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Old 05-02-2011, 02:52 PM   #1
Liberia OP
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KLR 650 goes from Tennessee to Georgia to North Carolina and back

This trip started out innocently enough as a chance for my Florida brother and I to meet at our Great Aunt Cleo's house in Tate, Georgia for a needed visit and also to swap a couple of Harley items that we had in our possession. I thought it would be a one day down and back ride but it turned into 2 full days of riding adding North Carolina and an overnight stay.

To provide some perspective, this trip took place April 29th, 2 days before tornadoes caused hundreds of deaths and destroyed thousands of homes. Here’s what one blog said:

“On April 27, dozens of tornadoes swept through the South, flattening homes and businesses and killing hundreds of people in 6 states. Coming on the heels of another deadly storm system in Arkansas and Mississippi, the storms that began 4-27-11 spread destruction from Texas to New York. Hardest hit was Alabama, which saw entire communities torn apart and more than 200 deaths.”

Since I would be riding through southern Tennessee, a slice of northeast Alabama and a good part of northwest Georgia there was a good chance that I would pass through areas of devastation.

LiberiaBrother had a ride of his own to make leaving Suwannee, Florida on Thursday, April 29th for a direct ride to Loudon, Tennessee returning to Tate, Georgia on Friday. Then back to Suwannee on Saturday.

So we made a deal that I would take Friday off and meet him in Tate around noon (what's called "dinner" in the deep south where the evening meal is called "supper").

LiberiaBrother will be on his 1998 Road King and I'll be on a 2009 KLR650 that I bought from another Adv Rider called Dirt Driven about 3 weeks ago. Here's the bike.



And here's my route from Fosterville, Tennessee to Tate, Georgia



Details of the trip coming tonight.
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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Headed that way in mid May, so I'm in!
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Old 05-02-2011, 07:36 PM   #3
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Segment 1, Leg 1 - Fosterville, TN to Winchester, TN

Fosterville, TN to Tate, GA

The plan:
First Leg (45 miles) - Leave home and take TN269 through Bell Buckle, Wartrace, Normandy and Tullahoma where we jump on US41 to Estill Springs, Decherd and into Winchester.



Google Maps estimated 5 hours on the route I had chosen to Tate and I thought that I could make it within an hour of that time so I set the clock for 4:30am expecting to take it slow getting the final items packed on the bike and eating a bite of breakfast. Leaving at 6am my time (Central) would put me in Tate by 1pm (Eastern) even if it took me 6 hours.

As it turned out, I was ready shortly after 5am so why not leave. Although it was a little dark outside.




You could tell that dawn was out there somewhere but not ready to show itself yet.

Bell Buckle (www.bellbucklechamber.com) is a quaint little town basing its livelihood on festivals including Daffodil Day, RC-Moon Pie Festival and Webb School’s Art and Craft Festival (draws thousands).

Bell Buckle is usually a fairly busy little town as it’s popular with motorcyclists, bicyclists and general tourists. It also has a great restaurant that serves really good food for a reasonable price. There’s live music on Friday and Saturday nights as well.




Wartrace (www.wartracechamber.org) is another small town hoping to make it on tourism but they have not been quiet as successful as Bell Buckle. But they have a great park. My wife always mentions that we should bring the dogs down here some day… but we never have.

The portion of this leg that is on TN269 is a really nice part of the route. The scenery is nice and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.




It is still dark when I get to Wartrace but the sky shows more light with each passing mile.


Normandy (population 146 per the 2000 census) has as its claim to fame Normandy Lake and Dam. Plus the historic George Dickel distillery is there.



Tullahoma (www.tullahoma.org) is a good sized town that seems to be growing (I graduated from a K-12 school with less than 500 students so size is a relative thing). Arnold Air Force Base is nearby along with lakes and forest. I didn’t take any pictures of Tullahoma. Nothing against it but it was cold and I had to stop and take off heavy gloves each time. And there just wasn’t anything that grabbed my attention as I rode through.

Estill Springs is a very small town and hard to distinguish from Decherd and
Winchester (www.franklincountychamber.com). It is in Franklin County and on the edge of Tim's Ford Lake. Again, I didn’t take any pictures.

One thing worth noting is that I sometimes take pictures as I ride along. I think I only did this on GA515 in the Tate, GA to Cashiers, NC portion of the trip. It’s fun (although not always safe) to take these kind of pictures and certainly increases the spontaneity of the shots. But few of them on this trip.

Next is the Winchester to South Pittsburg leg.
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Old 05-02-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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Segment 1, Leg 2 - Winchester, TN to Trenton, GA

Second Leg (60 miles) - Depart Winchester on US41 travelling through Cowen and Sewanee. Just east of Sewanee turn south onto TN156 for a rolling back highway that's beautiful and doesn't get steep or twisty until you're almost at South Pittsburg. Cross the Tennessee River then hang a right at Nickajack Lake taking TN377/AL73/GA301 to Trenton, GA.



Just east of Winchester is the little town of Cowan. It was home to the first courthouse in Franklin County.



Just across the street from the ďcourthouseĒ are some classic, small town buildings.



The road to Sewanee climbs sharply with some nice tight turns. Given the recent rains there is a lot of water flowing in roadside streams.










The roadway is in great shape but curvy enough to be interesting.


Soon Iím coming into Sewanee which is also in Franklin County and is a beautiful little town known primarily as the home of The University of the South (www.sewanee.edu). If you have a lot of money and a child ready for college you might consider this school. Itís isolated and beautiful.





Just East of Suwanee I head south on TN156 to South.





South Pittsburg is the home of the National Cornbread Festival (www.nationalcornbread.com). No offense to South Pittsburg but I've never thought it was a particularly pretty town. It does have some good things going for it however which include mountains and the Tennessee River.

I think the bridge crossing the river is really unique and stylish.







Soon youíre at the back side of Nickajack Lake. If you were on I-24 you would actually cross Nickajack Lake in the middle. Iíve always thought it was a great looking lake. It doesnít look as impressive on this hazy day.





This is where Iíll turn on TN377 which becomes AL73 and finally GA301. Wow, 3 states in 14 miles.



I missed the Alabama State line sign (if there was one) but managed to get the Georgia sign at the beginning of GA301.



Although I had been driving past trees that had fallen across the roadways and been sawed off and moved, arriving in Trenton was the first significant tornado damage that I saw. I must have passed 30 plus utility trucks on their way to Trenton.







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Old 05-02-2011, 09:12 PM   #5
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Segment 1, Leg 3 Trenton, GA to Resaca, GA

Third Leg (55 miles) – Leaving Trenton on GA136 having just crossed I-59 grazing the side of Cloudland Canyon State Park, through Lafayette, then into Resaca (pronounced Ree-sack-ah I think).




It’s a good ride with the occasional small town but I really didn’t stop to take any pictures. I’m making great time but have a tendency to concentrate too much on getting there and not enough on documenting the trip.

So no pictures this entire leg.
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Old 05-02-2011, 09:18 PM   #6
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Segment 1, Leg 4 - Resaca, GA to Tate, GA

Fourth Leg (44 miles) – Leaving Resaca and crossing I-75 it’s off to Talking Rock.

Talking Rock is a very small town but the people I met there (while asking for directions) were very friendly. They have a nice antique store that also serves some homemade candies.





An attempt at humor I guess.


A nice looking building for sale.


The lady in the antique store gave me a better way to Tate so off I went. Sure enough, I made it to Tate and stopped for my first fill up. 4.3 gallons at 215 miles giving me exactly 50mpg. Of course KLR’s are not known for accurate speedometers so the actual mileage could be a little less.

Leaving the gas station for my Aunt Cleo’s on GA53 I come to the old Tate train depot. There is a plan to relocate it across the street to prevent damage by large trucks passing very close on the roadway.



Next I come to the Tate Elementary School which is, I believe, the only school in the United States build completely out of Marble.



The Georgia Marble – Tate quarry is just down the road as is the Tate House.



Here’s a close up of the Tate House showing the beautiful pink/rose colored marble construction.



Just across the highway from the Tate House is a nice view of an open area.



Finally I arrive at Aunt Cleo’s house.



About 15 minutes after I arrive LiberiaBrother rolls (literally) in.



Here’s a picture of his 1988 Road King. He will have travelled well over 1,000 miles by the time he gets back home.



A picture of me playing with the timer on my Nikon Coolpix s3000. It’s a cheap camera which doesn’t take very good pictures but it is small and easy to use.



Finally a picture of LiberiaBrother and Aunt Cleo. Did I mention she was 95 years young? She lives alone during the warmer months but has spent the last 2 winters in an assisted living facility. Her mind is as sharp as a tack.



Segment 2 - Tate, GA to Cashiers, NC is coming up next.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:47 AM   #7
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Know and love most of these roads and places.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:15 PM   #8
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Segment 2 - Tate, GA to Cashiers, NC

Tate, Ga to Cashiers, NC (Segment 2)

Several years ago my uncle gave Mrs. Liberia and me a couple of timeshares in Cashiers, NC in an area known as Sapphire Valley. For the first few years we used them but then work became more demanding and itís been a couple of years since weíve been there. Since we have to pay an annual maintenance charge on each of them, I decided I should at least go by and see it. Google said it was only about 150 miles away so I figured I could make it there in 3 hours or so.

So I spent about 3 hours with LiberiaBrother1 and Aunt Cleo (which included a turkey sandwich for lunch and a very short nap on her couch). Then it was outside to swap Harley parts.

My Alaska brother (LiberiaBrother2) had found a great deal on a Corbin solo seat with rider backrest and passenger pillion on ebay and bought it for LiberiaBrother1 thinking it would be good for a 2001 Road King that he bought. But he sold the 2001 with its original seat leaving him with some stuff he didnít need. While itís a totally different story, my son is rebuilding a Road King Police (blacked out) for LiberiaBrother2 and the thought was the Corbin seat would be perfect for it.

LiberiaBrother1 also had a passenger sissybar/backrest on his bike but it didnít have a luggage rack. We had a backrest with a luggage rack so I packed it along with a motorcycle specific luggage bag to give to LiberiaBrother1. Iím sure the few people reading this are fully confused by now but the short version is that both of us packed our bikes like the Beverly Hillbillies and did a swap in Tate.

So I left Tate around 3:30pm thinking that I would get to Cashiers, NC and the condo around 6:30pm. Of course thatís not what actually happened.

Hereís the actual route that I ended up taking.



If you look at the map above youíll notice that it would have been shorter to cut the corner into North Carolina. That was the plan but I was navigating from a piece of paper that had only the road numbers that I needed to take. I was supposed to take GA53 back to GA515 north all the way to the NC border where I would get on NC69 to US64 which takes me all the way to the condo in Cashiers.

But somewhere near Blue Ridge, GA, GA515 and GA5 (both the same road for most of the trip) separated and I was supposed to have stayed on 515 but didnít. I did the unmanly thing and stopped in Blue Ridge for directions and was told positively that they both were still the same and that I should keep going on GA5 and that it would take me to US64. Well, if you include NC68 in the puzzle it actually does. Of course it also takes you substantially out of the way.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:29 PM   #9
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Segment 2, Leg 1 - Tate, GA to Blue Ridge, GA

So hereís the first leg of the GA to NC segment of the trip.



I took the following picture a short way north on GA515. Itís a completely finished shopping plaza that has been sitting completely empty for at least 2 years. Iíve watched it over that time and have never even seen a vehicle parked there. Likely a casualty of the economic crash.



By the way, this was a portion of the ride where I took some pictures while moving. The weather was warm so I took off my winter gloves which makes it much easier to use the small camera. I still think it increases a riderís risk substantially to take pictures while riding.

The picture below is of a guy on an old Honda who easily passed me on my underpowered KLR. He went by me like royalty passing a trampÖ he just paid me no mind at all. You can also see that GA515 is a fairly wide and straight road although the scenery along the way is good.



Upon entering Blue Ridge, GA I get a little unsettled because GA515 has disappeared from the road signs and only GA5 remains. So I pull into downtown Blue Ridge to find a very attractive downtown area and another train.



Sitting just across the street in the picture below are a couple outside a coffee house. They looked like sensible, honest people BUT THEYíRE NOT. They are the very ones who told me to continue on GA5. Well, okay, I did eventually get to US64 but it was a whole lot longer than it should have been.

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Old 05-03-2011, 12:33 PM   #10
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Segment 2, Leg 2 - Blue Ridge, GA to Murphy, NC

Leaving Blue Ridge I start leg 2 of the GA to NC segment. Hereís the route.



GA5 isnít anything special to look at but itís okay as roads go. I took the following picture primarily because the sign says Iím crossing North Potato Creek. You donít do that every day (unless you live nearby).



This next picture is just a shot of a hill as I was getting pretty bored.



Finally I make it to the North Carolina State line. Of course Iím 50 miles further away than if Iíd taken the other route.



Hereís a picture I took because: 1) I was bored and 2) it has flowering shrubs in it and some people like flowering shrubs.



North Carolina seemed to have a lot of flowers, shrubs and landscaping along its roads. I remember a professor from the University of Tennesseeís school of agriculture saying that the least expensive thing you can do with the areas along highways is to plant grass and mow it. Flowers are much more expensive but Iím guessing this is North Carolinaís way of encouraging tourism, at least in its mountain areas.

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Old 05-03-2011, 12:41 PM   #11
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Segment 2, Leg 3 - Murphy, NC to Cashiers, NC

Eventually I made it to Murphy, NC only to find I was still a long ways away and realized I would be pushing dark by the time I got there. I stopped and called the condo people to make sure I was 1) going to have a place to sleep and 2) could actually find the place. I was assured that both were true.



Leaving Murphy on US64 I began travelling through some nice valleys with sweeping curves but the highway, at that point, was nice and wide and the traffic was very light. Actually the traffic has been light the entire trip.



Even though this was a much prettier portion of the trip, I didn’t take a single picture as I was trying to make time to get to the condo and because the temperature had dropped substantially.

The closer I got to Cashiers, the better the ride in that the road narrowed and it became incredibly twisty with steep descents and ascents through what they call The Gorge. I knew that I would be coming back this same route tomorrow so I’ll wait to take pictures.

The temperature continued to drop and I was freezing by the time I arrived. Cold to the point that I had the shakes. I hadn’t eaten so I stopped by the development’s restaurant for a Calzone and then went to the condo. It’s hard to explain just how cold I had become. I really think a light case of hypothermia had set in. I walked into the door of the condo, threw my gear on the counter, walked to the bed and got under all the cover possible and didn’t wake up until 7:30 the next morning.

Here’s what the condo looks like:
Front


Living Area


Kingsized Jacuzzi tub (you could water a herd of cattle in that thing)


View out the back balcony


Keeping an eye on the KLR out the top floor window


I took all the condo pictures the next morning when there was light but wanted to put them here as an ending to a very difficult day. The planned 3 hour trip actually ended up taking me 5 hours.

The final segment with the best scenery is coming up.
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Old 05-03-2011, 04:27 PM   #12
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Segment 3, Leg 1 - Cahiers, NC to Murphy, NC

The final segment, Cashiers, NC to Fosterville, TN

The ride back home from Cashiers is at least 2/3ís repetitive but Iíve made a commitment to stop and take more pictures on the US64 portion between Cashiers, GA and Cleveland, TN. Hereís what the route home looks like.



So I finally wake up around 7:30 which is quite unusual as I typically wake up by 5am without an alarm. Earlier you saw a picture of the huge bathtub that was in the bedroom suite. I filled it with the hottest water I could stand and soaked to gain the most body warmth possible prior to leaving. I also made a pot of hot coffee and drank it while loading the bike. Somewhere around 9am Iím finally ready to go.

Hereís the KLR with Harley stuff strapped on the back.


Did I mention that the back tire really needs to be replaced?


The initial leg takes me from Cashiers through Highlands to Murphy and back by McCaysville. This is a repeat of the final part of yesterdayís trip but in reverse. This time Iíll stop more and take pictures.



Itís 4 miles east from the condo to Cashiers. I gassed up when I arrived (over $4/gallon for high test) and, again, got 50mpg on the dot.

There was a big bicycle race going on with more spandex than you would find in aÖ well, a bicycle race.





US64 is an absolutely beautiful ride which takes you through very tight, twisty sections where your elevation is changing rapidly and then into broader, more sweeping areas where you have marvelous vistas of huge valleys. The first part isnít all that tight but upon leaving Highlands you get into some very challenging sections. Unfortunately there arenít many places to safely stop during that section and I was not taking pictures from the bike so youíll have to make this trip yourself to see what itís like.



A small flower (with a close up) for all the flower people out there.





Another road shot.



Some rain runoff coming down the side of the road.






The little stream runs under the road and falls off into this.



A little farther down the road youíll see this.





I enter Highlands and stop for a few minutes and see the following:









Leaving Highlands I stopped at a great dam just on the west side of town. Here are a series of shots from the dam and downstream.













Down the road a ways thereís a small waterfall that you can drive behind (kind of touristy by fun).





Further along I came to Dry Falls wayside park. It certainly was misnamed if I got it right.



These folks were from Alpharetta, GA and very nice. They were sporting around in a nice looking BMW convertible car with the top down. We spent some time talking about the recent tornadoes and how strange it was that 2 days could separate deadly weather from the most beautiful day imaginable.









A little way down the road hereís the same stream from the falls.











More good curves ahead.

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Old 05-03-2011, 06:55 PM   #13
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Segment 3, Leg 2 - Murphy, NC to South Pittsburg, TN

Leg 2 of this final segment was from McCaysville to South Pittsburg.



This was an interesting stop. My butt was getting sore and I really needed a stop so I turned around to take a look at all the bikes. My goodness, with Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and KTM, I knew that I could spend days here. Once I got inside there was not a single new motorcycle. They had 10 to 15 pre-owned bikes. I guess they were going out of the bike business but no one there acted like anything was out of the ordinary.



My next stop was in Tennessee at the Ocoee River. It runs along US64 for a ways and was the home of the 1996 Olympics for kayaking and other river sports.

The upper part is controlled by a dam from which water is released at times but otherwise it is dry. You’ll see pictures from downstream where it’s full of water. This is because the water from the dam is actually carried alongside the river in an enclosed trough and emptied into the river through a power generating station. Kind of weird.

Another weird thing is that, for the Olympics, the upper part of the river (the dry part shown below, actually had the bottom changed by coating it with concrete with natural rocks embedded in it. I’m surprised the environmental folks didn’t block that.





You’ve been warned.



Just a little further down and I stop again in a parking lot with river access. It was full of people but more of them were bicycle riders than river rafters. I guess it was still a little cool for most people to be in that freezing cold water.



Same river, one-half mile down.





Then it empties into a lake complete with a swimming area.



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Liberia screwed with this post 05-06-2011 at 12:32 PM
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:03 PM   #14
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Segment 3, Leg 3 - South Pittsburg, TN to Fosterville, TN

Final leg, final segment. South Pittsburg to Fosterville.



The balance of the ride home was either boring (on I-75 and I-24 for about 50 miles) or repetitive (through South Pittsburg, TN for a reverse trip of yesterday morning). It had been a long day and I wanted to get home. It ended being 5:30pm when I arrived. 10 plus hours to go less than 300 miles. But I stopped a lot on this part so I guess itís okay. It sure gives me an appreciation of the riders who make the Alaska trek and average 300-500 miles per day.

So the final photo is of the odometer showing that the total trip was 696 miles.

Oh, by the way, I did fill up the tank along the way with 51mpg on the third segment. Not a bad 2 day ride using about 14 gallons.

I hope youíve enjoyed the ride along with me. Hopefully it will make you want to visit the southeastern U.S. as we really do have some nice places to ride. This entire trip could have been made on a Harley, a sportbike (if your back could take it) or any other street legal motorcycle. I just happened to have a KLR set up for travel.

Of all the roads that I travelled on this trip. US64 from Highlands, NC over to Murphy, NC was my favorite. All types of road conditions and a never ending view of the most beautiful country in the world.
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Old 05-03-2011, 07:13 PM   #15
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Nice ride Rodney. Thanks for taking us along!
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