I left Tim's today at 6:30 and headed back up SC 290 to get back on SC 11, The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. The ride on 11 was not filled with curves and chicken strip thrills, but it offered stunning views on the Blue Ridge to my right for many miles.
The Kind of Views You Can Expect along SC11, The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway
I had foregone breakfast this morning, which is not my habit, and so I started looking for a local diner along the scenic highway where I could have some eggs and grits. I passed Aunt Sues, near Table Rock and one of my favorites from times past, but found the lot empty and a sign saying they opened for lunch at 11. I had enjoyed a couple nice midday meals there so was a bit disappointed as I guessed a breakfast there would be just as good as their lunches. Undaunted, I pressed on and not far after the turn to Devils Fork and about where 11 starts its way south to the Interstate, I spied Abby's Grill. I highly recommend this spot for a hearty breakfast, but watch carefully on your right; there is only a small window sign saying “Abbys Grill”; look for the cars parked outside. I had scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, coffee, and a biscuit, all for the sum of $3.50.
The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway eventually joins I-85 at the Georgia/South Carolina border. From there I hopped on I-85 for a speedy ride down to US 441 South. 441 carried me to Athens and the big loop around the city. Once on the south side of the loop I continued on US 441 all the way through Georgia. There was some construction where the highway was divided, but it was not really bad and hardly slowed my progress south.
A Lazy Georgia River, The Ocmulgee River
This time in Georgia, at least almost to the Florida line, the fresh scent of southern yellow pine was in the air instead of the heavy smell of forest fire smoke.
US 441 enters Florida and turns southwest after crossing the Suwannee River and follows it down to Lake City. Here I discovered I had gone out of my way a bit. I had been winging it in Florida, as I had forgotten my Florida map when I headed out from Lake Wales with only my Google Map printouts showing me the way north. I stopped at several gas stations as I neared Florida but none had maps, so I went by memory and ended up in Lake City. That only required a backtrack to the north on US 41 to White Springs of a dozen miles so it had not come out too bad.
I did not arrive in White Springs until 6:15, which surprised me. I had figured I could average 50 mph and get there in eight hours plus 2 for stops, which would have put me there at 4:30 figuring roughly 400 miles. Turns out the ride was 463 miles in actuality and I had not averaged quite what I expected.
I had come by White Springs to break up the long ride home for one thing, but also to follow up with the manager of the gift store in the State Park about a book I had republished through Lost Classics Book Company about old Florida. The book is historical fiction, written originally in 1909, and follows a young boy's growth in 1900 Florida, a place much different than it is today. There is much in the book about Florida wildlife, both inland and on the coast, and the old ways of hunting and fishing. The book being a glimpse into a long gone Florida I though might interest the Park Service not just here, but in other parks as well. I got in too late to talk to the manager and offer her a review copy, so I paid my $22.50 and camped in the park for the night. After check in, I ran back out and had a quick meal at Fat Bellies, a BBQ place in White Springs that serves up some good food.
Not wanting to mess with unloaded and repacking the tent tonight, I had picked up a tarp earlier in the day and draped it over the bike, attached with various bungees I had with me and staked to the ground, forming a neat little lean-to for one right beside, and practically under, the bike. In the morning all I have to do is pull the stakes and bungees off, roll the tarp up, and camp will have been broken.
My Motorcycle Lean-To at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
As daylight faded I crawled into my bag next to the exhaust pipe with me head resting on my rolled up jacket, covered up in the heat to escape the mosquitos, but in time the temps fell, the mosquitos went away, and I had a relaxing sleep on the ground next to the bike.
“Ride Your Own Ride.”