24 March 2010

Trip Report: Savannah Trip Day One

16 March 2010 -- Departure

Dad and I decided to go to Savannah for St. Patrick's Day a couple of months ago.  He would be riding his 2002 Yamaha Road Star Midnight and me on my 2005 Yamaha FZ1.  This was something we'd talked about since we both got bikes but nothing ever happened until this year.  We booked our hotel using priceline.com for arrival on 16 March and departure on 20 March.  I plotted our route using Street Atlas 2008 to avoid the interstate.

I stayed up late on the 15th futzing with the new top case that arrived earlier in the day, hoping to get it mounted for use on the trip, but around midnight I gave up.  I was supposed to get the bike washed from the Sunday Ride but I didn't do that either.  At least I had clean clothes.  At the last minute, I remembered to convert the routes from Street Atlas for use on my iGo8 gps.  After that, I stuffed all my clothes into the Fieldsheer Expander Tail Bag and my personal stuff and shoes into two compression sacks and went to bed around 3 or 4.

Route to Savannah:

Daniel, my little brother, was supposed to fix my hair the morning before we left and I should have been at the house around 8.  I got there around 10 after taking the bike to a self serve car wash on the way.  It was a waste of $2.00 because the car wash had no pressure and no soap.  The towel I bought for $0.75 to dry off the bike was little more than a big paper towel that broke up when I tried to wring it out.  Disappointed, I went straight to Dad's.

A couple of hours later, with re-twisted dreads, Dad and I were ready to leave:

We left around 12:30 or 1:00 and went to the gas station where I noticed the gps was trying to make me follow all the flags on the route I'd exported from Street Atlas.  I quickly erased the flags I'd already passed and we were on our way.  Our route took us through Conyers, Covington, Monticello, Milledgeville, Irwinton, Swainsboro, Twin City, Bloomingdale, and finally into Savannah.

It was a beautiful day for such a long ride, around 280 miles.  We stopped in Covington to shed my liners and to take a break.  So far everything was going very well.  Traffic was light because it was a weekday.  I was getting used to not having the gps voice in my ear because the week before I'd shipped my headset back to the manufacturer for repairs to the microphone.

Once we left our stop, the gps went haywire.  Somewhere along 212, it wanted me to take a dirt road for no reason.  I kept on going expecting it to re-route as it has always done but it just didn't.  The route path was there so I followed it, stopping a couple of times to try to get the directions and distance summary back.  Our next stop was in Irwinton for gas and rest.

It was getting near 5 o'clock and we still had miles to go.  Hwy 57 is a nice sweeping road that passes through woods and farm land.  It was about this time I noticed the green grass, a distinct change from the near winter landscape from around our homes further north.  It was also on Hwy 57 that I saw my first deer, a little one standing along side the hwy.  The sound of Dad's Vance and Hines pipes thankfully sent it retreating into the woods instead of into my path.

One of the things I'd been noticing all day was Dad's retreating headlight when we entered the sweeping curves on the back roads we traveled.  Later, he admitted he enjoyed the scenery much more than the curves.  I guess the lumbering Midnight Star perfered straight roads to the curvy ones.

When 57 crossed US 1 just outside of Swainsboro, I decided to go to the dreaded I-16 instead of taking the much longer way on back roads.  It was nearing 7 o'clock and the daylight was retreating.  We stopped once more before getting on I-16 and the GPS finally calculated our route after struggling to do so since Covington some 4 or 5 hours before.  We had a little over an hour left to travel before reaching our destination.

Once on 16, we put the miles behind us at a brisk, but barely over the speed limit, pace as I enjoyed the chirping from the radar detector warning of the hiding state patrols in the median.  About 30 minutes outside of Savannah, we stopped for gas one last time before continuing.  It turns out, Dad's bike gets about 125 mpg or just below 1/2 full on my gas gauge.

By the time the GPS announced we'd reached our destination, it was a Mall and not our hotel.  After a fruitless search through our luggage for the name and address of the hotel, an unproductive phone call to priceline, a helpful, but nosy, security guard came over to see if he could help us.  He couldn't tell us the name of our hotel, but he did direct us to a nearby Burger King with free wifi.  It was a good thing I decided at the last minute to bring my laptop.

We arrived at the Courtyard by Marriott in Midtown Savannah around 9:30.  By the time we unloaded the bikes all of the nearby restaurants were closed so we decided to eat at good ole Waffle House.  The parking lot was so full when we returned, we couldn't park near our room and had to park on the other side of the hotel.  It was a long day, made longer by my procrastination that ended with us talking ourselves to sleep.

The next day was St. Patrick's Day and we were excited about seeing the parade and taking part in the famous festivities.  More to come...

Thank you for reading.
Patrice, tWT

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