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Jinxed June 8, 2009

Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
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Well, with the exception of the last hour, this leg has been a bit “hard”.  Today I made it from Lillington, NC to Savannah, GA — barely.  I woke to very dense fog setting my mood for the day.  I walked over to the neighboring Waffle House for (guess what…) a waffle.  Then I made the mistake of checking my work email to get embroiled in the crisis of the day.  Three telecons later I was on the road  much later than I hoped.  The night prior I had replanned the trip to avoid I-95 to attempt to catch some local flavor, knowing I was adding time, and despite my late start, I headed out on the revised plan. 

I headed west on US-421 to pick up US-701 south to pick up US-17 into Savannah.  The route was much slower, going through several towns on 2 lane roads.  But the problem was the weather.  Suffocating sultry southeastern humidity with the constant threat of storms — of which I hit 5.  The first three not so bad – though they slowed me up a lot.  I was making horrible time.  Five hours in the leg and I had made less than 200 miles.  When I got to US-17, I started making up some good time, and just when I thought things were looking up, my optimism was dashed by storm number 4; manageable, but it slowed me again. The fifth was devastating hitting me in the I-565 bypass around Charleston, SC.  Being as tired as I am right now, I won’t regale you with the watery hell I endured in the middle of Charleston rush hour with visibility extending no farther than the tail lights ahead of me.  (Nor the pressingly urgent yet futile search for a restroom in the midst of it, hitting three gas stations to find a working lav.)  I have never ridden in such adverse conditions.

Lesson learned: Harley is not a great form of long distance transportation when you are locked into a tight schedule.  I need to be in Florida for the LRO/LCROSS Flight Readiness Review Wednesday morning, and I had hotel reservations in Savannah that I would be paying for whether I was there or not.  If I were on “my time” I’d have stopped in Charleston and maybe found an adventure – instead I pressed on to Savannah.

Storm 5 soaked me to the core, of course without wearing my raingear.  After it was over the rest of the ride was actually not too bad, drying off everything but my boots and my “backside”.  I finally arrived in Savannah looking as though I never did find a restroom.  After a very long wait at the check in with a less than pleasant receptionist I got into my room to find that I had no spare jeans nor shoes.  (I couldn’t pack for two weeks of riding, business, business social gatherings, and beach lounging, so I shipped half my clothes for pick up in Cocoa Beach.  Of course all my shoes and my spare jeans were in the shipment.)  I more or less dried my jeans with a hair dryer and set my boots on the air conditioner.  Getting to the point that my boots no longer squished when I walked, I set out for the streets of Savannah. 

Finally – a relaxing end to a rough ride.   I stopped at Belford’s Steakhouse (a regular destination for me when I find myself in Savannah) and had a ribeye (charred medium-rare) with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus accompanied by a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir — and for desert a Sandeman’s Tawny Port … which brings me to the start of this post.

After a most excellent meal — I headed out in search of Stogies (a cigar bar I had frequented in past trips) to find it was no more – now a Paula Dean restaurant.  So I am now planted enjoying a Guiness in an eccentric little bar called The Jinx….  it seems appropriate.

Nothin’ Could be Fine-ah June 7, 2009

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Than to be in Carolina in …     Ribeyes Steakhouse

LRO and LCROSS are all set to launch out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 17th, and I am heading to Florida for the Flight Readiness Review on the 10th.  Instead of flying down, I took the opportunity to ride the Harley.  I broke the trip into three legs – the first stop in Lillington, NC.

Am sitting in Ribeyes Steakhouse, the same wonderful establishment from my Columbus Day ride.  I love this place.  The salad bar is a carnivores dream (or at least my ideal)  — it’s small but with everything I could want.  My “salad”: lettuce, shredded cheese, ham, real bacon, hard-boiled eggs, onions, sunflower seeds, croutons, french fried onions, and the creamiest ranch dressing.  Oh yeah!

Having had a significant stomach issues following a 32-oz cowboy cut ribeye a few weeks ago, I chose to me a little more parsimonious in my selection this time.  I debated between the 14 and 16 ounce, and finally went for the 16.  ‘Cept after telling the story of my Columbus Day ride (340-odd miles for a Ribeye’s ribeye) to the barmaid, and the guy at the end of the bar saying “Yeah – I remember that!”,  the chef upgraded me to an 18 ouncer….  I regret to inform you that I am kind of wimping out with half the slab of Pittsburgh-charred cow flesh still sitting there as I very unrealistically hope to get a second wind….

The ride down was generally pretty good.  Excellent weather: warm with sun, very little wind.  Shade was a bit chilly with a jacket, but completely tolerable.  I got on the road much, much later than I had hoped and was a little concerned about making it to Lillington by nightfall.  I pretty much stuck to I-95 hoping for a fast ride but ended up hitting major backups just south of DC and some slow-downs near Richmond, VA.  Looking at my unfinished steak I realize my stop south of Richmond at Hardee’s was a huge mistake.

I hopped off I-95 about 8 miles ahead of the North Carolina boarder onto US-301 to pick up my ABCs-09 picture at the same conveniently-placed North Carolina sign I used in 2008.  As a bonus I picked up my “N” and “G” counties in the same stop.

A few miles down the road I saw a biker waving his arms as he sat in the shade of a roadside tree.  I did a quick U-turn to see if he needed help.  He had stopped for a quick “bio-break” and found his bike unable to start.  Unfortunately, I was at a loss as to how to help.  I offered my cell phone but he already had one.  I hung with him for a while until he got a line on a towing service.  Despite my inability to provide much more than moral support, he thanked me profusely for my willingness to stop to try to help.  With tow truck en route, I got back on the road.

I hopped back onto I-95, near Weston, NC pleased to find beautifully new smooth asphalt with little traffic.  I raced down the interstate making excellent time as my shadow grew longer and longer to my left. 

Reaching Benson, I turned off onto the road to Lillington.  I was thinking the place looked quite pleasant, but smelled of a familiar stink I couldn’t quite remember.  What was it?  Oh, yeah — a chicken coop.  Hmmm, must be a poultry farm nearby… Nope.  It was a semi stacked 8 layers high with live chickens.  The two cars in front of me turned off leaving me following directly behind the cluck-truck  Now, I have followed garbage trucks on my commute into DC many times before, and have to say that the foul stench if a DC sanitation vehicle is truly rivaled by the fowl stench of a poultry wagon.  A few times I saw “something” leaking from the side of the truck.  “Gross!” I thought.  But that was topped by the sight of chickens projectile crapping, literally shooting excrement from their cages.  I tried to back off but was caught in the wake of chicken shit and feathers for several miles until the truck turned off.

Shortly thereafter I was in Lillington.  I pulled into the Mictotel lot, unpacked the bike, and checked in.  I dug thorough my poorly packed luggage to find a clean shirt, cleaned the chicken shit off my jeans, and walked over to Ribeyes….