2012 Colorado Ride - The Journey Begins

Day One
Wilmington, NC to Dalton, GA - 512 Miles

I awoke early to finish packing the odd-and-ends into my dry bag, and getting it strapped on the bike.  After a quick bite to eat, it was time to get on the road.  As I was putting on my riding gear, I heard one of my regular riding buddies, Ed O’Neil, pull up outside.  Ed had originally planned to join me for the first day’s ride to Dalton, Georgia, but decided to not do so when he was faced with the prospect of having to return to Wilmington on Monday.  Instead, Ed decided to join me for the first couple of hours of the trip, and definitely appreciated the company.

We made our way out of Wilmington, making our way west on Highway 74/76 to Lumberton, and then south on I-95.  Later we unsuccessfully tried to find a breakfast  spot at the exit for Dillon, SC, we moved down the interstate a few more miles to find a Wendy’s/Auto Service Plaza.  While there we saw and struck up a conversation with another rider on a – unique looking – Harley-Davidson.

The gentleman was heading back home to Martinsville, VA and we had a few minutes of interesting conversation.  At this point, Ed and I parted and I continued onward.

After travelling west on I-20 to Columbia, I turned northwestward on I-26, eventually reaching the town of Newberry, SC.  At this point, my route moved to some great back roads.  Shortly after leaving Newberry, the journey became really interesting when my GPS went, for lack of a better word, wonky.  The map display froze and stopped routing me, and the only indicator still working was the digital speedometer being displayed.  I was eventually able to stop and shut off and restart the unit, and all appeared to be right again.  But, shortly after I pulled out, the GPS froze again.  Another stop did not resolve the problem.

Panic began to set in.  All of my directions for my routes from Wilmington to Parker, Colorado were programmed into the GPS, and my netbook in the saddlebags – no paper maps or printed directions.  Not my brightest move.  My friends know that I am a geek, and that I love my gadgets.  My wife has always told me that I place too much confidence in my gadgets, and for a change, I believe she is right.  (Don’t tell her I said that.)

I continued on. Blindly, I continued on until I reached the town of Ninety-Six, South Carolina.  This is the home of a Revolutionary War era fort that I had considered stopping to see, but with the GPS problems delaying me, I decided to settle for a quick refueling and lunch stop.  After lunch, I quickly scribbled some directions on a piece of paper and put it into my tank bag’s map pocket.

After a series of turns that were leaving me less-and-less confident about where I was heading, I decided to stop and try a “master reset” of the GPS.  The last time I did this, at home, it wiped out everything on the unit.  I decided that I was no worse off if the reset wiped my electronic routes and waypoints – the GPS was useless anyway.  Well to my surprise, the master reset worked and I did not lose all my routes!  The unit functioned fine for the remainder of the day.  This was the second “adventure” of the trip (the first being the failed valve stem a couple days before I actually left).

I continued on, eventually reaching Elberton, Georgia, the home of the Georgia Guidestones.  When I arrived,  I saw the Guidestones perched on a hillside on the right-hand side of the road.  

I turned up the access road and pulled into a small parking area where I found a half dozen cars and another BMW motorcycle.

I first read about the Guidestones in an article in Wired magazine a few years ago, and I have been wanting to visit them for the past few years as part of one of my motorcycle trips.  As I approached them, I overheard a lady chatting with a couple about the world calamity coming later this year and how this would be the only safe location to be when it happens…

I will not recount the history of the Georgia Guidestones – you can read the Wikipedia article for more of that.  They are an interesting monument.  I spent a few minutes walking around and photographing the different inscriptions on the stones.

While preparing to leave, I began chatting with a family.  It turned out that the gentleman had lived in Southport for about ten years and worked at the Brunswick Nuclear Plant, where I also work.  He currently works for Duke Energy at their Oconee.  For a few minutes, we chatted about folks we both know at Brunswick.

I returned to the ride, with much of the rest of the day riding along roads through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains across northern Georgia.

The temperatures for afternoon were running in the mid to upper eighties – until I ran into a brief thundershower – which dropped the temperatures to about 70 degrees.  I pushed through the short ten-minute shower without stopping to don rain gear.  Fortunately I did not get extremely wet and I dried quickly after clearing the storm.  I rolled into Dalton, Georgia about 5:40 p.m., finishing an enjoyable, if unsettled, day’s journey.  Hopefully tomorrow would be go more smoothly.

You see more pictures of the Georgia Guidestones, as well as a map of today's ride, on my Picasa page.