Operating In opposition to the Wind

Twenty-four hours of 110-mph-plus winds, adopted by 5 days of no energy, web, or cellphone service.

Hurricane Ian had made landfall the earlier Wednesday. Energy went out that morning. I had hoped that the attention of the hurricane would cross over my home in Port Charlotte, giving me a quick respite throughout which I might view any injury, however the heart of the storm tracked 10 miles to the east, inflicting Port Charlotte to get the storm at its peak energy. Exceptionally excessive winds and rain, coupled with the storm’s sluggish progress, assured it will trigger quite a lot of injury in southwest Florida.

Associated: Appalachian Zigzag

After the storm passes, the cleanup begins.

After the storm passes, the cleanup begins. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Storm winds were strong enough to knock over a truck.

Storm winds had been sturdy sufficient to knock over a truck. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Within the days following the storm, I cooked every thing in my chilly storage on a barbecue grill or over cans of Sterno, utilizing my creativeness to create palatable outcomes. Whereas the expertise actually elevated my backwoods culinary expertise, I finally reached a quitting level.

Pasta is boiled over a makeshift Sterno stovetop.

Pasta is boiled over a makeshift Sterno stovetop. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Sunday discovered me driving 100 miles east to Lake Okeechobee to get gasoline for my automobile and generator, avoiding the mile-long strains on the few Port Charlotte fuel stations that had managed to stand up and working. The 200-mile spherical journey turned an all-day tour because of downed bushes, energy strains, and nonfunctioning visitors lights. The rule for intersections with inoperable visitors lights is to deal with them as a four-way cease, however main four-lane intersections with flip lanes develop into a bit unpredictable when the lights aren’t working. The lengthy day’s drive was the deciding issue; with stories of companies being out for at the least a number of extra days, a choice was within the offing.

Hmmm. What to do. What to do? Highway journey.

Associated: The Pleasure Of Motorbike Reacquaintance – Half 2

Who’s on first. What’s on second. I-don’t-know’s on third.

Who’s on first. What’s on second. I-don’t-know’s on third. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Monday I did upkeep checks and packed my bike with plans to depart early the subsequent morning. I might go to Atlanta, stick with household, and meet up with outdated mates till I acquired phrase that my neighborhood’s energy had been restored. To keep away from the various storm-related journey issues all through southwest Florida, I might take the great distance round, heading east again to Lake Okeechobee, then north to Jacksonville earlier than heading northwest by way of rural Georgia to Atlanta. The Jacksonville-Atlanta journey was a pleasant one which I had ridden earlier than. An in a single day cease was an choice, but when I had been as much as the problem, I might decide to finish the whole journey on Tuesday, though doing so would make it a really lengthy using day.

The Lengthy Trip

At 6:45 a.m., I thumbed the starter and rolled out of the driveway. My early begin time ensured I’d encounter the least doable visitors whereas leaving the worst of the storm injury in my mirrors. A full tank of fuel meant I wouldn’t must replenish till I reached the east coast, away from storm-damaged areas and the ensuing lengthy fuel strains.Whereas the final concept was considered one of escape, I included some scenic routes within the planning course of. I’d cross the state on state Route 74, which cuts straight as an arrow due east, and benefit from the dawn as I headed towards Lake Okeechobee. From there, FL74 led to Freeway 27 and FL78 earlier than reaching the city of Okeechobee and Freeway 441 simply north of the lake.

The perfect weather was a welcome relief from the previous week’s fury.

The proper climate was a welcome reduction from the earlier week’s fury. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Freeway 441 is a delegated scenic freeway on this space, and as in comparison with different sometimes straight and flat roads of Florida, it was fairly a pleasant journey.

On a late Tuesday morning, I had the scenic highway all to myself.

On a late Tuesday morning, I had the scenic freeway all to myself. (Philip Buonpastore/)

As unhealthy as Hurricane Ian had been, it had left spectacular climate in its wake, pulling out all cloud cowl and humidity and bringing the primary cooler temperatures of the 12 months. With temperatures within the mid-70s and nearly cloud-free skies, the climate for an extended journey couldn’t have been higher.

The parallel route from Freeway 441 to Interstate 95 allowed me to disregard the interstate whereas sustaining interstate-like speeds by way of scenic open nation and wildlife preservation areas. I slowed just for just a few picturesque old-Florida cities alongside the way in which.

At Freeway 192 and the Herky-Huffman/Bull Creek Wildlife preservation space, I headed east towards I-95. At Deer Park Highway/County Highway 419, I discovered yet another detour to delay the inevitable interstate. Deer Park Highway joins Nova Highway/CR532 and ends at Freeway 520 west of Cocoa; then it was east to I-95.

At I-95, an pleasant morning journey gave approach to the enterprise finish of the day’s journey. For the subsequent two hours, I had 160 miles to place behind me. Surprisingly sturdy crosswinds meant the miles to Jacksonville had been that rather more of a chore. By Jacksonville, it had already been an extended using day.

I contemplated the nice sense choice to cease for the evening, however stopping would imply a pretty big dent within the finances, and I had the whole subsequent day to relaxation up. I pushed on. Taking I-295 west round Jacksonville led to FL23 and a northwestern “lifeless reckoning” journey by map towards Macon, Georgia.

At a road-weary late afternoon cease for fuel in Douglas, Georgia, I knew I used to be pushing the envelope. I’d already spent 10 hours on the bike and had some 4 hours left to go. I knew {that a} cease to relaxation and eat was known as for, however I wished to get out of rural Georgia earlier than sundown, when the deer and the antelope play. Windfall intervened when an extended slow-moving industrial prepare blocked my route on the north facet of city. I used to be aggravated at first, however realized it was good timing; I might have stored going after I ought to have stopped, and when a break and dinner had been totally wanted.

The solar had swapped locations with a crescent moon by the point I reached I-16 at Macon. One other two hours and I reached Atlanta, pulling into my cousin’s driveway at 9:30 p.m. It had been an almost 15-hour using day, considered one of my longest ever.

Wednesday was a day of well-earned R&R, adopted by a night out listening to an excellent Atlanta band and visiting with outdated mates. I might be prepared to soak up some favourite Georgia rides on Thursday.

An evening of fun at Atlanta’s Tin Roof Cantina.

A night of enjoyable at Atlanta’s Tin Roof Cantina. (Philip Buonpastore/)

The Southern Georgia Triangle

The city of Monticello is about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta, however that fifty miles takes you again a century in time to a bucolic and pastoral city of outdated Southern allure. It’s a very good start line to take pleasure in three intersecting scenic highways, GA16, GA11, and Freeway 129, which type a big inverted triangle with Monticello on the higher left vertex. Eager to fill the day with as a lot scenic freeway as I might, I rode I-75 south out of Atlanta to Locust Grove, the place GA16 heading east from I-75 can also be a delegated scenic freeway for the 26 miles to Monticello.

A stop on GA11 at the Hillsboro Post Office.

A cease on GA11 on the Hillsboro Put up Workplace. (Philip Buonpastore/)

This looks to be about as authentic Southern barbecue as you can get.

This appears to be about as genuine Southern barbecue as you will get. (Philip Buonpastore/)

The three-road triangle runs by way of the Piedmont Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, forested all the way in which, with delicate curves, lengthy sweepers, and gently rolling hills. At Monticello, taking GA11 southeast to the city of Grey completes the primary leg of the triangle, resulting in Freeway 129 northeast to Eatonton earlier than returning west to Monticello once more on GA16.

Temperate autumn weather meant a slow pace with frequent stops to photograph local architecture.

Temperate autumn climate meant a sluggish tempo with frequent stops to {photograph} native structure. (Philip Buonpastore/)

One other day of picture-perfect climate discovered me stopping usually to take images of outdated church buildings and restored antebellum homes, quaint small-town companies, and sumptuous stretches of completely paved pecan-tree-lined freeway. Whereas uninterrupted journey time across the loop is barely about two hours, stops for images and native eating places stuffed a phenomenal afternoon journey.

A 50-mile ride from metropolitan Atlanta takes you back a hundred years.

A 50-mile journey from metropolitan Atlanta takes you again 100 years. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Where can you still find a painted “Drink Coca-Cola” sign? In Eatonton, Georgia.

The place can you continue to discover a painted “Drink Coca-Cola” signal? In Eatonton, Georgia. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Finishing the triangle brings you again to Monticello, the place taking GA11 north to I-20 leads again to Atlanta. Whereas this leg of GA11 shouldn’t be a delegated scenic freeway, nearly each highway on this space offers spectacular views.

A magnificent stretch of perfectly paved pecan-tree-lined highway.

An impressive stretch of completely paved pecan-tree-lined freeway. (Philip Buonpastore/)

On Thursday night, I acquired a textual content from a neighbor: The facility was again on. Whereas my home was typically undamaged by the storm, I had misplaced some roof shingles and a big tree within the yard had a number of damaged limbs hanging unfastened. The storm had taken the moist climate with it when it left Florida, however the dry spell would seemingly not final lengthy. I wished to ensure that the shingles had been changed and the potential tree limb hazard was addressed earlier than the subsequent rain. I made a decision to go residence on Saturday.

That left Friday for yet another nice journey. Georgia State Route 60 is true within the coronary heart of Georgia’s piece of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s probably the greatest examples of a highway seemingly made for motorcyclists, from its starting about 9 miles north of Dahlonega till it reaches the Tennessee border at McCaysville. Its first 7 miles are additionally a part of a three-road loop generally known as The Georgia Triangle, consisting of GA60, GA180, and Freeway 129-19. The Triangle is as well-known to Southern riders as Offers Hole is in Tennessee. Whereas I normally make some extent of using the triangle each time I’m within the space, GA60 is a stand-alone nice journey in itself, and it had been a very long time since I had ridden the highway from starting to finish.

Winding up through the Blue Ridge Mountains on Georgia’s State Road 60.

Winding up by way of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Georgia’s State Highway 60. (Philip Buonpastore/)

From its begin at its intersection with GA19-129, at a location generally known as Six Hole, the highway climbs 1,400 ft within the first 7 miles to Suches. On the way in which up the mountain, I skilled a motorcyclist’s worst nightmare. Coming round a blind left curve on the twisting mountain highway, a pickup truck was touring a full 2 ft over the centerline and effectively into my lane, at a location the place solely a guardrail stood between the highway and a steep drop-off to the fitting. Up in these components, you stay each consistently vigilant and in dread of such a risk, and I used to be ready. With out even a second to hit the horn, I moved as far to the fitting as I might with out going off the highway, skirting the painted yellow edge line to keep away from the truck.

It’s troublesome for me to think about the mindset of a driver who appears detached to inserting one other human being’s life at risk, whether or not that indifference comes from callous disregard, intoxication, inattentiveness, or easy ignorance. Had I been driving a automobile, there would seemingly have been a head-on collision on that twisting mountain highway. I put the close to miss behind me, in miles and in spirit, and continued on to benefit from the day.

Which I actually did. Well-known to riders within the southeast, Two-Wheel of Suches (previously Two Wheels Solely) is a long-established bike lodge, restaurant, and campground that caters to two-wheeled vacationers. It has been a favourite cease of mine for over 20 years, each for the good burgers and the informative two-wheeled dialog. As is at all times the case, the parking zone was filled with bikes and riders of all stripes. It’s good to see the place nonetheless going sturdy.

No ride in north Georgia would be complete without a stop at Two Wheels Suches.

No journey in north Georgia can be full with no cease at Two Wheels Suches. (Philip Buonpastore/)

The leaves had been simply starting their annual shade change, with the low autumn afternoon solar backlighting on an angled ecliptic. North of Suches, GA60 is a steady collection of twisted turns and brief steep grades for miles. Having beforehand lived in Dahlonega, I knew this highway effectively, however residing in straight and flat Florida for quite a lot of years, I paid additional consideration to my lane place, braking, and kit choice whereas I acquired my sea legs again.

Round each curve was an excellent {photograph}, however tight twists and turns with no shoulder and fast drop-offs made stopping for images a uncommon alternative. North of Mount Nice Baptist Church the highway straightens and flattens a bit, so stops are simpler. Subsequent time I’ll have a GoPro for this journey.

Around every curve was another great photograph.

Round each curve was one other nice {photograph}. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Tuesday afternoon, I’m just beginning to see, now I’m on my way…

Tuesday afternoon, I’m simply starting to see, now I’m on my manner… (Philip Buonpastore/)

My exit for the day was at Blue Ridge, with a cease on the serene blue lake for the final images of the day, returning south to Atlanta through Freeway 76 and I-575. McCaysville on the Georgia-Tennessee border is one other 10 miles down SR60, but it surely was late afternoon and I had plans for my final evening on the town. Night introduced one other favourite music venue with an excellent band and the chance to meet up with mates from my Atlanta days. I’d packed lots into an impromptu five-day trip.

The serene and peaceful Lake Blue Ridge was my last stop of the day.

The serene and peaceable Lake Blue Ridge was my final cease of the day. (Philip Buonpastore/)

And it wasn’t fairly over. Whereas the journey from Atlanta is usually one other lengthy day on the interstate, I knew from earlier expertise that I-75 from Gainesville to Tampa usually has visitors backups that may final for miles. I don’t know of a worse journey expertise than being on a bike in stop-and-go visitors on an interstate freeway. Checking Google Maps on the Florida border confirmed that visitors jams had been certainly the case. Some improvisation was known as for.

Placing the Bike Earlier than the Horse

A few of Florida’s finest using might be discovered north of Tampa and west of I-75 within the rolling hills of Florida’s equestrian nation. Regardless that it meant extending an already lengthy journey, I exited the interstate south of Lake Metropolis to Freeway 41 towards Excessive Springs. It was a late afternoon and an ideal time to journey the rolling hills of northwest Florida, previous horse ranches and equestrian parks, maintaining a very good clip on sparsely populated, completely paved highways, once more with solely outdated Florida small cities to produce curiosity and kit adjustments. Using in what photographers name “golden hour” I finished for pics on a phenomenal overhanging tree-lined part of the freeway. I’m glad I took the detour.

Great rural highways beat interstate travel any day of the week.

Nice rural highways beat interstate journey any day of the week. (Philip Buonpastore/)

Simply after sundown at Lake Hernando, close to the city of the identical title, I took the final photograph of the week, of the bike in entrance of the lake with a full moon overhead.

A full moon rises over Lake Hernando, Florida.

A full moon rises over Lake Hernando, Florida. (Philip Buonpastore/)

The Suncoast Freeway, Freeway 589, is a north-south toll highway that runs from Lecanto to the Tampa-St. Pete space. It’s a far superior journey to I-75, normally close to traffic-free and effectively definitely worth the five-buck toll. Having a SunPass transponder within the saddlebag allowed ahead progress with out interruption. Approaching Tampa, I dodged a number of kamikaze drivers who would simply as quickly kill you as take a look at you. Man, the world positive is attending to be a loopy place. The detour prolonged the usually nine-hour journey to 10 and a half; one other lengthy using day. Whereas I do know that sometimes I should cease for an in a single day, I’m fairly used to saddle time at this level.

For an impromptu hurricane escape route, I couldn’t have requested for higher circumstances; clear skies, cool however comfy temperatures, nice rides and a few wanted reconnections with outdated mates. A number of days later I changed the shingles on my roof with the assistance of a cousin. We completed 90 minutes earlier than the primary rainfall for the reason that hurricane. Windfall certainly.