Category Archives: Suunto

Deja View.

Not much happening. Just waiting and seeing. Right now, seeing a whole lot of nothing. Before I get into it, though, right as I was writing this, I got some hugely relieving news regarding the whole COVID thing – not going to get into it (and it wasn’t me), but…whew. This is the new normal. And it’s not normal.

Mountain Outfitters Monteagle

I decided to head back up to Sewanee to bicycle the Mountain Goat Trail. It’s been exactly 3 years since the last time I pedaled there, although I’ve been to Sewanee many times for hiking and other exploring in the interim. Like everything, some good trips, some not so great. This trip was one of the good ones. 24 miles, all over Sewanee, the University of the South, and neighboring Monteagle.

The Domain

I don’t really have much to say about it – I came, I saw, I rode. There was some exploring of new places, and, of course, tasty treats. I love this area – quiet, peaceful, nice people. Lots of outdoors stuff to do, as well. I’ll probably spend the next couple of weekends here, before the weather turns cold. Even though I’ve done many things in the area, there are still a few stones to kick over, and a few stones I want to kick for a second or third time. Anything beats just sitting here watching the photos on the Echo scroll by. So, in the past month or so, more than 200 miles on the bike, at Sewanee, Sterchi Farm, Chief Ladiga, Hamilton Place and a few other rides. Everybody has to be somewhere.

I’ve also ordered a bunch of new stuff for the mountain bike. Too much to get into – but after the recent mods, and now all the new stuff inbound, the bike is going to be great for long-distance, maybe-overnight rides. Should have all the new goodies and gadgets in time for this weekend. Fingers crossed.

In other adventure-related news, I got up in the middle of the night last weekend and went for a moonlight paddle. I haven’t paddled in the dark in a while, and it was great. A little dangerous – I mean, you’re completely invisible in a kayak on the open water in the dark (but my boat does have a light on it). Only a few miles, but really cool and worth the risk. Did I mention that everybody has to be somewhere?

So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep on muddling through, coming up with COVID-friendly, socially-distanced things to do. With any luck, a week from now, everything will be more optimistic. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll see.

Links:
Sewanee Mountain Goat Trail Photo Album on Facebook
Moonlight Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Empty.

Well, suddenly, I guess my Bucket List is empty. At least empty of the activities and adventures I wanted to accomplish before the inevitable march of time does its thing. Sure, there are still places I’d like to see, things I’d like to do, but nothing I’m going to regret not doing if my number gets called tomorrow. Of course, there are non-activities that I would like to accomplish, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that at this point, those things are…unlikely. That’s just something I’ll have to learn to accept.

Georgia Alabama State Line

So, the last bucket list item was like so many others: accomplished, but not the way I had hoped or expected. But accomplished, nonetheless. In this case, it was bicycling the entire 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, which completed my conquest of the Silver Comet Trail/Chief Ladiga Trail systems. Nearly 185 miles across Georgia and Alabama, spread over 4 rides. The Chief Ladiga ride took 2 days of riding, not to mention hours in the Jeep getting there and getting back. And, like so many of the other Bucket List Adventures, there was no brass band waiting at the end. It was just…done. And y’know, I don’t even really have much to say about it. I went, I rode, I tried to clear my head (which appears to have been wasted effort), came back to the same shitshow I left. Am I surprised? Not even a little bit.

Chief Ladiga Trail

This should have been a really big deal. Not that many people have biked the entire SCT/CLT, and it really takes a lot of deep digging to do it, even if it is spread over 4 rides (which, FYI, makes my average about 46.25 miles for each ride – do you know anyone that can ride 46 miles? Can you?). But I guess it wasn’t, and that was less about the ride, and more about the circumstances of the ride. Just like the recent Tail of the Dragon motorbike trip – I did it, I’m glad I did it, but it just wasn’t the way I hoped or expected it would be. That has been a recurring theme in my life over the past year or so.

So, I guess “done” will just have to do. I can’t see any reason I’ll ever go back, having done the complete trail system. Generally, once I scratch something off the list, I move on – but now, there’s nothing really to move on to. I do have one other thing I’ve been kicking around doing on the motorbike, and I might shoot for that this weekend, while I still can. Something dangerous (like most motorbike adventures), and something I definitely should NOT be doing alone, but hey, doing all these other things alone hasn’t killed me – there are plenty of other things trying to do that.

CLT

In any event, I’ve ridden the entire Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga Trail. Yay, me. No one really cares, but yay, me.

With that said, I feel like I kinda need to address something, since I probably won’t have much – if anything – to add here in the future, and the world is probably gonna end, anyway. I’ve made no secret about my opinion of how people are behaving during this whole pandemic. I stand by those statements. Furthermore, I would never, ever do something so careless, selfish and foolish that might jeopardize the health of people I care about. There was a concert I really wanted to go to last week, and another next month was just announced. Did I/will I? No. There have been people who’ve asked me to do things with them. Will I? No. I might do something if it was socially-distanced, and ONLY if I knew the health status of every single person involved (so, you can probably figure out the under/over on that). There’s too much on the line – those closest to me know what I’m referring to; the rest of you, trust me. And now, with things taking a turn for the (much) worse, this is even more important. So, I’m going to just settle in for a long winter by myself, just like last winter (although for different reasons). I spent the last Long, Lonely Winter doing stuff around the house, and there’s always house stuff to do. I’d also like to do some improvements in the barn, to see if I can squeeze 3 motorbikes in there (yeah, I came very, very close to buying another bike about 2 weeks ago – a pure dirt bike, because *cough* reasons. Found one I liked, went to look at it, had the cash in my hand, and [luckily] then backed out at the last second. Still doesn’t mean I won’t get a third bike at some point, though.). I’m sure I’ll find stuff to do to keep busy. Anyway, it’s better to be safe than dead (I think), and I’m not so selfish that I would even consider hurting anyone in my orbit. Or not in my orbit. Whether or not you believe me, those are the facts. The rest of you, go to Applebees or hang out with your friends or hook up or do whatever it is you think is more important than your health and the health of those around you. I have a completely clear conscious.

On a completely unrelated note, I was behind a young woman in the checkout line at WM the other day, and to make a long story short, she didn’t have enough money for her essentials and a bag of Halloween candy for (I assume) her kids. So, after giving it back to the cashier and completing her purchase, I asked her to wait a sec so I could pay for her candy. She cried. Now, I’m not telling you this to humblebrag (honest) – I was in kind of a dark place at the time (go figure), and I felt like I needed a little good karma. I know you’re wondering how that worked out for me – well, really, do you even need to ask? But you don’t do a good deed in hope of a reward, just like you don’t keep your promises in order to get a pat on the back. You do these things because they are the right things to do, and I do these things – good deeds, keep promises, stand up for the little guy – because contrary to some people’s opinions, I’m not an asshole. Imagine that.

Anyway, stay safe. I guess. Whatever. Meanwhile, Paul Young.



Link:
Chief Ladiga Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Super, Moist.

As is often the case for me, things didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m referring to my planned trip to bicycle the 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, to complete the entire Silver Comet system. What happened? Hurricane Delta, and about 4 inches of rain.

However, you’ll recall that last week, I made significant upgrades to the Kona, so I decided I had to go ride anyway, but just in-town. In the rain. Like a dummy.

Super Moist

So, I went to…the mall. This was actually a great place to ride – miles and miles of flat, plenty of places to “duck” into (pun explained momentarily) if it really started pouring, and I’m familiar with the area. Plus, right now, the mall doesn’t open until 11:00 AM, so I was able to start early and knock out a number of miles before traffic got heavy.

Hamilton Place MapThe Kona performed amazingly. The new Maxxis tires I installed last week did so well in the rain, and the handlebar riser completely changes my comfort level (and this is why I had to ride regardless of weather – I wanted to test everything before the Chief Ladiga trip). Those tires cost as much as car tires, but so worth it; super-grippy, but fast rolling. I also installed a rear light/reflector combo, which is pretty cool – no more attaching a rear light on my (new, replacement) tailbag; it’ll just always be there on the tailbag mount, and it doubles as a reflector for day riding. That’s some real Star Trek sh*t right there.

Anyway, 16 miles in and around the mall, and I finally got to visit Duck Donuts (pun explained), which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Made to order donuts? Count me in. Made other food stops, as well – not the best food-decision weekend. Worth it.

Next stop, the Chief Ladiga Trail, and riding all over central Alabama. Roald Amundsen said, “Adventure is just bad planning” – and while he knew what he was talking about, I think I’ve got the next adventure planned out pretty well.

Now, if you clicked on the map, you’ll see that my mapping software has changed. In their questionable wisdom, the people at Suunto have decided to kill off the awesome Movescount software I’ve gotten to know and love over the years, in favor of an app-based solution. Ugh. I’m still figuring out how to leverage it to suit my needs, but at least I was able to create a link to the map, even though it’s app-based. Now, I need to figure out how to let you lot see it in miles versus kilometers, as well as a few other things, but I’m working on that.

On an unrelated note, Delta knocked over a few trees over the weekend, and there was one in particular that was going to land squarely on my driveway. Nothing my trusty Jeep can’t handle.


Alabama, here I come. Hide your daughters.

Link:
Hamilton Place Photo Album on Facebook

Comet…Slayer?

This weekend, a long-awaited return to the Silver Comet Trail. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and finally found the motivation to get off my ass and do it. Like the Dragon, it’s not an impromptu adventure – it’s 2.5 hours away, and the westbound segment I wanted to do is almost all remote; that is, if something goes wrong, or you get jumped by a bear or whatever, you’re on your own. There’s an urban area at the trailhead in Rockmart GA, and there’s Cedartown GA, at about the halfway point, but other than that, it’s just you and whatever you have with you.Silver Comet Trail
That said, I had no problems at all. Hit the trail right at sunrise, and powered through fairly easily to Cedartown (including the very aptly named Surprise Hill, which is a brutal hill that just keeps going). Past Cedartown, a pretty flat ride all the way to the Alabama state line, and the start of the Chief Ladiga Trail, which was my turnaround point. The ride back was also uneventful, and felt faster than the ride in, as return legs often are for me. At the end, exactly 50 miles, and completion of the entire SCT (and full disclosure, the actual out-and-back was only 47.5 miles, so I rode further east down the trail a little way when I got back to the Jeep so that I’d hit 50 miles on the dot when I was done). If you care, see the Movescount data right here.
Rockmart to Alabama
Next up, the Chief Ladiga Trail, maybe next weekend (weather permitting). It’s 33 miles from the Alabama state line to the end of the trail in Anniston, so 66 miles round trip, which might be a little ambitious, since I haven’t been riding much. I’ve done as much as 100 miles on the bike on one ride, but it’s been a minute, and my legs may not have 66 miles in them right now (and the trail distances don’t equate what I actually end up doing, with my propensity to explore side trails, towns, and whatever I stumble across). More likely, I’ll do Piedmont to the state line (about 20 miles r/t), then take a side trip on the Pinhoti Trail to stretch it into a 40-or-so-mile ride, then do Piedmont to Anniston later in the year, or if the weather looks good all weekend, I might just spend the night in Alabama and do the 2nd leg on Sunday. Additionally, there’s also the newest, still-under-construction segment, from Mile 0 in Smyrna, which leads into Atlanta – so, plenty to ride still. In preparation, I ordered some new Maxxis Rekon EXO 3C MaxxSpeed tires, as well as tubes, Presta aluminum valve covers and a stem extender so I can raise my handlebars up a little (the downside of being tall). I guess if it ends up raining this weekend, I know what I’ll be doing in the barn all day Saturday. Like riding a motorbike, knowing how to do “bike stuff” is a prerequisite if you’re serious about mountain biking or even road biking. Anyway, about $200 for tires & tubes, so not cheap at all, but these tires should make my ride much better.

And y’know, biking (and kayaking, hiking, motorbiking, etc) is a perfect activity for these times we live in. Natural social distancing – no close contact with anyone required, unlike some other activities. Seriously, after the events of the past week especially, anyone who gathers in a group of people – especially casual acquaintances or whatever – is a complete flippin’ moron, and whatever happens to you is entirely your own stupid, stupid fault. Or, as John Oliver said last night, “…the thing about a highly contagious virus is your recklessness could end up killing someone you never even meet.” Or, y’know, killing someone you have met. Maybe even someone you like. Or don’t like.

Whichever. Dead is still dead.

Link:
Silver Comet Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Dragon Slayer.

Welp, here we are, once more. It’s been a while since I added anything here, and – as usual – it’s been a tumultuous couple of months. Second verse, same as the first.

But there was Really Big News worth reporting, which is why I’m writing now. I’ve had a few adventures these past months; some good, some bad, some not worth thinking too much about. The Master Adventure Map is somewhat significantly updated, though. But the Really Big News is this: I finally rode the Tail of the Dragon.

Tail of the Dragon

And no, not just in the Jeep like I’ve done before. Although I did take the Jeep down the Dragon with the motorcycle in tow before making a run on the bike. I wanted the cool professional photos of the Jeep/trailer, but I also wanted to scout the road on 4 wheels before running it on 2, just so I’d have fresh in my mind anything I needed to be conscious of – potholes, oil, downed trees, etc.

Tail of the Dragon

Prior to the trip, significant work on the trailer was required. For one thing, since I lifted the Jeep last spring, I needed a new trailer hitch that dropped lower (so the trailer was level). And when I hooked it up, I found out that the lights were all squirrely. A real head-scratcher; they worked if the headlights were on, but the turn signals were backwards. They kinda worked on one side if the headlights were off. That kind of weirdness. To make a long story short, it was a combination of old bulbs in the trailer, and a short in the aftermarket LED bumper lights in the Jeep. A real pain to sort out single handedly, too – had to set up a mirror so I could see what the lights were doing when I hit the brakes and what-not. Have I mentioned I need a little helper? Feel free to drop me your resume and qualifications.

Tail of the Dragon

Anyway, after the test run in the cage, the real goal – getting out there on the motorbike. This is something I’ve been talking about for years (seriously), and it was exciting to finally be actually doing it, even if it was solo. For at least the past two years, I’ve been hoping to go, but something always got in the way – work, weather, mechanical stuff, life (ahem), but this time, the stars all lined up. Best of all, I didn’t die (OK, I guess that’s a matter of perspective). No real incidents of any kind. The run was fast and nice, and of course I mapped it using my fancy Suunto GPS watch – see the Movescount data right here. I started early enough that I missed the throng of afternoon riders (the road was just starting to get really crowded on my way back from the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort), so I didn’t have to deal too much with the ricer racers or any of that. One of the best adventures I’ve had, and that’s saying something. There was so much about it that wasn’t the way I hoped or planned, but at least I can now say I did it. I guess I need to update the Motorcycle page now.

Tail of the Dragon

I had such a good time, I’m thinking seriously about going back up in the next couple of weeks with the BMW. The BMW is a fast bike, but I’m not sure how the off-road tires will handle those curves. I guess there’s one way to find out. However, before I do that, I have another pretty cool trip planned for the Bimmer, hopefully next weekend. Another one of those stupid, crazy, dangerous bucket list things – but hey, who wants to live forever? Not me, that’s for sure.

Lower Piney Falls Now, in addition to the Dragon, there have been other adventures in the kayak, on the motorbike, the mountain bike, and in the boots (including my new Merrell Moabs, because shoes). Worth mentioning, and in no particular order, a short but really awesome and challenging hike at Piney Falls (Movescount data) with its two waterfalls (that’s Lower Piney Falls in the photo at the left), kayaking at Mud Creek (Movescount data), Foshee Pass (Movescount data) and Watts Bar Lake (Movescount data), all of which have helped fill out the blueway portion of my master map. There was a return to mountain biking at Sterchi Farm (Movescount data) and a long-wanted bucket list MTB ride at the Chickamauga Battlefield (Movescount data). A whole bunch of random hikes, walks and treks in town and out, including a bucket list visit to Twin Arches (Movescount data), and a sentimental visit to historic Rugby (Movescount data). Several dual-sport rides in the woods on the BMW, including a return to Insurance Bluffs (Movescount data). Even got the Jeep in on the action a few times. Just lots of activities, and hey, only a few significant injuries, none of which were especially life-threatening (although with some of the things I’ve done lately, I’m really, really tempting the gods of broken bones and death by adventure).

Silver Comet Trail

But I’m not done yet. In the planning stages for the next good weekend is a return to the Silver Comet Trail. I never really talked about my last trip there, but it went kinda south and almost ended badly (Movescount data), in no small part because I was, as usual, alone. Doesn’t matter now, but luckily at the time I had a guardian angel get me back to the trailhead before I died to death. Anyway, the trip I’m planning now is going to be headed west, to complete the remainder of the entire SCT. By my math, it’ll be about 50 miles round-trip, and since I won’t be doing it in August like last year, I should be able to scratch this off the ever-shrinking bucket list. I’m pretty excited about it – watch this space.

Clean Deck!

There’s always other projects, too. Pressure-washed the deck (after cleaning the rest of the gunk out of the pressure washer carb – again). Planted some bamboo for what I intend to be an entire grove next spring. Ordered some pink pampas grass to put around the deck. Put pavers at the bottom of the steps on the deck that I built last spring. Installed an awesome Alexa-enabled smart ceiling fan in my bedroom, along with some new Alexa-enabled bulbs (I had bought all this for a different project, but welcome to my world). I like projects/cleaning/etc, and I’m good at that kind of thing – and one thing is for certain, no one can ever accuse me of being a slob. One day this week, I’m going to replace the bottom of the vanity in my bathroom. I did the kitchen over the winter, and the other bathroom vanity a couple years ago. It needs it – over the years, the particle board gets wet and sags and stuff, so I’m going to replace it with plywood I was saving for another similar project that I’m not doing now. The kitchen turned out really nice; I’m sure my bathroom will, as well (and again, I could use a little helper). After that, I’m thinking of ripping up the carpet in the bedroom and replacing it with hardwood – I’ve already got my square footages, and I think I’ve found a wood that I like. Additionally, the 4 inches of rain we got last week showed me that the leaky roof I mended in my garage is actually properly repaired – you don’t screw with a leaky roof, unless you want mold and a desire to gut the entire ceiling. I guess I can indeed fix anything – one of only two things I’m evidently useful for.

On the COVID front, no socializing to speak of – no trips to the mall, concerts, movies or anything like that (but the drive-in closes soon, so I still might make a trip there), and certainly no slinging my DNA around in a group of people, because I’m not a f*cking moron (Addendum, October 2nd: Today has clearly shown us that if you’re stupid enough to willingly and eagerly go somewhere – anywhere – in a group of people that you have no idea the health status of – mask or no mask – then you deserve exactly what you f*cking get. Do your thing, Darwin.). I’m keeping a low profile and staying safe, I guess. Not sure exactly why, but here I sit. Oh, and right as I was updating this, I got some *cough* new footage on my Ring camera network. That’s the whole reason I installed the things. My private YT channel is…something. Ask me for a link. Some real fremdschämen, that’s for true. With Prime Day coming up, I’m going to add a couple more cameras, just…because.

Tomorrow, I have to change the combinations to all my locks and stuff, because of course I do.

Did I mention I rode the Tail of the Dragon? And didn’t die? Sorry, maybe next time.


Links:
Piney Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Professional Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Personal Photo Album on Facebook
Chickamauga Battlefield Mountain Biking Photo Album on Facebook
Twin Arches, Hazard Cave, Historic Rugby and Foshee Pass Photo Album on Facebook

Cast, Away.

Buckle up, I’m feeling chatty. I should – I mean, it’s been months since I’ve written anything here. With the current global shitshow, I just haven’t really felt like it, plus, my adventures have been somewhat limited, therefore, not much to say. So, let’s start with the state of the world.

Are you people insane, or just stupid? I have learned alot about people these past three months (well, really, the past year, but that’s another story for later), and I guess the big takeaway is that, by and large, people are indeed selfish, self-centered and just dumb. Evil? Maybe. Horrible? Absolutely. Choose your adjective. Really, is going to Applebees or hanging out with your friends that important? Important enough that you’d put your family or your loved ones at risk of actual sickness and/or death (not to mention yourself – but hey, if you want to kill yourself, I guess that’s your business)? I mean, for realsies – I’m appalled at the behavior I’ve seen. Appalled and profoundly disappointed. I’ve been doing my part as best as I can, but some of you – sheesh, karma is going to smack you right in the ass. Do your good work, Darwin. But at least you get to hang out with your pals, right? Inconsiderate, arrogant asshats, the lot of you. You deserve exactly what you get.

Moving on.

Run, fat boy, run.

I whipped out my credit card this morning to order a treadmill. I’ve only been going to the gym very, very sporadically (maybe 6 or 8 times in 3 months), and only in the middle of the night when no one is there (and wearing the Speedo last weekend made it clear that I need to be going more)(much, much more). It’s just not safe, though – between the pandemic, the assorted weirdos out in the middle of the night, and the occasional high-speed car chases, I just don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. So, it’s been more of the Bowflex Max and SelectTech weights at home, but I want to add a Bowflex treadmill; specifically, the BXT216. Therefore, it’s out of stock, because of course it is – but I’m on the waiting list.

I finally painted the barn, too.

Speaking of whipping out the credit card, more Jeep stuff. I found out the skid plates I had been toying with adding to the Adventure Buggy have been discontinued and were getting harder to find, so I went ahead and ordered them all – the two underbody ones, and the fuel tank one, which was two pieces (and these were/are to supplement the two front plates I installed back in March). I installed them last week (by myself, natch, as usual – I really need a dependable helper; the operative word being “dependable“), with no major screw-ups, but it was a chore – hence the need for an occasional helper. I also got the 3 Cherokee-specific storage bags for the cargo area storage system that’s built-in to the back of the Jeep. Expensive, but nice. So, the Jeep is just about done, although I may go ahead and order a set of rock sliders – what’s another $1000 in the scheme of things?

If the question is, ‘How goofy can you look?’, well, here’s the answer. This was on an island in the middle of Rhea Springs.

Now, adventures. I’ve had a few decent ones (and a couple of crappy ones). My kayaking trips have been pretty good, and I’ve filled in spots on my map (and speaking of the Master Adventure Map, I’ve had to significantly expand the area covered as I’ve moved farther and farther away from home base – check it out). Two great trips to Dallas Bay/Lake Chickamauga (Movescount 1, Movescount 2) and an amazing trip exploring islands in Rhea Springs (Movescount). Still lots to explore around Rhea Springs, including going through the locks at Watts Bar – I think I’ll be going back there for a little while (time permitting).

I also have something super-exciting penciled in for this weekend in that vicinity. Watch this space to see just how cool I can be. Or dead, depending on how it goes. Nah, cool. I know my way around…stuff.

Bald River Falls (left) and Ozone Falls (right)

Anyway, there were some bucket list waterfall adventures, which were primarily Jeep/motorcycle road trips combined with a little hiking, a little climbing, a little you-get-the-idea. Bald River Falls (Movescount) and Ozone Falls (Movescount) were both amazing. Not a great deal of hiking to get to either one, but definitely worth the drive. Coming up, a trip to Twin Arches, which is supposed to be spectacular. Maybe a day trip, or I might take my camping gear and make it an overnighter. Regardless, nothing like a little holoholo ka’a.

There’s been a few other things over the past months – a nice bike ride on the Riverwalk (Movescount), a little roundball, several motorbike trips (on and off-road). I guess I haven’t mentioned it, but I also replaced my trusty Suunto Ambit 3 Peak with a new Suunto Spartan Baro. It’s an amazing piece of tech, and because it’s newer than the Ambit, it integrates better with my iPhone, has a better battery life, has a touchscreen, and many other cool features. Pricey, but oh-so worth it. Tracking/mapping my adventures is important to me; I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of treks, and it’s nice to be able to refer back to a specific adventure to answer questions for others, or to remember certain details like trailheads, put-ins, campsites and so on. The Suunto watch(es) have probably been the best investment I’ve made in my go-go-go Dangerboy lifestyle. I’ve never had to use it to get un-lost, but you never know.

Say ‘Cheese’.

Oh, and that’s not the only shopping. A couple months ago, I (seriously) splurged on a new camera. A Canon EOS T7i, to be specific. And not just the camera, but a massive EF 70-200mm zoom lens, extra batteries, a tripod that doubles as a hiking stick, and some other gear. There are reasons I’m not gonna get into, but the thing is seriously awesome, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. The above photo of Bald River Falls was taken with it, and there will be much more to come. Of course, it’s gonna go with me to the Dragon in a couple weeks. Watch this space.

Want. This. This color, these wheels, this everything. 115 horsepower of bliss.

I came very close to buying my dream bike, as well. Got a line on one exactly like I wanted, pretty good price, low miles – almost sounded too good to be true. Turned out, it was. It had a salvage title (meaning it had been wrecked, totalled by the insurance company, then repaired by some yahoo), making it pretty much worthless. Even a 10 grand Harley with a salvage title isn’t worth having, and I’d never be stupid enough to throw that much money at something I’d never be able to recoup. I’m not dying to have a new bike – I love mine, and it’s taken me years to get it where I want it. However, I’m not riding the BMW much, so I’ve been thinking about letting it go so I can justify a V-Rod (the pictured Harley). The V-Rod was never really popular amongst the Harley crowd (probably why I like it), and it was discontinued a couple years back. Not too difficult to find with a proper title; I guess if I’m serious about it, I need to start shopping the BMW around first. The BMW is an awesome bike, but you can only ride around in the woods so much (it’s street legal, but on the street, Thing 1 is the bike to ride). We’ll see.

Addendum: I just now took the BMW out for a very quick ride, since I tightened up the chain and lubed it (yeah, kids, if you own a motorbike, you need to know how to tend to it). So, who am I kidding? That thing is awesome. It’s fast, capable, and I’ve spent a ton of money getting it where I want it. New off-road tires, crash bars, aux lighting, tail rack and bag, headlight guard, better pegs, tank pad – I’ve spent a decent amount making it a great off-road machine, and that authentic BMW stuff isn’t cheap. Maybe I’ll just be a guy with 3 motorbikes. Why not, right? Can’t take that fat cash with you, after all.

Plus, chick magnet.

Nonetheless, that reminds me, I need to order a new helmet. I ordered a comms system that’s compatible with my Bluetooth helmet so I could communicate with a passenger without yelling over my shoulder, but it eventually came back as “no longer available”. So, I think I’m just gonna order an entire helmet with the comms built-in. Less complicated than those janky, stick-on affairs, and you never know when I’ll have a rear seat cover that I actually want to talk to (and sorry if your retinas just detached from rolling your eyes so hard).

Lastly, I’m a little annoyed (I know what you’re thinking: “You’re not a little anything.”). I was watching one of my favorite films for what turned out to be the last time, because reasons. Cast Away. What an awesome film. However, the more I started to think about it, the more annoyed it made me. Not the film itself, mind you. It was Chuck’s significant other (who shall remain nameless; also reasons). Chuck, our hero, was on the island for 4 years – and if it had been me, I would have been happy to just stay there. Anyway, in that time, his fiancee – love of his life, and allegedly vice-versa – married her dentist, and had a kid with said dentist that was a toddler by the time Chuck was rescued; again, after only 4 years. So, that means she waited, what, 6 whole months before she was doing the Horizontal Monster Mash with Big from Sex and the City? I feel you, Chuck. People suck. People really, really suck. So, for future reference, if you’re my significant other, and your FedEx plane crashes in the South Pacific, I’ll wait for you as long as it takes. Forever, even. And screw you, Ms. Frears – you suck. You’re probably one of those aforementioned people that just must go hang out with your friends right at the peak of a global pandemic with no regard for anyone or anything besides yourself.

Still, I’m bummed that I’ll never watch that film again. What’s next, my other favorite film? That one is a little hard to watch, also. Too much infidelity and stuff. And seriously, who the hell cheats on George Clooney? I wouldn’t – if he’d ever answer my letters, that is. But in all seriousness, I feel for Matt King as much as I do for Chuck Noland. Sure, it’s fiction – but I know what I’m talking about. I coulda been in either of those. Well, if I wasn’t so ugly. Furthermore, because I’m stupid, I had to watch the trailer, and now I’m sad. My usual condition.

George Clooney in The Descendants

All that babbling aside, I do still love you, Helen Hunt. No hard feelings. And Wilson – you’ll always rock. Maybe things will get better, and I’ll see you again someday.

Wilson the Volleyball from Cast Away

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Well, I guess there’s been some adventure, because of course there has been. And there’s been the never-ending, ongoing shitshow, because of course there’s that, as well. Don’t care – it is what it is. In fact, I’d be surprised if it were any different.

First up, a paddle. The Nina and Pinta, replicas of Columbus’ ships, sailed into port last week, and I was out there in the kayak to meet them. When they were here a few years ago, I paddled around them after they were already here, but this time, my plan was to be on the water as they sailed in. Had to wait for hours to catch them, but the end result was worth it.


Unfortunately, no good photos of me with the boats, but that seems to be how it usually goes. The next morning, and then last night, I went to check out the boats at the pier. Not as impressive as the huge LST325 that was here last month, but still pretty cool.

bear print

click for larger

Then, real adventure. A supremely challenging hike up Big Frog Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest. This is a big mountain; there’s nothing taller to the west until you get to West Texas and the Black Hills in South Dakota. The trailhead is at about 2142 feet in elevation, but the trails dips down to 1929 feet before a miles-long ascent to the summit at 4325 feet (according to my Movescount data). A different kind of brutal that last week’s Connector Trail hike, which was only about 800 feet in ascent over a mile. This was almost 2500 feet in ascent, spread over about 5 miles. Not for the faint of heart or spirit.

And there were bears.

The area is known for human/ursine encounters, including a few gruesome maulings and deaths. Less than 1/2 mile in, bear prints right on the trail (and I realized I had dropped my bear spray, so I had to backtrack to find it). These were fresh bear prints, along with numerous other fresh signs of bears (and the answer to the age-old question of what bears do or don’t do in the woods). It was unnerving – the bears were there, and I’m sure they knew I was there. So, of course I’m going back.

Big Frog Mountain

click for larger, or Movescount data

Just getting to the trail was a chore. It was about 5 miles up a gravel road, after a long drive (following the gym, natch). But leaving – wow. I decided to take the same gravel road down the back of the mountain, because there was more exploring to do (more on that in a sec). At least 10 miles down a very, very rugged road that required the superpowers of the Jeep to navigate. Probably the most challenging driving the Adventure Buggy has had to deal with, and deal with it he did. Good little Adventure Buggy – but I think I see a winch in my future.

Worth it, though. Shortly after exiting the wilderness, the tiny town of Copperhill, which is right on the TN/GA border, and just a stone’s throw from North Carolina. I had been wanting to visit this town for years, since I saw it on How The States Got Their Shapes (video below – worth watching, and I’ve written about it before). I even had dinner at the restaurant featured in the video; the one that the state line runs directly through. Well, I kinda had dinner there – the restaurant, called Patrick’s in the video, has changed hands, and is now The Copper Grill. Still, really cool to be in a restaurant where the bathrooms are across the state line. The video also covers the area around the TGA (the official name is actually “The Tennessee Georgia Alabama Tripoint”), which I’ve visited numerous times in the past, including just a couple of weeks ago for some extensive hiking.


Following all of that, a stop at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, where the 1996 Olympic canoe slalom competition was held. Surprisingly, I had never been here before. It was late in the day, so I didn’t get to explore much, but there’s lots to see and do, so I’ll be back. Soon. Maybe on the motorbike, even. Anyway, a very long day, with bears, Jeep roads, a bucket list visit and more. Not a bad day, and everyone has to be somewhere.

Newton Kona

Oh, and there were new shoes, because of course there were. It’s been a long time since I bought new shoes (surprising, I know), but I couldn’t resist Newton’s Kona Ironman-themed limited edition kicks. Hopefully, it’ll make me faster.

This weekend, not sure. I seem to have an abundance of free time. Maybe I’ll be shaking my money-maker on stage somewhere, or maybe I’ll be stomping around in the woods, looking for bears to poke. Who knows?


Links:
Nina and Pinta Paddle Photo Album on Facebook
Big Frog Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
TGA/Nickajack/Cedar Mountain Photo Album on Facebook

$339.88

No, that’s not how much I made at my “I’m never, ever doing this again” yard sale (but it’s close). It’s something else, and if you’re smart, you’ll figure it out. Yeah, that’ll always be the dream.

However, the yard sale. Ugh. I have dramatically downsized, and I’m not done yet. But no more yard sales. I just can’t deal with these Professional Yard Sale People™. So annoying. Plus, I have this whole psychological hurdle of knowing what I paid for something, and only getting back pennies on the dollar. With the exception of actual stuff that’s worth actual money (like guitars), I’ll just donate whatever else I wind up with. That’s what I did with everything that was left at the sale, regardless of what I thought the perceived value was. I’m tired of being a hoarder.

Inside the barn.

The practical upside of this ordeal is that I now have a ton of space in the barn. So much so, in fact, that I was able to get my Kendon Stand-Up motorcycle trailer stowed away. I did have to cut a little hole in the overhead loft for the tongue of the trailer to stick up through, but I’m glad to have it out of the driveway. The whole point behind buying a stand-up trailer was that I could store it, since it’s not something I need very often. And there’s still plenty of room for both motorbikes, both kayaks, my mountain bike and other assorted stuff. I think I’m going to add a workbench/toolbox, though. I have a tall mechanic’s toolbox, but I need a little work surface for when I’m tinkering. And I have more tools than will fit in the big toolbox. So, since I have the space now, why not?

Speaking of the motorbikes, I finally solved the problem I was having with the driving lights on Thing 1 (that’s the smaller lights on each side of the headlight). For whatever reason, they quit working a few months ago, and after much tinkering, I think what happened was the splice connector started to corrode, and wasn’t allowing enough current to get to the bulbs (I replaced the mediocre stock bulbs with much brighter Kuryakyn halogens a while back, which draw more current). Anyway, I rewired the lights, and now they work. Yay, me. I also picked up a new Joe Rocket jacket for the BMW. The Joe Rocket jacket I bought back when I got the BMW is awesome, but it’s hot, even with the liners removed. So, awesome for winter, not so much for summer, hence a mesh one for warm weather. It still has the shoulder, elbow and back armor, but is dramatically cooler. I can’t say enough about the Joe Rocket gear – I have 3 of the jackets (this one for the street bike, and this one, which is the one I bought for the BMW), and while they are a little pricey, they’re worth it.


I think I’ve got the motocam system on Thing 1 working the way I want, as well. To recap, this is a front-facing and rear-facing dashcam system, that just records all the time. The quality isn’t as good as the GoPro, but that’s to be expected; this isn’t for making awesome videos, it’s for recording everything, in the event I get run over or something. So, for what it is, I’m pretty happy with it – hopefully, it’ll never record anything bad (like me getting killed on the highway).

Williams Island campsite – click for larger

There was also a paddle recently – the second of the year, following the Old Harrison paddle back in March. Nothing major – just a warm up to kayaking season back to Williams Island. A little over 12 miles total, about 5 miles of which was hiking of the island and avoiding the cows. I have a couple of challenging paddles planned, but so far, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. In fact, she’s not cooperating with anything lately. Grr.

click for Movescount interactive map

Oh, and I finally saw The Movie everyone has been talking about. I had been avoiding spoilers since it came out, because River said so.

So, I went to the downtown Googleplex for the 11:30 PM show on a weekday night, and as hoped/expected/needed, no one there but me and maybe 4 or 5 other similarly-inclined anti-social insomniac cinephiles. It’s a 3-hour film, so it was pushing 3 AM by the time it was over. Worth it. After that, some wandering around in the Wee, Small Hours downtown. That’s the way films should be enjoyed. By me, anyway.

Links:
Williams Island Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Anti-Social Network.

I’m rapidly getting over the various social network platforms. Sure, I like pictures of cats doing stupid things as much as the next person, but seeing strangers insulting/arguing with each other, the non-stop parade of spammers, and every company out there trying to sell me shit I don’t need is getting old. And yeah, I realize the irony in posting that here. So, for now, anyway, I’m going to limit my online activity to my Movescount, which shows all the maps and selected photos from my adventuring. That’s about all that keeps me motivated anymore, anyway – well, that and binging Naked & Afraid (which I absolutely want to do).

Because I haven’t really posted anything here in months, there’s some catch-up to do. There have been adventures, despite my knee still giving me a hard time. Thankfully, the Winter of Our Discontent is over, so I’ve taken the kayak out, ridden the mountain bike, and been on both motorbikes. And, of course, hiking.


In no particular order, there was mountain biking at Edwards Point; one of my favorite places. It’s been a bucket list item of mine to bicycle through the woods to the Point, and it was worth it. Only about 17 miles, but all slop; mud, rocks, streams and poorly-marked trails. Now I have a much better sense of the trails and Jeep roads, so I’ll be going back before the weather warms up too much.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

I also took the kayak out for the first paddle of the season. This, too, was one of my favorite places – the ruins of old Harrison, the town that was destroyed when the dam was built back in the 1930s. It’s super-compelling; in the winter, the water level of the lake is low, so old foundations, roads and other debris are exposed, and (to me, anyway), it’s really interesting. In addition, I landed at Patten Island, and had a more extensive hike than the last time I visited. Really awesome way to start the paddling season.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

And hiking. Really, more than I feel like spelling out; I’ll just say that they were all amazing, challenging, sometimes dangerous hikes, with some visits to old spots (like Falling Water Falls), as well as new ones:

Mystery Falls (Movescount)
Raccoon Mountain Caverns (Movescount)
Mountain Beautiful Trail & Incline #1 (Movescount)
Spiritualist Campground (Movescount)
Skyuka Spring (Movescount)
Cloudland Canyon – Bear Creek Trail (Movescount)
Falling Water Falls (Movescount)
Mushroom Rock/Suck Creek Gorge (Movescount)
Persimmon Branch Dual-Sport Ride (Movescount)


There we go, all caught up. Oh, and all this activity has been incorporated into the Master Adventure Map – if you want to be impressed and/or tired, you should check it out.

I’ve also been going through a full-blown purge out in the barn, because reasons. Lots and lots and lots of stuff gone, and more still to go. The practical upside of this – well, one of them, anyway – is that I have plenty of room for the motorbikes, kayaks, mountain bike, unicycle, and other devices I’m in a perpetual state of trying to kill myself on. Who says there’s not a plus side to being compulsively neat?

click for larger


Now, after going to all the trouble of writing all of…that, the most important thing: my sweet BlackJack turned 7 years old in February. Not only does that mean that we’ve been best pals for 7 years (technically, 7 years next Monday, since he was 8 weeks old when he came to me), it also means it’s been 7 years since the Great Unpleasantness. I don’t know where the years have gone. I don’t know where they’re going, either, but hopefully it’ll be more interesting than just stomping around in the forest by my onesies. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday, BJ.

Links:
Edwards Point MTB Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Old Harrison Paddle Photo Album on Facebook
Mystery Falls/Raccoon Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Lookout Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Cloudland Canyon/Bear Creek Photo Album on Facebook
Falling Water Falls/Mushroom Rock Photo Album on Facebook

Changes.

So much going on. More than usual. Never let it be said that I’m lazy and/or boring.

Big Soddy Creek Bridge

Big Soddy Creek Bridge – click for larger

I did, indeed, find the aforementioned new trail up through the area known as Big Soddy Gulf, and I made it all the way to – and beyond – the Big Soddy Creek Bridge and and the (now dangerously dilapidated) Deep Creek Bridge. Of course, I did my usual stupid and dangerous off-trail stuff, and basically climbed up the side of the mountain. And down a mountain. And back up a mountain. And back down a mountain. You get the idea. Only I can take what should have been a 6 or 7 mile hike, and make it nearly 14 miles. Hi, have we met?

Big Soddy Creek Gulf Movescount GPS Trail Map

click for larger, or Movescount data

There was some melancholy news. I sold my truck. The hooptie. The Stoopid-Lookin’ Honeymobile. I’m probably overthinking it and making a bigger deal out of it than necessary, but I’ve had it for a long time, and did all sorts of hotrodding to it, and had lots of great adventures behind the wheel, or lugging the kayak, mountain bike, puppers, or whatever. However, since I bought the Jeep, I just wasn’t driving it, so paying for insurance and what-not seemed kinda pointless, and because I believe that the Universe works in weird ways, I stumbled right into someone who wanted it. Really wanted it – and will continue the hotrodding of the thing. So, see ya later, Truck. Thanks for the memories. Couple trips to Florida, the drive-in, lots of adventures, taking the pups places – good times. I guess even the best of times eventually come to an end. Someone said to me that this represented the longest relationship I’ve ever had, and depressingly, that was accurate. At least the truck never lied to me or ran off with another vehicle – as far as I know; there was that sketchy VW a while back…

Chevy Silverado & Honda Shadow Phantom

click for larger

Now, I had good motivation to sell the truck. I can justify having two vehicles and a motorbike, but not two vehicles and two motorbikes. That’s just too austentatious for me (surprisingly). You know where this is going, right? As promised (threatened?), I went motorbike shopping over the weekend, and the BMW I looked at – wow. Just wow. So, you know what happened…

Jeep Cherokee Towing BMW G650GS on a Kendon Stand-Up Trailer

Yep.

It’s awesome. Sleek, fast, bells and whistles. Seriously, heated grips? Anti-lock brakes? On a motorcycle? That’s some real Star Trek sh*t right there. But most importantly, and the whole reason I bought it, is to head into the woods.

BMW G650GS at Lusk Point

Which I did. Immediately.

It is so dramatically different that the Phantom. Instead of a massive V-Twin like the Phantom has, the BMW has a single cylinder engine, for simplicity’s sake. However, it’s just as fast (maybe faster) because it weighs almost 200 pounds less. And – wait for it – it gets 74 MPG. Seventy-four. The Phantom gets around 55 (and for comparison, the Jeep has been getting 27, and the truck got 12 – on a good day, going downhill, with a tailwind). So, with the current $1.97 I paid this morning, for 7 bucks and a quarter, I can go about 275 miles. That’ll do, pig.

My second-longest relationship is with Amazon.

My second-longest relationship is with Amazon.

Of course, now I have to get online and really shop. I’ve already ordered an off-road helmet and purpose-made jacket and other gear. I ordered the “official” BMW tail bag; a soft trunk that goes on the back – I always carry loads of stuff when I explore. A tank pad – it’s basically a spongy kinda decal that goes on the tank so a tank bag won’t slide around (fun fact: the “tank” on a BMW isn’t actually that; that gas tank is under the seat [hence the rear filler] – where the tank is on a conventional bike is the battery and air filter). And some fun things: a patch for the new jacket (gotta find a seamstress) and a cloth keytag, like I have for the Jeep. I need crash bars and a skid plate (addendum: upper crash bars ordered; lowers next). Aux lighting. Because it’s December, it’s going to be a couple of months (probably) before I have real adventures on it, so I have time to prep. But the adventures are going to be plentiful. I knew as soon as I got in the woods that it was the right call, and that was just a short ride on a cold, cloudy day. By the time April or May rolls around, I’m going to be crushing it in the middle of nowhere.


So, mountain biking, kayaking, drone flying, hiking, caving, Jeepin’, dog walking, street motorbiking and now off-road motorbiking. What’s left? Bungee jumping? Hang gliding? Lion taming? Hmm…

Oh, and I guess I need to update the Motorbike page.

Link:
Big Soddy Gulf Photo Album on Facebook