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My Long Ride Around America


drswift

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In two weeks I’m leaving on what will be the longest motorcycle trip of my life - a two month journey, covering 40 states and some of Canada. It will represent a number of major milestones for me, in terms of duration, miles covered, and overall planning and logistics. Along the way I’ll be taking a lot of pictures and posting tales from the road. My route will cover a good mix of scenic highways and country roads, avoiding the slabs when I can. The trip will also be a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

 

I’ve always felt that the planning and preparation for a long motorcycle trip is an important element of the overall journey itself. This one more so than anything I’ve done before. But in thinking about how best to present this “Ride Tale,” while keeping it interesting, I thought it would be fun to share with you the background on how my riding adventure came to fruition.

 

I know you’ll want to hear the whole story, but I still have a ton of details to manage between now and July 6. Because it’s a long tale, I’m going to break it up into smaller bites so you won’t loose the flavor. I hope you don’t mind.

 

The beginnings of My Long Ride.

The seed of my idea for doing a major road trip germinated about six months ago, before any real plans for the summer were even being considered. It was back in January, when we were still getting hit with a few late, sporadic snowstorms in the Sierra foothills. Over MLK weekend the weather gods smiled down on us, parted the clouds, and said, “You deserve a beautiful weekend.” So I packed up my RT and took off with my friend Barry for Death Valley to meet up with a group of riders from BMWST.com for the annual “meet-eat-ride” fest in Beatty, Nevada. Despite hitting low teens going over Donner Pass, the weather was clear and sunny, with light traffic, brilliant blue skies, and no cross winds. As we headed south on 95 from Fallon to Hawthorne, through Tonopah and Scotty’s Junction, the weather warmed to a balmy 72 degrees and the winter doldrums just melted away.

 

There’s something unique about Death Valley in the winter, and this trip didn’t disappoint. The rides were great; Scotty’s Castle was amazing, the scenery breathtaking, and the camaraderie awesome. But I digress.

 

So, it was during those three days that I had an epiphany of sorts. Maybe it was the warm weather, or the elixir of touring on great roads in spectacular scenery. It doesn’t really matter. It was then that I began doing some serious, wishful thinking about taking a road trip over the summer. Probably a long road trip. An East Coast kind of road trip.

 

I’d been on a long ride to a MOA rally in Wisconsin two years ago and was able to juggle work projects to take almost four weeks off. It was my first long distance adventure, riding solo for the most part, with lots of maps from AAA and few reservations in strategic waypoints. The highlight of the trip came on the way back, when my wife met up with me in Billings, Montana to do a two-up vacation together. I was very fortunate then that she was able to take off a week so we could tour Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons together. On that trip I learned a lot about myself, my bike, my gear, 700-mile days (in 100+ degree heat), and all weather riding. But, man, what an adventure!

 

So, I started considering possible destinations for this new expedition. Summer 2009 was a target-rich environment for east coast motorcycle gatherings and rallies. The BMWMOA is doing their thing in Tennessee mid-July, followed by the RA rally in Kentucky a week later. Then there’s the BMWST “UnRally” in New Hampshire in mid August. Hmmmm. Any of those would put me in the right part of the country, I decided. And my initial vision would be to keep it relatively simple; it would be a straightforward road trip: head east, see a few friends along the way, attend a rally, and come home.

 

Upon returning from Death Valley, I began to kick this trip around in earnest and started to really focus on the prospects for pulling it off. In the final analysis, the challenge was crystal clear. All I needed to do to “make it happen” was to resolve three big issues: family considerations, work schedules, and the costs associated with such an undertaking.

 

“Piece of cake,” you say? To quote Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.”

 

The story continues.

 

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Francois_Dumas

Sounds exciting and I for one will be following your progress :-)

Maybe it's an idea to put this down in a blog instead of a forum thread?

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The Dilemma

 

When I first began serious consideration for this trip in February my prospects for extended work (paying jobs) were quite bleak. The construction industry in the Sierra Foothills had tanked (I’m a remodeling contractor), and the local job market had just about dried up. When Home Depot didn’t even give me a callback I started thinking that the recession had really hit home, and that maybe this whole notion of a long trip was going to be an unfulfilled fantasy.

 

I started to look around for creative ways to put some money away for the trip. I received some inventive ideas from the blogosphere – hold a bake sale, have a garage sale, sell one of my organs. Somebody suggested paying for my gas by cleaning restrooms at each of my fuel stops, but I decided the chances for finding “mom & pop” owned gas stations would be pretty slim. Nothing was looking too promising. Our local grocery store wasn’t hiring 59-year-old box boys (called “courtesy clerks” today). Construction projects were still few and far between. If you are self-employed you don’t get to draw unemployment insurance, so that wasn’t an option. I started thinking that maybe I should just follow the financial model of the federal government: go into debt for the trip, and somehow try to spend my way out of it. And if inflation takes off like everyone predicts, I’ll only have half as much debt to pay off!

 

It occurred to me that there’s a real irony involved in all of this. On one hand, if I started a new job then my travel time would definitely be limited (assuming I could even get vacation time). Conversely, if I wasn’t working I’d have plenty of travel time to “see the USA,” if only I could somehow pay for the trip.

 

The issue of family considerations was also playing heavily on my mind. I love my wife and the life we share. Even though we are pretty much “empty nesters,” we have some of our kids and grandkids close by. The summer tends to be filled with lots of family get-togethers, bar-b-ques, and other activities. Leaving on an extended trip would mean missing a lot of these activities in addition to being away from my soul mate.

 

While not in the same league as family, riding is also something for which I have a lot of passion. Although Janet doesn’t share my passion, I’m fortunate to have a wife that does enjoying riding with me. You’ll usually find us out riding any nice weekend (she’s a fair weather rider), even if it’s a quick trip up old Highway 40 for lunch at the Rainbow Lodge. We’ve done numerous overnights around the state, toured the countryside of France on a rented Honda, and explored the wonders of Yellowstone for seven days. But she is definitely not into long distance riding. If I was going to head east for another long ride I would be leaving my honey and riding partner behind. Could we handle the separation?

 

I really wanted to do this trip for a number of reasons. The issue of longevity was certainly one of them. Let’s face it, you never know how many days you have left on this earth. One thing is for certain – after you hit 60 you’ll definitely have a lot fewer of them. But as I get older I cherish my time at home with my wife more every day. Still, I also cherish being able to see and smell new roads and vistas.

 

Taking off for several weeks to enjoy the thrill of the open road would surely be a guilty pleasure. In essence, I’d be expecting my wife to assume all the responsibilities associated with maintaining a house on five acres, a vegetable garden, a dog, two cats, six kittens, two goats, and 11 chickens. That would be in addition to her full-time, high-stress job, and babysitting two grandkids one day a week.

 

My wife Janet is an amazingly resourceful and resilient woman, and a self-reliant, rugged individualist. (At one point in her life she and her ex lived in a 32-foot travel trailer off the grid – out house, no power or phone – with two toddlers for over two years until their house was built!) There’s no doubt in my mind she could handle things on the home-front while I was away. However, the idea of taking off “to play” while leaving her to do all the work (and bring home the bacon) started to gnaw at my macho-hardwired conscience.

 

Once again I was struck by the irony of it all: assuming I was able to go, would I feel good about going? Could I go and have a good time?

Stick around and see.

 

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It occurred to me that there’s a real irony involved in all of this. On one hand, if I started a new job then my travel time would definitely be limited (assuming I could even get vacation time). Conversely, if I wasn’t working I’d have plenty of travel time to “see the USA,” if only I could somehow pay for the trip.
Yo, Dave buddy...

I was beginning to wonder if you won the lotto with plans for extended costly travel. Your new insight tells all with "The Dilemma". As you know, I'm ahead of you a few years on the body clock and I too realize time is fleeting for such an adventure. Now 7 months into forced "retirement", funds don't allow me such a trip thus I've scratched plans of attending the UN this year. More important to pay my bills on time and keep food on the table until this lousy economy rebounds. Waiting on your next installment...

 

Jeff

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Part 3 – “Sometimes you get what you need.”- Rolling Stones

 

In March everything changed – for the good. Call it luck, fate, or Divine intervention. Whatever you want to call it, the wonderful news showed up unexpectedly in our mailbox. We received a nice, big tax refund from the IRS! From a financial perspective, it looked like I now had enough money for the trip. And more importantly, my wife was now considerably more supportive of the endeavor.

 

I was going to do a trip, but what that entailed I had no clue at that point. I started in earnest working on a possible route, reviewing rally schedules, collecting travel directories, and thinking about accommodations along the way. I read numerous forums posts and travel blogs to get ideas for what to take (and what to leave behind). I got a ton of maps and tour books from AAA, and ran sample routes on Google Maps till my eyes went blurry. I went online and ordered literature from various state tourism departments. And I quickly became overwhelmed by all the interesting places and great scenic roads that were out there waiting for me to discover.

 

I had the time to do it right, I thought. Take in lots of the country, attend a couple of rallies, and visit some old friends and family along the way. Unlike my trip to Wisconsin, I didn’t want to do long days "slabbing" along the Interstate to make good time. This trip would be about the journey. I wanted to take a route that would let me see a lot of the country that I hadn’t seen before, with lots of secondary roads and scenic byways. I wanted to give myself enough time to “stop and smell the roses” along the way, to really savor the sights.

 

I made the decision to do a lot of camping to help hold down costs. The tradeoff would be that I would need to allow myself extra time for setup and takedown. If I was going to take lots of pictures and keep a journal I would need time for that as well. I didn’t want to just ride, eat, sleep, and repeat. So, these additional factors would reduce my miles covered per day, thus increasing the length of my trip.

 

As I started mapping out dates, places to see, and possible routes to take, I still had not resolved my issue about being on the road for four or five weeks. I was being pulled in two directions: the road and the wife. And while my wife was not putting any pressure on me to keep the trip shorter rather than longer, I also knew that this would be a “once in a lifetime” opportunity - to do the kind of trip that I would probably not have the chance to do again.

 

The more I looked at maps and guide books, the more I became obsessed with wanting to see and do more and more and more. The three or four week road trip was morphing into a major odyssey. The schedule was now running closer to eight weeks! And the more places I wanted to visit, the longer the trip would take. Could we handle a two month separation?

 

Then it occurred to me: why not share some of the adventure? Why not have Janet meet me somewhere along the way and spend some time enjoying the local color? We did this before (our trip to Yellowstone) and it worked out well. Janet and I talked about the areas of the country I was going through, and which ones would be of interest to her. One of the rally stops I had planned was in New Hampshire in early August. This would work out very well for several reasons: timing was good for her to take vacation, the weather would be cooler in NH than, say, late July in Tennessee (for the MOA Rally), and we would have a few days to explore Vermont before attending the BMWST event. Another major factor was that we would be together for our anniversary!

 

So, another issue was resolved. Janet could fly out to Burlington, VT, and we’d have a week together, exploring the beautiful New England countryside. Our “two-up time” would definitely help break up the trip, coming at about the halfway point in my schedule.

 

Things were falling into place nicely. The two biggest personal issues had been resolved. Work was pretty much a non-issue at this point. Now I could focus on finalizing a route, identifying places to stay, compiling a packing list, wrapping up a few home projects, building a website, looking for sponsors, and a hundred other details. So how did I decide to make it a fundraising ride for the American Cancer Society? Well, stay tuned to find out all that - and more.

 

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Making the numbers work.

 

Selecting a route proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated. Initially I was assuming I would do 8-10 hour days, then I decided to allow some time for off-bike exploring and general tourism. I also wanted to be able to stop whenever and take pictures without being rushed. Unfortunately, the great spots to see are typically not very close to each other - this is a very large country with a seemingly infinite number of possible places to visit and things to do. But I had in mind some key points of interest, and of course, the rally sites in Tennessee and New Hampshire.

 

Because I was traveling on a tight budget, I wanted to tent camp every other night, if possible. (I figured my old bones couldn’t handle being on the ground every night.) Although I’ve done a considerable amount of tent camping over the years, I’ve done virtually none while touring on a motorcycle, so this would be another adventure. Camping spots are an inexpensive alternative to motels, my normal overnight stop. But you can spend as much at some of the big KOA facilities in a tent as you would in a Motel 6.

 

Finding overnight accommodations would take many hours of research. ADVrider and the MOA have camping referrals and members who volunteer their lawn for traveling riders. I was able to find two camping spots using this great resource. I also came across a great site for finding RV site information: RV Park Reviews. It was a quick way to determine if a site allowed tent camping, wi-fi, and showers. From there I could check out a campground in detail on their website.

 

I had identified a number of stopovers with friends and relatives around the country, providing me with a chance to see people I don’t see regularly while enjoying their generous hospitality. Between camping and friends, I still had about one third of my stops that would require a motel stay. After doing the math on the number of nights I would need a motel, it became clear that lodging was going to eat up a considerable portion of my budget. Even the little “mom & pop” motels would still cost me $40 to $75 a night, and most of those typically aren’t reviewed on Trip Advisor. (The last surprise I wanted at the end of a long, hot day’s ride was the prospect of bedbugs and no hot water at the Bate’s Motel from Hell). After easily rejecting the prospect of more tent camping, I decided to join the Motorcycle Travel Network.

 

MTN is a member co-op. By joining you agree to offer your extra bedroom or guest house as sort of a B&B for motorcycle travelers. In exchange, you have reciprocal privileges to stay with the 400 members scattered around the country. The annual dues are only $40, and you agree to a $15-night gratuity for the folks that are hosting you. I couldn’t beat it, and it worked out fairly well in covering most of the remaining nights on my route.

 

Making the reservations with the members by phone and email was great fun. I got to talk with most of the folks and share some of the details of the trip. Needless to say, they can’t wait to hear more when I finally get there. All of the hosting families are active riders, so staying with them will be as enjoyable for me as it is entertaining for them. I was fortunate to be able to book 14 nights with network members.

 

My travel route and time line was filling up nicely by the beginning of May. I was going to start out along the southern states, then head over to Tennessee for the MOA rally in Johnson City. From there, I would work my way up the Shenandoah Valley, into New England, and pick up my wife in Vermont. After a tour of Vermont, we’ll head over to New Hampshire for the UnRally. Afterwards, she’ll fly home and I’ll head west, up thru Ontario, back into the States thru Illinois, and across the Northern Plains to the Pacific Northwest. From there I turn south, cross Oregon, and finish up at my last major stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats for the Bub Motorcycle Speed Week, where I’ll be working as a volunteer. I estimated total miles at over 10,000 miles!

 

After penciling out my entire route, I started thinking again about how I could leverage this trip into something that was beneficial to somebody besides me. In reading some of the various travel blogs and ride reports, I discovered that many of them were using their adventure as an opportunity to raise money for their favorite cause or charity.

 

As a matter of happenstance, my wife, Janet, and I were participating in this year’s Relay for Life at the end of May. For those unfamiliar, Relay is one of the major national fundraising events put on by the American Cancer Society. Janet is a six-year breast cancer survivor, and we’d been involved with the local event that long. While doing our walk around the track at the fairgrounds we talked at length about my idea to use the ride as a fundraiser. She agreed that it would be a win-win-win: I’d be promoting Relay for Life within the motorcycle community, raising some money (hopefully), and enjoying a “transformational” adventure in the process.

 

So, I decided to make my trip an extension of Relay for Life. I contacted the local event coordinator and informed her that I wanted to use my ride to extend “Relay for Life” into a “Long Ride for Life.” She said "Cool," and the plan was set.

 

Communication and logistics would be keys to success for this trip. I decided I needed a website not only to serve as a blog for my trip report and photos, but as a vehicle to sign up pledges (based on miles I plan to cover or for direct donations). With no real experience in building a site, and no budget to hire a web guru I decided to just jump in and see how far I could get. I had no clue how much work was involved! Hours and hours and hours. (It’s almost there, with a few tweaks!)

 

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I also contacted several of my favorite "farkle" vendors to solicit a small donation to help with my expenses in exchange for small ads on my website. I got a lot of rejections, but two of them agreed to help me with much needed equipment or travel expenses: RKA motorcycle luggage RKA motorcycle luggage, and BMR motorcycle accessories (shameless plug). In this tough economy I feel extremely fortunate to have received their support.

 

With the arrival of June, I really started to feel the pressure of all the things that still needed to be done. The clock was ticking loudly. And then my mom called.

 

My dad, who suffers from advanced stages of Parkinson’s, had taken a turn for the worse. The nursing home he was in would no longer be able to provide care due to the need for increased medical supervision and his failing physical condition. I needed to fly out to Arizona and help her get him situated in a new care facility. I would also have to help my mom deal with the stress she was under.

 

As I took off from Sacramento airport, I couldn’t help but think that maybe this entire trip might not happen after all.

 

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Almost there

 

When I got to Arizona, my dad had been moved from an “assisted living” facility to the VA hospital in Prescott, AZ. He looked more frail and thin since the last time I saw him in January. He was having some adverse reactions to his meds and was loosing weight at an alarming rate. His dementia was also increasing. Bottom line: Parkinson’s is a horrible disease.

 

The VA staff had gotten him stabilized and had decided to move him out of the regular critical care hospital into the Community Living Center. Here he would receive a high degree of medical supervision along with the potential for physical therapy and socialization. Most of the other men (and women) I saw in the facility were elderly or physically impaired, so I was confident that the staff was looking out for his best interests.

 

I have to say that, contrary to all the media reports about substandard conditions in VA hospitals, both of the patient centers I saw in Prescott were clean, modern, state-of-the-art facilities, with professional, knowledgeable doctors, and amazingly motivated staff. Caring for these veterans (or any disabled patients) takes a special kind of dedication. They are truly the angels of mercy.

 

Taking a break from the stress of dealing with family medical issues, I started working on this journal. I didn’t have it in the budget to get a new, smaller laptop to take on my trip, so I was using an old IBM Think Pad with a wi-fi card. I was practicing uploading pictures to SmugMug, checking emails, and tweaking my website. It became clear that this was not the machine to take on my trip. My other option would be to take my primary home computer, my full size Dell laptop, a risky proposition at best.

 

After a week , I decided there was nothing more I could do for either of my folks. My dad was having good and bad periods, but was looking a little better and starting some physical therapy. At least he was getting back his appetite. I felt food about the treatment he was receiving, and that my mom was getting a break from being his fulltime caregiver, a yeoman’s task for anyone, especially an 80-year old woman.

 

I couldn’t help but think back to when my dad was healthy and in good physical condition ten years ago. He always loved to travel and to plan vacations and business trips. Shortly thereafter he had a mild heart attack, and that was the beginning of all the subsequent health issues. After he had recovered, I tried to convince him to take off of with me for a few weeks to explore the Lewis and Clark Trail (by car), but he refused to leave my mom alone. Now I think about all the missed chances he had to do the kind of traveling he enjoyed, and the regrets he must have now that he is confined to a wheelchair.

 

Sitting in the airport in Phoenix, waiting for my flight, I thought of a line from a Nelson DeMille novel, “Is this just an exquisite act of irresponsibility and self-indulgence?” All the “what if” scenarios with my folks were weighing heavily on me, as was the stress of getting everything caught up before I left on my trip. But I decided that, for me, this was a journey that was just too important to pass up. I didn’t want to regret not taking the “road less traveled” when I’m 80.

 

Back at home, I decided to loose myself in some heavy physical work building a small deck at the back of the house. If was good physical and mental therapy; lots of sweat and the comfort of my familiar tools were a calming elixir.

 

By the time Father’s Day rolled around, I was in P&P Zone (preparation and planning). I was making lists, building GPS routes, and researching things to see along my route (if I had time). I was starting to obsess about little things, like which hats to take, and where to stash my camping gear when I picked up my wife at the airport. I was worried about having enough time to get ready, and about being able to take a long ride and still keep up with a journal and photography.

 

And then my wife really knocked the funk out of me. For Father’s Day she got me an HP mini with 10” screen - the perfect traveling laptop for the trip! Way cool! I spent the next two days getting mapping software and important files transferred over. It would be a critical piece of equipment for my trip and would stow inside one of my hard cases, unlike the IBM or DELL. I’d have enough time to get used to the keyboard, and to practice using it to upload my photos. I was starting to feel very good again about this adventure.

 

I decided to build individual GPS routes for each day of the journey, that way if I wanted to alter a day’s route I could easily substitute a new one. I had not used MapSource too much up to this point, but the more I worked with it, the easier it was to start building the nearly 50 routes I would need. I also planned to carry some “analog” maps as backup.

 

The website/blog was coming along. (See the link below my signature to check it out). I decided that instead of posting a lot of photos in the daily blog, I would feature a few highlights, then use a link to my albums in SmugMug. I setup links for the fundraising aspect of the trip. Readers can support the American Cancer Society with a direct donation, or by making a pledge of so much a mile for the distance of my trip (which should exceed 11,000 miles). I also created links to my Spot Tracker website that will keep tabs on my location. I even created a place where you can buy me a cup of coffee! I have to admit that, for a first effort, the website turned out pretty good. It could still use some more improvement, a few more bells and whistles, but time was a luxury I couldn’t afford to spend on it.

 

My departure was still a week away, but it felt like everything was very rapidly coming down to the wire, with “miles to go before I sleep.”

 

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Down to the wire

 

The last few days have been crazy. The logistics involved in this trip have been a lot more work than I would have anticipated. But it’s all part of the big picture, and in a way, it’s been fun.

 

Just about all my reservations have been confirmed. Now I just need to send out emails to all the folks I plan to see and let them know that my schedule is still on track. There are still a few route maps I need to compile, but these are for later stops during the trip, so they can wait.

 

Of course old Murphy’s Law had to grab hold of my main computer right when I needed it most. It never fails: they always seem to crap out right when you are on a tight deadline. The Dell was overheating, shutting down, and just acting totally weird. So I spent most of an afternoon doing a backup of my core documents and email files and took it to my local computer repair shop. After two days, the diagnosis was pretty good: just a clogged fan, some bad Malware, and a program that was corrupted, eating up the entire RAM. It could have been worse, and this was not the time I wanted to have to deal with setting up another computer for home use before I leave.

 

A major tune-up on the bike was completed without any glitches. I switched to synthetic motor oil just to handle the additional temperature issues. All the critical nuts and bolts were re-torqued, and the brake lines were flushed. The tires only have about 2,500 miles, so I’m hoping they last until a planned dealer stop in Vermont. I plan on taking a few extra tools to compliment the standard tool kit. The torque wrench is too long for side cases, so I made a tool caddy using an 18” length of 3” ABS with a screw cap. This will fit in with the camping gear. I also packed some spare bulbs, plugs and alternator belt.

 

The camping gear will fit in a single dry duffel. This includes my tent, sleeping bag and foam pad, tarp, small camp chair, and small hammer. I don’t plan to do any cooking; just a little sterno setup for making coffee in the morning. I practiced setup and takedown with the new tent just so there would be no surprises. There’s enough room in the duffel for some simple food stuffs - jerky, trail mix, etc., so I’m set.

 

As far as clothing, I’ve learned a few things from previous trips. It always seems like my running shoes take up a ton of space (due to my size 13 feet), so I stuff them with socks and underwear. Just about all my clothes are “drip dry” nylon or polyester. Other than a few t-shirts and one pair of jeans, I’m only taking three sets riding clothes, which I can hand wash in the shower. A couple of non-wrinkle, button-type shirts will do for any social settings. I’ll end up buying a few souvenir t-shirts along the way, of course. Even though most of the trip will be quit warm, but I’ll still pack a jacket liner and a set of long johns “just in case.”

 

Now comes to the preliminary bike packing: loading all the gear on the bike and working out all the tie-downs and straps for easy on and off. My real challenge will be getting on and off the bike when fully loaded. I plan to raise the seat to give me some added leg room. With the addition of the big duffel bag on the passenger seat, I’ll have to do a jump-hop to mount the bike. I have been preparing for this: I started a diet in April and have dropped 30 pounds (compensation for all the gear). I’ll also been doing lots of leg and knee exercises to get in better shape. Parking next to curbs will make get off the bike a bit easier.

 

I’m pretty confident I’ve thought of all the important stuff. I’m sure I’ll think of things I missed after one day on the road, but that’s part of the adventure. I’m also very good at adapting.

 

Well, thanks for following along. I think this “Preamble” got a little long, but hopefully you found it somewhat informative and enjoyable. As far as continuing this journal, I’ve decided that I will use my weblog for the detailed accounts of trip, with a few special photos. All my photos will be accessible on my SmugMug site.

 

I will start a new post for the actual trip on the Forum and use it to post a short “thumbnail” of a particular trip segment, and a photo or two. That will save me quite a bit of time when I’m on the road. (I don’t want to become a slave to my blog!) In any event, I hope you can follow along for my entire trip. It should be interesting.

 

Happy trails!

 

 

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barryNmarin

Well Dave it sounds like you are about as organized as a fella can be so I just want to wish you a great trip full of fun adventures and interesting people. I'll be following your postings with interest. Here's wishing you blue skies and smooth roads. :wave:

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Dave, what an impressive effort and a great story. Looking forward to future installments. You're website is pretty slick, amateur or not. By the way, I didn't see any red wine in your packing photos; that part of your diet?

 

Glad to see you've still got Ottawa on your itinerary, though Katherine and I will look for the tall guy, with size 13's, in the beer garden at the MOA rally. And, of course, I'll also see you at the UnRally.

 

Have a great ride east.

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Speaking of red wine, I'm meeting Dave in Show Low and riding to Pie town with him and camping there for the night. I'll bring my silver chalice!

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