Mountains to the Sea: Backroads Boogie around the Palmetto State

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Planning a moto trip is a funny thing. It is predicated on so many variables. Not just where you will go and what routes you would travel, but if you would go at all. Those many variables can quickly reduce a big moto trip to a mere semblance of itself. And so it is with Roo and I this year. The scheckles have been leaving the pouch rather quickly over the last few months: high cost motorbike maintenance, an unplanned car purchase, house maintenance and repairs, etc. With more to come. So a seven to fourteen day moto trip is not feasible this year. Where to travel to then?

Ah. The grass may indeed be greener on the other side, but if we take a closer look, we may find it is just as green right where we are. The past eight years we have been pursuing our goal of touring in all of the southern states east of the Mississippi River. We achieved that goal last October by touring through the state of Mississippi via the Natchez Trace Parkway. Eight years ago, the very first state we toured was our adopted home state of South Carolina. We did a perimeter tour; 900 miles hugging the outline of the state as it appears on a map. But we never ventured inland

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Outside of three larger cities, Greenville (home base), Columbia (state capital), and Charleston (historical Crown Jewel), South Carolina is a virtual rural state. When motorcyclists hear “rural”, what do we think of? Yes! Miles and miles of traffic free roads!

South Carolina has much to offer the touring motorcyclist. The state’s geography and history are as varied as there are different types of motorbikes. In the northwest portion of the state where we live, known as the “Upstate”, we have the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Blue Ridge Escarpment. A mere 25 miles away in North Carolina gets us to the Smokey Mountains and Smokey Mountain National Park. Here also in the Upstate are the Revolutionary War battlefields of Cowpens and Kings Mountain. Yes, that’s right. Revolutionary War. Most people think of South Carolina as a hotbed of the Civil War, and it was, but the south was very instrumental in the latter stages of America’s Revolution in turning the tide and forcing General Cornwallis’s surrender. The battles at Cowpens and Kings Mountain in particular marked the beginning of the British downfall in the American colonies. The Cowpens battle was also the framework for the hit movie “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson

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In the Midlands, the topography is flatter, giving way to beautiful two lane by-ways sweeping through beautiful open farm country and national forests. Here, South Carolina boasts it’s own National Park: Congaree National Park. This area of the state was also a hotbed of Revolutionary War activity. Camden, South Carolina was the site of a devastating defeat of the American colonists by the British. The upper Midlands is also horse country, with equestrian events going on in spring and summer.

The Low Country showcases the beautiful beaches our state has to offer. From the vacation hot spots of Myrtle Beach in the north, to Hilton Head near the Georgia state line, our beautiful beaches are known as the Grand Strand. Myrtle Beach and vicinity is the site of Spring Bike Week every year (formerly Myrtle Beach Bike Week). We haven’t been, it’s just not our cup of (sweet) tea. Hilton Head is a golfer’s paradise. We don’t golf, but we love Hilton Head. There is much to do besides golf: hiking, kayaking, cycling and beach bumming.

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Then there is Charleston. An ancient city (by American standards), Charles Town was founded in the late 1600’s. Steeped in history, from the American Revolution and it’s decimation by the British, the site of South Carolina’s seccession from the Union, the start of the American Civil War with the Confederate Army’s firing on Fort Sumter, the total ruin of the city by Union forces ceaseless bombardament, to a resurgence into the Crown Jewel of the south that it is today, Charleston is our favorite city to visit on the coast.

The shelling of Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War

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The devestation of Charleston by Union Forces

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The Battery, Charleston, South Carolina

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So, there you have our touring plan for 2015.  Some trips will be day trips only, others a long weekend. The beauty of living where we do is we can go from the mountains to the sea in 3.5 hours by interstate. But this is about backroads touring, and exploring roads that we have never ridden, and small rural towns we have never seen, on our way from the mountains to the sea.

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