Southern Tier - San Diego to Atlanta

 

Fall 2004

 

Denis Kertz, ©2004

 

Day 53: Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Chattahoochee, FL to Thomasville, GA [77.8, 6:38:11, 11.7, 27.6]

I packed up and rode the 2 miles back to town, re-entering Florida.  There was a restaurant right at the light where I stopped for breakfast.  The pancakes were nothing special but the syrup was some all purpose syrup that had a little taste of molasses but was tasteless otherwise.  I wondered why they didn’t have maple syrup and the reason was right in front of me.  The bottle cap had a label – sale $1.00.

 

After what went for breakfast I rode out of town on 90.  In a few miles 97 split off to the northeast and took me into Georgia with a welcome sign.  Once I left town I left the Adventure Cycling route and my Adventure Cycling maps were useless.  However, I had a Georgia Bike Map with various bike routes including a route east to Brunswick.  I simply had to connect up with this route.  I took 97 to Faceville and then a road east to Attapulgus where I stopped for my late breakfast.  I needed to continue east to 262 but it wasn’t clear which road in town was the one to take.  I eventually had to ask before I was on my way.

 

Once I picked up 262 north I had to find another road east.  I picked a road that looked like the right one but it started heading south.  I found someone along the road to ask and he suggested taking a left at the upcoming intersection.  He said it would take me east but it took me southeast.

 

Eventually I turned north on Old 179 which wasn’t labeled on my map but it went north and I knew that was a good thing.  I knew it went north because I had a bell compass on my handlebar and it came in really handy on unfamiliar or unknown roads.  With my compass I at least knew if I was headed in the right direction.  Eventually this road merged with another and swung to the northwest but I noticed a bike sign that said I was on bike route 10 west.  That was the right bike route but wrong direction so I just turned around to go east.  And I was relieved to have bike signs on this route so I would know where to turn.

 

I rode into Cairo and stopped for a lunch break.  Then I followed the bike sign and rode north through town.  When I rode by the library I stopped for an email check.  When I continued I didn’t see a bike sign to turn east but I knew the route had to be 84 east and I took it.  84 was a busy 4-lane road through town.  Outside town it had a wide shoulder that was wasted by rumble strips that forced me to ride right next to the white line.

 

About 5 miles from Thomasville, 38 split off and I continued into town, once considered one of the most fashionable places in the world to visit during the Victorian era.  I rode into town and stopped when I passed the library but this time I just inquired about motels.  I was told I had to ride 3 miles north to the intersection with 19.  When I got near the intersection, it was obvious I was not going to find a cheapo motel so when I saw the Thomasville Inn advertised $40 rooms I stopped.

 

The motel was well located with a Waffle House right across the street.  It also had a continental breakfast and free Internet access.  I ate at a Taco Bell and then did some research on the Internet.  The big limitation of my Georgia Bike Map was it didn’t show the location of motels or campgrounds.  So I used google to find motels at Homerville and Waycross.  I knew Waycross would have motels but it was 100 miles away and I really wanted to know if Homerville was a bail out option and google identified a motel there.

Day 54: Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Thomasville, GA to Waycross, GA [107.2, 8:17:33, 12.9, 27.8]

When I got up at 6:30 I walked across the road for a double pecan waffle at the Waffle House.  Then I checked out the continental breakfast at my motel and it was nothing to write home about so it was good that I ate at the Waffle House.

 

I left at 7:30 and another aspect of my motel’s location was it was near the junction with 122 which I took east.  Bike route 10 split off from 122 in a few miles but I elected to stay with 122 which eventually would reconnect with bike route 10.  The reason I stayed with 122 was because it was about 10-15 miles shorter and gave me a chance to make Waycross.

 

122 was a nice ride in the morning going by various farm fields, mainly cotton but also cabbage and tomatoes.  It was nice to have a route with variety rather than just a steady diet of tree-lined roads.  I rode 39 miles to Hahia where I stopped for my late breakfast at 11:00.  I continued on 122 and in a few miles bike route 10 reconnected with 122.  In a few more miles I rode past the Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a popular sport fishing hole and home to a wide variety of fish, reptiles and marsh and wading birds.  Banks Lake was scenic with trees growing in the lake.

 

After Banks Lake the route became rather boring, reverting to a tree-lined road with little variety.  It was also mostly straight, reminding me of the 90-mile straight road in the Australia Nullarbor.  I stopped in Lakeland on the eastern edge of Banks Lake for a sandwich.  When I left I had to make a commitment to make Waycross, another 40 miles to make a century, or take the bail out to Homerville.  Since I appeared to be in good shape I rode on to Waycross, cranking out the miles.

 

Halfway to Waycross I hoped to stop at Cogdell but it was unincorporated with no services so I rode on.  Around 4:30 122 ended and I picked up 82 into Waycross, a city of 15,000 which gets its name from the city's location at key railroad junctions. Lines from six directions meet at the city and its name signifies its strategic position where "Ways Cross".

 

On the outskirts of town I saw a Day’s Inn sign advertising $33 rooms in 4 miles.  After I rode through town I came to a major intersection with 1 with a Holiday Inn on the corner.  The Day’s Inn was supposed to be a mile further so I rode on as darkness was taking over.  It was soon obvious there was no Day’s Inn ahead so I turned around and turned south on 1 where I saw the Day’s Inn.  However, I also spotted the Pinecrest Motel and it had a room for $32 and a guaranteed ground floor room so I took a room there.  With a little daylight remaining I took the opportunity to lubricate my chain.

 

I found a buffet down the road and decided I had worked hard enough to justify a buffet.  It was about a half mile walk but worth the walk.  On my way back I did some grocery shopping.

Day 55: Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Waycross, GA to Darien, GA [81.3, 6:12:41, 13.1, 40.8]

I didn’t sleep well the previous night which is probably why I slept until 7:00.  I walked across the street to a Shoneys for its breakfast buffet that included pancakes and French toast.

 

The Weather Channel was predicting rain by noon which was my signal to get out of town.  I left at 8:00 on US82.  After 23 miles I stopped in Nahunta for my late breakfast.  It really wasn’t that late but I wasn’t sure when the next opportunity would be.  When I passed the county public library on my way out of town I stopped.  Most libraries require some ID to use the Internet.  This one required me to surrender my ID until I was done.  The good news was weather.com showed no rain for Brunswick and Savannah the next 2 days.

 

It was the warmest day in quite a while and I was soon in shorts.  In 9 miles I was ready for a cold drink and stopped in Waynesville.  In a few more miles I reached the Junction with 99.  I had decided previously to take 99 as a cutoff and not go all the way to Brunswick, but I had second thoughts since Brunswick was only about 12 miles longer and it seemed a shame to skip some coastal scenery.

 

When I approached the I95 intersection I saw a Waffle House and realized I hadn’t had a waffle today so I stopped at 1:00 for a double pecan waffle for my noon break.  From there it was only a few more miles to the coast as the salty ocean smell confirmed.  It was nice wetland scenery and then I turned north, crossing the St. Simon Sound on a new bridge constructed to allow big ships to head inland.  The bridge was my biggest climb since the bridge in Mobile.  It offered a nice view of St. Simon Sound, Jekyll Island, St. Simon Island, and the Atlantic Ocean in the gap between the two islands.  This view alone was worth the longer route to Brunswick, known as the “Gateway to the Golden Isles.”

 

Once I descended the bridge cycling was easy since I had a fair tailwind.  Once I got out of the Brunswick area it was fairly scenic with marshes, wetlands, birds, and rivers.  Earlier at the library I did some motel checking and found there were several at Darien although they were the more upscale ones like Comfort Inn and Super 8 but when I asked at a foodmart I learned Darien had the Fort King George Motel in town.

 

When I rode into Darien, uncharacteristically early at 4:00, I got a room at the Fort King George Motel for $32, an OK room but a definite step down from the Waycross motel at the same price.  Since I still had daylight I decided to ride out to Fort King George, the first English settlement in Georgia in 1721.  This turned out to be a mistake as I got acquainted with some old friends – mosquitoes.  As I reached to slap at one I dropped my camera on asphalt at the park.  It was a hard drop so I wasn’t surprised it didn’t want to operate. 

 

I wasn’t exactly sure how I managed to drop the camera but I guessed I had it in my right hand and I moved it to my left hand so I could slap with my right hand but my right hand must have caught the camera strap as I reached down and pulled the camera out of my left hand and essentially threw it to the asphalt.  Later I determined the camera appeared operational except for the use of the zoom lens.  At least this happened near the end of the trip and wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been.

 

There was a Subway conveniently located next door to my motel so I ate there.

Day 56: Sun, Nov 21, 2004 - Darien, GA to Savannah, GA [74.4, 5:54:19, 12.6, 22.1]

At 7:00 I rode a mile up the road to a restaurant for breakfast.  Their pancakes were inexpensive so I figured they were small and ordered oatmeal as well and that made a decent breakfast.

 

I rode US17 to Savannah which paralleled I95.  After South Newport, 17 switched to the other side of I95 at an exit.  This was a natural place to stop but I had only ridden about 20 miles so I pushed on.  In another 10 miles I was halfway to Savannah so it was appropriate to stop at Midway for my late breakfast.

 

In another 10 miles US 17 crossed I95 again near Richmond Hill.  There was a Waffle House on the right but I used will power to pass by.  Then there was another Waffle House just on the other side of I95 and I had to pretend I didn’t see it.  Finally, in another 10 miles in Savannah I was unable to resist a third Waffle House and had my daily fix of double pecan waffles.

 

Then I checked my maps for directions to Lyle and Charlotte’s and realized I should have turned on 204 earlier.  Rather than backtrack I continued on 17, then 80 east, and then 204 south.  I wasn’t sure where to turn to get to Skidaway Island, an 8 mile long by 3 mile wide island, so I stopped at a Firestone store and asked.  I got good directions and made it to the island.  From there I used my detailed map the rest of the way.

 

Lyle was surprised to find me at his doorstep when I rang the door bell because they lived in a gated community.  However the security gate had a gap easily wide enough for a bicycle to get through as I proved.  I spent the rest of the day at their very nice home as we caught up on each other’s history.  I got fed a nice steak dinner and after checking the weather forecast I decided taking Monday off would be a good idea with rain forecast for the afternoon.

Day 57: Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Savannah, GA

After breakfast where Charlotte made waffles, I checked the weather.  Rain was predicted for most of the day.  Worse, Wednesday was predicted to be bad.  As it turned out, it didn’t rain and it was a pretty nice day.

 

Later in the morning Lyle gave me a tour of Skidaway Island.  Basically the island is a wooded, gated community with 6 golf courses carved through the trees amidst homes and small lagoons.  A very nice setting.

 

Lyle had an early afternoon appointment so I used the time to check for the availability of motels along my upcoming route to Lake Oconee.  Once I reached Statesboro there were motels at towns about 30 miles apart which was pretty decent.

 

Around mid-afternoon, Lyle and Charlotte took me on a tour of Savannah.  I got to see the Savannah River and the shops along the river in converted cotton warehouses.  I also saw some of Savannah’s picturesque squares – small parks interspersed throughout the city – and some of the landmark buildings.  Then we ate at a nice Italian restaurant before returning home.

Day 58: Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Savannah, GA to Millen, GA [100.3, 7:39:24, 13.1, 32.7]

I got up early, earlier than Lyle or Charlotte would have preferred, because I wanted a chance to make Millen which was about 100 miles away and I would need most of the available daylight.  My fall back was Statesboro, almost 70 miles away.

 

Charlotte had cereal available so I had a bowl of cereal and a banana.  I got a last minute weather forecast which was OK today but bad tomorrow.  Then after good-byes I was off at 7:15.  I rode down through The Landings and came out at the light at The Village.  I turned right to leave Skidaway Island on the only access road.  It was nice to be out in the early sun but this was also rush hour with quite a bit of moderate speed traffic.

 

I rode the access road to 204 and took 204 west as it curled around the southern Savannah metro area.  At 15 miles I bypassed a Waffle House since it was still early and it was inconveniently located on the other side of the road.  But 5 miles later at the I95 intersection I stopped at a Waffle House on my side of the road.  It was still a bit early for a late breakfast but it was probably my last Waffle House opportunity for the day.  I had my usual double pecan waffle.

 

I continued on 204 which narrowed to a 2-lane road after a lot of traffic on a 4-lane road.  But the shoulder had nasty deep rumbles so all was not great.  Mercifully the deep rumbles were replaced by mini-rumbles after 4 miles.  I expected 204 to intersect with I16 within about 10 miles.  However, I eventually realized I had ridden a while without seeing I16.  My consolation was that my compass showed I was going west so I knew I couldn’t be in too much trouble. 

 

When 204 ended at 280/30 I was finally able to locate myself on my map.  204 had swung northwest rather than going north as I expected based on my map.  I continued on to Pembroke and stopped for a break and then continued north on 67 to Statesboro for 24 miles.  When I crossed over I16 it was drizzling lightly.  It had obviously rained earlier since there were some small puddles.  I stopped to cover my maps and continued on 67 and joined bike route 35.  The light drizzle faded and the sun put in an appearance.

 

After almost 70 miles at about 1:30 I stopped in Statesboro for a final break before continuing on to Millen, another 30 miles.  When I rode through Statesboro the route became confusing.  I stayed on 67 which turned out to be the wrong road but it went to Millen so I stuck with it.  67 was a 4-lane road but it was OK despite the mini-rumbles with only moderate traffic for a 4-lane road.  It was also mildly rolling to Millen.  However, about 10 miles from Millen 67 collapsed down to a 2-lane road with a one foot shoulder.  Still, traffic was moderate enough that the road was still not too bad.

 

I reached Millen with daylight to spare at about 4:15.  I got a room at the Sunset Inn for $34 which was somewhat overpriced but there was only one other motel and it looked more expensive.  After settling in I headed out for food.  I ended up at a pizza place and was ordering a pizza when I noticed pizza being brought out for a buffet.  So I switched to the buffet for $5 rather than the $10 for an ordered pizza.  The only negative was I was the only customer at the time so it was obvious exactly who was eating all of the food.  But the buffet was a great choice and included a small salad bar as well as a drink.

Day 59: Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Millen, GA to Sandersville, GA [57.7, 4:32:07, 12.7, 24.2]

I walked to breakfast in the dark.  There was no Waffle House so I stopped at a Huddle House where I had a pecan waffle with bacon, not as good as Waffle House but not bad.  I had a discussion with the waitress about how to pronounce pecan.  I pronounce it puh-cahn and many Georgians pronounce it pee-can.  I tried to convince them of the error of their ways but I’m not sure I was successful.

 

The weather prediction was not good and The Weather Channel showed all of Georgia in orange, for severe weather, but it sounded like the morning might not be too bad.  So I looked over the bike route #35 for the most bail out options.  I learned at breakfast that Wadley had a motel so I revised my route to pass through it which was also shorter and more direct.

 

At 7:30 I set off under overcast skies to make it as far as I could, guessing I would be sitting out the afternoon.  I took 17 west out of town.  It was a decent road with a small shoulder.  There wasn’t much traffic but much of the traffic was large trucks, including logging trucks, so I had to watch for simultaneous traffic.

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The excitement for the morning was a black dog that charged me from across the road.  However, it chose to charge right in front of an oncoming car.  I was sure the dog was dead but somehow the car just missed the dog although it yelped when it looked like the car had clipped the dog’s rear end.  But the dog walked back home after the car passed and appeared unhurt although he seemed to lost interest in me.  Hopefully he learned a lesson.

 

The road had some variety, passing by farms and through some wooded areas with fall colors that were past their prime.  Still the colors would have been nice in sunshine.

 

After 14 miles I passed through the small town of Midville.  In a few more miles I took 78 to Wadley where I stopped for my late breakfast.  The weather still looked OK so I took 319 to Bartow and then 242 the rest of the way to Sandersville.  My luck held out so well that I even toyed with the idea of continuing another 30 miles to Milledgeville at 12:30.  However, I stopped at the library in town and weather.com was predicting heavy storms for the afternoon and that cleared out any idea of continuing.  And when I left the library it was raining.

 

Nearby was the Clinton Motel where I got a room for $30, about the same class as yesterday but $4 cheaper and about the right price for the accommodation.  The motel was strategically located next to a Waffle House so I had no choice but to have a double pecan waffle for lunch.  There was also a grocery store within easy walking distance where I did a little shopping.

 

It rained steadily all afternoon and I was glad to be in a dry motel room.  I was actually ecstatic, never thinking I would make it all the way to Sandersville without rain.  For dinner I didn’t need another buffet but there was a Chinese buffet across the street for $6 and that was as inexpensive as about anything I was going to get so I ate there.

Day 60: Thu, Nov 25, 2004 - Sandersville, GA to Lake Oconee, GA [63.4, 6:28:27, 9.8, 31.3]

I walked next door to the Waffle House while it was still dark for my usual waffles.  Then I was off at 7:15.  I took the Deepstep Road out of town towards Milledgeville.  The road had almost no traffic but it was pretty hilly.  It was also pretty windy with winds predicted WNW 15-25 mph.  Fortunately there were a lot of trees to help break the wind.  For the first time in weeks I used my granny chainring a couple times.

 

After about 20 miles the road ended at 24 and I took 24 the rest of the way to Milledgeville accompanied by a fair amount of traffic.  I reached town after 28 miles and rode through town to pick up 441 north.  I stopped for my late breakfast at a foodmart and continued.

 

441 was not a lot of fun with high speed traffic and marginal shoulder with rumble strips.  It was a 4-lane road until Lake Sinclair and then a 2-lane road.  As I rode on 441 I encountered a pedestrian who was apparently picking up trash along the road.  He stopped me and inquired about my trip.  At first he thought I was pulling his leg about riding across the country but I showed him my odometer and he realized I was serious. 

 

A few miles past the Lake Sinclair I reached Flat Rock where a discussion with a local at a foodmart identified a side road, Pea Ridge, as the road to take to Lake Oconlee, my destination.  Once on this road I was heading north and the wind changed from a headwind to a crosswind which helped a lot.  Pea Ridge dead ended at 16 but a right and left jog put me on Old Phoenix Road that took me to 44.  I stopped for a short break at a foodmart and then crossed the main leg of the lake.

 

Another couple miles brought me to Linger Longer Road.  A few more miles brought me to a guard house where I was admitted to Reynolds Plantation, a waterfront golf community midway between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia.  From there I found my way to Dick and Claire’s house.  They had left me a note where to find them at a neighbor’s house a couple houses away.  I rode there where I was treated to Thanksgiving dinner in my fashionable cycling clothes.

 

Afterwards we made our way back to Dick and Claire’s house.  I studied my maps for my next trip segment to outside Athens.

Day 61: Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Lake Oconee, GA

I was the first one up and made my own breakfast using my cereal.  Later I got a tour of the Reynolds Plantation with its nice homes, tree covered hills, and multiple golf courses.  I checked some email and finalized my route plans for the next two days.

 

In the evening Claire put together a great turkey meal and we enjoyed the company of their next door neighbor, Ron, who offered a couple of very useful suggestions on routing for tomorrow.  Afterwards we watched a video of Ron and his wife’s, Maggie, trip to Hawaii, a flyover one of the islands.

Day 62: Sat, Nov 27, 2004 - Lake Oconee, GA to Fort Yargo SP, GA [61.9, 5:01:57, 12.3, 27.8]

I left Dick and Claire’s by 7:30, just after sunrise.  It was only 37 degrees but I wanted to get started early because rain was predicted by noon.  My bare toes were cold so when I stopped at the Publix at the main rode I put on my Seal Skinz socks for only the second time of the trip.

 

After a couple miles on 44 I took Carey Station Road, a back road, to 278.  I went northwest on 278 about 10 miles and then north on Greshamville-Farmington Road, stopping at the Greshamville “Mall”, a foodmart, for a break, a coffee, and a little heat inside.  Originally I had planned to take Copeland Road but the woman at the “mall” said it was very winding with a big hill and suggested staying on the road I was on was safer.  On a good day I would probably have taken the more interesting road, the one less traveled, but with the weather forecast I was interested in short and quick.

 

So I stayed with Greshamville-Farmington Road that had no shoulder but little traffic and was fine.  At the end of the road I picked up 441 which had a narrow shoulder and a lot of traffic, a road I had been advised to avoid and one I normally wouldn’t have taken but it was only for a few miles to Bishop.  The traffic came in bunches and I noticed a number of vehicles were sporting little flags at the top of their doors.  At first I thought this was a patriotism display but eventually I realized these were Georgia University flags, denoted by a G, and these folks were on their way to the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game in Athens on this last Saturday of November.

 

In Bishop I did a little jog on 186 to catch Union Church Road to bypass Watkinsville.  This road went to 53 which I took west.  53 was not a very good cycling road with no shoulder and fairly high speed traffic but I did have a tailwind and I made good time.  At the junction of 78 I stopped at a foodmart for a slice of pizza and another coffee.

 

At the intersection with 316 I took 316 west.  316 was a 4-lane divided highway, another road I normally wouldn’t have taken but I only needed it for a few miles.  It really would have been fine except it had periodic rumble strips that were rideable but unpleasant so I rode at the white line whenever traffic permitted.  In a few miles I took 11 north for a half mile and then turned into the subdivision just south of Fort Yargo State Park and found Brad’s place.  I arrived at 1:30, earlier than I expected, and more importantly dry, which was a major surprise.  Once again I managed to dodge rain that seemed unavoidable.

 

I met Brad’s wife, Rachel, for the first time but she was a bit under the weather with a chest cold.  Later, Brad’s mother arrived to help wallpaper a border in a baby room for an impending arrival.  Dinner was another turkey dinner but this was smoked turkey that Brad had prepared for their family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  It was great and marked the third straight day of turkey at a time when I thought I would be lucky to get any turkey this Thanksgiving.

Day 63: Sun, Nov 28, 2004 - Fort Yargo SP, GA to Alpharetta, GA [45.4, 4:14:15, 10.7, 30.3]

Brad was already up when I got up so I joined him for breakfast.  A little later Rachel joined us over coffee.  I wasn’t in any great hurry to leave so I lingered a bit and then left at 8:00.

 

The big challenge for the day was route finding.  Getting to Alpharetta required passing through areas with significant traffic so the bike routes 60/70 meandered around to take less traveled roads.  I initially took 81 south that first descended and then climbed.  However, after 81 crossed the Alcovy River I had trouble finding the turnoff my map showed.  So when I saw Ozora Church Road I stopped and asked at a foodmart.  After a couple discussions I guessed this was the right turnoff and started riding.  Eventually I found Chandler Road that my map showed going towards Lawrenceville so I took a right on it.  It dead ended at New Hope Road that took me the rest of the way to town.

 

At this point I had covered 20 fairly hilly miles so I looked for a breakfast place in town.  As luck would have it I followed 20/124 north where I found my Waffle House for what I suspected would be my last waffles.  The Waffle House was conveniently located near the turnoff to pick up Collins Hill Road.  When it dead-ended I did a little jog south to cross I85 where I exercised control and passed two more Waffle Houses.  The Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road took me a few miles where I had to ask how to catch Eva Kennedy road.

 

From there I took McGinnis Ferry Road a ways.  This was not a fun road.  It had a lot of medium speed traffic through a mostly residential area and no shoulder with the edge of the road often in disrepair.  Several times I pulled off the road to simply let a string of cars pass on.

 

Shortly after crossing 141 I took Sargent Road to Jones Bridge Road.  In a couple miles I turned off on Kimball Bridge Road.  I knew I was close to my destination but I was hungry and didn’t want to show up begging for food so I caught a bite to eat at a foodmart.  Then I continued the short distance to Stan and Danna’s place in Alpharetta.

 

I met Stan at home at about 2:00 but Danna was out with 5-year old Taylor at a birthday party.  Stan was hungry so we headed out to a nearby sports bar for some food and drink.  Afterwards I checked a couple local bike shops for a bike box.  I found one available in Roswell so Stan and I took off in his Volvo that had foldable rear seats.  The bike shop made an empty bike box by emptying a new bike and the box fit nicely in the Volvo trunk.

 

Back at the ranch Danna fixed a nice dinner while Taylor entertained us with antics of a typical 5-year old. 

 

Later, on the Internet I was surprised to find $95 airfare to Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.  I hadn’t made any travel arrangements to return home prior to the trip, not wanting to lock myself into a date, so I figured I wasn’t going to get any kind of decent airfare.  I figured I could take a bus or train home from Atlanta and save the $80 an airline was going to charge to carry my bike home.  The train seemed the most interesting because there was the possibility I could just roll it onto the train and not have to box it up.  However, the train didn’t go directly to Chicago and was going to require two days of travel.  A bus was quicker since it went directly to Chicago but it required boxing the bike.  In either case, I would get to Union Station downtown Chicago and would still have to get to Naperville in the western suburbs.  So when I found the $95 airfare I decided that made the most sense, since I could ship my bike home for about $50, compared to the $140 that the train would cost.

Day 64: Mon, Nov 29, 2004 - Alpharetta, GA

In the morning I disassembled my bike and fit it into my bike box.  I packed the rest of my gear in my large duffel bag and my two rear panniers that I strapped together to form a single unit.  It was a lot easier to pack this way rather than trying to fit everything into two pieces of luggage, a bike box and a large duffel bag, as I had for my initial flight to San Diego.

 

At noon I met Todd for lunch. Todd was a friend, as was Brad, who I had worked with in my previous life as an RF engineer in Atlanta.  It was great to get caught up with Todd and other former colleagues.  It was also a surprise to discover that Todd knew Stan through very recent work.

Day 65: Tue, Nov 30, 2004 - Alpharetta, GA to Naperville, IL

I taped my bike box shut and Danna took me to a UPS Store to ship it home.  The clerk put the box on a scale where it weighed out at 37 pounds.  Then he measured it and declared it was oversized and would cost $110 to ship.  I knew the box was borderline oversize because I had checked the UPS website and did the measurements myself.  However, I had come in just under the oversize category.  That’s because I measure the height at 29 inches but because it was slightly over 29 inches UPS required rounding up to 30 inches.  That was the difference between being just undersize and oversize and about $60 more for shipping.

 

Well, $110 shipping made no sense since I could take the bike on the airline for $80.  So Danna and I went to a Mail Box where I gave the clerk the UPS measurements.  He checked and found that DHL would ship it for $72.  That was $8 cheaper and more convenient than the airline so I signed up for it.

 

At noon Stan came home from work and we had lunch with Danna who works from home.  Then Stan drove me to the North Springs Marta train station where I rode Marta straight to the airport, about an hour ride.  The ride was a bit nostalgic, recalling the almost 4 years I commuted to Atlanta from Chicago where I had frequently taken Marta from the top of the Atlanta 285 loop to the airport.

 

At the airport I discovered my Delta flight was a little late which wasn’t too surprising.  Check in was a bit of a hassle since they were inspecting everyone fairly thoroughly but I was plenty early and this wasn’t a problem.  I arrived without a seat assignment but I still managed to get an aisle seat on a full flight, even if it was the second last row on the plane.

 

The flight was uneventful with only some minor turbulence.  After I claimed my baggage I called Naperville Chauffeuring on their 800 number that I still remembered from my past travels.  I got a limo in about the same amount of time it would have taken if I had a reservation.  However, the limo driver was possibly the worst driver I’d had.  He seemed tentative and hunched over a bit as if he couldn’t see very well.  Nevertheless I arrived home safe and sound at about 7:00.

 

 

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2004. All rights reserved.