Blairsville, GA. 9:20, mileage 51,031 - When going to other states we like to visit the state capitols. It's become a traditional of our's. Many have beautiful and historical buildings...unlike our home state of Indiana. Today we're headed south to Atlanta.
The ride will be around 150 miles each way, but it'll all be 4-lane or interstate. Time to put your feet up, turn on the cruise control, and cover some miles.
Kennesaw, GA. 10:41, mileage 51,106 - The forecast for today is sunny/warm with a slight chance of afternoon showers. It's already in the low 80's. We skipped breakfast this morning and ate some convenience store food instead.
Kennesaw is familiar to me by reputation. Back in the 1980's, in response to the anti-gun movement, Kennesaw made it a law that every household had to own a gun. Not too far away, in Woodstock, is Traxxion Dynamics, the company who makes the replacement suspension I have on my Goldwing.
We didn't have any problem finding the capitol (thanks GPS) but we made a couple circles to get into the parking garage. It's getting hotter so we tried to park as close to shade as possible. You don't notice the heat really until you stop riding.
On the way to the capitol building there was a protest going on and it was being covered by several television stations. I found out later they were protesting the way the city was handling their pension plan.
We arrived at the capitol building. It took just a few minutes to get through security. I got through on the first try. In Illinois I forgot to empty my cargo pockets and had to go through again.
We did the self-guided tour. The building was nice, with a museum on it's third floor. We were hoping to find a Georgia state pin but there were none to be found. I was pleasantly surprised the building is constructed out of Indiana limestone from our local quarries.
Capitol buildings are a nice place to go. Free. Air conditioned. Quiet. Historical. Usually nice, grand architecture. On the bikes I usually lead. On foot I seem to be the straggler. I take pictures and ponder things and then realize the others are gone. It's kind of fun that way. They've learned that I'll catch up.
Heading back to the parking garage and to start the next leg of our journey to...
...Stone Mountain Park. Although only a short distance from the capitol the million stoplights you have to go through make it take forever. I asked the parking attendant if they had motorcycle parking. No. Once again we tried to park somewhere shady but we didn't have much luck there either. By now it was getting toasty.
Here is the namesake of Stone Mountain. A HUGE stone monolith with a carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. The carving was started by Gutzon Borglum, who eventually abandoned the project to work on Mount Rushmore.
Speaking of abandonment, we abandoned John and stood in the shade while he purchased the tickets. We bought packages that included a free meal, unlimited drinks, and special seating for the evening laser show. The attendant said the paddleboat was not running. We seem to have bad luck with paddleboats. That's at least the third one that's been out of operation on us.
We'd not had a proper meal yet, so we wandered through the park checking out the food choices. We ended up at 'The Marketplace'. I used my food coupon for a hamburger and french fries. All the tables inside (in the air conditioning) were full so we ate outside on a shaded picnic table.
A gift store is attached to the restaurant so we scored some pins and stickers. We refilled our drinks and headed to the smoking area. We checked the train ride, but the train was just leaving...we'll ride it later. We walked through the field where the laser show is held and found where our seating area was.
This brought us to the tram ride, so we took it. The tram in Gatlinburg sways a lot, but this one isn't bad. There's a little negative-G feeling as it passes over the only tower but it's not bad. The view from the top of the mountain is spectacular. The engineer in me loved the radio tower up there. Bet those repeaters get awesome range. The tram building is air conditioned so we soaked a little of it in before going outside on the rock mountain.
Being on the rock mountain makes me think of being on the moon. I walked down to the edge to take pictures of the area and to try to see the bikes. They were blocked by trees. I made a short loop around then headed back to the air conditioned building...stopping for a closeup view of the radio tower, of course.
We eventually regrouped for the trip back down. There was a slight delay while the tram operator cleaned up some puke from the last ride up. Yuck. The ride down was mess free.
From the tram the next obvious stop was the museum. It was an interesting place. Two stories. No cameras allowed, though. They had Civil War history in general, and its relevance on the Stone Mountain area in particular. It spoke to such things as the prominent KKK influence of Stone Mountain and other things like races that used to be held on the mountain. The air conditioning felt good, too. As usual, I was checking things out and realized I was the straggler again.
Another place we wanted to visit was the Antebellum Plantation. We walked back to the entrance to wait on a shuttle. When the shuttle eventually arrived we found the plantation is only open certain days, and this wasn't one of them. Oh well, we sat on the benches and enjoyed being on vacation. Mike and John took advantage of the approved smoking area.
We wondered back into the park and checked out the various stores. The glass blowing shop was cool. Their furnaces were impressive. We browsed some trinket stores and one store with lots of fudge. Still not finding anything that speaks to me.
By this time we were back in the area of the train ride. We heard the train coming into the station so we got in line. The conductor was cute and silly. The train ride circles the mountain and takes about 20 minutes.
One thing that really stood out about the park was how friendly and polite the staff was. Everyone was upbeat and smiling. Included in the entrance packet were a couple of award coupons you can give staff who you feel did a great job. The conductor got one, and also the glassblower.
While we were on the train ride the skies darkened and the wind picked up. There was definitely some bad weather coming in. It sprinkled a few times on the train and there were a couple flashes of lightning. By the time we exited the train most of the stores had closed because of the weather, but we set off to find what was still open.
Bedford rappers...Johnny Kool, Funky K, and Big Beefy.
One place that was open was a theater. They were showing a shortened 3D movie of Yogi Bear. I usually don't care for animation but I really enjoyed the movie. It lasted 15-20 minutes and was interactive...the chairs shook and sprayed water on you. While we were watching the movie it stormed like hell outside.
After the movie we went next door to the glass blowing shop. One of the blowers was making a vase. Debby picked up some items she had had put back earlier. It continued to rain but by the time we had left the glass shop it had subsided.
One of the few places still open was the Marketplace, so we went there for supper. I had turkey & swiss and chips. The weather now was nice. Some cooler weather had blown in.
After supper we went to the 'Alabama' section of the viewing field to get ready for the laser show. We had an hour or so to wait so we just hung out enjoying the cooler weather and watching the kids in the field goof around. A little after 9:00 bad weather started to threaten. Clouds, then wind, then more wind with dampness, then some occasional thunder and lightning.
At 9:30 they started the show with some rain drops. Then the rain picked up. We sat there for about thirty seconds then headed for the cover of the tree canopy. A few minutes later the loud speaker announced the show had been cancelled due to the weather. We started up the pathway when the rain let go so we huddled under the restroom building porch roof with another family.
It kept raining and raining. We discussed staying the night at one of the hotels in the park, but we couldn't get through to check on vacancies. After about 45 minutes the rain finally subsided to a 'normal' rain. It was quickly approaching closing time so we decided to hop scotch back to the parking lot using whatever we could as cover. The first building we came to was the museum and there were dozens of people using it for shelter.
The rain let up some more so we continued to the shuttle building in the parking lot. Being gentlemen, the girls stayed there while we brought the bikes to them. On went the raingear. We headed into the rainy night at 10:28 pm. We took a couple wrong turns trying to get out of the park but soon we had made our way to the interstate. Once we got to the interstate it wasn't that bad. I worried more about other drivers than the rain or lightning. Bad weather wasn't slowing them down at all.
Near Woodstock, GA. 23:29, mileage 51,214 - Fuel stop and stretch a little from the stressful bad weather riding. While we stood there the rain picked up then eventually subsided. Off we went again.
By the time we left I-575 the rain and traffic had ceased for all practical purposes. Now we just had darkness and wet roads to deal with...and the occasional fog bank. I missed it, but the others saw a house fire to our east, and we passed some firetrucks headed that way.
At Blue Ridge we stopped at a Chevron station that had a rest area for motorcycle riders. By now it was 1:40am, and we pretty much had the ride home whipped, but it was good to stretch and use the restroom. There was an adventurous feeling in the air. We're wet, setting in a rest area in northern Georgia in the middle of the night. It'll be the basis for a good story this winter.
Coming home in the middle of the night we saw quite a bit of wildlife on our cabin road...opossums, deer, even a raccoon with a baby raccoon in its mouth. At 2:34am we climbed the hill to our cabin. Wet clothes were stripped off and warm showers taken. The bed felt good and I didn't set my alarm. Tomorrow we're sleeping in and travelling less miles...north...
Click here for our next day's adventure.