Driving the Great Ocean Road

When you last heard from me, I was preparing to drive the Great Ocean Road.  Driving that road is an incredible experience, but for those who are not used to driving on the “other” side of the road and on the “other” side of the car (notice that I didn’t say the “wrong” side), the Road creates an even greater challenge.

I’d hoped to rent a motorcycle and take the ride of a lifetime, but between the cost of rentals and the fact that I couldn’t find a bike to fit my 5′ tall body, I opted for a rental car.  I have to confess to feeling a bit nervous about driving in Australia.  I wasn’t so much worried about driving the Great Ocean Road, as I was about getting out of Melbourne!  I even told the folks at the rental agency that I’d pay someone to drive me out of the city 🙂  Ultimately, it all turned out perfectly, and while the car was a blast, after driving that road, I sure wish I could have ridden those curves on my Harley.

The Great Ocean Road is included on the Australian National Heritage List and at 243 km (151 mi), stretches along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford.  Construction on the road began in September of 1919 and was built by approximately 3000 returned servicemen as a war memorial for fellow servicemen who had been killed in World War I.  In addition to being dedicated as a memorial, the road also connected isolated settlements on the coast, and become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.

As a visitor to Australia, seeing these signs along my route were welcome, and within minutes of driving out of the city, I stopped at my first Visitor Information Centre.

The incredibly friendly and informative folks at the Centre loaded up a reusable bag full of maps and pamphlets, which suited this map loving woman just fine.  GPS is great, of course, but I like to say that I use MAPS.  The volunteers recommended that I stop in Geelong, and I’m so glad that they did.   Located just southwest of Melbourne, Geelong  boasts a 19th-century carousel, a curved art deco boardwalk , and a several colorful sculptures that chronicle the city’s history.

After a lovely stroll along that curved boardwalk, I took off for Torquay, the surf capital of Australia, and the start of the Great Ocean Road.

On this, my first day on the road, I only managed to drive 90 km (50 mi).  I just couldn’t help myself: I had to keep stopping!

I mean, seriously! I think I pulled over at every possible place!  Including the Cape Otway Lightstation, built in 1848.

What an incredible gift it was to have the time to explore.  I had no plan other than to go, to see, to breathe.

The sound of those waves crashing on the shore were captivating, and in my next post, I’ll share some video.

The curves were fun to drive, and every so often, I was pleased to be the only car on the road.  At times, it seemed I could have been driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the road wound through lush, forested areas.  At other times, the road took me along the dramatic coastline.  I could have taken weeks, not days, to visit the many natural and historic wonders of this road, and I could have taken thousands and thousands of photos.

At the end of an amazing day, I stopped at the  Great Ocean Road Brewhouse for fish and chips and a nice, cold beer.  On this particular day, I’d worn one of my Harley t-shirts and as always happens when I travel, people come up and talk to me about motorcycles.  Even in this day and time, a woman who rides her own bike is still a big deal.  We also talked about the bracelets on our arms, representing loved ones gone too soon.

Next Post: Day Two on the Great Ocean Road

Mini-Vacation: Atlanta and Maggie Valley

After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.

First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.

And Tela and Wilson, too.

We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink.  Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.

After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum

and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,

and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.

Happiness!

Anatomy of a Bridge

** This is a scheduled post  from a ride one week ago. As you read, I am in full Get Out The Vote mode! **

Another Sunday Ride. Another Old Bridge.

Something is definitely right in my world when I get to ride the bike two weekends in a row.  The rides haven’t been long but during this busy time in my life, I’m thrilled just to be riding on our beautifully curvy Southwest Virginia roads.

We were also able to explore another old bridge.  With this one no longer in use, we were able to take our time checking it out.

I thought of Joe as I photographed all of the rust, and as we looked at the many parts of the bridge, I couldn’t help but wish that I knew more about civil engineering.

 

I also loved the contrast between the man made structure and the natural world.

Soon enough we were back on the bikes and enjoying the wind in our faces.

As always, we ended the ride with a cold craft beer and this time, a brick oven pizza.

It was the perfect way way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Riding Through Civil War History

My weekend ride continued on Sunday morning and the route that I chose took me through Appomattox Courthouse.

You will most likely recognize the name Appomattox as the site of Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the Civil War.

It was quiet that morning, and all I heard were the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

I could not help but think about the 620,000 souls who died during that terrible time when our country was so divided.

The peace that morning was such a contrast to the violence that was seen in those fields.

A solemn walk through this small confederate cemetery revealed the story of a soldier who joined the army on day one of the war, April 12th, 1861, and after serving for 1,458 days, was killed on the last day of the war, April 9, 1865.

Standing there that day, I could not help but think about how divided our nation is now, and how desperately we need a leader who will unite us.

Somehow we must learn the lessons of past tragedy and move beyond the divisiveness.

Riding ‘Round Virginia

While it can be a challenge to be away from home for several weekends in a row, the benefits include the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  Two weeks ago I was in Williamsburg celebrating my mother’s birthday.  Last weekend, for a mix of meetings and fun, I rode the bike from Blacksburg to Fredericksburg to King George to Richmond and back home.  The weather was bright and beautiful and I enjoyed 600 miles of happy!

My meeting was in  Fredericksburg, an historic town that I had not visited in decades.  Sadly,  I wasn’t able to do much exploring since I arrived late on Friday and had to be in meetings first thing the next morning. I did stay in a hotel that I now hear is haunted, although I saw no sign of ghosts.  The Inn at Old Silk Mill was built in the 1930s and was one of the largest motor lodges on the east coast.

The Silk Mill was built in 1889 and was a factory that employed over 200 women. The women spun silk that was imported from Italy to go around spools for sewing. Originally the C.W Tholtz Throwing Company, The Mill has been recently renovated to host weddings and events.

All the meeting attendees were able to attend Senator Mark Warner‘s annual BBQ.  Located in King George, Senator Warner’s home is located right on the Rappahanock River.

The Senator, and Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, and current candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring stood in line for hours greeting the many hundreds of people in attendance.

What a wonderful way to say thanks to the many people who have worked to keep Virginia blue.

Next post: Riding Through Civil War History

Friday Evening

My Contribution to Monochromia last week. I’m managing to keep up with one blog, at least!

I’m actually taking the weekend off to ride my sweet motorcycle and to watch the Virginia Tech Hokies take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. Go Hokies!

Be Back Soon!

Monochromia

It was a perfect Friday evening for listening to local music

#westendwednesdays

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2 Wheels / 2 Bikes


How wonderful it was to be HOME last weekend!  Especially when the weather was oh so fine.

I started the morning on the bicycle, putting in 16 miles along the river and on our bikeway / walkway.

Once back at the house, I knocked a few items off the “to do list” and then hit the road on the motorcycle.  I crossed over Claytor Lake, and then stopped for a few photos.

I parked the bike for a bit and walked over one of the New River Trail trestles (more photos of that coming soon).

Then it was back on the bike for the ride home.

I may not look happy, but believe me, I was!