips, and go on my way.  My neck is a little chilly, but that's all.  The rest of me is just fine.  I spend some time at work, then head out.

You may have noted that I like to visit bridges of various types.  I have visited Campbell's Covered Bridge several times, and the oldest bridge in the state, Poinsett Bridge, too.

Today, I have my GPS set to take me to Klickety Klack Covered Bridge, near Gowensville, SC, and the covered bridge at the site of Old Ballenger Mill.  Both of these bridges are relatively new, built in the last fifteen years or so. 

The Klickety Klack bridge resides in a rather unusual setting.  It doesn't cross anything of note.  An 18" culvert would have sufficed.  I think the guys (and their old tractor) who built it did it for the fun of it. 

It is a substantial structure... front of this house...
...on SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.   

 The floor is wooden and includes some longitudinal boards for vehicles, and a 6" x 8" rail on one side of the deck.

The rail is supposed to separate the vehicle traffic from pedestrian traffic. The deck of the bridge is not in the best of condition.  I wouldn't risk crossing it in a car. Anyway, there is a driveway that goes to the house a few hundred yards away that crosses the ditch the bridge spans. 

The bridge construction was a labor of love as a gift to local “Dark Corner” residents and visitors to the area.  Supposedly, "...the floor timbers of the bridge are attached to support spans in a scattered pattern to provide a nostalgic “klickety-klack” of older bridges as vehicles pass over them."  I am sure it sounds like that, but it is probably not something you can avoid on a wooden-decked bridge like this one. 

It is located on the north side of SC-11, at the Look Away Farm entrance, a little more than two miles from SC-14 at Gowensville. 

There is another modern covered bridge only about five miles from this one.  It is on property that also includes a corn mill, the Old Ballenger Mill.  The Ballenger Covered Bridge crosses the south prong of the Middle Tyger River.  The bridge replaces a smooth, rock ford visible in the photo below. 
© B&S Photography

Here is a picture of the mill. 
The stream flows down a smooth rock bed.  Might be a good place to slide down. 

The bridge and the mill are both on this property, behind the house.
Idyllic.  [If you are interested, the 6000 square foot house and its grounds, including the bridge and mill are for sale.  $5,900,000 (Estimated monthly payments: $30,000).  Hmmmm.  I may make an offer.  What do you think?] 

By the time I get home, it has cooled off again... 

...and heavy snow flurries are seen. 

It turned out to be a nice day out, seeing some interesting sights, despite the cold start and finish. 


Locations of the four bridges mentioned.  

Dark Corner -- Its boundaries are approximately as shown on this map, within the blue roads, the upper boundary being the North Carolina state line.

Ballenger’s Mill -- Originally built by Lewis H Dickey circa 1820.  Later called L. Green’s Mil.  Renamed in the 1860s after it was purchased by J.L. Ballenger. The grounds are privately owned.