We took a short vacation on the motorcycle that took us through three states and through one of the states three times. We left Georgia for our first destination in South Carolina where we stayed for two days. Then we left South Carolina going through Georgia to head for our next destination in Florida for a few days. Then we finally left Florida to head back into Georgia. This time the Magic Carpet was our transportation to our destinations. Once we arrived there were no plans to ride anywhere. The bike got us from to each point on the leg. At least it’s more fun than a car!
On the first day we left home in Georgia for our first stop in Beaufort, SC in the Low Country. About half our ride was along Interstate 20 East heading from the Atlanta, GA area to the Augusta, GA area. The forecast called for a distinct chance of rain showers for that part of the route but we were very lucky to get just a few drops of rain on the windshield a couple of times. It did look ominous for a while when the sky ahead turned dark and cars approaching on the other side of the highway all had their headlights on but somehow we dodged the rain. The temperature stayed in the mid 50’s° (F) the entire day, forcing us to keep the liners in our jackets. After lunch in Augusta it was just a short hop over the border into South Carolina to get off the highway in North Augusta, South Carolina. We were now ready to head south-east on SC HWY 125 which is also known as Atomic RD. You see, SC125 goes through part of the Savannah River Plant. The Savannah River Plant is a nuclear plant but it’s purpose is not power generation but making things that go BOOM. The stretch of SC 125 that meanders through part of the plant is a two lane stretch of about 25-30 miles through forest and has no intersections. There are a few plant entrances but no intersections. While we didn’t see any 8 foot tall grasshoppers we did see a few streams with warning signs that said “Caution: Stream Temperature May Change Rapidly”. The fence lining the highway had the nice government “No Trespassing” signs. There were plenty of signs telling us not to stop except for an emergency. I found it amusing to see a sign about a historical marker a half mile ahead and sign under it commanding “No Stopping”. After the plant it was time to head for US HWY 278 and some of the small rural towns of South Carolina. It wasn’t long before Interstate 95 came into view but we were going to go under it and keep going. As we got deeper in the Low Country we could notice small fields of water and marshes along the road. Even while still a good distance inland, these marshes were controlled by the tides. It was also starting to get very windy while the sky was clearing. Live oaks with Spanish Moss began to form a canopy over the road. It wasn’t long before we were in Beaufort and checking in at the Best Western Sea Island Inn on Bay ST. Beaufort is a low country town very near the coast and is situated nearly equally from Charleston, SC as it is from Savannah, GA. It is also the county seat for Beaufort County. The town is loaded with ante-bellum homes built in the mid 1800’s. If you want to buy one, a small one could start at $750,000. We’ve learned that Beaufort was also an area were freed slaves were allowed to settle before the Civil War. The freed slaves could own businesses, buy property and had their own bank and churches. If you consider that this was South Carolina before the Civil War it was actually pretty amazing. The Magic Carpet stayed parked and resting during our two-day stay. Everything we wanted to do or see was right along Bay ST and a short walking distance. The hotel has 5 of its rooms overlooking Bay ST. Our door opened to a view through the trees of the Beaufort River and the downtown city marina.
After two days in Beaufort it was time to pack the motorcycle and head for our next destination in Port Orange, FL near Daytona Beach where we’d be visiting my Dad. I had planned a route that would take us in a south-west direction on state highways before we reached Interstate 95 which we would be using this time. Although we did get some nice scenery on the two lane highway in the low country and crossed the Broad River. It was still quite windy too. There were quite a few times that our heads got tossed around by wind and even began activating the VOX on the intercom. We stopped for gas just north of Brunswick, GA and were also able to take the liners out of our jackets. From there is was all interstate on I-95 into Florida, through Jacksonville and on into Daytona Beach and Port Orange. On both our ride to Beaufort and to Florida it was nice that we could get a late start in the morning and be at our destinations in the mid afternoon. It’s a good thing we didn’t plan on any sight-seeing or riding or riding while in Florida as one day was high winds and rain. But we spent time with my Dad and helped him out with a few things.
After a few days in Florida it was time to head back north and in the direction of home. Donna had once again decided that since we would be on the boring highway that she wanted to stop for the night somewhere in south Georgia and then finish the journey home the next day. It also gave me the chance to take her on different route home that she hadn’t ridden on before. I took us up to Ormond Beach where we then used FL HWY 40 to head west to the middle of the state and got on Interstate 75 near Ocala, FL. FL HWY 40 is nice mostly 2 lane highway going through the Osceola National Forest. Our normal trip home would be I-95 to I-295 to I-10 and then I-75 into Georgia and all the way home. The trip on FL HWY 40 takes us up I-95 a very short distance and FL 40 to Ocala and then I-75 all the way home. The mileage of the two routes are nearly identical and the route on FL 40 is about 15 minutes longer but worth every minute of it. Somewhere north of Ocala the odometer on the Magic Carpet rolled over to 80,000 miles too! Again we were dealing with wind strong enough to toss our heads and loud enough to activate the VOX on the intercom. We headed up to our stop in Tifton, Georgia for the night. Although we picked the hotel for its close proximity to being able to walk to any number of restaurants we decided to stay in the room and order pizza to be delivered!
Tifton is nearly the half way point for us. So we could once again get a late start in the morning. It also gave us a chance to let the sun warm the day up. Another advantage of Donna’s idea is that it guarantees that we should miss rush hour traffic while going through or around Atlanta. Her way also got us home at just after 1:30 in the afternoon.
The Magic Carpet now sits in the garage with more than 80,000 miles on her odometer and she’s ready to go out again!