Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year 2016 Ends


Well the year is almost over.  It has been a good one, I think.

Our family has been blessed by God beyond all possible imagination.  Have there been problems?  Sure, but nothing we can't get through. 

I have not ridden the bike as much as I would have liked, though.

Thanks to the magic of spreadsheets, I figure that I took the bike out of the garage 40 times, and rode a total of 4,274 miles, for an average of 106.9 miles per outing.

That compares with the two previous years, and for the entire time I have ridden this motorcycle (my only one, so far), as follows. 

2014  49 trips       5,319 miles  
                            108.6 miles/trip (last year of work) 
2015  59 trips       6,353 miles  
                            107.7 miles/trip (first year of retirement)
Total  696 trips  56,733 miles  
                             81.6 miles/trip (many short trips to work)
I bought the bike 9 years and 3 months ago, and have ridden an average of 6,117 miles per year since I started. 

[So, Bucky, how come you are not riding more?]  

Church duties, piano playing, and home/auto repairs have taken up my time to a greater extent that I thought they would.  There is more to life than the scooter, you know.  Our cars are getting old -- the newest is 2008, the oldest 1979.  So is the house getting old, and I try to do all the repairs myself, being a tightwad since birth.

Also, I didn't take any overnight trips like I have in the past.  The Rally to Ridgecrest has not been held for the last few years, unfortunately. 

I did meet a new guy and took him on his first longish ride in the mountains.  I hope to ride with him more, but he is away during the day at work, or something like that, so his time is limited. I had a good time that day, and he wrote some of his impressions as a guest blogger. 
A Really New Guy

There was also a potentially life threatening incident on the road this year, that I'd rather forget, but highlights the need for vigilance when riding. 
This Could Have Ended It All
Found! The Van That Could Have Killed Me.
Fortunately, I managed to avoid great bodily injury.

There was lots of political maneuvering in our country, certainly.  We have a new president who will be worlds better than the last one, and certainly better than that screechy woman who was running this time.  The snowflake college kids and bleeding heart liberals are hugging their Teddy Bears and shedding tears over this whole thing, but they will look back and see that this will have been a turning point for the better in our nation's history. 
The Issues and What is at Stake -- Study This Now.
We Have One more Chance

I gave some advice on a topic or two that might be helpful to other riders.
Vision: Eye Glasses or Contact Lenses?

And, there have been some Odd and Interesting Sights I've Seen

Anyway, here are some photographs of places I visited near the end of the year, with some older description links:

Have a great New Year. 

See you on the roads of the Carolinas in 2017! 


Thursday, November 24, 2016


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.


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. 


Final Update. 

FIRE SIZE: 10,623 acres, as of Dec. 5, 2016, when it was contained.

ESTIMATED COSTS: $4.8 million

FIRE BACKGROUND: Human-caused / Nov. 9, 2016 / Table Rock State Park, 10.5 miles north of Pickens, S.C.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Have One More Chance

So, Mr. Trump is president. 

Trump 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:  


Now get busy, and send your instructions so they get there as soon as the officials get into their offices.   

Monday, October 17, 2016

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


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:  



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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 

  • 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.