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Old 07-15-2013, 05:20 AM   #1
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: "The Mack", New Hampshire
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Two Wheels to Texas and Back 2 Years Later

After being told time and again that I should post a R.R. about the trip I took to Texas two years ago, I finally caved. It's not the mega RTW kind of trip I am awed by, but I suppose it is note worthy.

My friend and I have been discussing riding to Alaska on our bikes for years. Over the winter of 2010/11, we committed to it. I got the Month of June off from work, and was going to crate my bike from NH, where I live, to CO where my buddy lives, and then go to Alaska from there.


Here is my bike prior to committing to this trip. Although the bike was low mileage, ~13,500, I knew I needed to make a couple of equipment changes. The system cases don't carry nearly as much as I wanted, and the sargent seat was lower than I liked. I also wanted a top box of some sort, and I wanted a good tank bag with some volume.



I bought a set of damaged Jesse bags from an inmate in Canada, and got to work fixing them. The previous owner had gone down, and busted the right box. I researched where Jesse gets the hinges, and bought 4 new hinges. I went with black hinges rather than the standard unpainted hinges Jesse uses.

The corner of the lid was cracked, so I had a buddy of mine weld it, then I sanded to down to paint it.





When the bags come from Jesse, they are powder coated, but I didn't have the time or finances to send them out for powder coating, so I improvised.




The boxes came out amazingly good! I really couldn't tell the difference from the factory powder coating, and what I did.





I next went and found an inexpensive Top box at J.C. Whitney for $32, and bought a 15 L. Marsee tank bag from an inmate for a bargain too.

To address the Sargent seat issue, I found a Corbin for sale that is taller. Corbins tend to be harder seas, and this was going to be filled with long days in the saddle, so I ordered an Alaska butt pad.

Now she looks like she could haul some gear to Alaska and back.



In may of 2011, there is a local Rally we affectionately call WHACO (White Horse and Camp Out). I used that ride as a sort of dry run to see uncover any possible issues. I'm lucky I did. I ended up losing my rear brakes while we were riding around VT, the stealership had replaced them the year previous, and they should have been ok, but the pads were disintegrated. So, they replaced them again.

Evil Clown (right), and me about to head out to WHACO



My trusty steed and I on a rocky hill climb.






After I got home from WHACO, my buddy in CO contacted me and told me he was layed off from his job, and could not afford to do the Alaska trip. Having just recently been through that, I couldn't blame him for being responsible, and bailing. So, now I had the month of June, and was geared to ride somewhere.

I very quickly decided that a ride to Austin, TX to visit a good friend of mine that had just moved there a year prior would be a good substitute. My company is based out of Round Rock, TX, which happens to be 10 miles from my friend's house. So I told my manager that I wanted to give back two weeks vacation they allowed, and I would work one week from TX. He was completely on board with that.

The new plan, Ride to Austin, TX, stay there a week at my buddy's house, and work days, ride nights.

For a route, I decided to hit as many National Park campgrounds as possible. So now I had my route, and proper gear. I planned to head out early on June 4, 2011.

My plan for the first day was to pound out the miles and get to Shenandoah National Park. Well, as fate would have it, I didn't actually get headed out until 1:30 pm. So, I knew Shenandoah was a long shot for that day because it is 644 mi from my house.

Regardless, I headed out with my bike fully loaded at 1:30 pm.

I do not have a lot of pictures prior to arriving in TX. I discovered in TX when I went to offload the card from my travel camera that it was in macro mode the whole time, and all of the pictures I took with it were crap. I had bought a small waterproof travel camera for this trip, but found that it didn't work very well at all.




The Route plan:
5, 211 mi. (I actually ended up with 6,328 mi)
5 National Parks - C, D, E, I, and L are National Parks.

B = River Beach Campsites in Milford, PA
C = Shenandoah National Park in VA
D = Great Smoky Mountain National Park in TN
E = Hot Springs National Park on Hot Springs AR
I = Rocky Mountain National Park in CO
L = Cuyahoga National Park in OH




All packed, and ready to go.



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AndyCap screwed with this post 07-17-2013 at 07:59 AM
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:29 AM   #2
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: "The Mack", New Hampshire
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I saved my route plan through Google Maps, and used my Droid as my GPS for this trip. I also used my Droid for music, and communication as well as taking pictures/videos.

About an hour into the trip, I noticed the battery on my Droid was dying, even though it was plugged in to my powerlet. I pulled over at a rest area in CT, and checked it out. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why it wasn't taking a charge, but I really didn't have a lot of time to waste. So, I went inside, got a drink, and plugged the Droid back in, thinking it may charge eventually. When I plugged it in, it started charging! I hit the road again.

I got to the Scenic Outlook where NY and PA meet.



Seeing that the sun was low in the sky, I took out my Droid and looked for nearby camp grounds. This is when I discovered that the New York campgrounds (at least in the part of NY) are crazy expensive. $45+ a night for a tent site!!

I decided to hammer on for a while, and hope that PA had better prices.

I got across the PA border, and smelled smoke, and notices a camping sign. I followed the smoke to the campground. Although the office was closed, a security guy that just happened to be walking by set me up with a campsite. He took me out of the camp ground, and down the street a bit. He told me he was bringing me to their second campground, and that no one else was using it yet. So, I had the place to myself!



I set up camp on the river's edge, got a fire going, and had a bit of dinner before going to bed.



The next Morning, I woke to find out just how nice a spot I had. I started a morning fire, using "Morning Wood", made some oatmeal and coffee for breakfast.







I had the entire place to myself.




Then I broke camp and headed back out. Shenandoah, here I come.




Passing by Hershey, PA. I didn't smell chocolate from the highway.




Hello Maryland



Hello West Virginia




Big Meadow is the area that I camped. To the right of this sign is a huge field that reminded me of a shot from a nature film. Why I don't have a shot of it is beyond me. It was beautiful. It was about 7:30 pm, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to get a camp site.





The wood was so green that it took me several attempts to get it started. Finally, a neighbor loaned me some kerosene to keep it lit.
ire started, dinner cooking. Looking forward to a relaxing evening










Over night, I stepped out to answer nature's call, and found deer all over the camp ground. In fact, one was nibbling on the grass just 4' from my tent.






The next morning I packed it all up, went to the Vistor Center, got my stamp, and sticker, and headed out. Before I hit the road heading South, I went for a ride on Skyline Drive to see a bit of scenery.













Then, back on the road again. Today's mission, 427 Mi., and Smokey Mountain National Park.

I started having charging issues with my Droid again, and figured out that it was getting to hot inside the tank bag. My tank bag has a hard plastic cover on the top that I was storing the Droid in while I rode. I could still read it and such. I loosened the strap that held the tank bag lid shut to let air circulate. This worked for a couple of hours, and the phone charged. By the end of the day, I had put a strip of heavy duty Velcro on the outside of the tank bag, and stuck the phone there. That worked fine, but cost me some time to figure it out.

I rolled in to Cades Cove at Smokey Mountain National Park at 8:00 pm. The registration building was closed, but the bulletin board said to take any unoccupied camp site, and settle up in the morning.




Home for the night



Fire started, and a bit of dinner.

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2004 R1150GSA, 2000 BMW R1150GS, 2008 KTM 950R SE, 2001 Honda XR400R, 2003 Honda XR100R
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New England Pie-O-Rama

AndyCap screwed with this post 07-18-2013 at 07:58 AM
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Old 07-15-2013, 07:23 AM   #3
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
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In the morning, I stopped by the registration building, and paid my bill.


Heading out I passed through time. The forest here had a very old feel to it. As if it were an ancient forest. I think it is because the vegetation is so dense, but not sure. As beautiful as Shenandoah was, the Smokies were even more amazing. I could have easily spent a week or two here.


Then over to the Visitor Center to get my stamp and sticker



Then off I went,
Leaving the camp ground, I came across this nice swimming hole.






Then I hit the highway. Next stop, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

I saw plenty of this as I crossed TN



The temperature kept rising as I put down the miles. By noon, it was 103 degrees.



By the end of the day, the temperature had hit 109 degrees Fahrenheit.



Once again, the Droid stopped charging, but there was little I could do. It was out in the air, velcroed to my tank bag, and it was still over heating. I did eventually discover that if I put a bottle with ice chips in it under the plastic cover on the tank bag that the Droid was velcroed to, the battery would stay cool enough to charge.

Sun going down





647 mi. later, I arrived at the Hot Springs Camp Ground. It was very hard to find because it is not like any other National Park I have been to. This was the hardest leg of my entire journey. TN was a rough state to cross, and the heat was unexpected. I anticipated crazy heat in TX, but not here in TN in June. The truckers were ruthless when dealing with four wheelers, and blocking them in, but they were very cool with letting me through.

Finally, I have made it!


The registration building was the first sign that this National Park is not like the other I have been to. It looked like a bus stop. It was just a small cinder block building.




The typical slot to pitch a tent. I looked at a couple, and the grass was covered with dog crap. I decided to stay at a motel that night.



Inside, you get your camp site by using this device that reminds me of a machine used for parking spots. Well, that makes sense, because that is basically what this camp ground was.




I found a nice motel with a Waffle House across the street. I love Waffle House, and wish we had them here in NH.


They were very accommodating. They let me park my bike under cover, and made sure I had a room where I could see my bike from my window.


The Harley belonged to a Marine that was home on leave, and was going back to Afghanistan in two days. He was a super nice guy, and I had the opportunity to buy him breakfast at Waffle House, and hear some stories.


In the morning I went looking for the hot springs, and discovered that the town of Hot Springs is the National Park, and the actual hot springs are housed in building I would have to pay to get in.

The actual National Park


A snapshot of the National Park


So, I got my stamp (They didn't have stickers), and moved on.


I was so put off by this place that I just got on my bike and headed to my next stop, Dallas, TX.
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2004 R1150GSA, 2000 BMW R1150GS, 2008 KTM 950R SE, 2001 Honda XR400R, 2003 Honda XR100R
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New England Pie-O-Rama

AndyCap screwed with this post 07-18-2013 at 08:18 AM
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:45 AM   #4
AndyCap OP
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From Hot Springs, I was headed to Dallas TX to stay with a friend there. Only 290 mi. to cover this day, it was a light day.


Rolling in to Dallas


My waterproof camera didn't produce very good pictures, but some were kind of cool.



My time in Dallas was pretty much a non event. I got to visit with a great friend, but didn't do a lot of riding, or take many pictures. In fact, after spending one day off the road, I was getting anxious to get back on the bike and start riding. I am guessing this happens with people when they string together some pretty long days of riding, and still have a lot more ahead, they just want to ride. I felt like I was in captivity, and just wanted to get back out there.

I headed out early in the am, and headed to Austin, TX to stay with my friend there, and work from there for a week.


On my way out of Dallas


3 Hours later, I was in Austin, not a bad ride between Dallas and Austin at all.

My first night in Austin, my buddy, his wife, and their son went to Lake Travis, and had a few brews and some dinner at "Uncle Billy's"



The view of Lake Travis from our seats at the restaurant. For those of you that don't know, Lake Travis is very low, then and now. Those sand bars should not be visible.






I was told this house belonged to Sandra Bullock. Sandy wasn't around, but I still took some pictures.
It was 105+ degrees every day for the week I was in Austin. This first day, it was 105, one of the cooler days.


Sun going down over the lake




My Buddy John toasting the day that toasted us.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:58 AM   #5
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: "The Mack", New Hampshire
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The first priority for the next day was to get a new rear tire, and change my oil. My Buddy John belongs to an Austin area motorcycle forum, and they were having a Bike Maintenance day at one of the member's house. They invited me to come over and change my oil there.

Several people showed up from all walks of life.




One guy came in complaining about vibration on his Buell, and the next thing we knew, the bike was torn down, and parts were headed out for help. He had a busted motor mount. I guess it is pretty common with these machines.






I bungeed the front wheel to the center stand, and swapped out the rear tire as well as doing an oil change. Good to go.


When I was at the motorcycle shop getting the tire, I saw this bike, and had to snap a picture. I have always loved these machines.


While I was at the motorcycle shop, I had to get some pegs. A special treat for myself, knowing there were some serious miles ahead.
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New England Pie-O-Rama

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Old 07-17-2013, 12:14 PM   #6
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: "The Mack", New Hampshire
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Of course, now that I was in Austin, I had to go see this night life that I have heard so much about.

Some of the "Watering Holes" we hit.






And I have to mention the Brat I had from this place. Their curry ketchup was awesome. I know, I was drinking, so maybe I was just drunk happy with the taste? Nope, I went back last year, and had one sober, and it was just as good as I remembered.



A cool mural seen on 6th Street





Now, my friend, John, that belongs to the Austin Motorcycle forum doesn't own a motorcycle. Knowing that I was going to be visiting, he posted on the forum requesting if anyone had a bike he could borrow for a couple of days while I visited. He didn't really expect anyone to just lend him their bike, but this very nice woman, that he has never met, contacted him, and said he could borrow her bike!

So, we went out and met her at a local pizza place, and she even tried to buy us lunch! Talk about Southern Hospitality.

So after lunch we get to her house where the bike is. We were figuring she had an old beater or some cheap bike he could borrow. Nope, she had a 6 month old Harley full dresser with all the bells and whistles!! I warned her that my buddy didn't have a bike because he keeps crashing them. She just smiled and said it was insured.





So off we went with the full dresser. Here's a picture of John riding behind me. He was more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.


From there, we went off for a ride around the area.

We came across this BBQ place, but it was closed. I just had to get a picture considering my screen name, and that it was in Smithwick, TX, and I do enjoy a Smithwicks now and then.





Yep, it is Texas. Obligatory Oil Drill picture


After a week of visiting, I was more than ready to get back on the road, and headed to Colorado. I road to Dumas, TX 570 mi. and stayed at a motel for the night.



The next morning, I set out for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO. 504 mi @ 117 f. Yeah, it was a trial.

I have a buddy that lives outside of Denver, and had plans to ride with him once I got there. So, I was pushing pretty hard. I was hoping to camp in the hills that night.

Hello New Mexico! It was 120 f. here.




Over the Raton Pass
Temperature dropped quite a bit once I got through here. It went from 120 degrees down to 104 degrees. I had to pass through smoke, just 4 days earlier the pass was closed because of a forest fire.



Color?



A quick stop in Cold Springs, CO. It has been a long hot ride, and it's not over yet.


Mountains! Snow!! Colorado, I have arrived.


By the time I got to my Buddy's house, it was a bit later, and I was starved, so we decided to go out for dinner an a nice cold beer. The National Park would have to wait until tomorrow.

My buddy Ryan being served a tasty Irish breakfast for dinner!


The next morning, Ryan busted out his KLR, and we headed for the hills.





A bit of wild life as we ascended





And then there was snow


Ryan giving the official ADV Salute




I salute you


I really wouldn't want to go off that edge.



Time to head back down, and tour around the mountains some more.




I thought I heard something, so I snapped a picture




There had been a forest fire here last year.


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AndyCap screwed with this post 07-18-2013 at 08:48 AM
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:06 PM   #7
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Loving it. A regular trip.
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Old 07-18-2013, 08:46 AM   #8
AndyCap OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: "The Mack", New Hampshire
Oddometer: 1,433
After 4 days in Colorado, I felt the need to hit the road again. I was getting to antsy, and just needed to roll. Although, just as the Smokies were even more amazing than Shenandoah, the Rockies were awe inspiring.



I headed over to the Visitor Center and got my stamps and stickers.



Then I took the long way out






Nom nom nom







Then on to Lawrence, Kansas to visit a buddy there.

A lot of this was experienced.


The wind coming from the North was constant. I had to lean hard to the North the entire time. So it only made sense that they would have these out there.


Kind of a cool standing rock at a rest stop.


I just had to snap a picture of this place. Who wouldn't want to eat there?


Once I arrived in Lawrence, my buddy brought me to the local watering hole, and we drank more than one of these.


The next morning, I was back on the road headed to Champagne, IL to see a good friend there.

More of this...








YAY Illinois!
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