Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spartanburg Area Ride

After a busy holiday season followed by weekends of less-than-ideal riding weather, I finally had an  opportunity for a decent day ride last Saturday, so I took advantage of it and rode my VFR on an 8-hour, 300-mile journey up around the Spartanburg area. The forecast was for no rain and a high of 56, whereas in reality it ended up drizzling a good portion of the day and not exceeding 45 degrees. But, it was still comfortable riding weather, and I had a great time.

My main targets in the area were several post offices that I was missing in my collection and the Beacon Drive In, an institution that has been around since 1946. I'd heard good things from folks around here who'd visited it, and it was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (watch the 8-minute video), so I knew I had to check it out in person.

Along the way I discovered a few interesting diversions that I did not know about - there are 3 historic homes in the Spartanburg area, none of which were open on that day, but their website indicates when they are open, so I'll have to plan a trip back to visit them.

This is the Price House, built in 1795; it's off of US221 (I-26 exit 28) on the south/west side of I-26.

In front of the Price House is a memorial to 3 Air Force pilots who crashed and died on the property in 1943; you can read more about it in this newspaper article.

I passed the entrance to Walnut Grove Plantation (home built in 1765) but did not see it, as it is off the road behind a tree line.  It is also off US221, on the north/east side of I-26.

This is the Seay House, the oldest house in the city of Spartanburg, built around 1850.

I made it to the Beacon just as I was starting to get pretty hungry, which was a good thing, because their plates are HUGE! I got a cheeseburger "a-plenty." If you watched the video, you know what that means - a plate COVERED in very tasty fries and onion rings. Somewhere underneath all that I found an excellent cheeseburger. :-) Along with that I had a very tasty bowl of peach cobbler and a good cup of coffee, which really hit the spot after riding in cold drizzle all morning. It was really an experience, hearing J.C. call the orders and watching the incredibly efficient staff process a large group of customers quickly and accurately. It's much more than simply somewhere to go to eat - it's an experience.

The Mr. White referenced in the sign below is the man who founded the restaurant in 1946. The road on which the restaurant is located was renamed John B. White, Sr. Blvd in 1999; Google Maps still shows it as Reidville Road.

One of the things I love about South Carolina is all the building murals that can be found around the state; the one below is in the town of Cowpens, near the Cowpens National Battlefield, site of a Revolutionary War battle in 1781.

One of the post offices I sought out was Glendale, and adjacent to it was a nice suprise - the ruins of Glendale Mills, a textile mill from the 1800's.

The post office is housed in the old company store building, and many of the company houses that workers lived in still exist in the proximity.

I ended up visiting 15 post offices, taking my total to 496. That, along with 3 historic homes, the remains of an old textile mill, and a great meal at a very unique restaurant, made for a most excellent day of exploring.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alamuchee Covered Bridge in Western Alabama

While traveling to Mississippi to visit my family for Christmas, I detoured off of I-20 near the the MS-AL border to visit the Alamuchee Covered Bridge in Livington, AL. It was built in 1861 on the road that is now U.S. Highway 11 and was used by Confederate forces as a route to Mississippi during the Civil War. It has since been moved to the campus of the University of West Alabama and is now closed to traffic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TubaChristmas in Newberry

Every Christmas I look forward to participating in TubaChristmas, a nationwide event in which tuba and euphonium players get together to perform Christmas carols. There are regional events (South Carolina usually has about five around the state) on various days throughout the month of December, and we all use the same book of carols, which are arranged specifically for this instrumentation. Since 2001 I have been playing with the one in Newberry, SC, about 30 miles north of Columbia. Bill Long, the band director at Newberry College, does a fantastic job of organizing and running it every year.

We get together around noon at Newberry College and spend a little over an hour rehearsing around 15 carols, after which we load up and head downtown to Jeze Belles coffee shop to perform. It has become quite a tradition in Newberry, and the coffee shop never fails to be absolutely packed.

A few photos taken during our rehearsal; see if you can find me. :-)

And one that I shot while on stage at the coffee shop

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 Mileage Summary

This year I set a personal record for number of miles traveled: 39,461. 22,459 were via car, my second highest ever, and 17,002 were via motorcycle, my fourth highest, but more than the previous 2 years.  Should have gone 5 more miles so my total would match my home zip code of 39466. :-) I used MileageTracker, an online application that I developed that is currently in use by 1600 people, to generate these graphs.