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Old 09-29-2009, 05:31 AM   #1
Questor OP
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Questor and Motoadventuregal ride the Trans-America Trail

Hello All.

This past June, Motoadventuregal and myself had the opportunity to take three months to explore this wonderful country of ours.

Last fall we decided that the best way to do this would be to get off the main roads and really see the 'true' America. We wanted to see the small backroads, and meet some of the people who we knew were out there.
We decided that riding Sam's Trans-America Trail would be a great way to do this.

So starting last November we started obsessing.
We bought Sam's maps. Motoavdenturegal had a 96' Suzuki DR-350. I bought a used 2002 Suzuki DRZ-400 and started going over all the 'systems' and making sure I knew the bikes well enough to spot potential problems, and do most maintenance and do most common repairs.
We started a thread, http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=414454
and began harvesting the wealth of information that resides here on ADVrider.

By June 24th, we were ready to go, and left North West Connecticut and rode south towards Tennessee.

This is a Ride Report of the places we went to, the people we met, and the adventures that we had.

Why three months you may ask? Well what started out as a simple TAT trip, became a journey of 15,000 miles and also included the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico, as well as a few other "side trips".

In the end, the route we took looked something like this.




I'll do my best to share everything we saw and did on this trip, but that will take some time. I took over 5,600 pictures, and so did Motoadventuregal.
So settle in for a long Ride Report, and enjoy.

Q~
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:36 AM   #2
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Another TAT adventure!!!

Looking forward to it!


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Old 09-29-2009, 05:56 AM   #3
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:01 AM   #4
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Day 1: June 24th, 2009

Obviously, we were very excited to be taking such an epic trip.
I had been thinking about the TAT for about four years, and had read every related Ride Report here on ADV and other sites.
I'd been PM-ing many of the folks who had ridden it before, and had met some of them, including Dr. Rock and LDF, and talked to them at lenght about their experiences.
I felt I knew all there was to know about the "Trail" - but there was a lot I never expected. As Vinnie the Snake says, "The TAT takes a lot, but it also gives a lot."

So in the morning of June 24th at 8:30am we were kickstands up and wheels rolling towards Tennessee.
Here we are all clean and eager to get going.




Leaving "Home".


Crossing familliar landmarks.


I had plotted a nice scenic route down to North Carolina so Motoadventuregal could see her Mom. The route took us along small secondary roads down towards the Delaware Water Gap and down agricultural valleys to Harrisburg PA where we had scored some tent space from Dziner. (I had used a combination of Mapsource and Google Earth Satelite imaging to find the rustic and rural routes.)

The countryside was full of farmland and the ride was very relaxing.




Along our route we entered the Poconos, and Bear Rock State Park.
Here's a picture of the big lodge at the base of the mountain.



We took the ride up to the top of the mountain and saw the viewing tower.


And the Panorama from the top.


Later, headed to the Delaware Water Gap, we came to our first of many, "Road Closed, or "Bridge Out" signs.


But a quick re-route got us back on track.


Finally we got to the New Jersey side of the Water Gap, and had miles of unspoiled scenic riding as we headed south towards Harrisburg.




We did have one mini-Adventure as Motoadventuregal ran out of gas. No problem since I was carring a small MSR Fuel bottle in 'reserve'. We had her up and running again in no time, and were able to continue without any major delays.
By 3:00pm we were getting tired so we stopped here to get some Fuel and Energy. A bit to eat and 1/2 a Red Bull each we were ready to press on.


Along the way we saw a tank. (I LOVE military hardware, so I stopped to take some pictures. Keep reading this Ride Report and you will see more cool hardware like this, including missiles, and Civil War "Iron Clad" boats. )


As we continued to ride South it started to get dark. Remember we were riding little dirt bikes with a top speed of about 50 MPH, so it took us a while to get anywhere, but we were traveling at just the right speed to relax and take it all in. Our average moving speed tended to be less than 40 MPH, so the days did get long.


Finally, around 5:00pm we entered the city of Harrisburg.




and found the back yard of Dziner, out host for the night...


Stats for the day:
Total miles 289. Moving Average 38.7
Moving Time 7:27 Stopped 2:45
Total 10:13

Stay tuned. Only 90+ more days to go...
Q~

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Old 09-29-2009, 06:24 AM   #5
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Questor rides again

I'm in - expecting another great RR.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:40 AM   #6
GB
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Another great Questor adventure!! I'll be looking for you to be flying the ADV flag that I had made for you

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Old 09-29-2009, 07:05 AM   #7
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Yay!
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:11 AM   #8
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Oh man, this is gonna be great!!!


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Old 10-04-2009, 04:07 AM   #9
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This was a great day for me...we'd already been on the road for a week, and highly anticipating getting on the TAT. Flyinfuzz was familiar with the TAT, and a well-traveled rider, and he piqued our curiosity . He and Mrs. Flyinfuzz were so great to us--and when Flyinfuzz took a day off to start the trail with us, it was too cool. Now it was a TEAM of us doin' the TAT.

My 1996 DR350SE had been running a little poopy...you'll learn more about that as this tale unfolds... and we thought we had a simple fix when Flyinfuzz offered a can of Sea Foam...it seemed to do the trick (for about 3 days and 0 elevation...)

Flyinfuzz starts the day with us...


Easy TN dirt roads



Fluinfuzz pillin' up the rear (and eating 2 bikes' worth of dust--poor guy!)




Questor loves cows!





So we come across this sign:


And Questor asks this fellow does he know how to get where we are going:


And the guys asks where we came from. Flyinfuzz says from there:


The dam we had to reroute around (yeup, a little deep for fording)



We break out the ADV patriotic flag (Questor's idea, btw, and you should buy one to support this wonderful forum!)



Flyinfuzz gives us door to door service--right to our campsite. Now at this point I was worried about him--it was after 7 pm, and I didn't see him having any camping equipment...so I asked if he wanted my sleeping bag and I'd try to share Questor's... and this is when he informs us that after riding 200+ miles this day, he's well, only about an hour from home if he takes the highway. WHAT?!?!? Yes my friends, welcome to the TAT in Tennessee. Squiggle squiggle, ride all day, cover 60 linear miles. I thik we should all pitch in and get Sam a secretary.

Oh I digressed...

Anyway, he's Questor in top form, constantly improving glorp recipes worldwide. Note our staple: canned chicken. Highly portable, good protein, and, well, it tastes like chicken.







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Old 10-04-2009, 04:45 AM   #10
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Day 8: Wednesday July 1st, 2009

We woke up when the sun hit the tent.


We had breakfast at a Waffle House and got back on the TAT.
The roads were empty and slowly took us westward.

We went through small towns...


We crossed rivers and saw old abandoned bridges...


and started to see our first endless straight roads. We knew we were headed to the mid-western farm lands.



Some roads followed small creeks that were nearly dry due to a drought.




In the town of Columbia TN. we stopped at a Suzuki dealership and bought new brake pads for both bikes. Motoadventuregal's were getting very close to the metal. We would have to find a place to change out the pads soon.
In Columbia, we also stopped to get food. Subway was always an option.


It was getting hot and humid outside so the air conditioning was a treat.
After lunch we rode on.


It was along thse roads that we met TATer.
TATer was lying on the side of the road, desparate to be part of an ADVenture. So I propped him up behind the windscreen near the GPS and there he stayed for the rest of the journey.


It turns out that TATer was great at stabilizing the vibration of the GPS, so he was in fact a functional element and guarded the bike when we were away, so he served dual purposes.
We continued riding the TAT west...


and soon entered an Amish community.



It was great to see the horses and the young men running them. A simple but hard life. I can respect that.


A few miles later we came to our first "River crossing". We had heard all the stories, and seen all the video about how slippery that can be so we approached carefully.


But there was nothing to them. We crossed without incedent.

Looking at the maps, I could not find a place to camp anywher near us, so we had to detour about 50 miles to Mousetail Landing State Park.


Where we set up Camp Snuggly.


Ate dinner.


and watched the sunset.



Stats for the Day:
215 Miles
Moving average 35.6 Moving time 6:01
Stopped 3:59 Total 10:01

Q~

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Old 10-04-2009, 04:55 AM   #11
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MAG's Day 8 pics






















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Old 10-04-2009, 06:19 AM   #12
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really enjoying this - well done report. more, more!
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:52 AM   #13
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Great Report, prepping my TAT ride and need to learn all I can.
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:05 PM   #14
MotoAdventureGal
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Subway vs. Sonic

I'm now sick of both.

I'll start the count:

Subway |
Sonic |

I'm on the road back to Connecticut now, so I'll post my pics where Q left spaces, so be sure to check back above.

I want flyinfuzz to check in ... I think he was only about 60 miles from his house we'd been cris-crossing the same damn road all day...
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:04 AM   #15
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Day 9: Thursday July 2nd, 2009

We had a great nights sleep.
I remember that there were two big owls nearby calling to each other all night long. There were also the loud insects. (I love sleeping outdoors.)
Skipping breakfast, we packed up camp, and headed back to the TAT.
An hour of pavement got us back on trail, and we followed the GPS to the town of Saltillo Landing. Apparently this is where the big steamboats on the Tennessee river used to stop. The steamboats and ferry no longer stop here, but the town still exists.
We reach the Tennessee river.


It's a big one - even with the drought.


We stop and have breakfast at the only place in town.
Hmm, what to have?

I think I'll have the "Brains and scrambled eggs".

No, not really...


I must have been hungry because I almost forgot to take the "Food Pic".

Here's a picture of a picture of one of the old steam paddle boats that used to cruise up and down the river.





After breakfast, we returned to the trail, and were delighted to see dirt!
We had ridden over 2,500 miles so far, mostly pavement. We had been dreaming of endless dirt roads, and now it seemed like it was starting to happen.

Miles and miles of graded dirt roads awaited us. We were getting cocky and starting to lay on the throttle when we could. It was nice to feel the tires slide as we powered out of corners.


We stopped in a town and bought gas, food, and a sandwich for lunch, and kept riding.
Later when we found a State Park, we stopped and ate the lunch.
Lunch Pic. (Yes, amazing. I know.)


Then back on the bikes. The Maps said we should take a road through the State Park where we had lunch. But a sign in the Park said that the road was closed. We ignored the signs.




Crossed the railroad tracks.


The road got smaller...


And stopped when we came to this gate.


It was marked as Private Property or I would have taken the go around, but somehow, tresspassing in the deep woods of Tennessee did not seem like a good idea to me. So we turned back. I dislike backtracking, and rode a bit more agressively out of the park. This frustration was nothing compated to what we were going to encounter "Out West".

In hindsight, I need to be much more relaxed. Questor can do stupid things when he gets frustrated. If you follow this report long enough you will see several example of this - like when I was riding out of the National Forest near Lake View... The road bed was there, but the road had not been completed. The grass was taller than the front wheel and I was frustrated and riding too fast. I never saw the five foot deep eight foot wide drainage ditch that had been dug across the road for the drainage pipes to be placed in... But that's another story

So anyway, we rerouted, and were soon back on track.


This was a momentus place.
This is where we crossed the state line into Mississippi.


From here on, the TAT became mostly dirt, and a bit more challenging.
You can also tell from the color of the dirt that we are in a different state. Mississippi dirt tended to be more orange than other states.


We rode on. Happily sliding around the corners and leaving a long trail of dust behind us. I was quite content...




But eventually we came to this...








I had read enough TAT Ride Reports to know of this, and knew that we had to go around.

So with a quick GPS re-route, we hooked back up with the TAT about 15 miles later.


We rode on till we were getting tired and set Wall Doxey Sate Park as our new destination for the day.
On the way we went through a few small towns like this one.


I was concerned that with the Fourth of July holiday weekend comming up that we might not be able to find a campsite so we went directly to the campground, found a site, and set up the tent.
Then Motoadventuregal found us a place to have dinner. We were too late for the BB-Q Buffet, but we still had a good dinner.


Later that night, we rode back to camp, took showeres, and had another great nights sleep. I remember the insects singing very loudly that night.

I might also add that we were informed that another TAT rider had stayed that this exact same campsite a week before us. I wonder who it was?

Stats for the Day:
225 miles
Moving average 34.2 Moving time 6:43
Stopped 5:23 Total 11:57

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