I was looking forward to seeing Savannah and Charleston, two of the centres of the deep south. The weather has been hot a dry except for a couple of hours whilst walking around St. Augustine when there was a thunder storm.
Savannah has kept a lot of the older buildings and every few streets (or blocks depending which side of the pond you come from) there is an historical square with monument, trees and shady seats. This is the way cities should be designed. I crossed back and forth between a large park at one end of town that was hosting a pavement painting competition and the river front with arts and craft markets, restaurants and in the evening, live jazz.
Enroute for Charleston I stopped at the “Shrimp Shack” for lunch. The same family own the shrimp boats on one side of the road and the Shrimp Shack on the other. It is on highway 21 between Beaufort and Hunting Island, South Carolina. I met a couple on a BMW from Atlanta out for a days ride. They had their wedding reception at the Shrimp Shack. After lunch we set off to ride together but I made an accidental illegal overtake and lost them. What I thought was an overtaking lane was a ‘no go’ area to be treated like a central reservation. Whoops.
The Shrimp Shack
A better shot of my bike outside the Shrimp Shack
Charleston had a similar feel to Savannah. Narrow streets, old buildings with a number of parks round the harbour. A market sells arts and crafts where once it sold slaves.
South Carolina Campsite
I was looking forward to heading inland to the Smokey Mountains. Up till this point I had done over 1600 miles on straight roads with a stop sign or traffic lights at the end and had another 200 straight miles to travel. I could see the centre of my tyres were wearing faster than the sides. The mountains meant bends. I based myself at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge where Horizons Unlimited are holding a rally from 17th July to 19th July 2009 and had a great time despite seeing more than my fair share of rain. The Tail Of The Dragon is one of Americas most famous biking roads. 318 bends in eleven miles. At Deals Gap, a fuel and souvenir stop there is a ‘Tree Of Shame’ decorated with broken bits of bike from those that didn‘t make it to the end. Best ridden through the week for the first time if possible as it gets busy at weekends. I was going to wait until the Monday before riding it but as the rain finally started to clear on the Saturday A couple of Harley Davison riders, James and Bill asked if I wanted to join them on the Tail Of The Dragon for a steady ride I thought it would be good to follow riders that had done it before. Thanks chaps. The area is full of good biking roads and well worth a visit. Jack and Mary work at Iron Horse and invited me to dinner three nights in a row. On the middle night determined not to arrive empty handed I was late and empty handed as I went to eight shops looking for wine only to find out that we were in a dry county. Their hospitality was amazing.
The Tree of Shame, Tail Of The Dragon
It was poring with rain as I packed my gear away to head north on the Blue Ridge Parkway but had stopped by the time I set off following a final coffee with Jack and Mary. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long following the crests of the southern Appalachians. Another great biking road, either enjoying the sweeping bends or taking in the scenery. Having a wet tent and some damp clothes from loading the bike in heavy rain I opted for my first night under a solid roof since leaving Miami four weeks ago by staying in a very nice but expensive B&B. When I arrived there was no one in but the door was unlocked and a notice invited anyone to come in and make themselves at home. I can’t remember coming across that kind of trust before.
The Blue Ridge Parkway rises to well over 5000 feet and some of the higher points were in cloud reducing visibility considerably. On a few occasions I was travelling with the hazard warning lights on to make me easier to see by any cars coming up behind. Nothing did come up from behind but a motorcyclist coming the other way had his hazard warning lights on as well. We passed in the fog giving the American low hand signal greeting.
It’s Black Bear country here and all food has to be in metal containers or suspended from a tree while camping. It’s a bit of a pain. I’m forever taking food out of a pannier and putting it away again but it’s better than fighting a bear over the last banana.
The first and probably last photo I ever take in a public toilet
Next HU Events
- USA Colorado: July 11-13
- Ireland: July 18-20
- Canada West: Aug 21-24
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
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