Coast to Coast USA - advice please

Discussion in 'Americas' started by EXRM193, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. EXRM193

    EXRM193 Been here awhile

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    4 of us from UK going coast to coast on Hardley Ablesons in May.
    Orlando to LA. We only have a couple of weeks to do it, so mega detours are out of the question.
    We realise most of it will be on motorways, but want some decent roads along the way if possible.

    Going to crack on for the first few days to get past Texas.

    Places to see on the list so far are the Barringer Crater and the Grand Canyon Skywalk?? Are they worth stopping for??

    Anyway, my real question; Once we get into New Mexico/Arizona area, are there any decent twisty bits that won`t take us miles out of our way??

    Cheers.
    #1
  2. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    I think my life's goal is to convince people to stay off the interstates. If you want decent roads, there are lots of great US and state highways which criss-cross our nation. I know, I've ridden lots of them. The interstate system was built with the idea to transport people and cargo as quickly and efficiently as possibly, by definition bypassing all the "good stuff."

    The southeastern US (FL especially) is generally flat, although parts of Alabama and Georgia are hillier and twistier than many people think. Lots of good road. Northern and western Arkansas has some of the best riding in the nation. Unfortunately, I don't know much about Texas, although I crossed the state by US 380 once. Mostly straight, but an interesting slice of Texas life.

    Jamie
    #2
  3. EXRM193

    EXRM193 Been here awhile

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    Only got 2 weeks to do it, that`s the problem
    #3
  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Better to find a long straight boring highway in the UK and ride it, then. Riding an interstate in the US will more-or-less look the same, except on the other side of the road.

    When I route Orlando to LA by Google maps, avoiding interstates, it gives me 2608 miles, or 186 per day. Surely you can ride 186 per day and sticking to the more interesting roads.

    ...don't let me dictate your ride. I'm only offering my opinion. I think you'll see much more simply by avoiding limited access highways, rather than trying to find things to do. I'm in the minority, I know. Most people find it ridiculous not to take the interstates. Everyone is in such a rush, even on vacation.

    Anyway, if you happen to pass through Memphis (it's probably a little too far north), knock me up. I can guarantee some beer and pizza.

    Jamie
    #4
  5. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    You are aware, right, that it's 1,700 miles from Orlando, Florida to El Paso, Texas on Interstate 10 ??? And, also that you're 2/3 of the way through your trip to L.A. at that point ???

    There is so much to see in the Southern Tier of the USA, it will be hard scratch the surface.

    *Barber's Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, Alabama is a "must-do" motorcycle destination.

    *Seeing The French Quarter in New Orleans. There are some hotels with secure parking in and around Bourbon Street.

    *The plantation where they make Tobasco Sauce in Southern Louisiana is pretty cool.

    *Lots of history in San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

    *Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Interesting history and lots of curvy roads!

    *US-191 in Eastern Arizona between I-10 and I-40 is a "must-do" curvy road.

    The list is almost endless, and I'd rethink your plan of knocking out the distance between Orlando and El Paso without stopping to smell a few roses...

    You're talking about running the I-10 corridor, which is fine, but you could run the I-40 corridor after leaving Birmingham and catch Memphis, The Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Have a big-ass steak in Amarillo, check out Santa Fe/Taos, see Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert before hitting the Grand Canyon and finishing up in L.A.

    You have LOTS of options, thats for sure...
    #5
  6. Boondox

    Boondox Travels With Barley

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    Like the others, I'd stay off the Interstates unless your goal is mileage and the rights to say you drove from one end to the other. Utter boredom is all you'll find on most. There are some with decent scenery, especially going up toward New England along the Appalacian chain, but even then there are better alternatives.

    One resource you might want to spend some time with is MotorcycleRoads.US (http://www.motorcycleroads.us/index.html) which lists rider reports both good and bad.
    #6
  7. KinkyWinks

    KinkyWinks El Gringo Perdido

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    1. Do not go through Dallas or Fort Worth Texas unless it is 2:00 AM on a Sunday.
    2. Interstate 40 has more trucks in a day than you have probably seen in your intire life But, it is a fast way to get across the country.
    3. Plenty of good rides just north of I-40 in New Mexico, if you are going to have an extra day but, they are more like loops and wont add to your getting across the state.
    #7
  8. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer Supporter

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    Some of you are not helping the man by imposing your bias on the reply. He probably is traveling on an airfare deal that says, "You are going to enter the US at Orlando, and leave the US from LAX, after a specified number of days." :deal

    So he has asked his question with a view to maximizing his time here within those limitations and to see certain places in the western part of the country.

    Now to the original question...

    EXRM193, for a while I was a long-haul trucker. My commercial driver's road atlas does not show some of the small roads on the general route I will suggest, so you will need to check into other maps for those details.

    Next, the route suggested below will allow you to take advantage of the speed of the interstates to put you at the desired sceanic areas quickly.

    From Orlando:

    Take the Florida Turnpike up to I-10. Have the correct money ready to throw into the bin at the turnpike exit so you do not have to stop and un-suit.

    Then take --

    I-75 North to I-10 West

    I-10W to US 290 W at Houston, TX

    US 290 W to I-10W (through Austin, skipping San Antonio)

    I-10W to US 285 North near Ft. Stockton, TX

    From the I-10/US285 intersection you will go up through the remainder of Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico. If your timing allows a night in Carlsbad, arrive early enough to see the bats leave the Carlsbad Cavern at dusk.

    From Carlsbad cross the mountain on the small state highway to go through Cloudcroft, NM, to end up in Alamogordo (home of the White Sands National Mounument). The ride across the mountain is the goal (very sceanic, and goes above 9,000 feet in elevation).

    At Alomagordo I thought the WS monument was not worth the drive, but if you ride through be sure and take plenty of water. In fact, a bladder type hydration system (readily available at any Walmart in the US) would be a good accessory to have along. FWIW, our public water here is fairly good and will be safe to drink.

    Back to the route -- from Alamogordo, plan your route to run a north/northwesterly line up to the four-corners area, and then over to the Grand Canyon. From there, the various routes to get to LA are endless.

    Some helpful road system info:

    In the US the East/West roads are designated by even numbers, and the North/South roads by odd numbers.

    The interstate highway system generally follows the route of the older US highways. Knowing which older highway runs parallel to your interstate route can be a help in case of an accident, breakdown, or other delay.

    The interstate highways are controlled access, meaning you get on and off at the access and exit ramps, and there is no "side traffic" to worry about. Pedestrians and bicycles are not allowed on the interstates.

    However, the secondary (non-interstate) roads are not controlled access, and you have to deal with side traffic, postal carriers, school busses, dogs, bicyclists, lawn mowers, farm equipment, pedestrians, and God only knows what else. As a guest navigating unfamiliar roads, you decide which is safer for you and follow your heart... That said, by the time you get to your sceanic destinations, taking the secondary roads will be a must to fully benefit from the opportunity.

    Every state except New York honors the system in which the mile marker designations increase from south to north, and west to east.

    IOW, if you enter New Mexico on US-285 on the southern end, the first mile marker you pass will be MM-1.

    And if you enter a state on the east side, the MM designations will get smaller as you proceed west. However, the count starts over again when you cross a state line even when you remain on the same federally numbered highway.

    Exit numbers are generally marked to coincide with the MM numbers, so if you are hunting -- say, exit 71, and you are at MM 90, it is 19 miles to the exit you want. However, this is not universally true, and in particular, in large cities with many exchanges and ramps the numbering system can be just plain weird.

    Finally, when traveling the interstates, note the behavior of the truckers. When they get into sight of an interstate exchange they will generally move to the left or perhaps middle lane to open up (not block) the on and off access ramps. This is sometimes criticized as an unsafe practice; however, I think the lane shifting is far safer than two 80,000 pound big-rigs locking up where the access ramp adjoins the interstate lanes proper...

    On our road system, the left lane is considered the fast lane, and the flow of traffic can be anything from 5 mph to 25 mph above the posted speed limit. When traveling by motorcyce I ride with the "flow of traffic" as a matter of safety. Do not get into the fast lane and set your cruise at the posted speed. To do so will greatly increase your chances of being hit from behind and thereby becoming a vacation fatality statistic.

    Also, know that I-75 in Florida can lock up at a dead standstill due to a wreck in Atlanta, GA, thereby leaving you with many wasted hours. (Don't worry about how I know this, just trust me).

    So look closely at the maps of Florida and consider how to get off of I-75 and take the old western route (Alt 19/27) to skirt the interstate of necessary. In fact, that is true of most of our interstates, so a sense of what alternates the older roads offer might be a good thing to study all along your route.

    Maps: Big atlases leave off a lot of map detail. The smaller folding maps offer more local road information. Good detailed folding maps will be readily available all along the route, so I would not try to get them until you get here. Also, the maps inventory is dictated by local needs. You will probably not be able to find a map of Arizona in Orlando, but by the time you get to New Mexico, they will be on every convenience store travel rack. Oh -- and one other thing about maps: if you make your personal "pit stops" at the tourtist rest centers near the state lines, you may find detail maps of every place you are going to be available at no cost.

    Enjoy your stay in the US. There is more to see than you can possibly cram into the time frame you have, but it will all the same be worthwhile.

    :thumb

    PS: An old trucker's trick for route planning (from the days before GPS) is to take a ruler and lay across the map from your start to the stop point. Make notes of the route that naturally follows the line of the ruler.

    Next, while traveling the interstates plan on an average speed of 60 mph, and on the secondary highways an average speed of 50 mph. Those averages will give you a general expectation of time vs distance.

    For the sceanic areas, your estimated mph is anybody's guess.

    Feel free to PM me if you have questions you prefer to address privately.
    #8
  9. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    Since the US is rather large and every state has something cool about it the "things to see" list could get endless.

    If it were me...I'd plan a route in a fairly direct line between Orland and L.A maximizing your time frame then use the 2 lane blacktop back roads avoiding the big cities.

    You'll see more than on the Interstates and you'll get to react with the locals more. Just ask the locals at night what's cool around here. There will also be a lot of riders out in May that can give you some pointers regarding where they've come from or are going to.

    Plan a route that allows you time to hang for a bit if you like where you're at. Nothing worse than cramming too much into a schedule and having to blast through everything. Better to see less and enjoy what you see.

    Have a great trip!
    #9
  10. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

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    If I could only do it once...some suggestions:

    1. Over the top of the NM Rockies through Angel Fire, and down into Taos.
    2. From Taos past Ship Rock through "Monument Valley" and have a steak at the "swingin steak" in Mexican Hat, UT.
    3. Mexican Hat North up the Mokee Dugway to the top of the plateau. Cross Lake Powell on the ferry to Bull Frog Landing. Ride North on Rt 276 and east past Capitol Reef National Monument on 95; and find Hwy 12 at Boulder UT.
    4. Hwy 12 is the most spectaular touring road I've been on (although the Mokee Dugway is wild too). Take 12 west to Bryce Canyon Monument and then dash to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a quick peek over the edge.
    5. From The north rim, you can continue west through Zion National Monument to Las Vegas; or dive south at Lees Crossing (89A) and head south to Sedona, AZ through Oak Creek Canyon. If you do Sedona, continue South through Jerome, Prescott and drop into Wickenburg, where you can find your way to Los Angeles. Make sure you stop at Tuzigoot Ruins right near Jerome.
    6. If you do Vegas, continue through Death Valley and find your way to LA from there.

    This path will take you through country you will never forget. From stark high desert to alpine forest and everything in between. The roads are fantastic and hardly travelled by anybody, let alone tourists. In May you will be a bit early so dress for potential cold. You will generally be running between 5000' and 7500' altitude with 9k foot pass on either side of Taos. Figure 5 days to cover Taos, NM to LA (and that's 12-14 hours riding daily).

    A link from my ride through there a couple years ago.
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94889&highlight=coast%2Fcoast

    The pics will give you a sample of the scenery. I was off-road a lot, but you don't have to.

    This will be a great trip from the the Rockies west. Some like the Southeast, but I'd slab it hard to get past Texas and start the real ride from there.

    If you want more info let me know. -P
    #10
  11. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    US-64 from Ratan thru Taos to Farmington takes you across the top of the State East to West...

    Damn good motorcycle road...
    #11
  12. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    You're probably right. I was just suggesting the I-40 corridor instead of I-10.

    I like Northern New Mexico and Southern Utah, not to mention the Ozarks here in Arkansas, so I suppose I am biased...

    Hammering West on I-10 might not be TOO bad, if the Western States are the main destination.

    Hitting Carlsbad after El Paso would be a good time. From there I'd run US-285 North to Santa Fe and Taos, then US-64 West to the Four Corners.

    taos
    [​IMG]

    brazos cliffs as seen from US-64
    [​IMG]

    I'm with Pantah on stopping in Mexican Hat. There are a couple of cool places to stay and eat. Plus, it's only 20 miles from Monument Valley... Everyone who's ever watched a John Ford/John Wayne movie will like the Monument Valley area...

    swingin' steak... Mmmm!!!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    monument valley
    [​IMG]

    From there, since it's his first time, I'd recommend running US-160 and AZ-64 to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to take that in. However, if he chose the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, he could then ride through Zion National Park, then head South through Las Vegas to L.A.

    3,500 miles of choices!!!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. ezrydr

    ezrydr Dead Man Riding

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    Highways are like anywhere else: most of the experience depends on what you take there. The interstates aren't necessarily bad or boring; some of them run through magnificent scenery. They certainly aren't all alike; I-40 going across the Smokies is exponentially better than I-80 across Iowa, for example.

    Anyway, these guys are on a strict time limit; better that they go the fastest route for the first part, and that way they can save enough time to be able to

    So - first off, I'd forget I-40; there's nothing on it that's worth going that far out of the way, and all the way across Oklahoma it's in terrible condition and pretty much stays that way. Nothing much to see, either, except for a stretch through western Arkansas, and it goes through some pretty loathsome places like Oklahoma City.

    If you're taking the Slab, you might as well stay with I-10 at least till you get out to the Southwest. But if you do that, then figure on getting off I-10 somewhere in east Texas and making a wide swing around Houston, because you truly do not want to drive there. And while you're off the Slab, you might want to go ahead and take in the hill country in the Austin area - it's not really out of your way and it'll make a nice break from all that dead-flat-country droning.

    Once out in Arizona and New Mexico, there's so much to see that your only real problem will be what to miss. If you're going to the Canyon, though, then I'd say swing up north through New Mexico and go through the Four Corners area, then take the blacktop across the Navajo reservation and come into the Canyon area on 64 from the east - be sure and stop at Cameron for a fry-bread taco.

    I hope you're experienced at riding in very windy conditions, because you're almost certainly going to get to do a lot of it no matter what route you take. And remember that it does get cold up in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico even in May, so take suitable clothing.

    Good luck and good riding!
    #13
  14. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    fixt... :nod

    FWIW, if Northern New Mexico is in the gameplan, it's just under 1800 miles from Orlando through Memphis and on to Taos (the same as the distance from Orlando to El Paso), vs. 2100 miles to Taos if you ride I-10 to El Paso, then turn North... A savings of 300 miles to run the I-40 corridor from Memphis to Amarillo... And don't forget the Route 66 kitsch one can take in between OKC and Amarillo!!!

    :deal

    Orlando > Memphis > Los Angeles = 2562 miles

    Orlando > El Paso > Los Angeles = 2511 miles

    I prefer Northern New Mexico/Southern Colorado/Southern Utah/Northern Arizona myself, so I don't mind running I-40 or US-412 to get there...
    #14
  15. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    It's a big country. Most of the states, east of the Mississippi, are as big as England. So I'm thinking you want to see the big open country.:clap

    The West, for me, would be a big circle around the edge of Nevada. Four Corners, Death Valley, Yosemite, Grande Canyon.

    I second going to the 4-corners area (Monument Valley, etc). Recommend Canyon DeChelly (NW Arizona) and Ship Rock near here. Also Hwy 191 but consider hwy 60 thru the Apache Reservation, scenic sweepers, forests and valleys, very nice.

    Skip Los Angelas and do Vegas instead, if you need city time. Hwy 93 is my pick for going north out of Vegas.(high mt valleys...empty) and hwy 50 east and west in norh Nevada. These will give good pics of the long lonely road.

    The east side of the Sierras have great roads, parks, and small town. So at least some of Death Valley and cross into Yosemite over Tioga Pass. Don't waste time in the valley if time is crunched.

    There is a huge desert from Mexico to Canada with Nevada in the middle of it, so any of these states (south ore, north utah, nev, south idaho) have huge areas of empty to cross. 95 and 93 are both good thru Idaho, 20..east and west,

    Anywhere around Yellowstone is good, I like the north edges,(Montana, Idaho). Glacier Park is spectacular (maybe better than Yellowstone.)

    Beautiful grassy valleys in Montana (Dillon area and Yellowstone River Valley) Things get seriously green up here in June.

    Well, that is about four weeks worth. Good Luck
    #15
  16. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer Supporter

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    Are we supposed to reply above or below a quote? :ear

    My main comments will appear below! :lol3

    I guess I did come off in something of a scattergun manner.

    Actually, I was thinking more about the comments to the effect of "you can ride an interstate in your own country," and the other notes about taking off to New England.

    All of those are great riding venues, but I felt like they ignored his basic question.

    I suspect think the man from UK is traveling like I did going the other way across the waters several years back. I bought my tickets a year ahead of time at a bargain rate; changing them was not an option. And an itinerary outside my air travel/time limitations was simply impossible.

    So in my characteristicaly tactless manner I was just trying to steer us back towards some proxmity to his question.

    :evil
    #16
  17. L1gunman

    L1gunman Abner Snopes

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    I'd have to sit down with an atlas and a beer or three to really map out a route, but in general, I think I'd go from orlando to Birmingham Al and check out the Barber Museum. From Birmingham I'd head to the Texas Hill Country, or maybe up some of the dirt roads near black mesa oklahoma, and then head into New Mexico. Take squiggly roads towards the Grand Canyon. Check out the North Rim. Head towards Vegas. Cheap hotel room and plenty of food there to make up for the previous days camping. Head towards Death Valley early in the morning, go from there towards Yosemite, avoid San Francisco, but get on Highway 1 somewhere around Monterey, and then Hwy 1 to San Luis Obispo, and then head back towards Orlando.


    some long boring days at the beginning and the end, but i think seeing Hwy 1, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon make up for it.
    #17
  18. FrankS

    FrankS ...please wait...

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    unlike in Europe, where you can make much better time on the Motorways/Autobahns (whatever is their equivalent to Interstates), the difference in the US is less significant.
    Especially in the West (almost anywhere west of the Mississippi) there is hardly anything that slows you down a great deal on the non-Interstates but the ride will be a lot nicer than just burning miles on the Interstate. Speed limits on Interstates and other highways are mostly the same (although I-10 in West Texas has a posted speed limit of 80mph whereas US-190, almost running parallel is only 75mph).
    I’d say you can easily complete your coast-2-coast trip in the set time frame and stay mostly off the Interstates.

    …and from what I’ve heard, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is not worth a visit, overpriced and quite boring.
    Regards
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Frank
    #18
  19. Boondox

    Boondox Travels With Barley

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    I don't think anyone was ignoring the OP's initial posted itinerary. On the contrary, I think all who posted alternatives (like myself) were hoping to make their stay in the US as memorable as possible. I'd like to think if I was planning a ride on the Continent some rider over there would give me the benefit of his or her knowledge.

    No offense, but there's a reason the middle third of the country is routinely referred to as "fly by" states. Sure, there's some exciting stuff, but it takes SO LONG to get from one to the other. :wink:

    YMMV
    #19
  20. EXRM193

    EXRM193 Been here awhile

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    I would love to spend more time. But the wankers I`m going with can only get 2 weeks out of their Salmon Hancuffs, so time is the critical issue.
    I`ll look at all the routes suggested when sober.

    Cheers for the replies.
    #20