USA East to West - Ideas and company?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by LiamH91, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    Right I'll jump straight in ... even having this as my first post! Should tell every one what kind of person I am :D

    I'm 23, from the UK, no commitments and thinking this is the best time to fulfil my wish of driving around the world! I have decided to go East unlike most, who travel Europe, the Stans, China, SE Asia or Russia and home etc etc you all know the story.

    Quite simply I want to know what I really can't miss while in the US! I know I want to visit Zion national park and Yellowstone as I'm a keen photographer and I studied wildlife conservation at university so that's a passion of mine :)

    I would also be more than happy if any one else is up for this trip for obvious reasons ... company, cost sharing and obviously someone to laugh with at the spills which are more than likely unavoidable!

    This will all be happening towards the end of March if all plans fall in to place :D can't wait!!
    #1
  2. Dranrab Luap

    Dranrab Luap E-Tarded Super Moderator

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    March can see brutal frontal systems sweep across the nation. Some you will not want to ride through. If you have a smart phone, get a good weather radar ap and don't be to proud to stop. When you go to Zion, please take time out to see Utah Scenic Highway 12 nearby. It very well be the best road you ride for scenery. How much time do you have? If you want to see New Orleans, let me know via PM.
    #2
  3. LethalDose

    LethalDose Been here awhile

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    Upstate SC, WNC, and TN certainly need to be on the ticket. A few members would gladly guide you through the region.
    #3
  4. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Say more then you'll get more.
    As in- length of trip!!!
    High mtn passes are often closed until late May in western USA.
    Time is the biggie, otherwise I'll add that my idea of seeing requires getting off the MC, while others ride by & wear their helmet cam,etc..
    IMO,You will not "see" the real USA unless you get off the slab & STOP-and walk.
    e.g., We took the train from all the way S/UL to N in UK & Scotland-thats a superficial view as you would agree. Scenic but still a quickie. You could start/stop in NYC or Wash,DC & stay for weeks. You could easily spend a week or so in Appalachians riding but March can go both ways & often brutal for MC's Rain & wind. FL would be ok and across the gulf but thats flat riding if you want curves and have a few months I'd say start in the east around mid/late April ,ride awhile, then head west. Do CO in a serious way then add on what you have time for.
    "In the eyes of the beholder"=I was in the Teton mtns back country hiking,in what was for me one of the most beautiful places on earth & I asked this guy from Poland what he thought of the Tetons, he replied, "he liked the Badlands better". Not me... & I can assure you will not "see that spot" from a MC.
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  5. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    Cheers Paul, Highway 12 looks incredible!! Time isn't such an issue as I'm getting an ESTA which will cover me up to 90 days ... it's the funds that will be the determining factor but if you know somewhere I can stay or camp cheap in or near New Orleans then that would be awesome and I'd be more than happy to come there!

    Thanks LethalDose :) but to be cheeky could people write the names of the places as I'm a bit of a noob with the states and don't know the short hand versions of them :$

    Wow the Appalachians look stunning! Ok Colorado does too ... America just has too much choice :O Sorry Kantukid I completely forgot to say the length of the trip but it's up above now :) up to 90 days but more than likely less due to funds but if I find somewhere cheap and worth hanging around then I will make every dollar stretch!

    Keep em coming please, these suggestions are already making me more excited ... Feel like a kid at Christmas!! And if people are willing to accommodate me (even with a space to pitch my tent in their garden) then I will be forever grateful and may even get the beers :D
    #5
  6. Dranrab Luap

    Dranrab Luap E-Tarded Super Moderator

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    What are you going to be riding?
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  7. roadtrip22

    roadtrip22 Been here awhile

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    I'm planning to ride east to west through the USA in May of 2014. I'll pm you my email if your interested. What I found but not sure on your schedule is in March Although a few months into the year. Some of the northern states are still snow covered. And could add unexpected blizzards or snow days of curled up in the tent staying warm. What are you going to be riding??

    As for me I'm 27 going to ride a 2008 BMW R1200GSA. I'm headed to Grandma's house in California then back to the east coast.
    #7
  8. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    My trusty steed ... the DRz-400s :)

    Light enough to go off road (and to pick up if need be) but nippy enough to hit the highway and sit comfortably at 65 for as long as the tank lasts! But hey, petrol in the US will be pennies to what I pay in the UK!!
    #8
  9. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    Liam, you clearly need to learn how to use the "Tent Space" thread no matter where you travel. You also need to learn about the seasons here as well as the effect that altitude has on weather.You can always alter a travel plan if the weather out in front of you really sucks. You will find that a steady diet of 65 mph on that Dizzer on our interstates is no fun. But you will also learn that we have a parallel "old road" system still intact and you seldom HAVE TO run an interstate.Have a great trip...
    #9
  10. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I agree with the above hwy comments but have added my 2 cents...
    You need to take a look @ the tent thread here & others around the web too. There are lots of tent spots for free in USA, taking a shower requires more.
    In the far west, where many "outside workers" -such as construction,etc., use certain laundromats,etc., to shower for very little cost. Read some of the Federal websites that operate campgrounds-U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, etc., are a few that do-maybe google various "campgrounds in USA" websites. Many are free but require a dayuse tag for a couple dollars. National parks have entry fees but you can buy a pass if you think you'll use it enough? JamieZ here on ADV is the king of stealth camping... wait for him to advise you or do a search here.
    If you camp, food & gas will be the biggies. If you do the first two meals on the cheap then a main meal for evening the cost can stay low. It will be cheaper then what your used to in UK from my personal experience, unless you go for the high end here, which you'll not be doing.
    USA state maps are free(inside the restroom area) as you enter each state @ most "rest areas"(blue signs on interstate road system) and typically will have campgrounds marked with a green tent symbol. 2 lane "US highways, called federal hwys, are way less likely to have formal rest areas as I've described. I suggest using these roads at time to extend your trip by traveling faster between areas of interest, then switch off to roads either leading to attractions,scenery,etc., or those roads that are "MC magnets" based on curvy too. Many here avoid the interstate system(me too at times) but it has advantages of speed & safety to use . Some interstates have very hvy 18wheeler truck traffic & or commuter traffic & can "eat you up" on a bike! This is esp true on the high population eastern corridors of travel. In the far west traffic spreads out and the wind may be more of an aggravation, not traffic. Expect perennial winds in the west & high winds near higher elevations. Highways designated "state" & "county" can be great MC choices & very well maintained or slow & not worth plugging through traffic & stop lights in population centers.
    Study the interstates so you see how they "go around the large urban areas" that you may want to avoid. An e.g., is Atlanta,GA where I-85 goes around downtown but I-75 through downtown can be faster at certain off peak traffic times. from personal experience I go straight through some cities & around others every time.
    You can go to the first Walmart you see in USA & buy a cheap atlas for ~ $6 or so. there are downsized versions that fit in tank bags. I use a GPS but also cut pages out of the atlas for the states where I'll be going as a supplement. For now you have the web to map plan. Every public library here has free web use & computers if you happen to travel w/o a computer. Most restaurants have wifi & getting hard to not find access to it-we often simply pull into a McDonald's or similar parking lot & in the right parking position your online-on a bike I go inside to rest & use it out of weather,etc..
    #10
  11. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    buls4evr - Thanks for bringing that to my attention :) I've been trawling the entire forum for bits and bobs and I don't want to sit on a highway all the way across so I will look for these side roads for a better experience too!

    Kantuckid - I've been using this site ... http://www.camping-usa.com/campgrounds/ ... to look for camping grounds etc and have found that some are seasonal etc :) I'm not sure how many Americans are vegetarians but I am so let's hope I can stay veggie through the US :p

    Also found the tent space list ... the generosity of people really does bring a positive vibe :) thanks for the help so far guys, really appreciate this!
    #11
  12. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    So I just got off the phone with a shipping company ... they say I need an ATA carnet for America? All research I have done suggests I do not need a carnet for America! Not overly happy about that :/ can any one advise?
    #12
  13. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    Liam, you will not get any experience ,other than speed, on our interstate system. IMO the US can only be experienced by using backroads as much as possible. Kantuckid also did not tell you that the Interstate speed limit INCREASES to 75-80 MPH West of the Mississippi river.
    Tentspace has a lot of friendlies willing to wine/dine you, find you a comfy bed and a hot shower. Do not overlook it, or feel bad about using it. Also a good place to find new road/route info that you did not know about,to say nothing of meeting new friends that may last a lifetime. Just expect a reciprocal agreement when your new friend comes to the UK:D.
    As for food.... Don't tell anyone in Texas or New Mexico that you DON'T EAT BEEF!!!! The room will go all quiet and very large ranchers will approach!In the East, people understand Veganism but West of the Miss you better just Pretend that you do eat meat.... UNTIL YOU GET TO CALIFORNIA where you will once again be understood . We SORT OF speak English here but there is a lot of slang but you will catch on. Watch out for those Immense Lorries, I mean "semis"(large tractor/trailer rigs)around cities. Those guys/girls are hauling ass and tired from long drives. If you don't see all of the US, and you won't, then that just gives you another excuse to come back again:clap.
    #13
  14. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    75-80?! Oh lord ... on a bike that weighs less than 150kg? No thank you in the wind! Yet I did ride a little 125cc from Nottingham to London once ... that was an 'experience' ... but I'm aliiiiiive :D

    I will most definitely use the tentspace and when possible I will be more than happy to return the favour :D

    Haha I'll just pretend I'm on a diet or have a bad stomach :p That did make me laugh :rofl!!

    The more I plan this the more excited I get :clap
    #14
  15. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    IMO best way to ride E-W if you have the time :

    -fly into the north east and buy a bike
    -ride New England state loop
    -down south following the Appalachian mtns
    -spend time exploring S.W. North Carolina
    -ride N.W. angling across Tennessee > western Kentucky > southern Illinois
    -enter the Ozarks in Missouri
    -ride the Ozarks exiting in Oklahoma
    -work your way to the Oklahoma panhandle and come into New Mexico.
    -ride northern New mexico > Colorado
    -your now in the western mtn goods and the skies the limit
    -work your way towards Idaho
    -ride Oregon 26 west to Bend & then explore the mtns
    -ride out to the coast and then south to california
    -explore the northern california roads
    -continue south on the coast
    -work your way down the coast to the mountains north of LA
    -head east to the Sierra Mtn
    -work your way north criss-crossing the Sierras.
    -finish in Reno, sell the bike, fly home.

    that would be amazing! :clap
    #15
  16. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Post #15:clap good suggestion eakins
    as for veggies: don't worry unless your hanging out in steak houses everynight. I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch but I like em and grow lots of them & we eat them by the truckload home & away!!! Last night we ate in a local "Mexican restaurant" (owned by real Mexicans but has"Tex-Mex food like most here) & I ate vegetarian fajitas with a cheese quesadilla ,comes with beans & rice& salad= $8USD. The typical Mexican rest here will have you stuff as will others such as Asian & many chains too-Applebees and many others. You will find far more food variety here then in UK! & for less money.
    So true that an I-road can eat you up. You will blow around from either trucks or winds many places but enjoy the ride anyway. Have a good helmet & ATGATT riding gear-will make the road safer & far more bearable.
    Perhaps look at buying a chepo bike here & resell ro have one of us resell when you leave? I suggest a Suzuki 650 from a few years back or a Kawa Versy. There are others but those two are common & run cheap and are decent road bikes. You'll now hear more on that subject than you asked for. best places to buy a bike-more population = more bikes -I'd look at the whole eastern seaboard. You can cheaply (what an experience too!) get to the bike by bus from an airport.
    #16
  17. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I agree that you may be starting too early, especially for places like Yellowstone. If you start in the southeast, maybe the roads will be clear by the time you get there.

    Yellowstone gets all the attention, but the towering mountains of the Grand Tetons are a thing of beauty. You can ride the gondola to the top and see some amazing views off the back side too. I'm not sure what type of photographs you are looking for, but I bet you could get some good shots of horses in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

    On the Nevada-Utah border, you might want to see the Bonneville Salt Flats. That is where they attempt land speed records, and you will probably be the only person out there if you go on a weekday. It is so large and flat that you can get disoriented out there. If you head out, just take a compass reading to help find your way back.

    The Sierra has some nice mountain passes with good photo opportunities, such as Highway 120 (goes through Yosemite and near big redwood trees), Highway 108 (with interesting rock formations, and close to the Old West ghost town Bodie), Highway 4 and 88 (with roadside lakes), and Highway 50 (goes through Lake Tahoe).

    On the west coast, the Golden Gate Bridge might interest you. You definitely need to see the Big Sur ocean cliffs as well. In southern California, the Joshua trees are very odd looking, like something from prehistoric times.
    #17
  18. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Been here awhile

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    March is way too early for the Rockies, and that includes Yellowstone.

    I believe in either 2012 or 2013 the East road from Cody into Yellowstone got plowed and opened on Memorial Day weekend (for non-Americans, that's the last weekend in May), but only because the residents of Cody raised a fuss. If you are planning on riding in the Rockies of Colorado, I wouldn't plan anything before mid-June.

    As for the "buy a motorcycle, ride it across country and then sell it" plan, I hear a lot of folks making that recommendation but in practice I don't know how easy that would be to do.

    I know that in my county, you can't register a vehicle if you aren't a resident, so the only way I can think of that the buy-a-bike-at-the-beginning-of-the-trip-and-sell-it-at-the-end plan would work would be if you had someone who lived in the US buy the bike for you, get it registered, titled, insured, etc in their name, and then let you "borrow" it for your trip.
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  19. LiamH91

    LiamH91 Been here awhile

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    Eakins that was super in depth so I google mapped it and ... wow :) I'm going to have to steal some of those ideas and I'll make sure to get some photos and let you know how those parts go!!

    I would buy a bike and sell it but I'm taking mine so I can ship it off to Australia afterwards and then possibly on to Magadan and make my way home via Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Europe ... so I'd love to be able to do it all on the one bike. That way I will know the bike inside out too! Plus the whole selling a bike can take a long time/lose more money than it would cost to ship mine over ... and then there's buying one :|
    #19
  20. Dusty Boots

    Dusty Boots Been here awhile

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    Liam forget about riding through the high Rockies (which includes Yellowstone) at that time of year ... think June at the earliest for those regions, or later!!


    Beartooth Pass, between Red Lodge, MT and Yellowstone, on US 212 in early July, 2011


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    Going To The Sun Road, Glacier National Park, MT, later July, 2011 ......


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    Observation Point (9430') in the Bighorn Mts, hwy 14A between Sheridan and Cody, WY, late June, 2009 ......



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    Beartooth Pass, WY, end of June 2009 .......



    [​IMG]


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    I sure hope you have a good functioning full heated jacket liner and a warm sleeping bag if you are still thinking on starting out in March!! :deal
    #20