Whistle Stop Café
There is a little town north of Macon, Ga. that is the setting of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Juliette, Ga. has become a favorite place for bikers to ride to on a Sunday afternoon to eat dinner. I have been hearing about bikers riding to this small community for the last three or four years. I thought it was time that I rode down to check this café out for myself and eat some fried green tomatoes and B.B.Q. This café is only open on Sunday for people to come and eat.
I like to start my ride on the square in Eatonton, Ga. because there is a small log cabin museum not far from the center of town that honors Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the tales that Uncle Remus told. The Museum is set on the site of the birthplace Joseph Sidney Turner. He is the character that "Uncle Remus" of the Uncle Remus' Tales is base on. When I was a young boy I enjoyed the stories of Brer Rabbit and his misadventures.
After a visit to the museum I like to ride west from Eatonton, Ga. on Hwy. 16 to Monticello, Ga. I just like to stop for a few minutes on the square of Eatonton just because it was the setting of my favorite movie My Cousin Vinny. Then I ride on to Jackson, Ga. and turn left on to Hwy. 23 to Indian Springs
I always like to stop at Indian Springs State Park for a cool drink of spring water just like the Creek Indians did centuries ago. This is an excellent and relaxing rest stop before I arrive at Juliette. Indian Springs is located twenty miles north of Juliette, Ga. near Flovilla, Ga. on Hwy. 42. The Indians thought the spring water had the power to heal the sick and give you vigor. During the 1800's the area around the springs served as a resort for many visitors to come and rest. Indian Springs is considered one of the oldest state parks in the United States. Now it is a safe haven for the bikers to rest at the end of the day. If I am riding in this area I use this park as my starting point for my ride. It is also a great place to stay for the night. After resting and a cool drink of water from the spring. I climb back on my bike and head toward the Whistle Stop Café for lunch.
After I ride for about 20 minutes to Juliette, I turn left off of Hwy. 23 onto Juliette Rd. and make a right turn onto McCrackin St. Down at the end of town on the left side of the street sets the Whistle Stop Café. It was just like stepping into the movie and you could almost see the characters coming down the street. The trains still run along the side the Ocmulgee River, but the old train engines have long gone.
I don#'t understand what draws bikers to ride to this small town except for the food and the awesome ride through the countryside. Bikers also walk around the town and visit small shops after their meal. Some have pictures taken at certain points that they remembered from the movie. Some bikers like to walk across the dam which has water running over the top. Looking from the bridge it looks as if they are walking across on top of the water. One day I will be brave enough to make the trip to the other side of the dam.
You can find on any given Sunday bikers from Atlanta to Augusta, Ga. and as far south as Waycross, Ga. riding their bikes into town. It is one of the places in the state you can meet riders from all over the state of Georgia. I have counted more than one hundred bikes coming in town during the time I was having my meal. H.O.G. groups from all over the state call the café and makes reservations for thirty or more riders to eat.
I finally got to meet the owner of the Whistle Stop Café, Elizabeth Bryant. I also found out that her children help at the café waiting on tables. I found this restaurant is a great place to ride your bike to on Sunday afternoon. Juliette, Ga. is a great place to find some awesome food and to take a walking tour of the town after your meal. Then I head out to the Jarrell Plantation to visit a quaint southern plantation.
The Jarrell Plantation is near Juliette, Ga. and is another place I like to visit during the afternoon. It is just a ten mile or less ride to this Georgia plantation. It is a step back into the 1850's. The Plantation once covered 1000 acres and contained a sawmill, gristmill, cotton gin and a shingle mill. This plantation was owned and operated by the Jarrell family for more than 140 years. This cotton plantation survived General Sherman's "March to the Sea,'' Emancipation, Reconstruction and the cotton boll weevil. In 1974, his descendants donated these buildings to establish the Jarrell Plantation State as a Historic Site. Now it is a state park for everyone to visit and to look back into the past.
After a day of riding, eating and touring the Jarrell plantation. I locked my bike on Hwy. 44 and headed home. Forty-four is the shortest and fastest route home. When I ride I let the time slip by until I have to ride hard to get home before midnight. This is one of the trips I like to take at least once or twice a year for the fried green tomatoes and the B.B.Q. and the scenic ride through the national forest. If you are ever riding your bike in the Macon, Ga. area on a Sunday afternoon, stop by the Whistle Stop Café. I hope to take your picture next time.
Tommy Pittard - Calhoun Falls, South Carolina
A Ride Through Oz
We are living and working in the Middle East, Kuwait exactly, and the opportunity to ride a bike here is not for the faint of heart. Even Red Adaire the famed oil well fire fighter who once exclaimed when asked what he feared most working here; he answered "the driving to work". So this should tell you why I have not ventured to ride a bike here.
So, when a trip to Australia (Oz) presented itself, I hooked up with a Bike touring company called Bike Around Oz. They had canned itineraries that could be accomplished with a guide or on your own. Being the adventuresome person that I am, I chose to go it alone, well not completely; my new wife was to join me. We rented the biggest bike they had, which was a 2004 Harley Soft Tail. Not having owned or ridden a Harley much (I am a Yamaha Road Star driver in the States), I thought this would be a good opportunity to check one out. By the way, for those interested, Australia is called Oz which is an abbreviation of the word Aussie which is pronounced Ozzie.
The Bike Around Oz folks had several trips. I chose a two week 2200 mile trip between Sydney and Melbourne that included the Snowy Mountains, Great Ocean Road, and many small towns. For some this may not sound like too big a trip, but just to let you know the longest trip I had taken my wife on was about 600 miles through the New Mexico and Arizona mountains. Well, she read the itinerary, and being the great sport that she is, she was thrilled with the adventure. So off we went.
We arrived in Sydney on Nov 7th 2006 and spent two days getting our internal clocks adjusted. This is spring time in Australia, so mild weather ahead; they are in a drought, so no rain. As you will see/hear, neither of those was totally true. We picked up the bike on Nov 9th and head south down the coast along with a slight drizzle. It was a little stressful getting used to riding on the opposite side of the road. I would have said the wrong side, but it depends on who you are talking to. The Aussies seem not to think twice about it.
Along the way we stopped and watched a person hang gliding along some coastal cliffs. The area is called Stanwell Park and is well known for its good winds for this sport. I am not so sure, it looked a long way down to the shore, or up if one should land down there and have to climb back to the road. We stopped for a rest further south when we finally came level with the ocean and enjoyed a jaunt on the beach in a town called Coledale. The weather was a bit windy and cool, but at least the wife got to pick up a few shells and get her butt ready for the final run of the day. We spent the night at the Bay Waters Inn in Batemans Bay. Good folk and excellent food, and great local wine. BTW, Kuwait is a dry country, though we do not drink and drive, along the way at our over night stops we enjoyed the beer and wine of Australia.
The next day Nov 10th we turned west toward the Snowy Mountains and the town of Jindabyne. It was a beautiful blue sky and a wonderful ride through rolling hills and valleys. Along the way we started to meet other bikers and finally found out that we were headed to the starting town for the annual Snowy Mountain Ride. This a 256 mile loop ride to raise money for fighting childhood cancer. Definitely a worthy cause. We meet many wonderful folk who offered us advice on our trip as well as phone numbers just in case we meet with problems along the way. This was a very nice gesture, and luckily we did not need their services (even though we were riding a Harley). We elected, or my wife did, not to do the additional 256 miles for the run and instead visited local shops and wineries and a ride to Charlotte Pass, elevation 5800ft. We still had 1900 miles to go.
Nov 12th the weather turned ugly. It was rainy and cold due to a cold front passing through the area. We were heading a little higher into the mountains and were briefed that snow was possible. Not what were expecting nor prepared for. After all, this was spring time and a country having a drought? We took off when the sun broke out momentarily and made it down off the mountains. The remainder of the day rained off and on, not too bad until about 4pm. With about 70 miles to go and another climb into the mountains to our next stop, snow was again a concern as well as heavier rain. So we stopped short of our destination this day, found a motel in a town called Mt. Beauty dried out and got some Chinese food. It was great for such a small off season ski town.
Nov 13th we were headed for Castlemaine in the heart of North Central Victoria. Population 6800, this was typical of the small towns we traveled trough and stayed. All had their pubs, bakeries, general stores, etc. It was so nice not to see the rampant commercialism that we see so often in the USA. The area was rolling hills and country roads, just great for bike riding. We stayed at the Colonial Motel which was a combo B&B and Motel. A welcomed Jacuzzi tub, bottle of wine, and gourmet food at the local Railroad Hotel Pub made the long ride worth while. Of course we had to make the complimentary tour through town. This was obligatory on my part as an award to my wife who was not having the best of times sitting on that tour seat on the Harley.
We next headed for Halls Gap in the Grampian Mountains. Again the bad weather was catching up with us. Rain and cold kept us in the motel for two days. But out our backdoor to entertain us were friendly Magpies, Silver Tipped Macaws, and Wallabies. The later spent the day grazing far back at a tree line, but as the day progressed they approached the motel until they were just on the other side of a fence outside our sliding doors.
Now, up until this point we only saw a couple of kangaroos, live, more were road kill as were wombats and other strange animals from Down Under. We were advised not to ride after sundown due to all the creatures that would possibly be on the road. We paid close attention to this advice. This area is known for its wildlife, but due to fires last year caused by the drought, the animals were on the mend. We did have to stop once and watch a mother Emus and several of her chicks, I say chicks, but these guys were bigger than turkeys, crossing the road.
We departed Halls gap heading south, which down here gets colder the further you go. We picked up extra glove liners and ski masks, which came in handy. We are 1200 miles into our trip and were headed for the Great Ocean Road. This has got to be one of the best rides in the world. If you talk to anyone who has done it or any Aussie, they will tell you the same. The rugged coastline, the windy road with its switch back turns along the southern coast of Australia is beyond words. Here we finally saw Koalas, sitting contently up in the Eucalyptus trees along the highway.
We spent Nov 17th through Nov 21st traveling the southern coast through Apollo Bay, Morningside, Melbourne, and Lake Entrance. The later was a wonderful B&B called the Goat and Goose run by Richard and Joy. We needed to relax and ready ourselves for the run back to Sydney. Here the beach was beautiful, the weather had become quite mild, the scenery breathtaking and the people, well I cannot say enough, they were just wonderful. We were rewarded one evening with a visit from a Kookaburra. This, for those who do not know, is a large Kingfisher. But alas, no laugh.
Heading north we were running on good highways and made very good time. We saw Lace Monitor Lizards along the way. These guys were at least 3-4ft long and luckily swift of foot to get off the highway in time as we passed. We stayed just north of Canberra and headed into Sydney the next day. That last 100 miles was something. It must have been blowing 40mph and 100 degrees. We were taking everything off that was practical to stay cool. We had to bypass the Blue Mountains due to brush fires, which was a good decision since traffic had to be diverted.
We arrived, turned in the bike, headed for the hotel, shower, cold beer, and more of the great food that we had become accustomed to in Australia. Sadly, we returned to Kuwait on Nov 26th. Back to homemade beer and wine, a lot of Indian food, and no bike!
You can see pictures of our trip at http://picasaweb.google.com/wmhendrickson
Bill and Kathy Hendrickson, Florida & New Mexico, Kuwait
End of Summer Ride 2006
It was one of those three day weekends I will pull from memory and dream
about years from now when I am too old for adventures of this nature....
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