So last Friday night (December 30th 2011) my wife calls me at work shouting "I found them, I found them!" I join in her excitement, cheering into the phone and giggling like a school girl when I realize I have no idea what she's found. "Uhhhh....I'm happy and all but...what did you find?" "The knee braces!", she exclaims. Now at this point you have to understand two things about my wife: 1. She loves motocross. More specifically she loves watching my son race motocross. 2. She is the mother of my son and therefore demands the very best in safety equipment for him. So given this information you'll understand when I tell you that she spends HOURS UPON HOURS UPON HOURS (ie months) researching every brace, glove, boot, goggle, pant, and piece of safety gear in existence. She then uses her not so hidden talent of being cheap to hunt these items down on craigslist. This is exactly what has happened. At this point her involvement in these transactions usually ends...it's then up to me to call the seller, ask a load of questions as she recites them in my ear (which is horrible confusing and difficult by the way), and negotiate a cost before we even attempt to go look at whatever item this poor person wants to sell. "Great", I say, "Who do I need to call and what do you want me to ask?" "Oh I've already called and this guy is getting out of riding and he's selling all his gear and he only has the kneebraces left and he's only asking $300 for them and they're in really good condition and he's available on Sunday and I told him you could come pick them up and isn't this great?" Now before you attack my grammatical structuring that is an exact quote of what I heard on the phone. So now I know that I'm going to be given a destination and a time and I'll be expected to arrive there and home with the before mentioned knee braces. "Ok, so where's he located?" "Pinson Alabama." Immediately Google Maps comes up on the cell phone and I figure in my mind I can stretch fetching this item into a two day road trip. Excellent! "Sounds good, I'll call him up to arrange where to meet and pick them up Sunday. Looks like I'll be home Monday evening." "I knew you'd make this into a trip...don't spend any money and try to get the braces for $200." *sigh* "Yes dear." And with that we had a two day trip in the making. As with many of these last minute excursions I didn't have a whole lot of time to plan and with only two days off not a whole lot of time to do my favorite type of exploring: "Oh that road looks neat" followed by a sharp turn and a screaming rerouting GPS unit. So I asked the kind folks in the D.O.G. thread what to see and do in the area and the immediate answer is the Little River Canyon area. I remembered seeing some awesome pictures of this area posted in some ride reports and my mind is instantly made up. A couple hours on google later and I have a rough plan. The following is the fairly boring and simple trip I made to buy knee braces at Winn Dixie in Pinson Alabama. All the photos are taken with my cell phone...no pro photography here. I left Woodstock GA Sunday around 1pm EST and was in Pinson AL at the Winn Dixie by 3:30 CST. I wound through some back roads from Woodstock out toward Villa Rica where I picked up 20 and slabbed it over into AL. I had a deadline to meet since the fella I was meeting had "things to do" that evening. This Winn Dixie parking lot is the place to go for knee braces by the way. Pair of Asterisk Cell knee braces for a final price of $275 (vs their $600 retail) isn't bad at all if you ask me. Please don't ask my wife if it's a good deal. From there I hit the road and headed for Ft. Payne AL and my accommodations at De Soto State Park. I pulled in to Ft. Payne as the sun was starting to set and was excited about the prospect of being able to setup camp while it was still daylight, this doesn't happen often for me and I've become more proficient at setting up a tent in the dark than most blind folks. I decided to take advantage of the daylight I had left and stopped in to Kmart to pick up a couple of fire starters that I had forgotten to pack. At this point I'll let you know that the two 17 year olds who apparently run the Kmart in Fort Payne Alabama are very friendly and willing to help. However, neither of them know where the fire starters are in the store and after making a valiant effort to find them...I ended up at Lowes across the street. At Lowes I immediately found a nice bag of Fat Wood (great stuff by the way) and hit the exit door just as the sun was setting. Great. I strap down my burnin' stuff and make tracks for the lodge at the state park to check in...by the time I arrive it's pitch black. I've made a mental note that much like in the state of Vermont the sun sets faster in Alabama. Stupid mountains. The very nice lady working the desk at the lodge looks at me like I'm crazy when I ask to check in to the primitive sites. She wants to know if I've stayed there before? When I tell her no she informs me that they don't rent out the primitive sites to anyone who hasn't stayed before if it's dark. I dazzle her with stories of my proficiency in blind tent building and my fondness for being cold and alone in the woods and she decides to let me check in anyway. Cool. She gives me a key to the gate (odd) and explains on the map how horribly far away the entrance to the primitive sites are (it's a little over a mile...she apparently doesn't get out of the lodge much). I thank her and head up the ridge to my accommodations. I use the woefully underpowered headlight of the 650 to pick out what looks to be a nice site, park and immediately get the fire going. Next up is unpacking and the black art of blind tent building and in just a few minutes I've got a place to stay. Here's a shot from the next morning: At this point I had yet to check in with the wife so I decide to call her up. After some immediate "discussion" on how I should have gotten the knee braces for less than $275 we settle into conversation about the lodge and the campsite. At this point I hear something coming toward me through the woods. When I mention this to my wife her immediate question is "What is it?" ...... visions of Bill Engval dance through my head but I decide against a smart ass comment. I hit the approaching noise with my flash light and I'm greeted by two glowing green eyes about 2 feet off the ground. This narrows things down: 1. Very small bear. 2. Slightly larger dog. 3. Very small wolf. 4. Normal size coyote. 5. Big fox. 6. Some horrible beast unknown to science that is drawn to the smell of human flesh. After seeing a reflective collar flash against the glare of my flashlight I settle on number 2 and immediately start calling it. I'm a professional dog lover, this is what I do. At this point those of you who don't know me personally need to be clued in. I have a thing for huskies. Not a passing fancy or a slight preference for the breed. For me there is no dog greater than a Siberian husky. I own 2 currently and over the years have had plenty of others including a husky/shepherd mix named Whiskey that I consider to be the greatest dog that ever lived (screw you Lassie). Whiskey was such a great dog in fact that after "dada" and "mama" "Whiskey" was one of my daughters first words. This caused several concerned phone calls from daycare after she began declaring that she wanted Whiskey...but I digress. So here I am in the dark calling to this strange dog and what should walk up...a white Siberian Husky mix. My trip is now made. The bike could blow up right now destroying the sought after knee braces in a fiery inferno that spreads to my tent and sleeping bag and I would be perfectly content to sit by the fire and pet this dog. Strange huskies in the middle of nowhere only happen to me. A belly rub and a little bit of turkey later and I have a new friend. We spend several hours discussing life and I end up wishing I were a dog. Apparently this pup has someplace to be and as I prepare to turn in for the night she wanders off into the dark. Here's a shot from the next morning when she showed back up to help break camp: The next morning I pack up, say goodbye to my new fury friend (after I confirm that she can not ride a motorcycle well enough to return home with me) and I strike out for Little River Canyon. It's barely light at 7am and a brisk 28 degrees. The temperature becomes important shortly. Before leaving the primitive camp area I make a lap to check things out and grab a shot of the cool stone pavilion folks must use for picnics: It has a large built in fireplace on one end and looks to be made from logs and stones harvested locally. I decide I want one in my back yard. I do a quick inspection of the tower to the right of the pavilion, several shortwave radio antennas and a couple other designs I don't recognize. Plenty of cabling runs from it to a container/trailer to the right of the pavilion with a large "DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE" sticker on the door. There are several propane tanks attached to a generator on the backside of the trailer. I'm guessing it might have been used to gather weather information and relay it using the radio antenna but I don't see any of the standard wind speed / temperature sensors anywhere. Anyone out there have any ideas based on my crappy picture and vague description? I opt for a hot breakfast and head for the lodge restaurant, and while the service was excellent the food was...ok. If you stay here and have the option, skip it. I did get a seat next to the fireplace however and met a nice accountant who struck up a conversation with me about the adventures he had living in South America. From this I deduced he was an accountant for several drug cartels. This may or may not be true. After the lackluster breakfast (so lackluster in fact that it garnered no obligatory food photograph) I get back on the road. On my way out I notice the lodge has an antenna tower identical to that of the pavilion in the primitive area. Hmmm...oh well. A quick stop at the closest gas station and I get to checkout this neat side of the road robot: When I took it that photo made the robot look a lot larger and more in frame so it's the only picture of the robot. If I had realized how bad it was I would have taken more. I ask the girl inside the station about the robot...she knows nothing. Guy outside the station...nothing. Oh well, I mount up and spend the next few minutes making up reasons why I would build a robot on the side of the road...none of them are strong enough cases to increase my desire to do so. I head off toward Little River Canyon Parkway. At this point the sun is up and the temperature is rising but it still has to be in the low 30's tops. I pull off at the first scenic overlook to grab a couple pictures, this is my favorite: It's here that I see what I assume are local teenagers gearing up to go kayaking. Here's where that temperature comes into play. Now I realize I'm crazy to sleep in a tent in the woods and then ride a motorcycle in sub 30 degree weather so that makes these guys certifiably nuts. I mount back back up and leave them to their hypothermia. I make several more stops at different overlooks and marvel at the wonder that is a giant hole in the ground with trees and water at the bottom. Then I come to the kind of sign that I like: It would have only been better had it declared the road unpaved. From the condition the pavement was in it would have been a smoother ride had it not been paved. Alabama apparently designs its county roads with dual sport bikes in mind: At this point I become a horrible photographer / ride report author. I stopped for very few pictures and just soaked up what was around me as I worked my way to the end of the parkway and then in a general eastern direction. I managed to thoroughly enrage my GPS (as I normally do) by refusing to take any route it plotted and in fact go the totally opposite direction most of the time. You're there to make sure I do get home, not tell me how to get there...stupid GPS. I got to see some wonderful old main streets in NE Alabama / NW Georgia, and some awesome county roads that don't appear to be traveled often. I was reminded again of why I'd like one of those fancy GoPro cameras when a large buck (10 point at least) and a doe crossed the road in front of me on one of these lightly traveled county back roads. They were close enough to watch their muscles flex as they cleared a 5 foot fence in a single bound, the bucks strong snort throwing foggy breath into the morning sunlight. Would have made for a cool video / photo...try as I might I couldn't convince them to come back and do it again so I could stop and pull my camera out. I used the smallest roads I could find and wound my way back across the northern part of Georgia and home to Clarkesville. Once home I delivered the knee braces, was reminded again that had my wife gone she would have gotten them for $175 (*sigh*) and settled in next to my wood stove. All in all not a bad couple of days. I like these outings as they're good practice for some of the longer trips I'd like to take, and the short ride reports like this make me appreciate the huge effort members here put into the epic multipage ride report novels that I enjoy sitting a reading.