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I grew up in Florida, I was drafted and have not lived there since. During my 10 years in the Army I managed to get home occasionally in between assignments, but only once during my 6 years in Europe. But since I came back from Europe in 82' I have tried as often as possible to get back home. Somewhere along the way while I was working way too hard on important stuff I started a tradition of getting back to Florida during Thanksgiving, taking the entire week, weekend to weekend, and usually to an island place on the west coast of Florida, which made my Dad, wife, and my oldest sister Kathy, (when she could make it) still living in Florida all happy. Gradually the wives went away, Dad passed away, and my sister starting having a house full of her immediate family with kids at her house. But I still go to Florida for Thanksgiving. This year it was the Diavel and I, southbound on the Auto Train on Wednesday.
Wednesday Morning I got up and mounted the Shad bags to the Diavel, packed the left liner with clothes/laptop and the right liner with extra gloves, tools, tire repair kit, net bungee in case, coffee, power cords for iPhone, iPod, Sena. Tankbag with various small items including cigars, some motorcycle magazines, Maps. I Left my house at ~10 AM arriving in Occoquan where my GF, Nora, met me for lunch at a local nice restaurant. We had a nice lunch and said our goodbyes just before 1PM. It's a short 10 minute ride to the train from there. I got checked in and went over to motorcycle loading, they wanted me to sign a release for the Shad bags since it is not OEM equipment. I had packed so I did not have to take the bags or even the liners onto the train but I was not comfortable signing a release. To me the bags/brackets are rock solid and I know the train sways quite a bit, but as a veteran of the Auto train I was not concerned. However I felt like signing a waiver enabled an opportunity for careless handling, so I took the bags with me. That was a bit of a hassle on each end but it worked out. Once on the train, as is my practice, I headed to the Bar Car(the lounge car), soon joined by others with adult beverages and conversations flowing freely, which continued to dinner reservations at 7PM, and then after dinner back in the Bar Car and a good time was had by all, new friends - oops I don't remember a single name, but I never forget a face. Sufficiently refreshed with adult beverages I headed back to my lounge seat at 11PM, woke up at 6AM.Headed to the bathroom and did a GI shower/shave and waited for arrival into Sanford while drinking bad coffee, it usually seems good, maybe they changed the brand. The train was late getting in 9:30 instead of 8:30 but the Diavel was offloaded pretty quickly.
This year my sister, Kathy, was headed to Augusta, Georgia the day after Thanksgiving to surprise my nephew who has not been able to make the trip down for a few years, also bringing one of his daughters with her. I decided that seemed like a good plan that I could be a part of since I had not seen him in ~15 years. While I know most would not get enjoyment from wandering around on Florida back roads I actually enjoy it and keep searching for new roads on every trip. This trip I planned to swing a wide arc on State and Country roads heading NW through Ocala National forest, then north through Horse Country and finally into Georgia along the eastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okefenokee_Swamp then turning east to spend the night at Jekyll Island at the Holiday Inn resort. The trip was great even found some turns and elevation changes and I guess you have to be from Florida to appreciate the endless Pine Forest, Palmetto, Occasional Orange Groves, endless small lakes, and acres of cattle and horses. It was a good trip, Mr. Devil is a fine steed no matter what the road, and an occasional strong twist of the right hand grip always brings a smile. Good weather, smooth roads, very few insects on the face shield, and arrival at Holiday Inn before dark, good short day of ~ 250 miles. Naturally since Nora was not on the trip they upgraded my room and I got a nice ground floor King suite with Ocean View for the price of standard senior discount Since Nora and I were there last spring they have added a new Restaurant, The Beach House, with Bar, inside and outside dining, and a very good menu. I missed the Thanksgiving special menu which finished at 4PM, but that was okay with me, I had the Shrimp and Grits as well as adult beverages. I then headed back to my room, enjoying some JD and Coke while enjoying a nice cigar outside my room, dragging the table and chairs out towards the ocean so as not to disturb the guests above me enjoying the view from their balconies. Good day of riding, nice weather, great bike, good food, adult beverages, cigar, and stars to stare at, only thing missing is Nora and some friends to share the experience with but I have them in my thoughts, especially Bill and Walt, R.I.P, as well as Walt's wife Ivonne.
On Friday Morning I had coffee in the room and plotted a route after looking at the Georgia map. Decided I really wanted to try US1 into Augusta, I keep thinking of an end to end ride on US1 from Maine to Key West, so I had a rough idea of some roads to get me over to US1 in Baxley, Ga. While looking at the map I also discovered that the Savannah river goes to Augusta and continues up to the mountains, but there was not an easy route to follow that river. Still I took a mental note to go back and do some exploring west of Augusta, looks very interesting, might even pack my rod/reel that I bought to carry on the bike. Anyway I had a good time wandering over to US1, mostly pine forest and lumber operations. Several cool little towns, I love wandering through little towns and seeing how my fellow Americans live and all those small business that really make this country great. Once on US1 I was pleasantly surprised that it is mostly 4 lane divided highway, posted 55/65, and very little traffic, and even when it turned into 2 lane it was still very little traffic with ample passing zones to get around the occasional slow moving vehicle. Now it also varied between Pine Forest and Pecan Groves, with a field of cotton once in awhile. Most would probably be bored, but I'm not, on a great bike, got some tunes playing with good FM reception on the Sena headset and new/different countryside, it was smooth sailing right into Augusta, arriving at HI Express downtown Augusta at 3PM.Got a text from my sister at 3:30PM that she was at my nephews and would meet back at the hotel after a visit, Nephew was very surprised and he still had no idea he would see Uncle Gene at Dinner. I wandered down Broad St, the renovation is underway but not quite complete, still you can tell it is going to be great. Anyway I went to check out http://whiskeybarkitchen.com/ as a potential for dinner, nice enough place but a table for 10 was not possible, mostly 4 person booths. I had a couple of beers and some nice discussion with the bartender, good ones are great when you are a stranger on the road. Anyway I wandered back to the hotel met up with Kathy, said hi to the little ones and then we coordinated dinner, deciding onhttp://www.luigisinc.com/ in business by the same family since 1949. We had a great dinner, my nephew James was really surprised and happy to see me, and it was a great time although with 4 little ones in our party I was a little stressed. After dinner my nephew left to take everyone roller skating, Kathy staying behind with me. She and I wandered over to a Blues Bar over on the Savannah River, http://cottonpatchaugusta.com/ what an excellent find, if I make that US1 trip or come back to explore west of Augusta I will visit this bar again, food looked good as well. Finished the night back at the hotel sitting outside having a cigar, JD/coke and chatting with my sister. Good day in the saddle and a good evening with family, missing some close to my heart but still I'm a lucky man.
Saturday morning I was up early with plan to leave by 9AM to make sure I made it to the hotel in South Hill Va before dark, ~350 miles away. No drama in the route, US1 the whole way. The ride was completed without any drama or adventure except for getting air in the rear tire, I knew it had a slow leak when I left Virginia, about 4-5lbs a day, and I had the little air compressor with me but forgot that the inline fuse on the battery tender is usually only 3 amps and the little compressor takes 5, so did not try to use it, forget trying to get to the battery with the alligator clips. So every morning I would add air at the nearest gas station. Anyway the route north started out as a bit much with many lights and traffic but eventually gave way to more 4 lane divided highway, with some 2 lane here and there, posted 55, 65, and 45 in a few places. And of course there was some major towns along the way, but they were easy to get through or around.
I was surprised at the Peach Orchards in southern SC, as well as Pecan Groves, Also there was plenty of other crops still growing such as cabbage and broccoli. Had no idea SC had that much Peach or Pecans. "According to Clemson University, South Carolina produces the second largest peach crop in the United States. According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, South Carolina produced 69,000 tons of peaches in 2015. California produced the most and Georgia came in as the third largest producer of peaches in 2015." As far as pecans go, SC is not up there with Georgia or Texas but still quite a lot of Pecan Groves along US1.
It was getting dark as I pulled into the Fairfield Inn, but it was another good day in the saddle, Mr. Devil is a fine steed, getting good gas mileage as well, and or course it just feels good riding that bike. After a quick shower and change I headed down the road to dinner, nothing gourmet but Applebee's has plenty of choices both in food and beer. Finished the evening back at the hotel sitting outside with a cigar and JD/Coke, felt the weather changing as I sat outside. The only good news about that is I knew I had less than 200 miles to home on Sunday, so I could take my time in the morning, leaving ~10AM and still get home well before dark.
I left as planned on Sunday ~10am and arrived home in Chantilly at 3PM. From South Hill I found a neat little state road, 47, that got me over to US15 and then I took that north up to Culpepper and US 29 which takes to within several miles of my home off of Pleasant Valley Road. US15 is also a pleasant road, just enough elevation changes and gentle sweeping turns to keep you alert but allowing you to enjoy the views of the countryside. It was a good trip just a little over 1K miles, not a lot for 4 days, but it was a nice change from my usual blast to Springfield Mile and back or the 1500+ miles I did coming back from COTA in 3 days. Mr Devil gets a rest, he is headed to Ducpond (Ducati Winchester) for a 15K service. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and got a ride in over the Holiday.
- Gene
 

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Wonderful adventure w/Mr. Devil! Thanks for sharing Bud.

BTW, how many miles between fill-ups on a Diavel? I know it's not much...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The stupid light comes on at 130-140 miles, so that forces the issue. - Gene
 
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