BJ has been limping along for a while. A Slick front tire, check engine light, battery light, and ailing compensator have been plaguing her for a while. She finally succumbed to the check engine/battery light below Edgefield. Coughed a couple of times and died, I coasted to the side of the road and called an ambulance for her. A week later, BJ has a new shoe, and her heartbeat has been restored with a new voltage regulator. After receiving her new ‘pacemaker’, I spent the first week just riding around town making sure she was ready for the open road. She passed with flying colors, and we’re both prepared for a ride to Tallulah Falls, GA!
I’m fortunate to have a group I ride with on occasion. On this day, they are riding to Tallulah Falls! An all-day ride that I have long wanted to take. Perfect to test BJ. ROAD TRIP!
Dreaming of sitting at the corner of Winslow Arizona, the faint sound of my cell phone alarm clock slowly brings me back to reality. A reminder that I have a great day of riding in front of me. ‘The group’ as I will refer to them to protect those under the witness protection program, are meeting at 7:30 a.m. to begin the ride. (just kidding about the witness protection program – I think)
I have a curse, albeit I enjoy it, of songs popping up into my mind during relevant experiences. A favorite of mine is the Eagles ‘Take It Easy”. So, it came as no surprise to me that the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ theme song popped into my brain as ‘The Group” pulled out from the Pitt Stop to begin the 3-hour ride to Tallulah Falls. OOPS, I did it again, make it stop! OOPS, I did again, by Brittney Spears.
Making our way around Greenwood, Abbeville, Antreville, and a brief stop after crossing the Georgia state line to put on our brain buckets,’ we continued on passing through Hartwell and Lavonia, into Tallulah Falls. There we stopped at a little restaurant called ‘The Artists Kava House Grill.’ I have mixed reviews about this place. The rustic exterior and front porch were inviting. It was just the kind of place I like to frequent. Inside was more of the same. I have to say I liked to décor. There were 8 people in our group, not small, but not overwhelmingly large either. We all ordered our foods in a timely manner, but here’s where things got irritating for everyone. I’m not sure of the exact time we waited, but it was at least an hour or more. My food was good, but I kept it simple with a hamburger and onion rings with water. Others weren’t as fortunate. One person ordered Blackened Chicken, and that’s how it came out. Now I don’t know much about ‘Blackened’ food, but it didn’t look appealing to me. One person in our group was so put off and ready to ‘get outta there’ paid for everyone’s food to speed up the process. (I promise I’ll pay ya back buddy) I would like to go there again with a smaller group and see how it goes. I’m not condemning it yet.
For a long time, I was confused about Tallulah Falls. I didn’t realize it was an actual town. However, I now know that Tallulah Falls is famous in at least two ways.
Mention the movie ‘Deliverance’ and two things pop into my head. There’s that head thing again. Sorry I digress. One is the song Dueling Banjos, and the other is ‘Squeal little pig!’ Now I won’t go into details about either of them but if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a must watch the film.
Deliverance, filmed in 1971, was shot all over Northwest Georgia, but many extras came from the Tallulah Falls area. Now I would think that would be good for the little town. Well, it was, but some locals believe the film depicted them as backward, inbred, unsophisticated hillbillies. Apparently, it’s a reputation that has been hard to shake. But that stigma wasn’t evident to me. Everyone I met was friendly and literate. Not one of them was missing any teeth.
Tallulah Gorge State Park will cost you 5 bucks to get in. But worth the cost of admission. Heck, the ride to the gate was great in itself with twisties I didn’t even experience during my journey on the ‘Tail of the Dragon’. Once you’re in, there is plenty of parking. (PSA..just between us, park near the building. You won’t regret it if you went down into the gorge)
If you’re a museum type of person, the Tallulah Falls Visitor Center will rock your world. Entering the center, you’ll encounter a continuous winding ramp for several floors ending at the rear entrance of the center, the gateway to the trails and falls.
Now back in my ‘younger days’ (like waaay back) hiking was an activity I LOVED. Every Spring, I’d make the pilgrimage to Madison, VA to base camp and hike the Appalachia Trail. Admittedly, I’m not that man today, but I was excited to walk on the suspension bridge. So, I head down the trail when I encounter my first look of the upper Hurricane Falls. Simply beautiful. I stopped to take a few pictures from the high overlook and headed further down the path.
Just as I’m wondering if I was near the suspension bridge, I encounter a sign next to some metal steps heading down into the gorge. Basically, it said the decent was moderately difficult comprising of 310 steps before reaching the bridge. Well, I didn’t ride BJ 3 hours to NOT walk on that bridge, so off I go. Let me tell you something, I was tired when I reached the BOTTOM of the steps wondering what demon was on my shoulder that pursued me to do this.
As I looked across that suspension bridge, one of my buddies was walking towards me. (yes, he got there way before I did) Each step gently increased the swaying of that bridge. Catching my breath after that treacherous hike DOWN the steps, I head across the destination of my ride. Stopping midway to look at the Tallulah River raging 80 feet below me, the view, for a while, blocked thoughts of going back up 310 steps.
Ok ok, it’s a long story, but I’ll wrap it up. I was thinking how brutal the ascent up the stairs was when a guy in his twenty’s jogs past me. Really?! As I reached the stair ‘summit’ my buddies encourage me on for the final ten feet of my ordeal. I did make it back to the parking lot and straddled BJ for the ride home. As I rode home listening to the steady roar of BJ’s engine, I couldn’t help but think what a day this had been! What a day indeed.