This past weekend I made my fourth trip to the WERA Grand National Finals / Suzuki Cup motorcycle races at Road Atlanta. I took a very indirect route to Atlanta - on Friday I rode up to Robbinsville, NC, just south of Deals Gap. On my way, I stopped at Issaqueena Falls, but the lack of rain had really reduced the volume of all the waterfalls in the area.
In Robbinsville I met up with my friend Daryl; we stayed the night at the Phillips Motel, which I highly recommend. It's within walking distance of many amenities, including El Pacifico, a great Mexican restaurant, which is where we had dinner. There were several other motorcyclists staying at the motel, so we visited with them around the hotel's fire pit for the evening; with the temperature dropping down into the 30s, the fire felt great!
Saturday morning we enjoyed a nice trip across the Cherohala Skyway; it was cool but not cold, and it was very clear - perfect conditions!
In Tellico Plains we met up with Jaymee and Greg from Nashville; we had breakfast at the Town Square Cafe and then headed south to the TWO motorcycle resort in Suches; there are some great roads in that area.
Cat at TWO:
We milled around for an hour or so checking out other bikes and such, and then headed on down to Gainesville, where our hotel was.
Before going to the hotel, though, we made our annual stop at the Hickory Pig, about the best barbecue joint I've ever eaten at! It's run by a funny fellow named Phil who looks forward to our visit every year. It's a unique place - you don't order - you just sit down, and Phil starts bringing out the food and doesn't stop until you're full. We started with some incredible Brunswick stew, followed by giant barbecue sandwiches, then some great ribs, then some incredibly juicy smoked turkey, and finally ice cream to top it all off. All the while Phil is relaying various funny anecdotes. His funniest this time was the story of him dropping his scooter by grabbing the front brake with the wheel turned; "Don't do that!" he stressed several times. :-) Before departing we were treated to him singing us some karaoke out back.
Phil pondering whether to trade in his scooter for a Ninja.
Phil serenading us:
Sunday morning we headed to the track, where we met up with Duke from Nashville and Hugh and three of his friends from Toccoa, GA. We knocked around the pits until the racing action started around noon; there were about a dozen races run throughout the day, and we split our time between about five track locations, each offering good but differing points of view. We also bumped into Phil, and he gave us quite a few more good laughs!
Following the races we headed over for another annual meal: dinner at El Jorje's (actually named El Sombrero, but we call it El Jorje); CH from Athens, GA, another Ninja rider, met up with us for dinner. More great food and camaraderie.
Greg, CH, Duke, Daryl, Payne, and Jaymee:
Most everyone headed home Sunday night, leaving Daryl, Duke and me; we stayed the night and headed homeward on Monday morning. I took a leisurely route home, visiting three landmarks along the way that I'd wanted to see. The first was the grave of James Longstreet, a Confederate general in the civil war and Robert E. Lee's right-hand-man.
Next up was the Lula covered bridge; it is on private property with plenty of "No Trespassing" signs posted around, so you can't get real close, but I had a good view from the road.
After that I visited another covered bridge, Cromer's Mill bridge. This one was a bit tough to find, even though I knew right where it was. The trick turned out to be to take the first right after turning on Comer's Mill Bridge Road from 106, even though it is a driveway with a mailbox (24 if I remember correctly); after a short distance, the driveway will fork, with the right portion going to the house and the left going to the bridge. Alternatively, you can cross the main bridge on 106 and go down Baker Rd (gravel) to the other side of the bridge. I walked across and underneath this one; it was very similar in design (both town lattice) to another bridge in the area, Elder's Mill bridge. There are 15 covered bridges in GA, and these were my 4th and 5th to visit; 5 down, 10 to go.
After that I just sort of meandered my way home, taking various roads that headed for the most part in an eastward fashion, and finally I ended up back home around 4pm. Along the way I saw a historic marker for a small graveyard containing the graves of Andre Guillebeau, a French Huguenot who settled in the area in the late 1700's, and 17 of his relatives.
Great weekend! The weather was perfect. Lots of good food, great roads, and most importantly, good friends. :-)