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Thread: First Time Cross-Country Trip Information Wanted

  1. #1
    Adventurist nakwakto00's Avatar
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    First Time Cross-Country Trip Information Wanted

    Hello! I'm planning my first cross-country motorcycle trip from Washington state 'to be determined' on the East Coast. I've got a commitment in Utah in early May so that would be included in the trip. I want to return to Washington state before mid-June. I know this doesn't give a lot of guidance and is kind of vague, but I'm planning and hoping for a few suggestions both going to and returning.

    I want to avoid Interstates and cities as much as possible. I'm definitely a backroads rider. I'm interested in places (but doesn't mean I have to visit all of them on this trip) like Big Bend National Park, Bayou country, Arkansas, western North Carolina, Texas Hill Country to name a few. I haven't fully decided to ride my '06 RT or my '13 F800GS. I would not be adverse to some good gravel roads but not mud or sand since I plan on traveling solo. I rate myself as an intermediate Adventure rider but have done some technical stuff successfully. So your suggestions on which ride is appreciated too.

    I like and prefer to camp. So if you know of any great camping spots... lemme know. I am a foodie too. So, suggestions on good BBQ, catfish, Cajun, Tex-Mex or great local fare would be greatly appreciated. Finally, I enjoy scenic and historic places. I plan to take a day or two off and want to explore pretty or interesting place(s). My daily distance is between 250-400 miles. From another thread I made note of Arkansas riding and some roads in Nebraska.

    Finally, any trip or gear recommendations that might be unique to this trip. Or areas to avoid. I generally put in about 12,000 miles each year riding in the Pacific Northwest (Wa, Or, Id, BC) and as far as South Dakota and Colorado. If someone is interested in riding a portion or so with me, please PM me.

    I know its a big open request, but I'm interested in what suggestions might be offered. One thing I do know there are a lot of great riders in the MOA that could really help me make this a great trip. Please don't tell me to buy some Butler Maps and go from there. I'm asking for your great advice and suggestions.
    -don
    #161988
    "If you don't treat yourself right, no one else will."
    '06 R1200RT, '13 F800GS, and '16 R1200GSA (wife's)

  2. #2
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    I think in the months you've mentioned your route might be dictated by which mountain passes are clear. But setting aside the weather for now and assuming your Utah stop is near the I-70 corridor how about:
    191 down to Arches, 129 back up to I-70 (maybe toss the La Sal Loop in there as well) and over to Colorado NM
    South of Grand Junction take 141 thru the Dolores River canyon and continue south to 145
    Take 145 over Lizard Head Pass and down to Dolores, left to Mancos and on to Durango on 160
    Take 550 (Million Dollar Highway) up to 50, check out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
    Continue east to 149 and take that south over Slumgullion Pass to South Fork
    That will put you on 160 which will take you across the more scenic south of Kansas into the Ozarks of southern Missouri
    Head south thru the Ozarks and Oachita Ranges, then angle SE to Natchez
    Take the Natchez Trace up to Tennessee, scoot east a few miles and pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway
    I'm not sure what you want to do on the coast, but depending on your desires you could head east and find yourself in anything from a tourist trap to a deserted stretch of perfect sand. Need more input from you on that portion of the trip.
    The BRP/Skyline Drive ends at Front Royal VA. Go north a bit more and take in Gettysburg, then the Amish country.
    Further north there's the Berkshires and some sensational roads in MA, VT and NH. The Maine coast has some gems, but you have to traverse inland Maine to get there. Pines, moose and mosquitos.
    Cross into Quebec and visit the Old City, maybe Montreal if you don't mind traffic. Cross into Ontario and thru Algonquin Provincial Parc.
    Up to Georgia Bay and across it on the Tobermery Ferry, then west to Lake Superior
    You could cross back into the states at Sault St Marie, but everybody should ride the north shore of Superior at least once.
    Between SOO and Wawa are a string of delightful and generally deserted coves to relax in. Closer to Thunder Bay visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Parc and check out the view from the top of the sheer cliffs
    Cross back into the states and down the western shore of Superior. Stop at Betty's Pies along the way. Pick up US 2 which will take you all the way back to WA, but check out Glacier NP in the process.

    All this dependent on weather and pass conditions. If you need help in Vermont PM me. I have workspace if you need an oil change, a tire changer, and generally some half worn tires if GS sizes would work.

    Pete
    '18 R1200GSA for solo rides
    '12 R1200GSA with Hannigan sidecar for rides with Glenlivet
    '15 Honda CRF250L for exploring places I'm afraid to take the big GSA!
    http://travelswithbarley.com/

  3. #3
    Adventurist nakwakto00's Avatar
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    THANK YOU Pete! That's exactly the help I'm looking for! Excellent!

    I've done the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Million Dollar Highway, and a lot of Utah but a re-visit would not be bad.

    I will take your suggestions to my planning map and look through them.

    If you're ever here in the Wet, er... Great Pacific NW lemme know. I don't have much of a shop, but have a bed (or a place for a tent), bathroom, and hospitality as well as some great riding suggestions.
    -don
    #161988
    "If you don't treat yourself right, no one else will."
    '06 R1200RT, '13 F800GS, and '16 R1200GSA (wife's)

  4. #4
    My suggestion is to not over plan this trip. Make certain that you wind up near the places where you have pre-existing appointments, but otherwise be flexible. Have a list of places that might be interesting, but be open to other places yet discovered. The weather might dictate some of your route selection.

    Carry the Anonymous Book - call folks (those willing to "chat" will be identified). These folks might be willing to suggest local points of interest, good places to eat, etc.

    If you are a tech-type of person, you could keep a running blog with uploaded pictures and narrative. Advertise this blog and you may find a sort of interactive dialogue with folks that you have met or may soon meet.

    A reliable bike, good rain gear, seasonally and climate appropriate clothing will help make the trip more enjoyable. Good Luck!

  5. #5
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    I'd skip rt 95 between New Jersey and Kittery Maine. An inland route much more betterer
    OM
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
    Mod Squad
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
    I'd skip rt 95 between New Jersey and Kittery Maine. An inland route much more betterer
    OM
    The last time I was on I-95 I intended to ride it for 20 miles or so until the exit I was headed to. We got on I-95, running 4 or 5 lanes wide, bumper to bumper with a cacophany of flashing brake lights going on and off and on and off. I lasted exactly 1.5 miles and took the first exit. I then followed a weave and bob on tree lined Virginia back roads to my destination. I don't suspect that I shall ever again place a wheel on I-95, anywhere, ever. Riding is supposed to be fun. I-95 isn't.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  7. #7
    Registered User jsouth's Avatar
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    Arkansas, especially in the Ozark National Forest north of I-40 from Little Rock west to Ozark. It's beautiful, lightly traveled on weekdays, and great road surfaces as a rule.

    Push Mountain Road in the Mountain View area is one of the best anywhere. The Pig Trail Scenic Byway (Route 23) is awesome, as is 103 and 215 going south and west from Oark, respectively. It's far enough south that weather should be good in April. I ride it frequently in May and November.

    I avoid the NW corner of Arkansas. It's gorgeous, but LOTS of people. Not my cup of tea.

  8. #8
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    Don't skip AL! There are some great roads, and, of course, the awesome Barbers Vintage Motorsports Museum (www.barbermuseum.org) on the eastern edge of Birmingham. You can hit it -- give yourself plenty of time to tour the museum, it's huge! -- on your way to/from Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama (about 80 miles, maybe further, east of Barbers).

    As others have said -- don't overplan! I usually have a destination/date in mind where I need to be, then each night I plan tomorrow's route to get me closer to my stopping point. Sometimes I don't allow myself enough time to see all the spots I want to, other times I screw up and get to my intermediate stop in midafternoon, which gives me plenty of time to see the town!

    Have a great trip!
    J Goertz
    BMW MOAL
    2015 BMW R1200RT
    2012 Triumph Bonneville SE

  9. #9
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    It would help to know when you plan to leave too. That seems rather open ended.

    While there's many members saying don't over-plan the trip, I think it might be helpful to give some thought to what you want to make sure you see, and where you might spend your nights. Just towns, not definite campsites. It would give you an idea of how many miles you have to do each day. Riding gravel roads brings up warning bells to me. Not because they wouldn't be great...but because you don't travel much distance and you're planning a cross-country trip with what seems to be a hard return date.

    I may be thinking this through too much, but I'm a logistics person...bear with me please. So if you decide you want to do a lot of gravel road riding...it may be that you don't go nearly as far. You could spend that amount of time in Washington, Oregon and Idaho on backroads and forest roads and have an incredible time. On the other hand...if you skip the gravel roads to see things on the east coast...then you probably want the RT. So the decision really helps to dictate which bike you take too.

    I suspect that with the snow we've had that you may end up taking a southern route...maybe even in both directions. So that's a consideration you might want to think about.

    I actually don't think you can "over-plan". I would totally enjoy thinking out where I want to go, what there is to see, and in the process dreaming about what the trip will be like before taking it. And if it turns out you drop the "plan" on the first day, that's okay too. It's fun to dream.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  10. #10
    Adventurist nakwakto00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daboo View Post
    It would help to know when you plan to leave too. That seems rather open ended.

    While there's many members saying don't over-plan the trip, I think it might be helpful to give some thought to what you want to make sure you see, and where you might spend your nights. Just towns, not definite campsites. It would give you an idea of how many miles you have to do each day. Riding gravel roads brings up warning bells to me. Not because they wouldn't be great...but because you don't travel much distance and you're planning a cross-country trip with what seems to be a hard return date.

    I may be thinking this through too much, but I'm a logistics person...bear with me please. So if you decide you want to do a lot of gravel road riding...it may be that you don't go nearly as far. You could spend that amount of time in Washington, Oregon and Idaho on backroads and forest roads and have an incredible time. On the other hand...if you skip the gravel roads to see things on the east coast...then you probably want the RT. So the decision really helps to dictate which bike you take too.

    I suspect that with the snow we've had that you may end up taking a southern route...maybe even in both directions. So that's a consideration you might want to think about.

    I actually don't think you can "over-plan". I would totally enjoy thinking out where I want to go, what there is to see, and in the process dreaming about what the trip will be like before taking it. And if it turns out you drop the "plan" on the first day, that's okay too. It's fun to dream.
    Chris,
    Thanks for your reply. I once replied to another post about planning and oof did I get slammed for my planning. Yes, I'm a planner. I have a pretty complex spreadsheet which outlines my trip plan. My motto is plan your dive, dive your plan. But this is riding so, it's plan your ride, ride your plan. It really works well for me.

    Gravel. That's not a requirement. It's kind of a "dreamy option." I recognize like you it may not be realistic.

    Leaving. I have to be in Logan, UT on May 6, and can leave there by May 8th. I need to return to Washington by mid June. I want to do 250-400 miles per day avoiding Interstates as much as possible. I really enjoy backroads.

    -don
    -don
    #161988
    "If you don't treat yourself right, no one else will."
    '06 R1200RT, '13 F800GS, and '16 R1200GSA (wife's)

  11. #11
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    I'm headed out at the first week in June to a ride planned by the Everett Motorcyclist Meetup group. Five national parks in the Utah area in 14 days. To do it, we'll spend a couple days on the super slab, but as soon as we can, we'll be off on back roads. We're planning on taking enough time to see the national parks, not just ride through them and say we've been there.

    Till the ride leader posted his ride, I was planning on going down the coat to see my youngest daughter at Stanford, then cut inland to see some of these desert canyon national parks. I was looking forward to using Google Street View and "riding" parts of the route, planning on what I'd see and where, etc. That isn't as much fun as riding it...but it's a good second choice.

    In the back of my mind, is that I've never been to the Grand Canyon. I grew up as a military brat and I guess my parents passed close by as we went from Air Force base to another. But for whatever reason, we just never made it there. I would have that in the back of my mind, if I didn't plan as much as I could. Would I pass by something that everyone says I should see...and not have the opportunity to get back there again?

    I'm riding out to Spearfish for the annual rally for the NT-Owners group. I posted my planned route on the forum and asked for suggestions. And got some really good ones of places I'd have passed by and missed...by only 50-75 miles.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  12. #12
    If you are camping you might find this useful.

    Adventure Rider Tent Space Map
    ride what you've got; enjoy the ride!

    Turbo Fluffy Motoclub - IBA 50182 - BMW MOA 69187

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