Friday, April 20, 2018

Lake Country Route

You may recall that I previously posted a ride route from a defunct local magazine, Motorcycle Lifestyle, published around 2007 through 2009.  The magazine featured motorcycles and motorcycle-related events, accessories, news, and other information. 

You may also know that there are several large man-made lakes not far from Easley, SC where I live, and there are many roads that circle them, and even run right into them.  The reasons for the latter are that the roads that were there before they formed the lakes are still there, but now end in the water instead of continuing on through as they used to.  There are also lots of houses that have sprung up around the lakes, some old, but many new and high dollar -- way beyond my means, I'm afraid.

So, here is a route that circles some of the lakes, from the Fall, 2008 issue of Motorcycle Lifestyle

The explanation of the route from the map:

Looping Lake Keowee and Northern Lake Hartwell.
120 miles of two-laned country fun, with nine lake crossings and dozens of lake views.  There are plenty of places to stop for photos and to regroup.  And a surprising number of gas stations in unexpected places.  Watch for slow-moving vehicles with boat trailers.  And you're likely to see possums and raccoons in the road (flat, of course).  It's all paved but you might encounter a spot or two of sand.  Be careful.

There are several bonus roads around lake Jocassee.  Take a chance and discover some on your own.  You'll hit a few dead ends, but that's part of the adventure.  Visit Devil's Fork State Park, Whitewater Falls, and more.  Google the area before you go.  Zoom in really tight and click between map, satellite, and terrain.  It's very revealing.  Enjoy the best the Upstate has to offer.

I decided to take the route of mostly sweepers on a 50 degree, windy, late winter day recently.  The roads were clean and the ride enjoyable.  Come along for the ride and the scenery.

Now here's the map.

Copyright 2008, Norm Blore.

March 8, 2018

When I start out, I'm glad I have my heated grips and Hippo Hands on yet. The temperature and the gusty winds blow away a man's body heat with ease.  The sky is beautiful, though, so that makes up for the chilly, windy conditions. 

I choose to ride the route in a clockwise direction starting at Clemson, the nearest point to my house. 
I turn south on SC-28/SC-76, then turn to the right onto SC-187.  There is lots of traffic around here, probably because of the nearby school, Clemson University, and a fair amout of industry and other businesses.  It is especially busy around Clemson and the lakes on weekends and on Clemson game days. 

I cross I-85, then turn right onto SC-24. 

The first lake crossing, an arm of Lake Hartwell, occurs on SC-24, and is the widest water crossing on the route.  There is a historical marker on the west side of the crossing for Portman Shoals, the location of the first hydroelectric plant in the area. 

The power plant was over there beyond the bike. 

Here is a circa. 1920 picture postcard of the dam and power plant, from the Historical Marker Database

Portman Shoals Power Plant, Seneca River
That postcard looks to be highly edited -- by hand, back then. 

The description on the back of the postcard: W.C. Whitner conceived the idea of the long distance transmission of electric power in 1894. The Portman Shoals Power Plant, on what was then the Seneca River, was built by the Anderson Light and Power Company.  Construction began in 1896.  It used Stanley Electric Company's 11,000-volt generators.  The Portman Dam, swept away in December of 1901, was rebuilt and returned to service in September 1902.  The plant caused [the nearby town of] Anderson to be called the "Electric City."

All along the route today, there are many boat ramps that usually have good views of the water, like this one.  Watch for the signs that call out access to the lakes. 

Those are not aliens landing in the upper left of the photograph.

And there are an ample number of places with picnic tables to sit and take in the view or to have a snack. Here are two: Search for Friendship Recreation Area and Oconee Point Park and Campground at the end of S. Friendship Road along and off of SC-65. 

Next, watch for J.P. Stevens Road, named after a textile manufacturer that was once prominent in the area.  At the intersection of J.P. Stevens and Cherry Road (near 191 W Cherry Rd, Seneca, SC 29678), is something interesting I stumble upon: An extensive new housing project for Clemson University students.  It is called, variously The Pier, Pointe West, and Highpointe.  It is located on the site of the former textile plant, and is considered a brownfield project.  That means that there was once an industry there, and the ground is probably contaminated, but remediation has allowed it to be used for certain new purposes.   In this case, a student housing development. 

The development consists of tiny houses, larger houses, and still larger houses.  There is a clubhouse, athletic fields, and walking trails.  Oh, and a bar and grill.  Naturally college students couldn't be without their booze.  Some of the houses are on the waterfront -- pretty posh for student housing, I'd say.   It looks as though they are going to build many more.  This place is about 4 miles from the campus, so I suppose it is convenient.  I expect that they run buses from here to campus to reduce road congestion. 

No aliens landing here either.

I continue on into the town of Seneca.  I ramble around the downtown section for a while, and spot what must be a couple of the buses that service the Clemson/Seneca area.  (I searched a little bit when I got home, and found that all nearby routes are serviced by catbus, a reference to the Clemson Tiger teams, and Clemson Area Transit.) 

I note that "Everyone Rides Free!  Clemson Area Transit (CAT) is a public service provided fare-free through federal, state, and local partnerships. Just board the bus, take a seat, and enjoy the ride." 

That means that you as a taxpayer are paying the fares for all these people to ride free. 

In Seneca, I spot an unusual pod hanging above a bus stop. 

See that thing on the left?  That's what I talking about. 

After I circle the downtown area a bit, it becomes obvious what that is used for.  It is a charging station for the battery-electric buses used on some of the routes.

The bus connects with the overhead pod and gets a partial charge from the electrical mains.  I sidle up to the curb and wait to see how long the bus stays there charging.

I wait, and I wait, and I wait some more. 

I finally get bored and leave. 

It turns out that the buses are manufactured by Proterra of Greenville, SC, and are battery powered, which means that they must be periodically recharged.  I note that the side of the buses proudly display that they are "ZERO EMISSIONS".  That is bologna, of course.  They have to get their power from somewhere, and that somewhere is a power plant that is burning coal, oil, or natural gas, using nuclear fission, or hydroelectric generation to make electrical power.  We have all of these in the surrounding area, and the leftist tree huggers don't like any of them.  I suppose if those power plants are out of their sight, and they don't have to think about it too much, it is OK with them that they are riding a bus that is really not zero emission at all, and, further, that they are riding at the taxpayers' expense.  By the way, the electric bus manufacturer is also subsidized by you the taxpayer. Read on. 

Here is a news story about Proterra's bus pricing and payback.  A quote from the article:  "...electric buses cost more up front — about $700,000 (not including charging infrastructure), compared with about $450,000 for a typical diesel or natural gas bus. But, according to Proterra, agencies win in the long run because the lifetime operation and maintenance of electric buses is more than $400,000 less."  Because there is such an interest on spending taxpayers' money for "green" transit, I suspect the calculations leave out some key factors and make some dubious assumptions that are not real world. 

Here is a fact:  The Oconee Nuclear Station power plant here in the upstate of South Carolina provides a large percentage of the power consumed in the area.  It is the longest-operating nuclear station in the United States, and has produced more power than any other in the nation.  In fact there are six nuclear plants in South Carolina.  Outside of hydroelectic plants, the nuclear plants provide the cleanest power. 

At any rate, the likely smug students riding on other people's backs probably believe they are having no impact on the environment when they take these buses.  Oh, and lest they think that windmills, and photoelectric systems simply need to be expanded to make more clean power, they should also know that such installations are expensive to build and will forever generate only a tiny fraction of our power needs.

The Federal Transit Administration published a list of Low-No [low-emission, no-emission] Grants during 2017 alone.  The Greenville South Carolina Transit Authority received $1,450,000 of the total of  $54,992,016 of your tax dollars.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather these projects stand on their own payback calculations instead of skewing it by giving away my money to make the payback look better. 

OK.  End of rant.  Back to the ride. 

I continue my journey on the route today, and find Nimmons Bridge Road (State Highway S37-128).  I spot a historical marker for Keowee Town at the intersection of Nimmons Bridge and Keowee Town Landing Road (State Highway S 37-98).

From the historical marker inscription:  "Keowee Town, which means 'mulberry grove place,' was the largest and most important of the Cherokee 'Lower Towns' in what is now S.C....  Keowee was also a major town on the main trading path between the British and the Cherokees....  The town and fort sites were covered by Lake Keowee (one of the lakes we have been circling today) in 1971." 

When I reach SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, I deviate from the map a bit.  I can't help myself. 

I turn south on 11 and go a little ways to SC-130 (in the very northwest corner of the map), where I turn to the north.  Whitewater Falls, located on one of my favorite routes, lies just about ten miles from here on a road that is mostly well maintained, usually clean of debris, and filled with sweeping curves. You can read more postings about it by clicking the "Whitewater Falls" link along the left side of the page. 

I circle the parking lot,

stop for a few minutes to eat a snack and drink some water, then turn back to the south to rejoin the intended route.  I love riding this road. 

I also find that I have again forgotten to turn off the GoPro while I am parked at the falls and get to watch myself pacing around on camera. 

Next, and heading back toward my starting point today, are SC-133, then SC-130 again (but a different section than before). 

The little mill town of Newry is along here. Watch for the sign that points to Newry, otherwise you can easily miss it.  The textile mill here is long closed, but there are still many houses near it. I have been here before as well, and written a few postings about it.  I enjoy revisiting some of the places I have ridden through before, like this one.  It hasn't changed much. Oh, there is also a twisty gravel road that leads in and out of Newry.  Look it up in the blog posting. It is good enough for almost any street bike. 

Just a little further south on 130, I reach SC-123.  This is a too-busy four-lane road that bypasses downtown Seneca and Clemson.  It is a quick way to get back to Easley, though. 

I have traveled 169.9 miles today, so that means I added about 50 miles to the map by intentional detours, getting to and from the starting/ending point, and accidental mistakes.  The roads were good, the scenery pretty (and will be much prettier as spring develops and the flowers appear). 

Go enjoy yourself on this watery route! 

Other maps from Motorcycle Lifestyle Magazine:
  • The Pumpkintown Loop: Get Lost! -- Early Spring 2009 issue.  Explores "great roads you've never ridden", centered on the crossroads known as Pumpkintown.  56 miles. 
  • Lake Country -- Fall 2008 issue.  Explores two of the lakes in Upstate South Carolina, Keowee and northern Hartwell.  120 miles. 
  • A Two Hour Afternoon's Jaunt -- Spring 2008 issue.  Covers and area centered on Tigerville, SC.  82 miles. 
  • Spartanburg, Saluda, Rutherfordton Route -- Summer 2008 issue.  This route goes into North Carolina, and includes the twistiest road I know of.  98 miles. 


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