Monday, January 06, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens Nights of a Thousand Candles December 2013

The weekend before Christmas Donna and I made a trip to a favorite destination of ours, Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC for their annual Nights of a Thousand Candles event. Below are some photos that I took throughout the evening. That weekend was very uncharacteristically warm, and on Saturday evening a light jacket was plenty enough. We stayed Saturday night at the Aqua Beach Inn in Myrtle Beach, on the top floor, with a great view (and sound) of the Atlantic Ocean, and on Sunday we walked the length of the boardwalk in shorts and t-shirts. For a couple of hours we were transported away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays to an early summer stroll along the beach. It was quite peaceful and enjoyable; no photos, as we decided to leave the cameras behind and simply enjoy the walk.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Mail Pouch Fly By - Marietta, OH August 2013

The weekend of August 23 I rode my NC to Marietta, OH for the annual MSTA Mail Pouch Fly By motorcycle rally. I had attended this rally once before in 2008 and really enjoyed it and every year have wanted to attend again and finally did so this year. Marietta is in Southeast OH, which is a gorgeous part of the state. There are lots of curvy roads, gorgeous rural areas, and neat, small towns. There is also a strong Amish population, so it's not uncommon to encounter the occasional horse and buggy.

I departed Columbia on Friday morning around 9am and rode I-77 the entire way to Marietta, arriving there around 4pm. I met up with my friends Daryl from Cincinnati, Pat from KY, and Bob from MI. We enjoyed an afternoon and evening of visiting with other friends, making new ones, and enjoying some great grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fixings.

Saturday morning Bob, Daryl, Larry, Jerry, Dan, Mike, and I embarked on a 220-mile loop around SE OH and NW WV. The namesake of the rally, Mail Pouch, was a brand of chewing tobacco popular from 1890 to 1990, and which was advertised on around 20,000 barns in 22 states. Many of these barns can still be found in this part of the country. Here's Larry, Mike, and Bob in front of one we encountered.

There are also a good number of covered bridges in the area. This is the Hune Bridge, built in 1879, and 128' in length.

This is the Rinard Bridge, built in 1876, and 130' in length.

We stopped for lunch at a great country buffet named Quinet's in New Martinsville, WV, right across the street from the county court house.

Saturday evening was more visiting, a fried chicken and fixings dinner, and the rally proceedings (door prizes, etc.)

Sunday morning following a hearty breakfast and saying goodbye to everyone, I embarked on a much slower and more scenic journey home than I had taken on the way up to Marietta. I headed toward Hawks Nest State Park in WV, and en route I stumbled upon 3 waterfalls, all right off of Highway 60. The first one was tall but a weak trickle; the best name I can find for it is Falls near Deep Water.

A bit further down Highway 60 I came upon Kanawha Falls, which isn't very tall, but man, is it wide! There's plenty more to the right of this photo.

And then a bit further again down Highway 60 I came upon this gem, Cathedral Falls.

After being treated to those 3 waterfalls, I made it to Hawks Nest State Park, where I hiked a bit to some nice overlooks.

Here's a CCC building dating back to the 1930's.

Upon leaving Hawks Nest, I headed toward Burke's Garden, known as "God's Thumbprint" because of its view from the air:

It was formed when underground limestone caverns collapsed. The ground is incredibly fertile and got its name when a surveyor by the name of James Burke discarded some potato peelings in 1748 and later returned to find a fine crop of potatoes. The Vanderbilt family approached local farmers about buying their land, but none wanted to sell, so they instead chose the Asheville area for their Biltmore mansion.

This is the old post office, which closed in 2009 when the lady who had been postmaster for 35 years passed away.

You can turn around 360 degrees and see this view!

As you can imagine, getting into and out of Burke's Garden involves some good twisty roads up the mountain and down into the valley. Check out all the kudzu! It was especially thick in this area.

I made it to Hungry Mother State Park in VA, where I camped for the evening. Once I got my tent pitched, I read for a while, and then 4 fellow motorcyclists showed up - 3 guys on V-Stroms and a friend on a cruiser. We visited for a while; they were from KY and had visited Deals Gap and ridden some of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As was the case at the rally, they were quite intrigued with my bike (it's still relatively new, being in only its second year in the U.S.), so I gave them the grand tour.

The overnight temperature got a bit low at the higher elevation, and I wished I had taken my heavier sleeping bag! But, I survived. The next morning I awoke at 7:00, was packed and rolling by 7:30, and after a biscuit and coffee in the first town I came to, embarked for the day by around 8:20. I rode some great roads and encountered several small towns (and several post offices!) en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway, always a great road to ride. I rode it for around 60 miles and stopped at a few overlooks and took a few photos.

I stopped along the way and made the short hike to Cascade Falls.

I got off the Parkway a bit east of Asheville and rode into Black Mountain, home to Phil's Barbecue Pit, a place I'd eaten a couple of times prior and really enjoyed, and once again, they did not disappoint. What's a road trip without some barbecue?

I then continued down Highway 9 (a great road with some great curves) into SC and then got on I-26 around Spartanburg and finished the ride home on the superslab. What a great weekend! Around 1400 miles, 4 waterfalls, 2 covered bridges, 16 new post offices (taking my total to 758), lots of beautiful countryside and fun curvy roads, and, most importantly, time spent with several old friends and a few new ones!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Virginia Highlands Camping Trip 2013

A couple of weekends back I headed to Virginia for the annual camping trip that my buddy Daryl from Cincinnati puts together every year. I've made it to all but 3 of them since 2004. We camp at a small semi-primitive campground in the Jefferson National Forest between Independence and Wytheville. Due to limited time off available I kept it short and camped two nights; I left Columbia around noon on Saturday after hosting a yard sale and arrived at around 5:00 and then had similar travel times on my ride home on Monday. I rode my Honda NC700X, and it performed very well on the interstate, on the twisty roads in the area, and on the 4-mile dirt road leading to the campground.

Some pretty flower blooms that we usually don't see this time of year at the campground. I guess the lengthier spring has allowed them to bloom a bit longer this year.

Daryl cutting up and making coffee. His camp coffee always hits the spot!

Daryl's wife Sheila and their grandson Wyatt; he's a cool little dude.

Odd-looking lizard that paid us a visit. Does anyone know what type it is?

Daryl tending to breakfast duty. Scrambled eggs and goetta, a really good sausage-like food popular in Cincinnati.

Sheila checking on the eggs.

Breakfast is served! Yum!

This is their friend Robin that came with them this year. She's an avid blues fan, and I learned a great deal about that genre of music from her on this trip.

Daryl and I hiked to the top of Comers Rock, where we were treated with this spectacular view.

Daryl and Lexie cutting up.

Frisbee incoming!

Another fantastic breakfast! No goetta, but some of Sheila's excellent potatoes!