A Journey Across North America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rudy4pl, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 26, 2019 Friday (Day 3)

    Quick breakfast and off I go blasting through the forests

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    Peeking out into civilization only for gas and connecting routes.

    It felt good just pulling off in the middle of nowhere to rest for a while and have a lunch
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    I later came across another rider Jacob, jbmcfall on advrider, on his gnarly KLR. We spoken for a while and Jacob suggested to check my shifter again. The past 3 days I've been riding with a thought that I've damaged the shifter rod, or worse, as I couldn't shift properly, and so I decided to try to bend out the shifter again. This time I took it off and smashed it with a rock in an effort to bend it out slightly. I put it back and to my surprise the gears were shifting fine now, it's such a relief. Thanks Jacob!

    I then rode through some cornfields
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    Upon mounting my bike, I didn't manage to get footing on my right side and the bike fell over, flinging me into the corn field and ripping my ear plug wire. Good thing I had come with a spare, it can get a little bit boring at times without music. My back took a beating getting this mule up.

    And the rest of the day was more dirt roads
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    Until I finally decided to look for a spot to pitch a tent. I pass by some campground/rv hook up, but it was not a very attractive place. So many forest around, yet this was large gravel open spot with a bunch RV's. I decide to continue until I find a turn off from the main gravel road to pitch a tent in the woods.

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    I'm not sure if I'm technically allowed to camp here. A couple of vehicles passed by until 11pm and then it was mainly quiet. Tonight was the first time on this trip I camped without the rain cover on my tent as the skies were clear, so I was able to admire the lit up starry sky. It's been a while since I saw these as the light pollution in the city doesn't cater to the stars. For some reason I was reminded of my childhood when I used to camp in my backyard with some childhood friends.
    #21
  2. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 27, 2019 Sat (Day 4)

    I got up pretty early and continued. The day featured more forested roads
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    and some scenic views
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    Later during the day I've come across a stream. It looked clean and flowing well so I figured it would be a good idea to start using my sawyer filter and fill up my jug. Yay, 3 dollars saved!
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    In the afternoon I pulled over by the road for a late lunch. Pork chops, "toasted" bread, tomatoes with filtered water from the stream.
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    This seemed like a nice place to set up camp, but it was too early in the day. I continued on through the forests, which at times opened up.
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    Countless water crossings today are keeping me nice and cool

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    Around 6:30pm I found a great place to camp right off of the road by a stream
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    I made myself some cream cheese sandwiches, hung around for a while and when nightfall came, I decided to hit the sack. The pleasant sounds of the stream knocked me out pretty quickly.

    At 11pm I'm woken up to bright lights and engine roar just a couple feet from my tent. I'm confused and disoriented. Soon the lights and the engine sounds fade away. Sheesh, must have been someone looking for a place to crash for the night. They ran into me and then decided to turn around once they saw my tent. I still get a little bit paranoid in these desolate areas alone, especially when someone approaches me during the night. Maybe I should relax, this isn't NYC. After a while, I fall asleep again.

    Attached Files:

    #22
  3. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 28, 2019 Sun (Day 5)

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    This trip has been a great change of pace so far compared to the modern city life. It is going exactly as I had envisioned it, that with a couple of surprises here and there. After my morning routine, I pack up and head out.

    I pass through another round of forest gravel roads
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    Stopped by a town with some nice backdrop to fill up on gas
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    At lunch I pulled over on one of the countless switch backs I have passed through
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    The freshly cooked kale sausages were delicious
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    I moved on in hopes to reach Demascus in Virginia today, but unfortunately that was still too far.

    DSC_0279.JPG

    The rest of the day was a whole lot of pavement passing through countless Amish towns. Camping location was a little bit more difficult to find today, I've been traveling for about 1.5hrs before I found a nice pull off right by a dirt road as it was slowly getting dark. Filled up my 1 gallon jug with filtered water from the stream, dinner and the day is over.
    #23
  4. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 29, 2019 Mon (Day 6)

    Foot was a local at Damascus. He's gotten the nickname while on the Appalachian trail. He has hiked the full trail and has the tattoo to prove it (of a foot). That's quite an accomplishment and a great commitment. Last time I went hiking for 2 days with a 40 lbs backpack, my back made me regret that decision for the next couple of weeks. I can't imagine doing that for a couple of months, that's a hell of an achievement.

    Foot is also at a fallout with the only laundromat owner in town, he does not recommend his services. "Go at your own risk." I take his advice as I figure I still have some fresh clothing. Foot takes off and I finish stuffing sausages, organic chicken, wild salmon, cream cheese, etc into designated air tight ziplock bags and place them in my cooler, all in the scorching sun of the gas station's parking lot. I then stuff as much ice as I possibly can and zip the sucker up with a great deal of effort. The remainder of the ice is put into my water jug and bladder.

    I figured that if I keep all the items in my cooler from leaking into the melted icy water and contaminating it, I can use that as refreshing drinking water. Nothing is wasted :lol2

    I've been logging every penny spent while on this trip and so far I've been averaging 24$ per day on everything. Gas, food, "lodging", you name it. Initially I prepared for 50$ a day, but figured that might be unrealistic. I wonder how low I can go :scratch.

    Before I've hit Damascus, I was directed on a fun short single track that was tight at some points, especially with my wide load
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    I ended up puncturing my side bags in a couple of locations by branches that impaled them.

    After stocking up in Damascus, I headed out again, but after a while I was getting a bad headache. The helmet that I've purchased does not fit me very well. It fit very snug initially which felt good, but since the padding was very thin, there wasn't much room for a "break-in". I can't really get a new one as I've made custom camera mounts for this one...

    I decided to pull over on the side of the road to take a nap and hopefully relieve the headache this helmet is giving me.
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    After an hour or two I feel refreshed and ready to continue :-)


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    I'm not sure if these are considered the Smoky Mountains, but I was around that vicinity.
    Later in the evening I accidentally got on a highway at one point and got stuck in traffic as the sun began setting. The mountains that I was passing by were extremely smokey! Must be the smoky mountains!

    As it was already getting dark, I've decided to look for a place to camp. I arrive at one designated spot, but it is close to the highway, so it is noisy. I decide to push forward. I take a detour off of the main gravel road and it's a moderate decline with bunch of football sized, slippery and round rocks that are wedged into wet clay.

    I drop the bike on the decent and have issues picking it up
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    I end up taking off all the luggage and finally get the bike upright. I ride it down to where the rocks end and decide that I'll turn back around as I'm verging off of the TAT. I figured it might have gotten rougher the farther I went and I'd have even more trouble coming back up.

    I drop the bike 3 more times before I'm able to power out and climb back up. Phew

    I strap everything back on the bike and shortly later I decide to settle on the next dispersed camp spot. I cannot be picky anymore this eve, I am exhausted.
    #24
  5. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 30, 2019 Tue (Day 7)

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    Got some really good rest last night. These camp spots are awesome, I basically fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of streams every night.


    Today the first thing on my mind was laundry. In the first town I passed through I've found one off of a gas station. To maximize my efficiency, I took off as much as I could :grim.
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    While waiting for the laundry, I've had an early lunch consisting of bread with cream cheese and I've also replaced the pad on my wound. These pads that came with the cheap medkit are no good for this kind of stuff. It stuck slightly to the wound and when I replaced it, it slightly agitated it. I'll have to visit the pharmacy and find something that won't stick.

    I've also visited a dollar general to get a dollar hat to mask my wet hair when coming out of their restroom. They don't feel fresh and soft when simply rinsing them with water, shampoo will have to be used every couple of days for that really fresh feel :chace.

    I continued on. There's a lot of pavement today and I get stuck behind a very slow moving red pickup. I overtook him like a jackass on a solid line and after about 15 minutes I've hit a dirt road. Shortly into it I misjudge a turn, hit a loose patch, figured instead of turning hard and risking a fall, I'll ride the ditch and come to a stop.


    Of course the front washes out and I fall pretty hard on my left shoulder and my left hand. My thumb feels sore. After a couple of minutes I lift the bike and figure I'll simply ride the bike out of the ditch. The ditch got a little bit deeper a couple of feet ahead and then there was a bump I had to get over. I got the front wheel over it but then the rear got cemented in mud. No go. I then figured I'll drop the bike on the left side and pull each end out. Easier said than done. The bike was totally stuck, I could not even drop it on the side.

    After a couple of minutes I hear something coming.

    "Please don't let it be a red pickup."

    It's a red pickup.

    I smile awkwardly as it's the red pick up that I overtook earlier. I expected them to point and laugh, which would have been well deserved.


    Instead they turned out to be a really nice couple that saved my ass.

    After getting the bike out, I realized that there was a water runoff pipe under the road in the area where my bike got stuck. That's why I couldn't lean the bike to the side :bash. To my defense it was totally camouflaged by vegetation and mud.

    I cleaned up the bike, rebend the shifter into place and continued on.

    I rode through the Smoky Mountain National Park and hit some pretty bad rain for the first time while riding.
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    I then hit some extreme traffic in the park that I just couldn't wait to get out of.

    The rest of the day was riding more pavement.

    It was getting late so I started looking for a place to set up for the night. Nothing in view, plus it's not that easy finding a camp spot off of a paved road. I decide to check out the campground at the park. 25$ per tent. Fuck that.

    I continued following the TAT line, but it lead me through more paved roads. No chance at a dispersed camp spot.

    I'll have to get creative. I'm riding twisties and looking every which direction to see if I can spot a stealthy spot. It's late, almost 9pm. The later it gets, the more desperate I get. After one sharp turn I see a small grassy plain on the left. I pull over and notice that there is a little spot behind thick vegetation. I quickly ride in with my bike as this is a pretty busy road. There is just enough space for me to set up a tent and I don't waste another minute as it's dark already.

    I watch the traffic slowly die down as the night seeps in and then I disconnect.
    #25
  6. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,045
    Location:
    San Antonio
    Good camping setup
    #26
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  7. kkja13

    kkja13 Dodging cages

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2017
    Oddometer:
    17
    Location:
    Tyler, TX
    Red pickup folks serving up some southern hospitality. :thumb
    #27
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  8. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    July 31, 2019 Wed (Day 8)

    In the morning I was greeted with spiders in my boots that I have left outside the tent, I love spiders! I packed up without eating breakfast figuring I'll pull over somewhere less sketchy. About two miles down the TAT tracks I come across countless free camp spots. I rode for multiple hours without being able to find anything and just two miles ahead they were everywhere. It's funny how things work out (or don't work out).

    A couple minutes later I pull off at a nice quiet place off of a boat dock to relieve my hunger:


    Based on how the latter part of yesterday ended, I thought that I was going to be seeing a lot of pavement today. To my pleasant surprise, Tennessee has greeted me with some nice gravel roads and plenty of deep water crossings. One of them was the one that i recognized in other ride reports, a water crossing with slippery rocks that run parallel to the direction of travel. I though I picked a good line but immediately I realized that it was not. My front slips off and the bike drops off into deeper water, I manage to keep it up, but my socks and boots are totally soaked. I wring out my socks and figure I'll have to repeat that process a couple of times for the next day or two before I'm dry again. Oh yeah, I also decided that I will try to camp out this entire trip, no motels, not a single one. This'll be interesting.

    The rest of the day was a lot of slab and in all honesty, the tracks seemed pretty pointless to follow. I had hopes that maybe they're leading me to somewhere really worth going, but no, just more slab and impoverished neighborhoods. Everywhere are "no trespassing" signs, some properties as much as 10 signs right next to each other. Every area seems to be inhabited, I started slowly worrying about camping.

    At around 8pm I decided to resort to myfreecampsites, and found a free campground 90 miles west. Perfect, I'll just skip a chunk of Tennessee. Taking the freeway has been quite refreshing. I kind of started getting tired of following the damn line brainlessly on my gps.

    At 9:30pm I arrive in total darkness. Only 1 thought on my mind as I'm totally exhausted, sleep.
    #28
  9. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    541
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    In order for trespassing laws to be enforced there is normally a minimum distance between signs that must be maintained. We found a guy's hunting stuff on our company property, tree stand, feeder and a couple of cameras, but since we didn't have any signs we couldn't prosecute him. We even had his mug on some of the pictures from the cameras and knew who he was. As far as I know he never got his stuff back as he didn't want to face anyone.
    #29
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  10. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 1, 2019 Thu (Day 9)

    "We moved here from Missouri on a whim" said my new neighbor in the morning.

    The pleasant fellow moved from Missouri to Tennessee with his 3 kids, wife, father and mother. They were staying at the campground in their tent while looking for a more permanent and stable place to rent out. Some unfortunate circumstances must have occurred as that is quite a bold move. A little bit bold, very brave and highly uncertain; You don't see many people taking such chances today. Just leaving everything and migrating with your family into the unknown, it's something you read in history books. I found it quite admirable as in today's modern life we strive to have a stable job, stable housing, plan everything, we basically try to eliminate any and all uncertainties, but even with all these precautions, life still tends to throw us curve balls.
    I think we need to take more risks, and here they were.

    Usually after a tough day, it's nice to be able to "reset" the next morning, not "resume". My boots were still wet, but luckily this place had facilities with blow dryers :-).

    My rear Shinko 244 is showing massive signs of wear. All this load in the back and the countless looping dirt roads where the rear easily spins out under throttle must have done a number on the tire. Initially I assumed that I'll probably make it to Oregon on these tires, nope. I spent the whole morning and early afternoon visiting 4 different motorcycle shops. None of them had 50/50 17" rear tires. Only street tires. I'll have to order something ahead of me. I roughly scout out a town 600 miles ahead of me on the tat tracks, Russelville, Arkansas. I start calling up random businesses asking if they'd let me order a tire to them. I figured motels are a no go as they'll probably try to force me to book a room for the night, similar with a motorcycle shop as they'll try to sell me a tire with an up-charge and it won't even be what I was looking for.

    "Why would you order a tire to a floral shop" said the lady.

    So I try to order a tire to an automotive shop "Sorry, we can't do that"

    So I try a local motorcycle dealer "sorry we don't allow orders from outside businesses and it would take 2 weeks for us to get what you're looking for", and an order from revzilla would take roughly 3 days and be there on Monday...

    After trying about 10 different places, I lost hope. To make matters worse, the worker from the dollar general asked if I was waiting for someone, it seemed like an attempt to get me off of their lot as I've been in their parking lot for 2 hours :jack, kill me...

    Why is this so hard? I cause a very minor inconvenience to them, give them 20$ for the service, thank them, and that's that. Why is this so difficult?

    I decide to give one more place a try, a music store called Cooper Music. I tell the person on the other end my story and ask him to help me out. He puts me on hold to ask the owner. I think I know what I'll be hearing next.

    "Yes, you can ship your package to us" he said.

    In disbelief, I ask him to repeat as I figured I must have misheard him.

    "Yeah, it's fine" he says.

    What a relief, I call up revzilla and order a brand new shinko 244 rear, a wider one this time hoping the increased surface area would help it last longer. The front is still good.

    In the meantime, I also visited the pharmacy to get some non stick pads for my burn wound. Under the scorching sun in the pharmacy's parking lot I started taking off the the old pad, it stuck badly, so I was slightly grimacing from the pain. An older lady passed by with a concerned look on her face asking if I was all right. haha. This is getting realllly rugged :D.

    Most of the day was lost already, so I was eager to put on some miles. The last bits of Tennessee on the TAT were pretty enjoyable. Nice dirt roads and some deep water crossings.


    The rest of the day was filled with light dirt roads. But there's people and their properties everywhere again, countless no trespassing signs. As the sun begins setting I find a forest which didn't seem to have signs anywhere. I ride the ditch and hop in. The forest is a little bit open so I have to improvise.
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    I hear faint sounds of dogs barking in the distance. Dusk sets in in no time and I go inside for the night. Before I fall asleep, I watch multiple vehicles pass by from the "hide-out". The headlights project onto the tree trunks and gradually dissipate deeper into the forest. I thought I rode in deep enough, but they still cast onto my tent momentarily. I wonder if they can see me :hmmmmm
    #30
  11. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    That must be an unfortunately common issue. I've met 2 people along the way stating that they've had someone illegally hunt on their property.
    #31
  12. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    541
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    In the future if you need something shipped, maybe try the tent space thread. This way you can see locations of inmates that would be happy to accept delivery and probably help or change the tire for you. I've had good luck using TS and met some great folks.

    Keep posting, I'm liking this thread.
    #32
  13. KTM 500 EXC Six Dais

    KTM 500 EXC Six Dais Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    EspaƱa
    Se lee muy bien....Siga publicando...por favor.
    Thanks
    #33
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  14. ADVBotchan

    ADVBotchan n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1
    no update since August..... :(
    #34
    rudy4pl likes this.
  15. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    It's not a real time ride report :). It would have taken a lottt of time for me to do this on the road. Plus it's nice to do these reports while in "hibernation mode"
    #35
  16. Dan Alexander

    Dan Alexander still alive and well

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2003
    Oddometer:
    8,992
    Location:
    Montreal
    :lurk
    #36
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  17. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    August 2, 2019 Fri (Day 10)

    I got up at dawn to try and get out without being detected. I pack up, ride the ditch and continue following the tat tracks. Shortly, I spot a church with some improvised benches made of cinderblocks and planks. I have not had breakfast yet so I pull over and treat myself to my go-to meal, bread and chive/onion cream cheese.

    After riding some paved forests, I come across detour signs on my route, but I decide to proceed regardless. Dirt ramp into a rough pit and a dirt ramp on the other side. Seemed passable, but there were construction workers so I turned around and followed the detour signs. Shortly after, I see a "closed road" sign that kevin's tracks are taking me on. I'm curious so I proceed to see what's hiding there. I come a cross a large downed tree blocking the road. There is a deep rut and somebody placed plastic planks over it. Seems legit. There is also a steep drop off on the left, I have to watch out not clip my right soft bag or I'll get launched down the hill.

    I walk the bike over it and at the end, the rear slips off and pulls me back in. I manage to hop on, turn the bike on, and ride out.

    Today has been a good mix of dirt and pavement. I think I dropped down to Mississippi. It's hard to tell if you're crossing state lines when you're not on the freeway. Freeways usually make it obvious with their welcoming signs. In here, I'm just slowly making my way west through these lands, state borders don't mean much.

    I'm slowly seeing changes in the landscapes. The soil is changing colors, it is no longer brown, it is becoming reddish. The forests kind of surprised me when I started the trip as they were pretty chilly, especially in the morning. I must have gotten used to the heat island effect in the concrete jungle. With the change in the soil, the forests are not as prevalent anymore so it is getting warmer.

    Midday, I come across a large puddle. It's murky so I decide to go around it so I don't get stuck.


    Of course I had chosen the wrong line. Halfway in, I feel my rear sit and now I know I'm stuck in deep mud. The badly worn rear tire is surely not helping. It's the hottest part of the day and I'm in direct sunlight. Do I set up a tent in the shade, take a nap and wait for the temperatures to drop before trying to dig myself out?

    After about 15 minutes I'm greeted by 3 fellow riders, they flew over from New Zealand to ride the TAT, ugh, I mean to save me. After assessing the situation, we decided to tie my trusty strap to the branch and lift it up. We pull on it and it feels like it's about to snap. Thunk. The rear wheel pops out. The boys from New Zealand come to save the day :-), I wonder if they're on advrider. After they help me out, they cross the obstacle without any major issues.

    It was going to take a while for me to load up my bike, so they moved forward to scout out what lies ahead.

    I have to add a new rule to my riding. If it looks sketchy, walk it first.

    After a while of riding, I've decided to hit the town to stock up on some food. I feel like I have been eating better on the road than at home. I try to pick out all organic (or as organic as it may be) meats and wild fish. Unfortunately, it has been tough finding that around here. I've visited 4 supermarkets and bought nothing. I decided to visit the Walmart in New Albany in Mississippi. They had a bunch of stuff and I feel like I've bought too much. I started unpacking everything and packing it into air tight ziplock bags on the parking lot. It doesn't fit. I started blasting through the cream cheese container and my bread slices like an animal while people were unloading their groceries.

    The ice does not hold as advertised. This polar bear soft cooler was supposed to hold ice for 3 days. After 1.5 days, the ice is long gone and the water is warm. Replacing the ice everyday is kind of a hassle, good thing that all gas stations carry it. I guess it's also a blessing in disguise that it melts so quick. I've brought a 3' rubber hose with me just in case I needed it for something and it also works well at sucking out the icy cold water. Quite refreshing. I won't be able to filter water around here as it's mostly flat farm land. I feel like I'd be drinking pesticides and what not.

    At a gas station I meet a fellow whose friend has had left yesterday on a cross country trip.

    "Trans American Trail?" I ask.

    "Yes, that's it" he says.

    He took off on a KTM, his name was Kirby and he was apparently clean cut. Clean cut KTM Kirby. Would be funny if I caught up to him.

    I then decided to put on some miles and I did just that. At around 7pm I was riding through some hunting forest. Plenty of good pull offs and I make my way to one of them. It's going to be another peaceful night falling asleep to the sounds of the forest.
    #37
  18. KDouble

    KDouble AKA BeefCurtain

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Colorado, Montana
    Good stuff!
    #38
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  19. MarkVeeMarkADV

    MarkVeeMarkADV sharing misinformation and useless trivia

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    at the MA/VT/NH border
    Great stuff.
    #39
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  20. wardie

    wardie 2 Wheel Power Hour Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    299
    Location:
    Youngstown, Ohio
    a dark green tent colored tent would've helped being less conspicious
    #40
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