Updated: Nov 9, 2020
For the last 3 years, I have been fortunate to be able to take a ride through Georgia with lifelong friends. On the morning of Friday, July 10th, me, my childhood friend, Paul Crane and his brother Bob started our journey from Warner Robins, GA heading northwest to Ellijay, GA where our accommodations for the next several days were located. Even though we were taking the backroads to avoid Atlanta’s crazy traffic, the trip was only going to take about 4 hours. However, that wasn’t the case; when we entered the town of Buford, we hit every traffic light. That in itself wouldn’t have been bad, but there were about 50 lights and they seemed to be about 100 feet apart!!
As we rode, we went through some really cool towns, and one that stands out is called Ball Ground. It was studded with quaint shops, eateries, and a mix of residential options all set amidst the stunning backdrop of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. As we admired the scenery riding up Highway 5, the sun was gleaming off the bikes and we noticed as we got closer to Ellijay, the temperature was turning cooler as the Sun began to dip below the mountains. Since we had set the GPS to avoid highways, it took us on winding and twisting roads, past some really old houses and the quaint little Zion Hills Church.
As we turned off the main road onto an unpaved, gravel road, that was just wide enough for one car. It’s a good thing we were on the bikes when a truck came from the opposite direction! As we approached our “cabin”, we were surprised to find a beautiful two story house sitting on a hill with a flowing creek running halfway around the property. The house was warm and inviting and filled with country charm. After unloading the bikes, we took a short ride to Chadsworth for dinner and picked up some adult beverages.
Once back at the house, we settled in and had a few beers while making plans for the next day’s adventure. We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday but didn’t get on the road until 9:00. After eating breakfast at the Awful House, aka Waffle House, we rode Northeast towards Franklin and Highlands NC to our destination, Dry Falls https://www.visitnc.com/listing/S9Tz/dry-falls. The road from Franklin is called The Moonshiners Run. It is a twisty and winding road with some hairpin turns. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the road when we arrived so we were detoured around which added another hour to get to Dry Falls. Due to the delay, we stopped for lunch at this friendly little restaurant called The Blue Bike Cafe. https://www.bluebikecafe.net/ where the food and atmosphere were amazing.
After lunch, we continued to Dry Falls. We parked our bikes and walked down what seemed like a short walk to the falls. We were even able to take some pictures from behind the waterfall. As we started to walk back up the steps to the bikes, that “short” walk we took earlier wasn’t all that short! We may or may not have stopped a couple times along the way until we were passed by a guy with crutches briskly “walking” past us!! After leaving the falls, we were able to ride The Moonshiners Run as we headed to our next destination of the day, Suches (Sue-chez) Georgia. After leaving Franklin, NC we rode south and came upon Highway 180 in Georgia which was 11 miles of twisty and curvy roads. At the end of Highway 180 is a cool little camp ground called Two Wheels of Suches, formally known as Two Wheels Only, where you could grab a bite to eat, water or soda. They do not sell beer, but you are welcome to bring your own. After resting for about 30-40 minutes, we got back on the bikes and headed north to Highway 60 where we encountered more twisty and curvy roads. When combined with Highway 180, it rivals The Dragon with a total of 33 miles with hair pins and switchbacks. As we headed back to Ellijay,we rode on some of the prettiest mountain roads I’ve ever been on, especially SR-64 in Franklin NC. The blue sky against the green trees of the mountains was spectacular. Once back in Ellijay at the “cabin”, we sat outside on the wrap around porch drinking beer, talking about the days ride, and telling war stories till the wee hours of the morning. We woke up Sunday morning and packed up the bikes and decided to take a different route back to Warner Robins hoping to miss the traffic in Buford. As we road south along SR-42, we came upon the town of Indian Springs where you will find a state park by the same name https://gastateparks.org/indiansprings. It was really nice and there were some really cool mini falls that you could cool off in.
After exploring the falls and surrounding area, we decided to make a stop on the way home in Juliette Georgia. For those of you that don’t know, this is where they filmed the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Unfortunately, The Whistle Stop Café, which was the focus of the movie, was closed so we weren’t able to order something to drink or eat there. However, for those of you that know me, I was able to sweet talk my way inside. One of the servers was explaining that the way you see the town in the very beginning of the movie is exactly how the movie people found it. It wasn’t until after filming they started cleaning it up and made it a viable town again. I also learned that all of the furnishings, including the bar and the booths, are original from 1927.
After a brief walk down the main street, we got back on the bikes and make our way back to Warner Robins which concluded our journey. Monday morning Paul and I loaded the Harleys onto the trailer and prepared for the 6 hour ride back to Palm Bay where our journey was to end.
However, it took a little longer to get home to Palm Bay, and I did not want to ride across the state at night back home to Tampa, so Paul asked if I wanted to stay the night and take the JetSki‘s out in the morning. I quickly agreed because who wouldn’t want to have some fun on the water LOL.
The next morning we took the skis down the Intercoastal River from Grant to Sebastian where we went out into the inlet and into the Atlantic Ocean, then north past Spanish House where I used to surf and then south beyond the inlet past Monster Hole. Along the way we saw dolphins and sea turtles and other marine life. What a wonderful way to end an amazing weekend with great friends - Thank you Paul and Bob for an amazing weekend and a great ride!