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Thread: Road Trippin' USA 2012

  1. #1
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    Road Trippin' USA 2012

    I postponed the trip to 2013

    Like I already told in my introduction, I'm planning a road trip around the US in 2012 on my own bike. I'm going to ship it from Holland to New York and ride around for 3 months (july-august-september). It's always been my dream to ride the US on a bike, and I did it in 2000 on a HD for 3 days on R66 (I know... ). But I want more, and especially not be confined by a couple of weeks. You end up seeing not very much and spend a lot of money anyway. Renting is not an option. Renting a bike for 4 weeks costs as much as shipping my own bike back and forth, including insurance (which is insanely expensive for the US!). I found out that insurance can be arranged directly with an American company Fernet for a more reasonable price than I got previously. It's still way more expensive than the $50 I pay here in Holland for an entire year of liability. I realize however, that the US is a bit different and I need to be properly insured in case something happens

    So...that's the background. I don't want to overplan this trip. I need some kind of plan obviously, but I want to have the liberty to deviate of that. What I did over the past few weeks, is plotting points on the map and now I made a route in Mapsource just to see how long the route is. That is something I need to know approximately to prevent over-enthousiastic planning. I first came up with 27,000km, which might be a bit optimistic. I cut down the route to some 20,000km. This seems right for a 90 day trip. I did a trip back and forth to Morrocco and that was 7800km in 3 weeks. Remember the route is just a rough outline of the areas that I want to visit. It is subject to change over time and during the trip. By setting the basic route to 20,000km, I have room to stay somewhere for a couple of days and/or go somewhere else.

    This is the route that I made with Mapsource:


    Let me describe the route by mentioning the highlights:
    • start from New York (Newark)
      [DITCHED]Visit Long Island and see The Hamptons
    • Follow the coastline up to Plymouth and see where the Mayflower landed (my father had a boat called the Mayflower, an American Yacht as it happens)
    • Follow the coastline further up to Nova Scotia, do a round over the Cabot Trail
    • Go through Canada to Quebeck, Montreal, Niagra Falls
    • Enter the US again, go to Michigan visit an old friend in Grand Ledge
    • Go up in direction of Lake Superior, then West direction Duluth
    • Set off to the West, to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood in Dakota
    • Yellowstone Park
    • Go south to Denver, Colorado (family visit)
    • To Texas, Big Bend
    • Explore Texas, using some info from the Lone Star Trail RR.
    • Drive through Louisiana,Mississippi, Alabama
    • Go through Florida, to the Keys
      [DITCHED]From the Keys back up to Newark, following the coastline
      [DITCHED]Pass through Delaware, instead of visiting Washington (I've seen the pictures)
    • Drive back up through FLA, direction Blue Ridge Mountains and whatever comes in between. Coastline doesn't seem to be interesting.
    • Put the bike on a boat
    • Take a plan back home
    • Wait a couple of weeks for my bike to arrive


    March 1st
    I might reverse the route (from NY direction Keys, then direction Texas, up north and than back east) and start in May that way I'll be in the south when the temperature is still ok, and the holiday season is not fully underway. Travel period will be May-June-July
    The map will be changed soon


    Just for kix, I counted the states that I'll pass through on this trip: 27 + 4 Canadian states.

    I'm pretty stoked about the plan, and the route seems very nice to me. Nothing is really fixed, but some things I'd really like to see. Some is tourist stuff, but I am a tourist and when I'm close to Mount Rushmore (Deadwood was my 1st goal), I'd better go up and see what the fuzz is all about. Yellowstone is something I think is stunning to see. Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail looks so nice, so I think I should go there. Same for Niagra Falls.

    So, are there any must-sees around this route? Something I missed?
    While I planned to go for hotels/motels, I'm now starting to think that I might bring my little tent with me. Is that a good idea? I'm not a real camper, and I don't really want to carry all the stuff with me that you need when you go camping. It adds so much to you luggage. How is camping in the US? I have a very small and easy to raise tent (sort of umbrella-typ quick release) and I could take a simple gas stove to make some coffee or heat a can of soup, but I don't want to carry a complete cooking set. Too much hassle for me...

    Any tips for paper maps? I have a Garmin Z??mo 660, but paper maps are always handy if somebody needs to show me something. And since I don't want to plan the entire trip, I sometime might want to navigate with a real map. In Europe you take the Michelin maps. What are the maps I'll need for the US with enough detail for the smaller backroads which I like so much. I really don't want to experience the US by Interstate alone. Rand MacNally seems to be the map of choice. Locally maps should be available at tourist information/welcome centers
    Last edited by Mike_Philippens; 06-03-2011 at 05:21 PM.
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  2. #2
    Registered User JohnM's Avatar
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    Mike:

    Good luck with your plans. I bet it will be an enjoyable journey.

    As far as maps are concerned, most (if not all) of the states you'll be travelling through offer free road maps. If you go to each state's webpage, look for a tourism section. The free map offer should be for there.

    One place I would recommend that wouldn't pull you too far from your route is the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, located just east of Birmingham, Alabama. An excellent & comprehensive collection of motorcycles.

    I'm sure others will chime in with their suggestions.

    JohnM
    "One day you're a kid sitting on a bike, dreaming the road; next thing you know, your social life consists of drinking microbrews with middle-aged roosters who ride BMWs and wear Aerostitch suits."

    - Joe Glydon

  3. #3
    RK Ryder
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    Mike, if you are going to be near Albuquerque, that's not that far from the Grand Canyon. I would think that it would be worth seeing. Going there myself in the spring, so later this year I could be more emphatic about whether or not seeing that landmark would be worth the detour.
    Paul
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  4. #4
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Philippens View Post
    .................
    Let me describe the route by mentioning the highlights:
    • start from New York (Newark)
    • Visit Long Island and see The Hamptons
    • Follow the coastline up to Plymouth and see where the Mayflower landed (my father had a boat called the Mayflower, an American Yacht as it happens)
    • Follow the coastline further up to Nova Scotia, do a round over the Cabot Trail
    • Go through Canada to Quebeck, Montreal, Niagra Falls
    • Enter the US again, go to Michigan visit an old friend in Grand Ledge
    • Go up in direction of Lake Superior, then West direction Duluth
    • Set off to the West, to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood in Dakota
    • Yellowstone Park
    • Go south to Denver, Colorado (family visit)
    • To Texas, Big Bend
    • Explore Texas, using some info from the Lone Star Trail RR.
    • Drive through Louisiana,Mississippi, Alabama
    • Go through Florida, to the Keys
    • From the Keys back up to Newark, following the coastline
    • Pass through Delaware, instead of visiting Washington (I've seen the pictures)
    • Put the bike on a boat
    • Take a plan back home
    • Wait a couple of weeks for my bike to arrive


    .............

    So, are there any must-sees around this route? Something I missed?..................
    O.K. Here is my advice, I am sure you will get more.


    [*]start from New York (Newark)
    [*]Visit Long Island and see The Hamptons Skip it unless you have some compelling reason to take 4 lane highways to see the ocean, Volvos , MB's and BMW 5 series, but being from Holland, you have seen water, and European cars before. Lots of traffic, lots of urban sprawl, too many SUV's, and no fun riding IMHO. If you want to ride an Island, stop in Bar Harbor Maine
    [*]Follow the coastline up to Plymouth and see where the Mayflower landed (my father had a boat called the Mayflower, an American Yacht as it happens)
    [*]Follow the coastline further up to Nova Scotia, do a round over the Cabot Trail
    [*]Go through Canada to Quebeck, Montreal, Niagra Falls If time allows, dip S from Montreal into Vermont and NY, on the way to the falls. The ride along the St Lawrence, and the N shore of Lake Ontario are flat and monotonous, Toronto is a nice city, but if you have seen one North American city, you have seen them all.
    [*]Enter the US again, go to Michigan visit an old friend in Grand Ledge
    [*]Go up in direction of Lake Superior, then West direction Duluth
    [*]Set off to the West, to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood in Dakota
    [*]Yellowstone ParkPlan on a WEEK in Yellowstone, it is an amazing area
    [*]Go south to Denver, Colorado (family visit)
    [*]To Texas, Big Bend
    [*]Explore Texas, using some info from the Lone Star Trail RR.
    [*]Drive through Louisiana,Mississippi, Alabama
    [*]Go through Florida, to the Keys
    [*]From the Keys back up to Newark, following the coastline. Screw the coastline, it is 1000 miles of the same thing. Interstate, and cities. Head inland, Take the Blue Ridge North, and if you indeed like small roads, and have a week to spare, spend it here, let me know if you take this advice, I will send you back roads.
    [*]Pass through Delaware, instead of visiting Washington (I've seen the pictures)


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Philippens View Post
    ...........What are the maps I'll need for the US with enough detail for the smaller backroads which I like so much. I really don't want to experience the US by Interstate alone.
    Maps are readily available at thousands of Gas stations/convenience stores in every state. Also many states have welcome centers along the interstates that offer free maps. If you want small roads that is a challenge, DeLorme Atlas' are available, detailed but you would need a trailer just to carry them. I would say when you are in an area that you can spend time, pick up a regional map. Spend time with Map Quest, and Googls maps, and mark roads of interest.

    Remember the size of the US is IMMENSE compared to Europe. I take 10 maps, and a GPS with me to the Alps, and the Entire Alp region would fit into the state of Tennessee.

    Sounds like a Wonderful trip.

  5. #5
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    When you get to the Big Bend the two "must-ride" roads are:

    FM170 otherwise known as the River Road between Presidio and Study Butte. It is really interesting between Presidio and Lajitas.

    The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from Tx118 (in the National Park) to Castolon and Santa Elena Canyon.

    When coming south get over to TX 118 at Kent (at I-10) and take 118 south to Ft. Davis past the McDonald Observatory.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  6. #6
    Sam...I am
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    Devils Tower near Rushmore is a nice site/ride.

  7. #7
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_F View Post
    Mike, if you are going to be near Albuquerque, that's not that far from the Grand Canyon. I would think that it would be worth seeing. Going there myself in the spring, so later this year I could be more emphatic about whether or not seeing that landmark would be worth the detour.
    I saw that my route to Denver CO takes me very near the Rockies, so I have to go there. I didn't plot a waypoint on it, but it would be a waste not to visit it.

    Quote Originally Posted by samthg View Post
    Devils Tower near Rushmore is a nice site/ride.
    Isn't that the Devils Tower from Close Encounters? Yep! I'm old enough to remember that one! I'll mark it on my map, looks like something I'll have to see.

    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    O.K. Here is my advice, I am sure you will get more.
    Thanks for that advice. I was not really sure about the Hamptons. It's just something I heard a lot about and thought it would be a nice area to visit. But it's high on the list of things to skip if something better comes along.
    The places I mention, like Toronto and such are not all places I want to ride through and/or visit. They're more like placeholders for the route. I really hate big cities on the bike. As a matter of fact, I skipped Rome when I was in Italy because it was hot and the traffic is not very nice with a bike. I prefer the places where you can actually see nice things and that are a bit more authentic. That's why I'm not going to Whashington for instance. I may be a fine city to live in, but I've seen the White House and Lincoln memorial on TV more than the people who live there...
    And please...send me the back roads...I'll use the Interstates only to cover some distance, and for touring I prefer the backroads.

    Thanks for all the advice and tips! Keep 'm coming
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  8. #8
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Philippens View Post
    The places I mention, like Toronto and such are not all placetaly ................. I prefer the places where you can actually see nice things and that are a bit more authentic. ...........

    And please...send me the back roads...I'll use the Interstates only to cover some distance, and for touring I prefer the backroads.

    Thanks for all the advice and tips! Keep 'm coming
    Montreal is a nice place, the old city is very "European". That said, most of the other cities in the US, the downtown is business, tall buildings and a 9-5 world, before everyone escapes to the suburbs. There are some exceptions, but personally I avoid them like the plague. In Europe it is the opposite, the center of the city is the cultural hub, and commerce center where all the people gather at night and there are restaurants and clubs to socialize. You rarely find that in the US.

    The authenticity in the US lies in the rural areas.

  9. #9
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    In Europe it is the opposite, the center of the city is the cultural hub, and commerce center where all the people gather at night and there are restaurants and clubs to socialize. You rarely find that in the US.
    It's starting to change here. In Amsterdam for instance, more and more caf?®s downtown are taken over by large investors. That means that the people behind the counter are employees and not owners. You have to look for real authentic places that are truly nice to be. Sometimes you feel like you're in a supermarket instead of a caf?®...
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  10. #10
    RK Ryder
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Philippens View Post
    The places I mention, like Toronto and such are not all places I want to ride through and/or visit.
    If you did wish to see the CN Tower, now the second tallest free standing structure, from the 401 take the Don Valley Parkway south to the Gardiner and then the QEW to Hamilton and then to London. On the Gardiner, you'd ride right past the Tower.

    However, you said that you didn't wish to visit Toronto, so, when approaching Toronto on the 401, in Whitby, take Brock Street North to the 407 and exit at the 401 near Milton and continue your trip west. Unfortunately it is an expensive toll road, but the 401 skirting Toronto is the busiest highway in North America, yes even more than LA. It is not a pleasant ride on a bike unless you are very, very early in the morning. Any time past 6:00 a.m. is rush hour. The 407 makes the bypass very quick and stress free. Happy travelling through our province.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Treasurer of the Forest City Motorrad Club #159
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  11. #11
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
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    If you're interested in maritime stuff, Duluth has a really good museum about Great Lakes shipping.

    It looks like you've selected some good roads in northern Wyoming and edging into Montana. I wouldn't spend a week in Yellowstone, but others may. Because of the traffic and "animal stops" (when an animal appears, all traffic stops or slows to a crawl), it will take at least a day to get through it.

    If you go through Thermopolis, Wyoming, a soak in the hot springs is fun. Wave or stop by when you come through Laramie.

    Depending on how much time you have, instead of heading straight south from Denver, take US 285 over to Poncha Springs and then south to Taos and Santa Fe - less traffic and much prettier. If you have a little more time take I-70 west from Denver, then Colorado 91 to Leadville and head south, catching 285 near Buena Vista. (At Mineral Hot Springs, take the Colorado 17 shortcut.)

    There are a lot more interesting roads in Colorado, but this won't take you out of your way too much.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway from Tennessee to Virginia is wonderful, but don't do it on a summer weekend and don't expect to make good time on it. There are also many really good roads in the area where Georgia and North Carolina touch.

    I don't know what time of year you are coming, but my tendency would to go the other direction, to pass through the hot and humid south and hot and dry Texas before the full heat of summer. Also note that many passes in Wyoming don't open until the end of May.

    It looks like a wonderful trip. Have fun!

    - Kate
    '12 K1600 GT

    What is it you intend to do with your one wild and precious life? - Mary Oliver

  12. #12
    Registered User JohnM's Avatar
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    Mike:

    As was already suggested, there's not much to see in The Hamptons. In fact, it'll be very congested with traffic in July. If you must do it, Bill Joel has a small motorcycle museum on the north shore of Long Island. Might want to consider that.

    Also, if you do decide to go out to LI, you can continue from the east end to New England via the Orient Point ferry to New London, CT. Will save you a bunch of time & aggravation. Reservations will be a must though.

    Never been there, but the mansions along the coast at Newport RI are supposedly amazing.

    I'll also second the recommendation to somehow work the Blue Ridge Parkway into your return leg to NJ. That would probably mean eliminating the eastern coastline from Georgia to NJ, but I think it would be worth it.

  13. #13
    A wandering Bird Vagabird's Avatar
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    Another thought: When my friends from Germany visited, they very much wanted to see a rodeo. Many towns in the west have a rodeo for a week at some time during the summer - kind of like a fair - but Cody, Wyoming, has one every night during the summer.

    Also, camping in Yellowstone usually requires a reservation.

    - Kate
    '12 K1600 GT

    What is it you intend to do with your one wild and precious life? - Mary Oliver

  14. #14
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    Gee...the tips keep coming in! Great stuff, and so many votes for the Blue Ridge Parkway that I definitely can't ignore that part. It looks like a nice area to spent some time in, so I'll work out an alternative. Like I said, the route that I have now is just a work in progress and I'll refine it based upon the great input I get here.

    I'm still not sure about the right time to go. Normally, I go on holidays around September because it's nice and quit. Now I go for 3 months, so I have to find a timeframe that's not going to take me from blizzard to heatstroke in one week...and while I know I can't avoid rain now and then, I don't want to go in the rainy season for a given area. Any thoughts on that?
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  15. #15
    Registered User Earache's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Philippens View Post

    Any tips for paper maps? ....
    Hi Mike -

    PM your mailing address to me and I'll send ya a Rand McNally Road Atlas - a must for every trip, even if it's just to plan. I'll put some notes on the pages of areas that I'd go to. It would be shame, as others have said, to miss the Grand Canyon, Moab Utah and other areas that you'll be close to.

    The atlas all 50 states and Canuck Provinces in it - all you'd need.

    Eric

    edit: check out the free info that you can get from State Tourism boards as well. Most have websites and you'll get info on what festivals are being held and what to expect at them. They'll send you lots of info and many now have downloadable stuff on their sites.
    Here's a link to New Mexico's for example: http://www.newmexico.org/
    wwwEaracheMotorsports.com
    http://intensitycycles.blogspot.com/

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