2014 Blairsville Motorcycle trip

Day 3

May 17

This morning I awoke in a strange bed and immediately got the vacation butterflies. Donna was in the bathroom so I laid in bed until she returned. I could hear others moving around upstairs and in the kitchen so I got up and got ready for the day. The normal morning activities involve sitting on the rear deck, the smokers smoke, some eat breakfast, and we all sit around enjoying being on vacation.

The first thing I usually do personally is mount the GPS on the bike so it can be acquiring satellites. Depending on how buggy the windshields are we'll Plexus them and generally check out the bikes.

Today we are venturing into South Carolina to visit a small distillery and a historical old mansion. The weather is still cloudy and cool. Perfect for me. I always get excited when the bikes are warming up and everyone is preparing to leave. There was a small bit of apprehension about transitioning from the driveway to the steep road but there were no issues.

The Russell Johnson byway is a nice highway. The first half is pretty relaxing and the lower half gets curvy as it traverses a couple bluffs. The cool breeze is refreshing. So far my two-way is working. I'm relying on the GPS to lead us to our destination...something I'm not totally comfortable with. I forgot to bring my paper maps with me. I'd like to pick some up somewhere.

Our path today led us through the town of Helen. None of us had been here before and it had a welcoming, Gatlinburg-like feel to it. Lots of shops and a mountainy, Germanic feel. It would be a good place to spend some time so the girls could shop.

Outside of Helen we passed this mound which Debby found out later was a burial mound. We continued on GA-17 which was a nice sweepy road. At the outskirts of Clarksville police cars directed us to a side street. At first we weren't sure what was going on but it ended up being a parade. It took us several attempts to find a road that wasn't blocked by the parade route. Eventually we made it through. Near Avalon we picked up railroad tracks so I was on the vigil for trains.

Lavonia, GA. 10:58, mileage 70,952 - We'd been on the road for an hour and a half so it was time for a fuel stop. From here we'll take I-85 most of the way to Anderson where the Palmetto Moonshine Distillery is located.

Amen brother! A nice sign to see.

Our first stop of the day. I enjoy visiting distilleries even though I don't drink. I enjoy the chemistry and mechanics. Their claim to fame is they are the first legal moonshine distillery in South Carolina.

One thing we've noticed so far is the South Carolina highways suck. They have an annoying choppiness to them and the road surface looks cracked. It seems to be consistent on all their two-lane highways.

It was early afternoon when we left the distillery and time to start looking for a place to have lunch. As we rode through Anderson we saw a Church's Fried Chicken. I knew there was some chicken place Donna doesn't like so I asked her if she liked Church's? Yes. It is Popeye's she doesn't like. John and Debby said Church's was good so we stopped there. I couldn't ask Mike...he hasn't gotten a radio for his bike yet. We're having steak tonight so we didn't eat a big meal. The chicken was delicious.

35 minutes and 28 miles of choppy roads later we were at our next destination...the Burt-Stark Mansion in Abbeville.

We went to the door and the lady who was giving the tours said the next tour would start in about 20 minutes. We walked around the mansion and spoke to the groundskeeper who ended up being the tour guide's husband. I wanted to take a picture of a spectacular Victorian house we saw on the way in but it was farther up the road than I thought. We sat on the porch as it sprinkled briefly. I heard four trains come through town. "20 minutes" turned to 55 before the lady came out to start our tour.

The claim to fame of the Burt-Stark Mansion is this is where the Confederacy was dissolved. After the surrender of Robert E. Lee Confederate president Jefferson Davis started a journey to Texas to reestablish another army to continue the fight. Davis met with his generals and members of the Confederate Cabinet at this mansion. It was here the cabinet members and general burst Davis' bubble and told him the war was over...effectively ending the Confederacy.

It was an interesting tour and lasted almost an hour and a half. She related the history of the mansion with other prominent figures and mansions. As with most mansion tours there were no internal pictures allowed. I enjoy the architecture and construction of older homes.

It was nearing 5pm when the tour ended so we made a pass by another mansion in town we had learned about on the tour and made our way back towards Blairsville. We still had supper to cook and it was 120 miles back. We also didn't want to climb the hill to the cabin in the dark.

When we left the Burt-Stark mansion we were all thirsty and in need of restroom facilities. Relief finally came at the Country Cross Road Store at the intersection of GA-28 and GA-413. Donna and I got some fountain Mountain Dews. Unfortunately her's jettisoned itself down the road and almost hit John's trike. It was funny.

Ash Pond, GA. 19:04, mileage 71,114 - We backtracked for the most part but the GPS took us on a different route via Demorest and Cleveland and US129. US129 is very curvy in spots. We got back to the cabin before dark and tackled the hill again. There was issue getting parked so Donna talked to the neighbor who said someone was welcome to park in his driveway which was larger and flat.

Afterwards the neighbor, John, came up and talked to us for about an hour. He used to ride motorcycles. He had lived there for 13 years and divided his time between Florida where he is semi-retired. He talked about the wildlife in the area. Jerri and Donna are wanting to see a bear.

After we got settled in for the night John fired up the grille and cooked some wonderful steaks. They were heavenly. It was so relaxing to be sitting on the deck eating wonderful food wearing our traditional pajamas. That's what vacation is all about! I took my laptop to the deck and did my nightly downloading of pictures and GPS tracks.

Speaking of GPS tracks, I learned something the hard way. The past several months I've been using Garmin's Basecamp program instead of Mapsource. Garmin no longer supports Mapsource and Basecamp is actually a better program once you get used to it. The first night in Shelbyville I downloaded the GPS information using Basecamp and was aggravated to find it doesn't download as much data from the GPS as Mapsource does. Much of the time information is missing. This is valuable information I use when I go back and retrace our routes for the trip report you are now reading. I tried downloading with Mapsource but the time data was gone. Lesson learned. I used Mapsource for the rest of the trip.

Tomorrow rain is predicted for most of the day. We'll see what it brings.

259 miles.

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