Now that I’m officially halfway done with the trip I thought it might be a good time to sit back and take stock of the trip so far. This journey has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. There have been so many enriching experiences that taught me so much. Below I’ve listed some of the things that have gone right and wrong on the trip.
Things I Did Right
- My Packing Set Up: This was obviously something I was concerned about, owing to the fact that I’d never previously set up a motorcycle for such a long journey. The setup of having the two hard Zega Pro panniers with the soft, vulcanized rubber duffel on top has been rock solid. Its enough room for all my gear and tools, and provided me with a little bit of back rest when I would sit back in the pillion (passenger seat). I like this better than if I had a hard top case.
- Picked Two Hotel Brands and Stuck with Them: So far, I’ve been going 50 / 50 between camping and staying in hotels. I made the decision to stick with Holiday Inn and La Quinta because both were running the best specials during the summer in terms of generating loyalty points. I now have several free nights in each that could get me most of the way home if I really wanted. I’m glad I didn’t just stay in random spots.
- Turning Back South from Colorado: My original plan was to head due west after crossing the Colorado border. But ultimately the lure of 10,000 Waves Spa, green & red chilies, and solpapilas pulled me back south to Santa Fe. So glad I went back down through Taos, New Mexico and Albuquerque. Not only is Santa Fe one of my top three favorite cities, but it forced me through Arizona which got me to the Grand Canyon.
- Hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway at Dawn: I know I’ve already written about this, but it really was breathtaking and something I’ll keep close to me for the rest of my life.
- Not riding at night: I just feel so much safer, and its nice to be done riding before the sun goes down.
Things I Would Do Differently
- More Research: I probably could have done more homework in terms of knowing what’s around me. I know I missed out on a lot of attractions, but this way I can always look forward to doing it again.
- Make it down to L.A. and Southern CA: Meeting up with friends has been such a terrific part of my journey and I feel like I neglected a lot of people I care for in that area.
- Brought a chair: I’m a little on the fence with this one because I’m not entirely sure where I would put a folding chair on my bike. But most of the campsites have not had picnic tables, and those that did, were not always comfortable after sitting in the saddle for 6 hours. It be nice to have my chair to sit in while watching the sun go down.
- Have some business cards made for my blog to give out to people I meet.
Best Meal of the Trip (Fancy)
Coyote Café (New Mexico)
Best Meal of the Trip (Casual)
Tie: YaYa’s (Alabama) / City Market BBQ (Texas)
Best Camping Meal
Backpacker’s Pantry – Pad See You with Chicken
Tie – Waffle House / King Fu’s Chinese Restaurant (Louisana)
Best View of the Trip
3-way tie – Blue Ridge Parkway / Grand Canyon / Lighthouse Point just South of Fort Bragg
Most Random Thing That Happened
Deciding to stop at The Biltmore in Asheville, NC and then spending the night at the hotel, followed by clay shooting in the morning. Who woulda thunk?
Equipment That Rocked
- JetBoil: This thing rocked! Boiling hot water in 90 seconds.
- Twisted Throttle Electrified Tank Bag: Having my tank bag hooked directly to the battery of my motorcycle, allowed me to keep my iPhone and iPad fully charged most of the time.
- Mountain Hardware Monkey Man Fleece: Not only did this jacket keep me warm during some of the cool coastal nights, but the jacket was soft enough to be used as my pillow every night I camped.
- BMW Rallye 3 Suit: Remember, this is the jacket and pants I’m wearing every day, rain or shine, hot and cold for 50+ days straight (yeah, I washed it). First of all, the suit did its job protecting me from the crashes I had while driving off road during Shadow of the Rockies. Second, the suit did a great job keeping me warm during some of the early mornings and high altitude passes. I will admit that the suit did get toasty when driving slowly along the Gulf States, but I think that would have been true of any riding suit. I felt good ventilation as soon as I got above 30 mph. Great pockets, good comfort. This suit will go with me to the ends of the Earth. Love it.
- Famous Food Web App: Every traveller MUST bookmark this! The address is http://www.famousfood.us/. This site cross references your location with all the destinations on the Travel Channel and Food Network. I’ve used it as my main dining guide in unknown places.
Equipment That Let Me Down
- Big Agnes Seedhouse SL 2 Tent: There were a few things I didn’t love about my tent. Being 6’4, I found the tent a bit cramped and found myself usually sleeping in a slight ‘J’ shape diagonally inside. This obviously made turning over a bit cumbersome. The tent pegs that came with the kit were also a bit lackluster and I find myself doing much better with aftermarket tent pegs that I picked up in Boone, NC. Setting up the tent was generally pretty quick (once I had the right pegs) and the size was perfect, fitting right into my pannier. But I sort of feel like I should have kissed a few more frogs before committing to this tent.
- Shoei Helmet Pinshield: This will only be of interest to motorcycle people, but before I left I installed a pinshield on the inside of my visor. Let me be clear that my Shoei Multitec Flip Up helmet has been AWESOME – I’m just talking about the visor here. Pinshields are an extra layer installed on the inside of the motorcycle visor to eliminate fog. But in this case, I found my vision getting really distracted between what I could see through the pinshield and what was through the visor. I ended up taking it out after a few days and have never looked back.
- BMW Electronic Tire Gauge: What a piece of crap! I could never get a straight reading off this overpriced piece of farkle. I bought a $10 analog gauge at AutoZone in Louisiana that worked just fine.
Best Night’s Sleep
10,000 Waves Spa (New Mexico)
Worst Night’s Sleep
Lake Ute State Park (New Mexico)
Skyline Drive (Virginia)
Capitan Gap (New Mexico)
Best Travel Tip I Figured Out
Picking up little “airline” bottles of booze to enjoy while camping. They take up very little space and are the perfect serving size (when you drink three).
If I left out any categories or lists, you’d like to see – please feel free to email any questions of comments.
One lap cross-country down, one to go.