NC Twisties and SC 11 Loop

The Bantam Chef Restaurant, Chesnee, South Carolina



In the distance a delapidated factory with several million old bricks

Memorial in Cowpens National Battlefield

Turkeys in the Battlefield

The 1950s Mobilgas Station attached to the Bantam Chef

Chesnee's place to eat, the Bantam Chef Restaurant .... FIVE STARS

The museum in the Bantam Chef

Strawberry Hill USA at the right time of year. Fresh berries galore.

Campbell's Cover Bridge - built 1909

Ballenger's Covered Bridge - built 20th Century

Poinsett's Bridge on the Asheville - Charleston Toll Road - built 1820

Table Rock Mountain

NC 28 heading for Highlands
Nancy and I made this loop in May of 2006. We took three days of riding to complete the 540 mile trip and had plenty of time for scenic stops and meals. We rode our FZ1s and had enough room to carry what we needed in the soft luggage and tank bags.



Forest City NC to Robbinsville NC
215 miles

We were up at 6 am to get coffee and check-out the contenental breakfast. Nothing looked appetizing so we grabeed a banana and decided to look for someplace interesting along the route to stop and get a real breakfast.

Forest City is one of those places that must be named for what used to be there. We didn't see much in the way of forests. Anyway, we headed south on US74A and jogged east a mile or two on US 74 before catching US 221A southbound into South Carolina.

We passed through several quaint backroad towns and didn't spot a worthy breakfast stop. A huge brick factory in disrepair brought us to a stop. The sign offered "WANTED - BRICK CLEANERS - $20 PER 500". We never realized there was such a profession, but judging from the number of bricks in the distance we figure it might give a man a long-term job.

And then we were in South Carolina. Still no breakfast as we hit SC 11 also known as the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.

A quick turn to the east took us to the Cowpens National Battlefield. This Revolutionary War historical site had an excellent museum with period uniforms and equipment. We took advantage of the battlefield trails to stretch our legs. We even scared-up a couple of turkeys. A loop road around the 845-acre park takes you to some of the historical sites.

We were really getting hungry as it was nearing 10 am. We asked the museum attendent where to get a good breakfast and a big smile crossed his face as he directed us "to that place in Chesnee with the 1950 Studebaker sticking out the front of the building. Best place to eat in South Carolina" he drawled.

With that description we were salivating as we raced westward on SC 11 and then turned left on US 221 into downtown Chesnee. And there it was impossible to miss, the Bantam Chef Restaurant. We pulled up to the Mobilgas Station to fuel-up, but found it was only the Bantam's museum.

The attendant at Cowpens was right on target as far as the quality of food was concerned. We walked-up to the ordering counter and were greeted by friendly smiles as we ordered coffee, eggs, grits, and biscuits. Everything was excellent and the buscuits were the size of three regular ones. The bill was less embarassingly low.

Not only was there excellent food, but the walls were decorated with memorbilia and the Mobilgas Station boasted a museum of 1950s collectables. This is one of those "go out of your way" places to get to. We plan to stop in again if we are within 50 miles.

Sated, we got back on the bikes and headed west on SC 11. Just a few miles down the road we pulled into Strawberry Hill USA roadside stand. Nancy nearly made herself sick eating the free strawberry samples. We bought some jellies. Nancy was in a frenzy not being able to take home some of the delicious fresh berries. One of the drawbacks of traveling light on the motorcycles. This area is also home of the best peaches in the world. Don't let the Georgia peach bragging lead you astray, the South Carolina peaches are larger and tastier.

Stopping at a small roadside travel information stand we found a brochure that detailed several covered bridges in the area. We decided to explore. The first we found was the 1909 Campbell's Covered Bridge on Beavertown Creek just off SC 414.

The second was Ballenger's Mill and Covered Bridge across Middle Tyger River just south of SC 11. The nearby 1820's mill still stands and the surrounding property is beautiful.

The third bridge on Callahan Mountain Road we almost missed as we were riding by because it is not covered and the stone blends into the landscape. This Poinsett's Bridge was built in 1820 on the old toll road from Asheville, NC to Charleston, SC. Poinsett laid out the northern section of road before being elected to Congress. His botanical interests led him to discover the showy tropical shrub which today bears his name - the poinsettia.

Continuing west on SC 11 we began to see mountain to the north and glimpsed Caesar's Head in the distance. US 276 is an awesome road heading north from SC 11, but we still had a lot of miles to cover so we grudgingly continued west.

After a few more miles we arrived at the 3000-acre Table Rock State Park. We took a tour of the park circling Pinnacle Lake ($2 per person admission). There are cabin rentals and camping in scenic wooded areas with Table Rock Mountain as a backdrop.

We ran into some road construction and more populated areas as we crossed Lake Keowee nearing Walhalla, SC. Looking for a quick escape we headed north on SC 28 which becomes GA 28 and then NC 28 at the state lines. We had a real hoot on this road all the way from Mountain Rest SC back to Lauda NC at US 19/74. For 58 miles the traffic was extremely light as we wisked through the twisties nearly as good as the Tail of the Dragon.

The FZ1s performed flawlessly temporarily assuming the role of sportbike after touring for the previous two days. We will probably always keep these truely dual purpose bike for our longer trips.

We arrived back in Robbinsville tired but satisfied. This had been a better than expected tour with some great memories and adventures.