Sunday, February 03, 2008

Just a Sunday Drive




This weekend provided some very wonderful weather (60F) that was just irresistable to anyone who owns a motorcycle. A friend of mine bought a Harley Sporty recently, and we've had the "let get together and go for a ride sometime" conversation way too many times. So I called him Saturday night and said tomorrow is sometime. I checked the weather forecast this morning, and saw the weather guessers were predicting rain beginning at 6pm and raining all night. I concluded that by the time my friend would arrive we wouldn't have enough time for a ride to Wolf Pen Gap and back without pushing darkness and the possible rain moving in on us. So, I elected riding to Dahlonega and having a late lunch.

We headed up historic Georgia Highway 9. Highway 9 is affectionately known as Thunder Road. In the 1930's, Georgia Highway 9 was a dirt road that ran from the North Georgia Mountains to Atlanta. It gained the nickname "Thunder Road" as it was the major route for transporting illegal moonshine from the numerous stills around Dawsonville to Atlanta. Names like Raymond Parks, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall made numerous high speed trips down the dirt highway running from the police in severely modified Model T's, Model A's, and the Ford V-8 with reports of speeds in excess of 80 mph. The current highway has not deveated from the original course. The state of Georgia simply paved the old dirt highway and keep the grass mowed.

As I road along the familiar route of sweeping turns carved through the mountains, I couldn't help but imagine the old Fords sliding and fishtailing thru the turns loaded with glass jars of moonshine headed to Atlanta. Hints of years gone by poke out in the landscape on both sides of the highway along the way - old abandon country stores, Old homes with ancient cars sitting under large oak trees.

We made our way into Dahlonega's city square. The city was the center of the Georgia gold rush. On this very square is where the phrase "There's gold in them there hills" was first proclaimed as a town father begged gold prospectors not to pack up and head for the California gold rush. Despite his rousing speech, most did in fact pack and head to the left coast. One mine still exists just out of town purely as a tourist attraction. Tourists are the cash crop in the area now. Several wineries dot the landscape around the town, while the town square is an array of nic-nac shops, a general store complete with a wooden carved bear, a fudge shop, and ice cream shop, and an antique book store.

We parked the bikes and meandered into one of the restaraunts for a warm drink and a sandwich. I listened to my friend's saga dealing with his impending divorce (been there, done that, too familiar with the struggles). A peak out the window revealed the weather guessers missed again. It wasn't quite 4pm and already raining. Thankfully the rain was light as my riding partner didn't have any rain gear. The roads were wet, but fortunately cagers had made dry wheel tracks on the road for the trip home. We eventually drove out of the light rain, and we got an occassional glimpse of the sun.

A stop on the way back to window shop at a local custom chopper shop gave us another brief opportunty to visit before we each headed home arriving with time to get settled before the Super Bowl Ads start...