Off to the land of fruits and nuts: 40+ days on the road

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Grad, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    This will undoubtedly go down as the busiest summer of my life...not that I am complaining. After spending 3 weeks in Australia,
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    I arrived back in Georgia on Monday evening, giving me about 4 days to prepare everything for the longest ride I have ever taken. Yep, this Saturday, my wife and I

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    will hop on the bike and take off for the West coast, with many many stops along the way. Our 35+ day journey will certainly bring us many new experiences as well as expose us to areas of the country that neither of us have previously seen.

    Considering that the longest trip I have ever taken involves just over 1,000 miles of riding, this 7500 mile adventure should be quite the undertaking. While my wife is very comfortable on the back of the GS, she has never done a lot of mileage either. I figure if worst comes to worst and she becomes miserable, a credit card and an airport is all that's needed to take care of the situation...which provides a sense of relief when worries about comfort start to arise.

    The planning for this trip has been a lot of fun, stretching into last summer as Val and I decided where we wanted to go and what we needed to be comfortable. Accruing the gear took many months and many visits from the UPS man.

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    I will update this thread as we continue to pack and sort through our final gear that will go on the trip. I have invested in a lot of quality stuff because I want to keep things light, while at the same time give us some creature comforts. Here is the steed that will by carrying us to Cali and back...my 1200GS with just shy of 40,000 miles on it. Pretty kitted out and *hopefully* ready to do anything we ask of it.

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    The plan is to camp around 30% of the time and then hotel it the rest. Of course this can change based on hotel prices, weather, and campsite availability. While we will be traveling during tourist season, I hope that we will be able to find lodging and campsites without too much trouble. The only reservation we have so far is at a hostel in Union Square, San Francisco...we need to be there by June 19th.

    I hope to update this thread very frequently as our trip progresses. This will not only be a way for me to finally have a nice, ongoing ride report (many of which I have read and enjoyed over the years) but at the same time document our experiences so that we can reflect back once the trip is done. Val's principal job will be trip photographer, so any of the from the saddle shots that you see on here are credited to her. I will try to capture some more shots as we stop and visit the various locations. Because people always wonder what I shoot with, I can tell you that Val will be using a Canon Powershot A590IS and I will be using my trusty Canon Powershot G7. I have a Nikon D60 that I love, but the bulk does not justify the bump in picture quality, at least on a trip like this one where space is at a premium.

    So there you have it, the beginning of a ride that I hope will be incredible, adventurous, safe, and full of experiences that will be remembered forever. I am very lucky to have a wife that is so supportive and wants to hop on the back of a motorcycle for over a month. All of our friends and family think we're crazy, and I hope we don't prove them right!
    #1
  2. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Yeah Grad!!! Looking forward to hearing about your journey. your wife rules!!!
    #2
  3. Meltdown

    Meltdown Abort, Retry, Fail?

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    This looks like fun. :thumb
    #3
  4. Chanderjeet

    Chanderjeet IndiYeah !!

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    Have fun !!
    Thats an excellent capture !:clap
    #4
  5. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    In. :lurk

    I lived in the Atlanta area for 21 years.
    #5
  6. Steffo

    Steffo Been here awhile

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    Count me in for this one. :lurk
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    You set a budget for your travels?!! That's no fun! :lol3

    Sounds like a great ride is planned.. and thanks for taking us along :thumb

    :lurk
    #7
  8. Mechanoligist

    Mechanoligist Just along for the ride

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    I'm in :thumb
    Thanks for taking us along!
    It is great to see two young people enjoying life. Have fun and be safe.
    #8
  9. Ramage

    Ramage needs improvement

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    Once again, I am green with envy! These RR's are so cool to follow, but sure make me jealous. I am happy for you guys that you can make time for such an adventure. Enjoy each other and have fun, I'll be watching! :D
    #9
  10. Zinn

    Zinn War Eagle

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    Grad,
    Met you a couple years ago at the EOSB, good luck on the ride!
    #10
  11. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    Well, we are pretty much packed and ready to head out in the morning. We were able to fit all of this on the bike with room to spare...good gear helps a lot!

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    Our destination tomorrow is Memphis. Will probably be a pretty boring ride since it is mostly interstate, however we want to get West as quickly as possible so we can really enjoy the good stuff.

    You can keep an eye on our progress here on my SPOT tracking page
    #11
  12. Fireman1000

    Fireman1000 Long timer

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    I rode with Chris and Val this morning on their way out. It worked well because I got to share in the excitement this trip, and Chris got some opening shots to the journey. So without further delay, here are the intrepid travelers packed up and ready for adventure.

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    And they're off!

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    Have fun guys, and be safe.
    #12
  13. PsychoSayWhat

    PsychoSayWhat Been here awhile

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    not in denial
    :lurk
    #13
  14. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    Day 1 - 475 miles to Memphis

    We started out our trip with a pretty long and boring day, a 475 mile slab to Memphis from middle Georgia. Since we have seen this route a thousand times, we had no desire to take backroads and instead just wanted to knock it out quickly and efficiently...so interstate was the solution. We headed out around 8 AM and were greeted by very overcast skies, but fortunately no rain.

    The bike was loaded and ready to go:
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    and we were off (thanks for the photo Chad!)
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    it was country backroads for the first hour or so
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    but soon we were on interstate and rolling into Atlanta.
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    A short while later we passed into Alabama, marking the first of many state line crossings on our journey.
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    Talladega Motor Speedway was pretty desolate, but the size and scale of the facilities is remarkable. Never been to a race, but I will make it one of these days.
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    Outside Birmingham, we decided to stop for an early lunch. Our goal during this trip is to eat at only Mom and Pop places, or at chains that we have never visited before. This appeared to be a pretty local place, so we decided to give it a go.
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    The BBQ wasn't bad at all, but certainly not the "Best in the South" like the sign proclaimed. After going almost a month without sweet tea, I definitely enjoyed a glass here.
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    With us and the bike full of fuel, we motored on
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    Great slogan! :D
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    We passed through downtown Birmingham a short while later
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    Soon we were in Mississippi, and we could see that our first big day on the road was nearing the end. Stopping for gas, Val remarked that she had something on her boot. It looked oily...and then I saw the ground! Yeah, that isn't good. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the valve cover gasket was leaking a little, and considering I just did a valve check on the bike, I most certainly forgot to clean up the gasket before reinstalling. The oil level on the bike was fine, so I decided not to worry about it and finish the 80 miles to Memphis. It was in the back of my mind though
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    Soon we were in Memphis, rolling past one of the best BBQ places in the known universe. I was going to be having some of this for dinner tonight!
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    Got to my parents' house and unloaded the stuff we needed for the night. I pulled into the garage to do a little surgery to the ole' GS. I was hoping to make it more than one day without having to pull out my tool kit, but I think I got the gasket cleaned up and reinstalled correctly. Hopefully the oil will remain in the engine tomorrow on our way into Arkansas.
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    After buttoning the GS back up, I took a shower and grabbed a Yuengling (or 2) out of the fridge. Val and I relaxed and chatted with my parents and a few other relatives over a nice dinner. It was a great end to our first day...and we are quite excited about tomorrow!

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    Day 2 destination: Hot Springs, Arkansas. Not sure if there will be WiFi at the campground, but I will get the next update up whenever I am online again.
    #14
  15. jrodgolfer

    jrodgolfer Huge Member

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    Hope you guys have a safe trip - I've been following your SPOT to make sure you're getting close to your destinations each day. If something happens out there call me and I'll try to help as much as possible. Be safe bro.
    #15
  16. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Santa Barbara, CA
    Hi Grad: I've been following your various posts on your trip. If you need a place to stay in Santa Barbara, PM me. GSWayne and I have done several long distance trips 2-up on the GS and are happy to host fellow travelers.

    Have a great time!
    #16
  17. SCflyer

    SCflyer Long timer

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    Good luck on your trip! Looks to be the beginning of a great adv. Nice to have the time and great to have a lady as you do to do this with!:clap
    #17
  18. Slaniac

    Slaniac Martini elbow

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    Auburn, CA.
    Good luck you two, have fun. BTW where is this land of fruits and nuts? I'd be a bit careful what I call 'some' State 'out west' having started this trip in Georgia.
    #18
  19. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

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    Totally tongue in cheek...I love California and everything it stands for. And we definitely have our share of fruits and nuts in Georgia. :D
    #19
  20. Grad

    Grad Wannabe

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Athens, GA and Blairsville, GA
    Day 2 - Hot Springs, AR (225 miles)

    We got up a little late this morning and had a nice breakfast with my parents.
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    By the time we got moving, it was after 9:00...but no big deal because our mileage today would be much lower than the previous. After making one more stop to see Val's mom, we were heading through Memphis towards the Mississippi River and beyond. Today would mark our first true day into uncharted territory, we were escaping our old stomping grounds and the familiar landscape that comprised it.

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    Crossing into Arkansas, I was struck by the wind, the flatness, and the God awful roads. The pavement was beat to hell and while the GS has ample suspension travel even when fully loaded, the roads were still taxing to the machine as it rolled along at 80 mph. We decided to forego the interstate and hopped off onto Hwy 70, where we would spend much of our day.

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    This 2 lane road crossed through vast fields that stretched to the horizon, fields that were impossibly large and full of corn/soybeans/various other crops that were certainly shipped all over the country and the world. The landscape was so amazingly flat, and so barren of trees, that the wind became a serious force of reckoning. It wasn't bad when we were heading straight into it, but since it was blowing from the south and we were heading west, much of the day was spent at a decent lean.

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    Crossing through many small, forgotten towns, with abandoned houses and main streets that had seen better days, we felt like we were experiencing the Arkansas that you don't see from the interstate. To be honest, it got pretty monotonous after a while, with the unchanging landscape and the unwavering wind.

    Thinking I had previous day's oil leak taken care of, my stomach dropped when Val's voice came over the Autocom, informing me that her boot was once again getting splattered with oil. We pulled off at a small gas station and I examined the cylinder head, certain that it couldn't be the gasket. After wiping everything down, something grabbed my attention: a hose clamp that had become dislodged (or was not replaced during a previous service). Jiggling the hose, some oil trickled out and I had just found the problem. I didn't have a wrench large enough to tackle the issue, but a zip tie helped to stem the flow of oil for the remainder of the day's ride.

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    We got on the slab for just a little bit...rolling through Little Rock and, soon thereafter, exiting towards Hot Springs.

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    Val was hungry, so we stopped downtown for a burger before scoping out a campsite for the evening. Refueled, we motored 2 miles up the road into the National Park, grabbing a very nice spot right on a creek. We unpacked, set up the tent, and then decided to do something about the shower situation. With no showers on site, we needed to do something to feel a bit more clean, so it was a romp in the creek with a bar of soap. It actually did the trick, and we both felt 100% better after getting off the day's sweat.

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    A couple of riders at the site next to us (Goldwing guy from Tampa, Triumph guy from Dallas) loaned me a wrench and I was able to put the hose clamp back in its original place. I am 99.5% certain that this will fix the issue, but I guess I won't know until the end of tomorrow.

    Here are a few shots from around our campsite.
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    Hot Springs is a nice area, although to call it the mountains would be a stretch. More like some big hills with a lot of green and some decent curves. The downtown area is nice, full of majestic bathhouses that people have come to for decades, due to the supposed healing powers of the springs.

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    A dinner of Mexican food, followed by a walk in the woods near our campground, helped to cap off a nice and easy second day of riding.

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    As you can probably tell, today's update is a bit more verbose than the last one, but I was feeling a bit inspired while sitting here on the picnic table and listening to the creek flow by.

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    Day 3 is next...high mileage into and across Oklahoma.
    #20