|08-27-2009, 05:27 PM||#1|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Fairbanks, AK
How I spent my summer vacation, or 6000 miles on a WR250R
Its been a long time since I had a voluntary vacation from work and school, 10 years this summer to be exact. I had been planning a long road trip off and on for the last few years, but always ended up having to cancel due to lack of job, lack of money, or lack of suitable vehicle. This year, no such excuses. So grab some popcorn, pour yourself a drink, and settle in.
My last summer class ended at 10:30am on August 6th and my first fall class starts on 8/31 at 11am, so I had just over 3 weeks to spend on the road. There was a basic itinerary for at least the first 2 weeks: ride Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Deal's Gap, and the TransAmerica Trail from the beginning in Jellico, TN to Salida, CO. After that, ride home on whatever route looked appealing.
A note on gear... what I wore reflected the trip. Just under half was dirt and just over half was pavement. As such, I wore street gear on my upper body (Shoei RF-1000 helmet, Rev'It Air jacket, Joe Rocket leather gloves) and dirt gear on my lower body (Klim Baja pants, Alpinestars Tech6 boots, EVS knee guards). Everything worked perfectly and was comfortable to the point that I mostly forgot that I was wearing it during the trip, especially the helmet.
Day 1 - Towson, MD to the Blue Ridge Parkway
Loaded up to go, goodbye Towson University!
I got moving around 11am. I wanted to be the hell out of the Baltimore/DC metro area before rush hour even thought about starting, so it was time to slab it. On the Baltimore Beltway...
...and the DC beltway
...to US 29.
Time for the first, but certainly not the last gas and food stop of the trip:
As I was sitting there eating, this guy pulled out and walked into the store. We're not in the city anymore...
Not too much later, it was time to get the trip started for real:
A quick note about the setup: Side bags are Dirtbagz Scouts. Tail bag and tank bag are Wolfman Enduro models. I planned on camping most of the way (more on that later...) and stored my Hennessey Hammock, sleeping bag, stove fuel can, and camp shoes in the left side bag. In the right bag was rain gear and clothes. In the tail bag was everything else (tools, a few spares, food, notebook, first aid kit, toiletries, and some other odds and ends) with the big ass REI camp pad out in front making a nice back rest for the road portions of the trip. The tankbag There is also a 2gallon rotopax gas can on the left side. I had a 1gal water rotopax strapped to the rear rack when I started (in the first pic), but I hated the extra weight and added difficulty of strapped everything down securely so I ditched it at my Mom's house as I went by. More on it all later...
Anywho... Skyline Drive didn't take too long getting to the goods.
First of several tunnels over the next few days
There's not much to be said for these, the pictures speak for themselves.
And before you know it, its over.
The road itself was wonderfully curving and twisting, and being a Thursday it was fairly empty. Its hard to say which was more fun, the views or the road. As nice as it was though, the first hundred miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway simply blows it away:
One of my favorite road signs of the whole trip
And as day faded into night, I made it to Otter Creek Campground, ~60 miles in on the BRP and ~300 miles from home. Cooked up a quick dinner, set up the hammock, and got some much needed sleep with a plan to be up near dawn.
|08-27-2009, 06:04 PM||#5|
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Sykesville, Md
Been awaiting this for awhile now. Almost called ya to make sure you were still with us and not broken down in the boonies. Ya missed the damn camp out too. We'll do it again next year. Looking forward to the rest! Now get to the good stuff
|08-27-2009, 06:26 PM||#9|
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Statesville, NC
I can't wait to read more, I've been lurking in the WRR thread and wanted to read this report since you left. My next bike has got to be a WR250R!
'03 Aprilia Caponord
'99 Honda VFR800Fi - Sold
'00 Honda XR650R SM
|08-28-2009, 08:40 PM||#11|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Fairbanks, AK
Day 4 - Start of the TAT
Got a decently early start today, earliest hotel checkout of the trip. The water main in Jellico had burst overnight, leaving me without a shower for the morning (fortunately I had taken care of it the night before after enjoying the pool and hot tub and utilizing the guest laundry). One thing I found neat about the Days Inn Jellico though, unlike most hotels that have their room bibles hidden in a drawer, theirs were out and open on the table when you first walked in.
An interesting touch imo. Even though I'm not particularly religious, I thought it was a neat little personal touch.
And we're off! It was hot and muggy as I expected TN to be, that would change soon enough however...
One neat thing about eastern TN: the pavment and gravel are the same color. Made for some, uh, interesting riding with the early morning sun peaking through the trees distorting your view.
Also got my first big lesson of the trip: you never know whats around the corner on these roads. I had several encounters like this on the trip, slow down for the curves fella's.
First bit of water!
Neat old studebaker(?), in someones front yard on the trail
Right around here I had another insight: bring a quiet bike for this as you'll basically be going through someone's front yard all the time and you really don't need the extra power. This isn't a race and the only opponent is the distance.
I also had my first reroute near here. Sam's maps (or my Mapsource interpetation of them) had me going down someone's driveway. It took a little while to get rerouted out of the neighborhood I was in, but pretty shortly I was back on the little purple line on the Garmin.
Oops, time for another detour, this time intentional! Saw this forest access road off to the side and decided to get some mud on the bike.
Passed this little roadside cemetary, very quiet and very pretty spot.
Right around Wartburg, TN, where I stopped for my first TAT gas stop and subway sandwich (seriously, there were subways EVERYWHERE! I'd be in a town that basically consisted of a post office, a co-op, and a gas station, and there would be a subway in the gas station. Fricking weird...), the skies opened up on me. I had planned on detouring to the nemo bridge rail road tunnel, but the weather changed my mind.
Fortunately I had a covered place to change into my rain gear. Unfortunately my rain pants leaked like a seive. Soggy butt most of the day, which got better when I had to stand and it all ran down into my boots.
Old and new:
Well... this is the south...
Time for another reroute! It finally stopped pouring, at least for a while and I was motoring down this nice smooth wonderful gravel road when I looked down and noticed my Garmin had me turning. To where? Left of course, on a little road I didn't see that even existed when I first went by.
Screw it, its an adventure, lets see where this goes. After all, this is a road. Right?
Oh wait it gets better...
Uh... hell no. Time to backtrack. Learned my second lesson: do NOT trust the Garmin over the actual conditions on the road. There were exactly three times that it was correct in taking me down a path that eventually faded out of existence, once was Warloop Road in Arkansas and twice was on county roads in the Oklahoma panhandle.
As I got back to the nice groomed gravel road, it started P O U R I N G again, found shelter at a gas station, I took refuge inside and got the bike out of the rain as best I could.
After about an hour, the skies cleared and I was able to dry everything out except my boots over the next few hours by riding.
Be sure with Pure!
I loved these little roads nestled on the old railroad grades, usually with a rock wall on one side with a creek on the other.
Finally, I came to this nice river. I recognized it immediately from other ride reports for the TAT, but noticed no one ever stopped to enjoy themselves like the locals did.
Screw that, I'm two days ahead of schedule and need a snack break anyways. I stripped out of my riding gear, put on some shorts and waded across to the far shore to eat and relax. Had a nice little conversation with one of the families that were there enjoying the summer sun one last time before school started.
After a while of watching everyone else play, it was my turn!
That was a LONG crossing, and fun! The water was only about mid-shin deep and while the surface was smooth it was kinda slick and filled with big holes, the best place to go was on the little ridge of rapids and stay STRAIGHT on it.
Back on the road!
Getting late, time to find a campground. Fortunately I was very near Rock Island State Park. Nice little detour for the dam closure... Not sure which of YFF's are responsible, but I got a nice laugh from it!
All set up!
And here's the Hennessy Hammock:
Most comfortable thing I've ever slept in outdoors. With the camp pad underneath in a 40 degree down bag, I was comfortable down to the mid 40's. With just the bag underneath me as a mosquito barrier, it was still as comfortable as one could be on a HUMID 80 degree night. You're literally just floating, and since the hammock is cut assymetrically to the cord you actually lay mostly flat. Its a little fussy to set up as you need to have good tension and tree's just so apart, but it was a life saver to not have to find a piece of level ground in the mountains... it was also a PITA to use when I wasn't allowed to use the trees in Mueller State Park in Colorado. It works well enough as a bivy sack, but my back much prefers hanging in the air in my little bear burrito.
At night, I hung my riding pants and jacket outside of the hammock from the center line, under the tarp near the entrance, with my boots underneath where I could step into them. I could hang the next days clothes from the centerline on the inside above my feet and generally had as much room inside as I would in any other 1 man tent, but with the benefit that I plenty of places to put everything.
Only other thing I had with me for camping was a little coleman peak1 single burner stove I found at Walmart for $20, a pot, a fork, and a sierra cup. Didn't need anything else, as all I would otherwise do after camping was check the bike over and write in the little notebook I brought to remember what I saw and did. After eating and writing, I went to bed (usually just as the sun was setting) as riding 12 hours is tiring.
I ate about 10 meals on the while camping, which usually consisted of boil-in-the-bag rice (hence the stove), fresh salsa or a handufl of mixed vegatables, and a packet of the ready to eat chicken or salmon or tuna, with a cliff bar and a banana for dessert. Cheap, very tasty after a day on the trail, very filling, and healthy. I just ate out of the pot I cooked the rice in and all the cooking supplies fit inside the pot except the fuel can, which was stuffed in between the hammock and sleeping bag on the side bag to protect it. The sierra cup was used mainly for a tot of rum or bourbon.
As I was setting up to eat dinner, I heard an animal coming up behind me:
Cute little guy was aparently a runaway that liked the campground so much that anytime he was returned to his family he would promptly escape and come back. Nice little guy, very friendly and happy! All in all, thanks to the fire to dry my boots and gloves, and camp showers, it was a nice day on the trail.
"We wish your trail a long one" - Darlene "Sid" Dowd ~ Never run out of traction, ideas, and real estate at the same time.
2008 Yamaha WR250X
Eastern TAT 8/2009 ~MD-Key West-Oklahoma 4/2011~Maryland to Alaska 3/2012
skierd screwed with this post 12-03-2009 at 05:40 PM
|08-28-2009, 08:48 PM||#12|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Fairbanks, AK
Bun-bun - uh, maybe? I think Bubba's is right there, never really looked honestly. I'm across the street from Kenilworth Mall and work in the mall and eat far too much pizza from Italian Gardens to go anywhere else. Plus they deliver, so I don't care where they're located.
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