49/10: 180 days. 50,000 miles. 'Murica.

Discussion in 'Americas' started by BrianF, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    Hola los inmate-os,

    Posted this trip on a few local/smaller forums, but didn't get the response I was looking for (i.e. any).

    Bascially, I'm going to buy a new bike, leave on the Vernal Equinox in 2014 and ride it to all 49 continental states, 10 Canadian provinces, and all National Parks in the US and Canada that are accessible by road. Return by the Autumnal Equinox, hopefully in one piece.

    Ambitious, but not without precedent: I've done a 48 state ride in the past. This will be a wandering/meandering trip, not an Interstate blast of any kind. That's why I need your help -- for those local roads. You know the ones: not on the Butler maps, look like goat paths on Google, no sign of Johnny Law. I want to return home with the feeling that I've ridden every last piece of worthy road in North America.

    See below for a very rough guideline of my route. I'll consider anything scenic or epic, even if it's out of the way or an out-and-back. No gnarly dirt roads please (probably will be on a Multi, GS etc), but I'm open to anything else.

    Help a brotha out!

    EDIT - THE RED IS THE FIRST LEG OF THE TRIP, FROM THE SF BAY TO FLORIDA, THEN BLUE, YELLOW, GREEN, PINK, AND BROWN BACK TO THE BAY AREA.

    [​IMG]
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  2. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    My first thought is that taking I-40 and US-67 through Arkansas will mean missing some of the best riding in the USA.

    :deal
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  3. ssbogger

    ssbogger Adventurer

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    Looking at your ga,sc,nc route it looks like you're staying toward the coast. I live in Charleston sc and all of our roads are boring and the scenery isn't all that great save a few spots. If you want to get some coast riding in then maybe ride the coast up to Charleston (assuming you are coming from fl) and then head toward the mountains of sc and then head north into nc and va.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
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  4. ssbogger

    ssbogger Adventurer

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    nevermind...i just saw your yellow route line...

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  5. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    Don't worry, that's not the route! I'm going into Hot Springs N.P., then up 7 through the Ozarks. Did that a few years ago in an MR2 Spyder I bought in Florida...will never forget it. EPIC roads.

    Does western SC have good roads? I will be heading as far in as Conagree Swamp N.P. for sure, but I only stuck close to the coast because that would be my second leg of the trip...probably mid-April. Not sure about the weather at that time of year.
    #5
  6. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    Why no plans to get up into Labrador? They finished the Trans-Lab highway a couple of years ago.
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  7. oclv454

    oclv454 Been here awhile

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    Brian, don't pay any attention to this. I think you have a great plan.
    I see you are from Napa so you probably know the best "blacktop" roads in the country like 36, 3, 299, 96, 1, etc in Northern California. Near Lake Tahoe, try to do loop over Sanora Pass, Ebbetts Pass, and Monitor Pass. All blacktp but incredible scenery.

    In Alaska, get into the Wrangell St Ellias national park by riding to Nebesna. Near the end of the 50 mile dirt road is a neat Bed and Breakfast type lodge called the Devils Mountain Lodge. They do dinner also and are nice people. Yoy can ride a few miles past the lodge on two track to an old gold mine. Its remote and beautiful. Also try to work in Top of the World Highway between Dawson City and Chicken and take the spur up to Eagle. And the road to Circle has some beautiful views.

    You may want to do the trip in two summers. Continental US and Eastern Canada, Newfounland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Then Alaska, Northwest Territories, Yukon, BC, Alberta the following year.

    Safe and fun travels!
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  8. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    I literally just found out about the TLH last night. Looks gnarly, but probably a good warmup for the Dalton. I'm leaning toward a Multistrada for this trip, which could be interesting, though they make TKC 80's for it now. I think I'll loop the TLH from Newfoundland, then continue on through the Gaspe. Gonna have to rework that whole portion of the trip now.


    My wife actually suggested this, but I'm quitting work to take off this huge chunk, so it'd be tough to split up. Three months wouldn't be any more acceptable to my company than six months.

    Didn't know you could ride to Nebesna, another good tip. Will add it to the route. Top of the World is in already. Didn't know about that spur to Eagle, is it really scenic or a cool town or what?
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  9. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    A Multi might be a bit too road-oriented for what you're planning on doing, but to be fair I'm doing a very similar trip this summer on a V-Strom 650, which isn't exactly a single-track machine either. Unless you're made of money, TKC-80s are overkill for the Trans-lab, Dalton and Dempster. You'll burn through them before you blink and they're much knobbier than the roads need (To be fair, I can only speak from personal experience about the Dalton).

    This is the trip I'm doing this summer, starting/ending in Chicago. The route is a VERY rough estimate, I just plugged the major destinations into Google Maps to give people an idea. The actual route will be FAR longer, especially because after I see some friends in LA I'm going to fart around in the Rockies until winter forces me out, or until I have to go back to work.
    [​IMG]
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  10. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    The more I look at this, I see a couple of potential problems.

    First and foremost, your goal. You're not going to be able to do all the amazing destinations and roads in one riding season. There's too many of them, it's not possible. So just accept that fact, do a lot, but have fun.

    50k in one season is a hell of a lot, and even at a relatively tame pace of ~280 miles a day, that doesn't allow for as much fucking-around time as you might want. I did a 27,000 mile trip over 120 days in 2009, and that felt about right for me. Took a few days off here and there when I was feeling too burned out, saw the sites, took it easy and met the locals. Par your goals down to maybe 35,000 or 40,000 miles, and you will likely have a MUCH more enjoyable trip. Spend a few days in each national park, don't just ride in and get your passport stamped, and ride out. My upcoming 2013 trip (above post) will be around 30,000 miles in 150 days.

    I also question your timing for Canada/Alaska. If you say you're leaving California on in mid-March 2014, that's going to put you into Labrador/Newfoundland sometime in late April. That time of year is going to still be very wet/muddy/snowy, likely passable but super-sketchy. But stranger to me is your plan to then cross the flatlands three more times before heading up to Alaska. Doing some guesswork on my part, that would put you in Alaska sometime in early September, which is getting very close to flirting with bad stuff. Not so much for Alaska itself, although late September can get really sketchy, but coming back down could put you in a tight place. The Cassiar highway through British Columbia is pretty rugged and will likely start getting snow by the end of September. If anything, take the Cassiar on your way up, and the Alcan on the way down.

    If I were you, I'd plan out the trip a little more like I have; start in the south, fart around there for a while, slowly work your way north through Appalachia. Then head over through Canada, up to Alaska, and back down through BC. Spend the remaining time touring the Rockies, and avoiding the hell that is Kansas/Nebraska/Oaklahoma/Dakotas.

    Other random thoughts:


    • I don't think that's a valid route into the NWT. If you need to get your wheels in there, either do the run up to Inuvick (Similar to the Dalton, but with an actual town at the end) or head up through Alberta and loop down to BC on the MacKenzie highway. 800 miles of dirt road through endless rolling forest and bugs, sounds like what you want.
    • Skip Florida completely, unless you've got family or friends there that you want to see. The state is pancake-flat, full of bugs and old people, with not much to offer an ADV rider. ESPECIALLY skip Key West. The traffic is terrible and it's a tourist hellhole.
    • Go to the Skip Barber Motorsport Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
    • Seriously, don't spend that much time in the Flyover states. Burn miles across them as fast as you can, to get back into the Rockies. Spend all your free time there.
    • Why are you insisting on doing that big loop through Sas-flat-chewan? That place is terrible and offers nothing to the ADV rider. Just put your wheels in it, and get on to someplace that doesn't suck.
    • Similarly, I don't know why you're hugging the eastern seaboard, when just a couple hundred miles inland offers VASTLY fewer people and a billion times more interesting riding. You could spend an entire season just in the north Georgia/Alabama/Tennessee/North Carolina area discovering amazing back roads, and never cross the same tarmac twice.
    • There are some surprisingly good roads in Southwest Wisconsin, I know this only because I'm local to that area.
    More than anything? STOP PLANNING SO MUCH! :D Just get on the road and go with it, don't get to attached to a schedual or plan. Be flexible and play it by ear. :)
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  11. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    That's quite a ride as well, looks fun. Jealous that you get to go this year. I put 30,000 miles on a 650 Strom, so I know what you mean...it's a great bike, but on that same 80/20 that most of the so-called adventure tourers seem to be these days. I'm trying to keep the "what bike should I use" debate seperate from the route planning section, because it's such an opinionated matter.

    Point taken on the 80's, I've only had one set and I adored them. But you're right, they don't last. If the TLH & Dalton are dry it's no biggie, but if it's raining I think I'd want some knobs. I'm certainly not a noob to dirt riding, so I'm not sweating taking a big bike off road. I did plenty of goat-pathing on my '84 GL1200. Nothing could be worse than that!
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  12. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    Lots to cover from your post, but that's the most important thing you wrote, I think. I'm using the mapped route as a suggestion only...a skeleton if you will. Not set in stone, and not necessarily on real roads come to think of it. Hence my ghost road into NWT.

    I do agree with a lot of your points, especially regarding the weather. Basically I'm heading south first because of the Sierras and Rockies in March being, well, snowy. Then sticking to the Eastern Seaboard because I don't know how early/late Spring starts in Appalachia. Head north as I go, to stay away from the heat of the summer (like you can avoid it!). I saved Alaska for the end because it's the pinnacle - the rest of the trip undoubtedly will seem anti-climactic after being up there, and the homing instinct will take over. I will definitely reconsider my timing on Labrador/Newfoundland...I don't really know how the weather is there, to be honest.

    Most of my rediculous offshoots and loops are to go to national parks (Sasketchewan for example). The ride-ins and outs will be dispatched with rather quickly, as you mentioned they should be. My brother lives in Miami (and has a huge house, a Ferrari and 6 bikes, including a Bimota (!)) so that's a must. I hate Florida too, but the weather will be nice. Plus the Everglades, Dry Tortugas, and Biscayne are down there. Barber is definitely in, I've had 4 or 5 people tell me that already.

    Your comments do tempt me to scrap the "all National Parks" idea. I've been to about half of them already, so I guess I don't know what the point of doing em all over again is. Something to think about for sure.

    As far as mileage and timing, I'm sort of strange. When I'm actually riding, I ride like a bat out of hell. Up at sunrise, riding "briskly" all day, usually good for about 450-500 miles per day, even on back roads. Last summer's 2 week trip on my VFR (Colorado) netted me 7200 miles. Not bad, considering I took two days off, and got hit by a car in a parking lot. I'm not too worried about the mileage expectation...I based it on the averages of quite a few of my trips in the past. I figure between 40k and 50k is realistic (for me).

    Lastly, thanks a BUNCH for all your advice. This kind of knowledge and critique is exactly what I was looking for.
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  13. Blakebird

    Blakebird Solo Backwardo

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    TKC's aren't the best tire choice IMO....very short lived, on a trip of this magnitude you'll be changing tires every 3,000 miles.

    Have a look at the Heidenau K60 Scout. Great road performance, good on gravel roads or anything you'll take an MTS down....and they last. I have 11,500 miles on a front with more to go, and replaced the rear at 10,000 miles - half of that was two-up trip loaded down on a heavy bike.
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  14. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Wow, what a plan... especially the 50 thousand miles in 180 days part. I think that adds up to about 280 miles per day ON AVERAGE, am I right? And if you stay just 1 day away from the saddle, that´ll get you another 280 miles more to be ridden the next day, or in the days to come...

    I made a trip with my GF from Europe to Australia on a bike 5 years ago, we went mostly through Asia, so road infrastucture is definitely not comparable to North America. But main roads weren´t so bad in general (though there were some exceptions). We also spent almost exactly 6 months on the trip, I think 184 days and about 22 thousand miles were the numbers. We needed to make a few shippings of the bike along the way, so when combining those, there were a few weeks, when the bike was on transport. And of course, we also had to deal with several border crossings, applying for visas, money exchange, etc., which are also something, that you probably will not have to do so much on that route plan. But all those combined would have taken us no more than a maximum 3-4 days altogether.

    So let´s say, that we had a total 160 days, when we could use the bike for going forward. That would come to about 138 miles per day on average. Your plan has just about double mileage compared to us. AND if it is like you say, that you want to explore mostly the smaller roads, and see plenty of sights along the way, then I think that becomes critical.

    280 miles on one day, riding a US Interstate, no detours for sights, etc., just quick fuel and eat stops, is very easy of course. But 280 miles per day, mostly on smaller roads, on average, and on a trip that goes on for 6 months?? Not so easy IMO. I´ve done some riding in North America in the past, enough to know, that not all roads are fast over there, either. In fact the best roads were often quite slow. Add some sightseeing, and do not assume, that you´re gonna want to ride each and every day of your trip (or do you – at least I wouldn´t?) and it could become quite exhausting after a while.

    I´m not trying to tell you what you should do. Just raised a point, that you´re looking at a high mileage per day, especially if at the same time you want to skip the big highways a lot (and also to keep that up for a considerable period of time). But I know there huge differences, how fast and how long people like to travel in a given time. So I guess the real question should be: will YOU enjoy it?

    Just out of interest: did you in any stage consider adding Central and/or South America into your plan as well? I mean, 50 thousand miles / 6 months would get you a lot further south, too, if you wish.
    #14
  15. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    Out of curiosity, what sort of bike was that on? I'm trying to decide on tires for my 2013 trip (route pictured above) on a V-strom 650.
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  16. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    Getting into the NWT is very workable, and the Dempster Highway up to Inuvick promises to be an interesting ride. I'd advise that over the MacKenzie Highway, the Dempster is much more scenic and interesting. The MacK is fairly unremarkable, save for the distance and desolation.

    Your plan of heading south for the first leg is smart, it will be more enjoyable. Appalachia doesn't get the epic hard winters of the high Rockies, and it tends to thaw out much earlier. I think for most of April you should be okay, maybe way up on the Blue Ridge you might have some snow hiding in shady places, but the roads will be clear. Avoid the coast at all costs unless you have something very specific you want to see. It's crammed with people and too crowded, stealth camping there is a bitch.

    To be clear, I think Labrador will probably be passable, just kind of sloppy. Your timing for Alaska though, I think that's pushing not-doable. If you're planning on getting up to Deadhorse, I would think late August would be as late in the season as you'd want to try it; September might not be a good idea. The average high temp of Deadhorse in September is just 38f, that's the HIGH. Average daily temps during that month rarely get above freezing. On one hand, this could make things easier, frozen mud is easier to ride over than melted mud, but I would be very worried about heavy snows in the Atigun pass starting in early September.

    On top of the worries of the North Slope, you need to give yourself at least three weeks to get back down to the lower 48 from Anchorage, especially if you want to take the (much prettier and more enjoyable) Cassiar highway, instead of the Alcan.

    As for your mileage, I don't know where your previous rides have been, or on what. I know you mentioned having done 48-state blasts before, and a two-week trip that burned many miles. 500 mile days are pretty easy on straight tarmac, but if you're doing a lot of exploring on winding, twisty mountain roads, those sort of days aren't very practical when you can't do more than ~35mph. Especially if you're on the popular adventure roads; Last time I was on the Dalton on my way back from Deadhorse, it took me 36 hours just to do 120 miles. I imagine that the Dempster and Trans-lab could be similar.

    I can't speak for you, or anyone else besides myself. But I find that the longer the trip, the harder and harder it gets to push that many miles every day. Eventually it starts to feel like work, like you're OBLIGATED to keep burning miles that fast. A few times I even caught myself thinking "Well I'd kind of like to see that silly little tourist attraction, but I need to make it to X place by tonight if I want to stay on schedule". And when you start thinking like that, THAT'S the sign that you're doing a motorcycle trip the wrong way. Take extensive time off. Stop in a little town for a full week. Pull over at the silly roadside attractions, get your picture taken with the Worlds Largest Ball of String, the World's Largest Fly Fishing Rod, etc.

    On my 27,000 mile trip in 2009, I took a week off in Whitehorse, many days off here and there staying with friends, and spent a solid week and a half camping in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno (Full disclosure; I might have been surrounded by 50,000 screaming naked drugged-up hippies for that whole time).

    I also agree that you might want to reconsider hitting national parks just for the sake of being there. No one is a bigger proponent of our National Park system than I am, but to really appreciate them I don't think you can just drive in for a couple hours and drive out. You should at LEAST spend a couple nights there, do some day hikes, take some pictures. Big Bend in Texas is a backpacker's paraside, and if you love solitude the Guadalupe Mountains are wonderful as well. Glacier National Park in Montana is . . . quite simply the most wonderful place on this entire planet, especially if you can spend a few days getting into the back country.

    tl;dr - Don't get attached to a schedule, don't get obsessed with how many miles you can do or what milestone you need to reach. Try not to have any finite plans more than 3-4 days in advance, and play the rest by ear.
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  17. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    Another completely random spur that you might be interested, and would accomplish your goal of getting into the Northwest Territories (barely) is the Canol Road. It starts off the Alcan about 80 miles east of Whitehorse, and runs through some extremely desolate area up to the NWT. Bring lots of fuel though, I think it's like 500 miles there and back, with no services. I haven't looked into it extensively, but if you dig that sort of road you should investigate it.
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  18. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    Thanks for all the advice and wisdom TWT, I think you "get" this whole journey. Canol looks interesting for sure...though carrying a fuel drum doesn't sound great.

    You've given me a ton to think about, and I'm contemplating going back to the drawing board (or throwing it in the trash altogether). I want great roads more than I want to check off "destination boxes," though I do fear that there are places on my route I may not have the chance to go again. I've already decided to remove all NP's I've already visited from the list, so as to focus on the new stuff. For instance, I grew up 40 miles from Mt. Rainier...why go there again?

    As for mileage, my travels have been mostly on an '84 GL1200, an '07 Strom 650, and my current VFR1200. Even with my wife on the DL650, we averaged 277 miles per day on 15,000 mile trip in '08. I'm literally a sun-up-to-sundown rider, with a 5 second stop to wolf a corn dog somewhere in the middle. To me, the most important part of a long ride is the ride...if I look up and see something pretty, then that's a bonus. Part of what draws me to the Multi is its road prowess. I'm a fast rider on the road, and given the right bike, pretty fast on dirt (if I do say so myself). :evil

    I am going to take a long look at my finances and see if extending this little adventure is possible. An extra couple months would be nice, though as you get to winter it becomes less useful. I don't want to have a "schedule," just a "plan." I think there's a big difference between the two.

    Yes, that was the original plan, to do the Dalton to Tierra ride I've always dreamed of. Whether unfounded or not, my wife was not particulary encouraging in that regard due to political unrest and whatnot. Same for a Norway to Cape Town ride, which was my other idea. Doing N.A. allows her to fly-in/fly-out at her leisure, and lessens the chance of me being in potentially dangerous situations alone. I am still considering it though, to be honest. My wife is a writer, so if she doesn't work she doesn't get paid. It's very hard for her to take off a big chunk of time and join me through the journey.

    Mileage-wise, I generally take one day per week off. So if I wanted to average 275 miles per day, that means I only have to ride an extra 45 miles beyond that on each of the other six days. I am not hell-bent on making it to 50k by any means, that was just what I came up with by factoring out my averages from the past. This will be my longest trip so far by a large margin, so no way to know if that average can be kept up long-term. Regardless, I'm glad these points are being raised, because you guys have me thinking...which is quite rare!
    #18
  19. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    I don't think you need to go back to the drawing board, just change the order of a couple things you've got planned. And okay, maybe not so much time crossing the flatlands :). Identify the stuff that YOU yourself really want to see, rather than what you think will make the most impressive list to talk about later. There's tons of great roads all over this continent, and as your wife mentioned you don't have to worry about the political situations and language barriers like you would heading south.

    You seem to know your capabilities best, so more power to you if you cover that much distance. I think the biggest decision you're going to have to make is how off-road oriented do you want this trip to be. This forum is understandably biased to dirt excursions, with many here placing more interest and emphasis on long and desolate stretches through wilderness, rather than twisty sportbike type roads. Dirt is amazing, and gets you into places that tarmac never will, but it will also require some different choices in machinery. As much as the 'Strada is brilliant (and it is, a friend just bought an '05), it's definitely a road-oriented touring bike. I'd say my V-Strom is a bit more capable off the pavement than the 'Strada, although maybe the new ones have altered that. But I think Ducati still calls it a Sport Tourer, and even if you can get knobbies for it, it's awful heavy with lots of exposed plastics to break when it goes down. And they're too nice of bikes to spray with Rhino-Liner like I've done to my 'Strom :)

    *edit* I derped a werd
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  20. BrianF

    BrianF Immoral & Immature

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    Making me wish I never woulda sold my Strom....variety is the spice of life? I've already reworked the route pretty heavily so Alaska will be in the early Summer, and I've removed one of the plains-crossing section. Your advice is being assimilated.

    Multi/WaterBoxer/S10/TigerExXC...it's a toss-up for now. No matter my intentions, I realize this will likely be a 90/10 street/dirt trip. I swear, if I was a single guy, I'd do this on the WR. THAT would be epic. Perhaps I should drop in on SportTouring.net...
    #20