The night before, I started gathering my things and working on getting packed for the trip. Most of my stuff would go in a large duffel bag that would sit on the luggage rack. The bottom was mainly packed with tools: a 3/8" drive socket set, two sets of metric wrenches, needle nose pliers, locking pliers, regular pliers, large crescent wrench, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, a small 12V rotary tool (like a dremel), a torch with a soldering attachment, and a small hammer. Most of the tools were put in ziplock bags to help keep them together and dry. My clothes and towel were packed into grocery bags as well in case the duffel bag got wet. I also had a ziplock bag with a roll of toilet paper and a grocery bag with a roll of paper towels. All my shower supplies were kept in another ziplock bag. A couple lengths of rope, a few ratchet tie-downs, and extra bungees were thrown in for good measure. I brought a can of chain lube and an extra headlight bulb as well (don't want to be caught out riding with a burned out headlight).
In the backpack, I put my road atlas of North America, rain suit, whatever pair of gloves I wasn't wearing (I brought two pairs), a roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag, camera charger, phone charger, a can of WD-40, extra bungees, rope, some trail mix, a drink, and whatever other miscellaneous I may have put in there for convenience.
Strapped to the outside of my duffel bag, I brought a second jacket (depending on the weather, I would wear either a leather jacket or a textile jacket with armor), a tent, sleeping bag, boots in a small bag, and a tripod. Hanging below the rack on the left side was a bag containing a 2-gallon gas container. Initially I left it empty, but later put about a gallon of gas in it. Although I never had to tap into it, it was comforting to know it was there if I burned through my reserve before reaching a gas station.
I kept my passport in a ziplock bag in whatever jacket I was wearing at all times. Given how wet my notebook in the same pocket got, the bag was a good idea. I also kept my camera in my jacket pocket, except for a couple times when I felt it would stay drier in the backpack under the tarp.
Despite the tarp, my stuff usually got a little wet when riding in the rain. Using a bigger tarp would probably have helped, but it's still difficult to keep the rain out of everything. I quickly learned to wrap the tarp all the way under the bottom of the backpack, not just the front and sides. The same went for the duffel bag; I needed to tarp underneath of it as well as all the sides.
I left work early on Friday and made final preparations for my trip. I had originally planned on keeping a small tank bag up front, but I was having trouble putting the backpack on the rear, so instead I used the backpack as an oversized tank bag. This worked out pretty well, and allowed me to rest my head on the bag. On the other hand, I was unable to duck behind the windshield, which sucked at times.
Around 3pm I hit the road hoping to reach Cookson, OK and set up camp. It was exciting to be on a good road trip again, even if the road wasn't particularly interesting. Although it was sprinkling when I left Wichita, the skies quickly turned sunny and I had good weather the rest of the way there. When I got to Cookson, I asked around and was soon directed to a campsite near the lake for my first time camping since I was a kid.
The next morning I packed up and set out to reach Tellico Plains, TN, near the TN/NC border, and camp at Hunt's Lodge Motorcycle Campground. First, I wanted to visit Mt. Magazine in Arkansas since I would be near the Ozarks. I made it to Magazine, AR, but I wasn't sure how to reach the mountain, and knowing I was already going to be pushing it to make camp, I continued on after wandering around the area for a little while.
I had started to become more comfortable with the GPS, so I decided to let it lead me to Memphis, and quickly learned it occasionally took odd routes that it thought were shorter. I've never been a dirt rider, so it was nice to see pavement after a few miles of dirt and rocks.
|A welcome sight||Nuclear plant visible from 22 across Lake Dardanelle|
I slabbed my way to Memphis via I-40, and after crossing the Mississippi river into Tennessee, I was surprised to see a gleaming metal pyramid. After passing through Memphis, I left I-40 and started down 64/15. The scenery was beautiful and very green.
|Am in Vegas?||Looking back over the bridge||Southern Tennessee||Clouding over|
It started clouding over as the day wore on, and I began to wonder how late I'd make it to Tellico Plains. I also didn't realize that somewhere in Tennessee I rolled into Eastern Time, so it was even later than I thought it was. When I reached Monteagle, I took I-24 south to Kimball/Jasper, then took 28 north to Pikeville, then 30 east to 33/411, and finally 68 to Tellico Plains. It was 11:30pm when I finally arrived, and the small windy roads I had taken instead of sticking to the interstate were not fun to navigate in the dark, and I was glad to have the GPS to show me where I was and help me find my turn-offs. I had called ahead to Hunt's Lodge and told them I'd be there around 10:30pm, not realizing the time difference. They waited up for me anyway, and we chatted for a bit about my trip plans before showing me around the campground. I set up my tent, played with the GPS for a little while, and went to sleep.
Copyright (c) 2009 Paul Miner <$firstname.lastname@example.org>