From: Pat Roddy
Just rolled in from Savannah II President's gathering. A great weekend!!!
I was honored to host Mike Cornett here in Buford Friday night--another 'legend' to add to my Wall of Fame! :-)
I wasn't sure how Linda and I were going to go to Savannah--the weather was forecast as dry but pretty cool Saturday AM. Linda has an electric vest but is somewhat 'short' on all the other cold weather gear.
Mike's plans were to ride to Charleston, SC early Sat AM to get a few stamps for his passport and to meet up wth Greg Pink.
SInce Mike presented me with a Nat'l Park Passport Friday night, I could already feel the 'subtle' pressure to ride to Charleston first :-)
That subtle pressure changed to outright bludgeoning when Greg called later Friday night.
Over breakfast Sat morning (it was 34 degrees outside), Linda decided to make my mind up for me.
"Why don't you ride with Mike to Charleston, get your new Passport Book stamped, and meet up with Greg and roll to Savannah? I'll meet you there".
(She loves to drive, BTW).
Problem solved! We left at 0730 and 300 miles later were in Charleston, pulling into the parking lot at the Pinckney Plantation to see Greg just pulling off his helmet! Talk about timing!
We then rolled to another park and got two stamps, then beelined it to Savannah. Thankfully no cops had their radar guns pointed at us! :-)
(as of today, Greg has 76 stamps in 26-or 27 states (he started after Morganton) and Mike has 75 stamps in 31 states. Mike was rolling towards Fort Pulaski when we parted company :-)
I would like to thank Scott Omen for spearheading the Savannah meeting, and also special thanks to Jim Connelly and Jerry Dukes of Savannah for providing the Low Country Boil that sated the appetites of 37 presidents and their SO's.
If you have never experienced a Low Country Boil. keep your eyes here on the list for Jerry's 'recipe' for doing one. It was very, very good!
T-Mia was the 'emcee' for a toast to all presidents, spiritual attendees and 'special' characters that live here on the list. T-Mia did an admirable job, ad-libbing quite well. The ONLY problem is his 'toast' lasted about 3 beers!!! :-) Terry is never at a loss for words!!! :-)
Several presidents told jokes to the crowd and were well received. Edwina's Penguin joke rolled the gathering into a laughing heap.
Then, most of us 'retired' to an Irish pub on the Savannah River Walk, where plenty of England's and Ireland's brews were on tap.
To get the morning off to a good start, several IBMWR presidents gathered at a local Denny's with the Savannah group for breakfast. By 10:30, all were on the road again, heading home or continuing on their separate journeys.
I joined Scott Omen for the blitz home. Lots of police officers were parked in the median strip along I-16, but our 80 mph roll-bys didn't even garner a glance from them, thankfully.
Linda left a half hour after we did, but she beat me home by 10 minutes. Go figure!
We ALMOST had a situation in Savannah where we MIGHT have had to go bail out 6 presidents in order for them to eat with us, but we didn't! :-) Ask Jerry or Bill Z. for the details! :-) No harm, no foul!
Here's to all the presidents that I met again, and to several new ones that I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time!!!
From: T. "Buick"
"Dinner In The Low Country"
For many BMW enthusiasts, being in the middle of December means the closest one can come to motorcycling is to watch re-runs of old ESPN superbike races, read back issues of MOA ON, or go out into the garage or basement and sit on the winterized bikes and make motor noises: "rrrrrrrrrrrroommmmm; rrrrrrrrroooooommmm; RRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM !!!" Oh: or go down to Safeway and read through all the bike magazines on the rack while the S.O. replenishes the scouring pads, toilet paper, Cheez Whiz, and cat food. In short, there isn't much one can do when Old Man Winter has his teeth in you again.
Me? I'm one of the lucky ones, lucky in a number of respects. First, I live in Atlanta, where there's pretty much a year-round riding season, if you're hardy, and I fancy that I am.....somewhat. Second,this weekend there was the reincarnation of "Savannah - President's Dinner" - Part Two, and like Chattanooga - Part Two, this meeting was excellent.
I passed my week in San Diego on business, where, in some kind of perverse weather karma, it rained the entire time I was there. In one call home about Wednesday, it seemed that the forecast was for dreadful rain and cold weather for the weekend. I shrugged it off and resolved to cage it down if necessary. The web site had listed quite an entourage in the build-up, with people coming from as far away as Chicago, so I was commited to being there. Corporate planning meetings have a way of making me feel like my head is being pushed through a large vat of mush, so I boarded the plane Thursday afternoon for the long ride home in a state of muddlement (is there such a word? where's the thesaurus?). On the way to the airport, as we turned off the I-5, there was somebody's Bumblebee GS parked in front of an office building, bedroll and gear strapped on the rear rack, ready for some kind of expedition. Who was that? Anybody we know? Whither goest thou? What did _you_ do over the weekend?
In the concourse I bought a cup of Starbuck's coffee from a stand, and was dithering around the gate area when a white-haired man, somewhat familiar-looking walked up. Conservatively dressed, late fifties, heavy-set: where have I seen this guy? In a moment, from somewhere in the moldy recesses of my gray matter data base, I recalled the face of one of the controversial figures from the O.J. trial: Phillip Van Atter. Now, I was *not* one of those who raced out at break to tune in the Trial Of The Decade (Wasn't the "Trial Of The Century" the Lindbergh kidnapping trial in the thirties? Can you have two Trials of the Century?), but I recalled this guy as somebody who got caught in the meat grinder of all the poisonous rhetoric and accusation thrown out by Simpson's Dream Team; a journeyman detective nearing retirement in the L.A.P.D.. I thought for a dizzy moment about walking up to him, shaking his hand, and saying something neutral and comfortable, but at the last moment thought better of it. Hell, I don't know whether this cat's a genuinely nice guy who was just doing his job, or he's a bungling butt-head that nobody can stand. Besides, having a met a few celebrities over the years, I know that they can take or leave people like me, briefcase in hand, who hope to rub some of the pixie dust off them in passing. Oh, well, he didn't get *his* first-class upgrade, either.
Friday I spent trying to find a tire for Cosmo, scoping holiday gifts for various people, and trying to decompress from a meeting that could best be described as "Death By Overhead Transparency." Chinese Water Torture is *nothing*, I tell you, _nothing_, compared to 19 different department managers each trotting out his or her load of drivel. I call it "The Cantilever Beam Effect", as the information they typically present has no visible means of support. The weather had turned remarkably positive, as the big storm apparently was poised to sweep out to sea, leaving the prognosis as clear, cool, and sunny for Savannah 2. Glory!
Reverend Ian Schmeisser, Church of the Curvy Road, had posted to me that he was coming to the end of his cold and his patience with the mountain of work building up, and did I want to ride down together? Yes, indeedy. At least with Ian, I knew I wouldn't be holding back on the throttle waiting for someone to catch up, and there wouldn't be any more interstate than absolutely necessary.
Saturday morning was 38 degrees, but sunny and not a cloud in sight. All my neighbors seem convinced that I am both some sort of spy, because of my odd comings and goings (disappearing for days, then being home tinkering in the garage on a weekday), and that I am certifiable (from the fact that I roll out on that damned big motorsickle on mornings when people are walking their dogs with ear muffs, by God! Oh, sorry: I meant that the *people* were wearing ear muffs, not the dogs. That IS funny though - the image of dogs with ear muffs. Hee, hee. <snork>). True to form, within four minutes of the appointed time, the two of us were rolling down Georgia 316, on our way to the back way to Savannah.
There is, to the casual map reader, only one sane way to get from Atlanta to Savannah: I-75 and I-16. How can I describe those two roads? Let me see....okay, got it. Those of you who have Webster's New World College Dictionary, Third Edition, 1996, please turn to page 162 and look about 3/4 of the way down the left-hand column for the word "boring". There's a picture of I-16. That's why we were on the back roads. Now, there's a lot of stuff to see on back roads. Here're some examples and thoughts on stuff passed by:
- - Horses: passed at least a hundred horses, all standing out in their fields, looking like they are either poster children for the Bored Quadrupeds Society, or else they're solving quadratic equations in their heads to pass the time.
- - Signs: "Hunting License Breakfast Sandwich" (Greensboro. GA.). "Hot Thomas Barbeque" (closed). "Monster Biscuit" (Hardee's fast food promo).
- - Cars: there is something _very strange_ going on in Sparta, GA. Trust me, when one out of every four cars in town has been lowered four inches and has accessory wheels that stick out from the fender wells an equal amount, these people know something that has escaped the rest of us. We were pulling out from Hardee's (no, I passed on the Monster Biscuit - I never liked the taste of Monster - too much like Roast Beast), a *candy-apple red metalflake* Honda Civic hatchback with a camel-colored add-on landau roof and the obligatory Ben-Hur chrome wheels came cruising through the parking lot. It ran over a bottle cap, and the passengers got whiplash. Ugly? Made a `59 DeSoto look elegant.
- - Speed limits: I am convinced that the state Road Dept. hires gnomes to decide speed limits. No rhyme or reason - gnome logic.
- - Manufacturing plants: how do they decide where to put factories? We were booking it down through the pines when, in the middle of *nowhere*, man, there's a humongous fabric-finishing plant. I mean, BIG. I mean NOWHERE. Musta got some tax break to put it there.
- - Manger scenes: I don't know what is going on, but there were six or seven manger scenes on display in front yards between Wrightsville and Greensboro, but I don't recall seeing a single christmas tree lot. Weird.
Okay, enough of that. Back to the travelogue.
North Georgia is a part of what's broadly called the "Piedmont" of the Appalachian Mountains. The word comes from the French "pied", for _foot_, and "monte", for _hills_. The "pied-monte", or foothills of the Appalachians is basically rolling hills that continue from north of Atlanta south and eastward, getting softer and flatter as they go, until you're pretty much out of them down around Swainsboro (you *are* following along on your map, aren't you?), After that, you come to what is called the Low Country. The Low Country is the land down near the coast, a flat, sometimes swampy, sandy area of wetlands, pine forests, and hammocks of oak and other deciduous trees. This is the land of huge oak trees with long tendrils of spanish moss dangling, the land of palmetto and marsh grass, the land of black water and inlets from the Atlantic, of ante bellum charm and southern mansions preserved. We boogied through the cleared land and planted pines of the immense pulpwood and forest products industries, huge lots with harvested trees stacked in piles and rows, ready for the sawmill and paper plants. Down near where our back roads joined up with U.S. 80, one begins to get the feel of Savannah nearing.
Savannah is a very old town, and preserves much of what it once was by means of the graces of its preservation societies and the trendiness of investors for whom it is fashionable to restore the old row homes and convert the cotton warehouses for shops and restaurants. One can take a guided tour of the old homes and places of interest starting with the old waterfront at River Street, now the hub of the tourist attractions, and ranging out to the parks and neighborhoods of the well-to-do. There are tunnels from River Street back to various places farther in town. People and goods were moved through them. They were forgotten after the Civil War and not found again until the last twenty or thirty years, as renovation of the waterfront area began. There are restored mansions that will melt your heart, so beautiful, and oak trees so large they overhang the streets entirely. If you're ever in the area, you owe it to yourself to see this wonderful old city.
We made it into town about 3:00, and thanks to the Advance Scouts (Scott Omen and Jim McKee), and excellent directions, we homed in on the Day's Inn like a laser beam. The first Prezz we met was Dave Roof, from close-by Columbia, SC. Others were around, but some were off on the Low Country Tour, and others out on errands. As we were in need of sustenance, we sought for Churchill's Pub on Drayton Street, where we treated ourselves to glasses of Black and Tan, Ian having the Shepherd's Pie, I the Fish and Chips with malt vinegar and peas. Dave joined us in time for a glass, and then it was back to the Fritz-Carlson for hors d'oeuvres.
After check-in, we were directed up to the third floor of the parking garage. Going up the ramps was a hoot, as Cosmo has a big voice (Supertrapp exhaust), and the echoing of the noise around inside the garage brought other Prezzes out to see. Richard Bernecker and Orca were there, and Jim Shaw, and Mayor Reed, and Scott Omen. Several Presidents had, we learned, fallen under the Rasputin-like spell of Greg Pink and Mike Cornett, and had departed early for Charleston, SC, in quest of National Park stamps. They would return late, flushed with the thrill of the hunt, a wild-eyed Pat Roddy in their wake, his new Passport still smoking from the hot stamps.
By the time we were settled, and trucked up to the hospitality suite, there was only time to meet several more arrivals before heading out to the site of the Shrimp Boil and get-together out on Victory Drive at Jerry Duke's and Jim Connally's place. Evening was advancing as the four of us, Mayor Reed, Mike Greytak ( in from Montana!! for the Dinner), and Dan Lowery piled out of the car just as Terry-Miami and TLE (The Lovely Edwina - who may have acquired a new nickname - more on that later) were unloading. The site of the dinner was our hosts' business location and warehouse, down at the end of a cul-de-sac, and enough isolated so as to avoid any noise complaints from neighbors, plenty of room, and easily adapted to our shenanigans. Bikes were beginning to line up as more and more arrived, some by car, some by bike. Two huge stainless steel pots simmered and steamed over portable propane burners in the back yard of the building, where the overhanging oaks trees framed a sky with that blue-black color of night fast approaching in a cloudless wintery sky. A crescent moon hung just over the trees.
As is our custom, coolers of malt barley therapy were available to complement snacks, but the real attraction was, of course, the shrimp boil. Imagine..... twenty gallons of shrimp, sausage, onion, potato, spices, shellfish, and boiled corn on the cob, simmering and filling the air with a most delicious aroma. People mingled and swapped stories, and put names and faces together. I won't attempt to recount all the attendees, but suffice it to say that I counted thirty-seven at one point, and there may have been some in the bathroom.
Dinner was served "boarding-house" style: grab a plate, grab some food, and get back in line again, until satisfied. The chomping and slurping could have been heard a block away. Smiles all around proclaimed Jim and Jerry's efforts most appreciated.
After dinner, at around seven p.m., Scott Omen gathered the group for a "ceremonial toast", and turned the floor over to the Master of (Un)Ceremonies, T-Mia. Since there were several "spiritual attendees", notably Yoshida-san in Japan (who was reportedly somewhere between the prep room and surgery at the appointed time of the toast), Carlo Ratzerdorfer in Belgium/Israel/wherever, and Bob Higdon (on the way back from Mexico to heal up), that was the first order of business. Terry's droll commentary went on for nearly a half-hour in a cross between Garry Shandling, Conan O'Brien, and Dennis Miller that had nearly everybody singled out for something. In a sober moment, the memories of Dave Keuch and Brian Nason were toasted. Dave Roof was proclaimed the "Nattiest Dresser", in an all-black outfit. Jim Shaw's hair was noted as being "perfect". Brian Walker's mustache was simultaneously the most perfect and the most sinister. Attendees from Alaska, Virginia, and Montana were noted. The "no-shows" were mentioned (you know who you are) - like, "Hey! Where were you?"
The highlight of the night had to be the "joke-off". Between John Outlan and Terry, and with proper warnings to the distaff members of the company about "NC-17 content", "Pink and Purple" got told, followed by the "Ballerina" joke, and others, but Edwina upstaged all the macho dudes by telling the "Penguin" joke, which made everybody roar. Maybe now it should be "That Saucy Edwina (TSE)" instead of TLE??
With dinner finished, we all began to disperse back to the night life on the Riverfront. Several stayed with it to close the various clubs at 0200. (!) Yours truly was a good boy, so I have no tales to tell this time.
Sunday morn dawned as clean and crisp as could be, bright and sunny. The local BMW club had a breakfast that several attended, while The Reverend Schmeisser and I bopped out to Fort Pulaski, he to break in a new Passport (courtesy of Pat Roddy), and I to add another stampo. Fort Pulaski is, like many National Monments, impressive and important. The way out to Tybee Island offers up the view of the Low Country that I always think of: the rivers and marshes. Sawgrass extends from the tree line out to the edge of the water, and on the higher ground there is palmetto, cypress, and hammock. A sign on the road proclaimed "Road May Be Flooded at High Tide." Do tell! Water lapped at the verge of the shoulder. The Fort resides off to the side of U.S. 80, across a bridge. This morning we were nearly the first and only visitors. The attendant at the visitor center was polite and helpful, but clearly was slightly puzzled at our appearance until we explained that we came on motorcycles. The Reverend observed that we looked "....like Spaceman Spiff" in our riding attire, which always makes the uninitiated look crossways at us.
The Fort is a huge edifice, built by Robert E. Lee (yes, THAT one) in 1847. It is built of twenty-five *million* red bricks, has walls seven and a-half feet thick, and has a moat. It was thought to be impregnable, and guarded the entrance to Savannah's harborways. The Confederates took it in late 1860, and the Federals took it back in April, 1861, by means of the first rifled cannons, which punched a hole in a key place in the wall after only about twelve hours of bombardment. You can see shells still embedded in the walls in places. The Federals rebuilt it in only six weeks and used it as a prison, knowing that the lesson of the battle was that stone and brick forts were obsolete from that point forward to the power and accuracy of the rifled artillery to come. If you're interested in the mason's art, you've got to see the place: coquina shell mortar, Roman arches, and spiral staircases built of stone, all done with precision that you rarely see today. Worth a trip.
The ride home is always less interesting than the ride there for me. In the interest of time, we chose to do a few miles of interstate before retracing our back roads. The roads were mercifully uncrowded, and save for two tricky Bears backed up into the woods on the east-bound side of I-16, we were completely without police protection the whole way.
This was a good trip, a good site for a meeting, and a superior weekend. Things could not have been better. Others may report on Friday's activities which I was unable to make, but I'm sure they were equally as good. Once again, the power of this medium to bring together people in a most productive and stimulating way is demonstrated. If you can make it to one of these, you won't regret it!!
T. "Buick" Bowman
From: Richard "SoD"
I figgered I'd throw out a few brief sentences on the Savannah gathering. Like I can ever throw out "just a few brief sentences".. :-)
My personal plan was to ride the new (to me) RT down, sort of as a shake-down cruise to see how well the RT and I fit each other. Along the way, Jim Shaw collected me into a caravan he was assembling from the Northern VA area; included in this assemblage was Jeff Dunkle and a 'Net-impoverished but very affable fellow BMW rider by the name of Paul Taylor, with whom Jim was staying for a couple of days.
The plan was to leave Morton's BMW @ 0900 on Friday for the haul down I-95. Due to circumstances (faulty alarm clock in the Taylor residence), the group didn't assemble until 1000, only to notice as we're pulling out that the Shaw-mobile (K100LT) had a flat front tire. Brand new tires installed before Jim trailered the bike to VA, but flat nevertheless. We switched to Plan B, which evolved into storing the K-whiner in the Taylor garage and Jim "riding" his Buick "LeSabre/2" down to Savannah instead. We managed to hit the road at 1030, and arrived in Savannah @ 1930 Friday evening.
The ride down was marked by lots of rain thru VA. Jeff Dunkle and I went thru several pairs of Gore-Tex gloves each, in getting to Morton's and then in making our way thru VA. It was a good thing Morton's had some decent GoreTex gloves for sale. Both Jeff and I availed ourselves of a pair during our wait for Jim and Paul. I-95 is not a memorable road by any means, but we made the best of things by entertaining each other with various methods of staving off numb-butt, usually accomplished by dangling or shaking various body parts at speed. I understand that my "stand on the pegs at 80mph like I still have my GS and shake my booty at the guy behind me" was a real crowd pleaser.
The Days Inn selected for the gathering had certainly taken pains to make us feel wanted, with welcome signs on each door and parking arrangements in the garage. Very nice. Once the check-in was accomplished, we collected Bill Zimmerman (one of the Richmond area "Virginians" of long-haul, high-mileage fame) and David (Yane) Roof and proceeded to dine at one of the local waterfront restaurants. "Waterfront" dining means, of course, that nobody escaped with less than a $35.00 tab. But what the hell; us RUBS can afford such luxuries, no? :-) It was DAMN good grub, too. Most of us called it a night after dinner; a few retired to the local Irish-theme pub for a nightcap.
Saturday morning, a group breakfast was held with the above Presidents plus Corky Reed, who never ceases to be a source of stories and "right attitude". Presidents continued to stream in all morning, and by 1030 a significant assemblage of folks had gathered for the 1100 blast-off into the South Carolina "low country" in search of lunch. I figger this group had at least 15-20 riders, and it must have been quite a sight seeing this group take off from the motel parking lot in "Historic Downtown Savannah". Of course, in typical T-Mia fashion, he and John Outlan had managed to book rooms in Hilton Head (with their spouses) as opposed to "slumming it" in Savannah, and actually passed the lunch group heading out as they headed in to find us. A quick u-turn by the two wayward riders, and the lunch group grew by two more Presidents.
The lunch ride quickly split into two groups; the front group, aka "the Jailbait", and the back group, aka "The Lost". But we all managed to find our way to Beaufort, SC by some means or another with no formal arrests or other incidents, and settled into a very nice restaurant for a leisurely and quite intimate lunch. The setting was perfect for this gathering; many small tables (as opposed to a great table) created the perfect atmosphere for many of the Presidents to get to know one another. (This gathering had more people I'd *never* met than any other, and altho many of the names slipped right by me, I got to know many of them in some fashion.) I was seated with Mike Nolan and Jeff Dunkle, and thoroughly enjoyed their company. Good conversation and good food; ya gotta love it.
On the ride back to Savannah, many Presidents decided to follow Terry and John back to Hilton Head for a quick gander at "how the rich people live", while I continued back to Savannah. I wanted to try to do some walking about the town before dinner. While I kinda hung around the motel, Presidents continued to pour in; Tom Bowman and Rev. Ian on their GS's; Pink, Cornett, and Roddy, fresh from Charleston SC on a stamp hunt, and others swelled the parking lot in the afternoon sun. Did I mention that it was probably 60 degrees warm? :-) After the rain of Friday, Saturday was a real gem, weather-wise. The weather gods were definitely smiling.
Late afternoon, Scott Omen, Jim Connolly, and Jerry Duke began the tortuous task of getting this group reassembled and on their way to the shrimp boil. Jerry and his lovely wife donated the space for the dinner, and Jim donated the time and expertise to create the dinner. At least I think that's the credit list. I'm sure there were more folks involved, but I was too busy trying to keep up with all of the new faces in the crowd (potential SoD fodder, doncha know) to catch all of the official do-ers of the meeting.
Now, the main event began, the reason for the trip; the Savannah II dinner. The boil was almost finished cooking by the time most of us got there, and food was quickly served. The pre-dinner conversations quickly changed tenor, as now sentences were chopped into smaller segments suitable for inclusion between mouthfuls. Makeshift dinner tables sprang up everywhere for Presidents and their dinner fare; boxes and cases of paper, the forklift, the stairwell. As soon as the feeding part of dinner seemed to be winding down, Scott and Terry began the mc'ed portion of the dinner. This included a list of toasts to spiritual attendees, and such; I managed to finish three beers during Terry's "toast". :-) Shortly afterwards, the prize raffle was held, with BMW mouse pads, keyboard wrist pads, and a National Parks Passport among the prizes. Then the joke session began, with TLE taking the surprise honor of "best joke" with her rendition of the Penguin joke. It was a *hoot*, and alone was worth the price of admission.
Finally, the group photo was taken (once Pink figgered out how to use the auto-timer on that camera he made us tell him to buy this past spring) and the group began to break up. What an evening! I have never had such a comfortable meeting with so many new faces (new to me, at least) than at any other IBMWR gathering I've attended. The good thing about new faces is that many of them don't have a clue what a SoD is, and could only judge me by my charm and good looks..
After returning to the motel, a number of us decided to end the evening with one last nightcap before settling in. We adjourned to the waterfront Irish pub, and set about continuing the conversations started during the dinner. I was seated with Jim Shaw and Jeff Dunkle, who proceeded to talk aeronautics with Jim Fletcher while I listened and pretended to be intelligent. Finally, it was getting close to midnight and I had to be up early for the cold ride home. I said my goodbyes, and turned in for the evening. I missed the Sunday breakfast, courtesy of the local Savannah BMW riders, in favor of an early start towards home. The ~600 mile ride back north itself was quite uneventful, if not more than a bit nippy, and I arrived home in time for Sunday dinner with the Little Man <tm> and my wife.
To all that were part of making this gathering possible, I would like to extend my thanks. It was a great time. To all that missed it, my advice would be to make the trip next year if possible. I'm not gonna try to name all of the neat folks I met, forthe obvious fear of forgetting to name someone or another. But you were all great company.
See ya next year.
Richard "VI,CE" Bernecker
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