August 12, 2002

Tampa, Florida To Athens, Georgia


With the bikes fixed and ready to go, Tonya and I finished packing and then crashed out for the night.  Here is our first shot of the morning, something like 4:45 am, as we get ready to leave Tampa for Athens.  Note the bright and alert look in my eyes? 


The ride from Tampa to Athens is right at 490 miles each way.  That isn't bad actually, and if you average 60 miles per hour it is a little over 8 hours of saddle time.  Tonya and I had already done 13 hours one way on our trip to Tunica, so we didn't expect too many challenges on the trip to Georgia.  If you figure after packing and gassing up we were on the road by 5:30 am, that would mean arriving in Athens at around 1:30 pm, not counting any stops for food, etc.  Strictly speaking, we didn't ride at 60 miles per hour when on the road, it was more like 75 - 80 depending on the speed limit and conditions.

We did stop, however, in Valdosta Georgia which is not too far from the Florida / Georgia border.  A couple of things we noticed - Florida drivers are downright hostile, but once we crossed I-10 the traffic lightened up and so did the mood of the drivers.  We also noticed that Georgia is heaven for bugs, and you literally can't stand outside without having gnats buzz about your head and flies land on your bike, your gear, everywhere.

As mentioned before, we stopped in Valdosta.  Here is Tonya just before we went to the IHOP for a little road food and some re-gearing.  We had been wearing our rain gear (as we expected it to rain, as well as for the windbreaker effect) all morning long and now were getting downright hot in it.


The path we took to Athens Georgia was this:


I-75 to Macon Georgia


I-16 East for about 1/2 mile


129 North to 44


44 to 441 to Athens Georgia

This kept us OUT of Atlanta and gave us a chance to see some neat towns, we are both coming to the conclusion that Interstates are nice, but you are better served by taking the backroads as soon as possible.  Good scenery, and a better view of America than just passing by on an Interstate offers.

As mentioned before, Georgia is 'bug heaven.' Here is a picture we took at a gas station on I-75, "Plantation House" or somesuch name.  Basically it was a big shop with Pillars outside, and junk-ola inside.  We parked the bikes in the shade and grabbed a bottle of water, all the while slapping the bugs off of us as if we were in some 3rd World Country.  All we needed was a hungry kid and Sally Struthers to be complete the effect.


When we reached Athens we stayed at the Bull Dog Inn,  a simple but effective little hotel directly off of 441 on the outskirts of Athens.  This made it the perfect choice for staying the night, and at $40 it was a good deal too.  The manager let us put our bikes under the awning in the front, and even came out to take this picture of us and offered congratulations on our 2nd Anniversary (awww . . )

Athens Georgia is a great little college town, with a great downtown.  Restaurants, shopping, bars, the works.  We stopped at a burrito place where they serve their burritos in Gut Buster, Belt Buster and Toilet Buster sizes.  They are HUGE and fairly cheap.  We both got the smallest we could find and enjoyed our meal.  Afterwards we walked around the little town and enjoyed the scene a bit.




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