Leaving Brevard, we headed west on Rt 64. Near Lake Toxaway we passed a “Gem Mine”. This was one of those places where you can buy a bucket of sand and rocks and, using a water sluice, pan for gems. This was on our collective to-do lists, so we stopped. Frankly, we weren’t even sure the place was open, but the proprietor came out to greet us after we parked our bikes and took off our riding gear.
We purchased two medium buckets for $15 each and he turned on the water in the sluice and showed us how to do it. He gave us a lesson in identifying the gems which was greatly appreciated as I would have discarded a large number of them. Rubies, saphires, emeralds, garnets and a bunch of others that I’ve forgotten. We came away with two good bags. At some point, we need to get them polished and perhaps mounted.
As we were getting ready to leave, Courtney realized that she had left the ignition on and the headlight had drained the battery which was now dead. We tried push starting it but had no success. So out came the tool kit and the jumper cables. We had to partially disassemble both bikes to get to the batteries. We got the 750 started, put them both back together, rode to the top of the parking lot to the road… and the 750 stalled. It wouldn’t start – it hadn’t been running long enough to get a charge on the battery. !@#$%^&*(). That’s why cuss words were invented. We pushed the 750 back into a shady spot and went though the entire process again. Even in the shade it was hot and by time we finished, we were both dripping with sweat.
We left the gem mine and continued east to Franklin where we picked up 23/441 south to Clayton. From there it was 76 west to Brasstown Bald, the highest spot in Georgia. Several years earlier we had taken a family winter vacation in north Georgia and had hiked halfway up to the summit. Today we were going to enjoy riding to the top. East of Hiawassee, we got on 17 south, then 180 east to the entrance to the summit road. It’s about 3 miles up to parking lot. From there, you have to take a shuttle bus to the summit. That last bit is one helluva steep road! I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a fear of heights. The weather was a bit hazy that day, but we could still see quite far. There is a little museum at the top along with a park service fire tower. There is also a wonderful observation deck on the roof of the building.
At this point, we knew that the fun was coming to an end. It was time to head south and make the long push through the heat to get back to Jacksonville. We backtracked to 17, then headed south, going through Helen GA. We stayed on Rt 17 through rural Georgia and headed southeast, eventually stopping in Elberton GA for the evening.