Sunday, January 17, 2010

Out of Hibernation

Happy New Year!
Our last post was on the heels of a chilly but wonderful motorcycle ride in late November.  Oddly, despite tonight’s snowstorm, this post is on the heels of another chilly but wonderful ride!  
Yesterday that nasty old man winter, who usually occupies this corner of the world sometime between September and June, took a much needed holiday, leaving us with a bright, sunny, 45° Saturday. Naturally I got antsy and took the Honda out of hibernation.  After a quick wipe down the bike was ready, and I was off for a twenty-mile back road ride.  It was beautiful and rekindled my sense of adventure, making me itch for the real spring, when our trip will only be weeks away.
This Christmas our family was rather generous, giving us lots of stuff that we can use for our trip.  Also, we bought those green dry boxes mentioned in the previous posting.  For a mere $24.99 each, we got two reasonably rugged and large cases that can hold lots of our gear.  Here it is held up to to the bike:

It will be mounted a couple inches further back, to give more leg room to the passenger (this will be Julianne and me alternately.  I am not too proud to ride pillion!)

Here's a shot of our new gear:
The two square things are towels of the microfiber variety.  These are quick-drying, light weight, and compact.  The lantern is the Apollo mentioned in a previous post.  It's folded up in this picture.  The big spoon folds up like the spatula next to it, and the utensils still in the packaging are of a similar material.  These things are cool.  They weigh nothing and are very compact.  There's also a headlamp, which will be handy if we have to setup camp at night.  
Not pictured are our cookset, which we bought earlier this fall, our sleeping pads (we bought the Thermarest Prolite pads), GSI JavaPress, and the sleeping bags and tent.  
We still require a stove, and after speaking to a guy at EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports for you non-yanks), we're convinced we need an MSR Whisperlite International.  This stove runs on white gas, or gasoline or kerosene if you're in a pinch.  Originally we thought we'd want a canister stove, like the Coleman F1 we mentioned before.  They're extremely lightweight and small, but we were worried about the cost and availability of the isobutane/propane canisters they require.  The EMS guy said he liked his Whisperlite and had just used it on a hike of the Appalachian Trail.  He gave us the impression that the Whisperlite is efficient, as a 20 ounce bottle lasted him around five days using the stove for two meals a day.   
Also, I like this stove for its durability.  A quick online search will show that these stoves have been around a while, and are regularly used in the roughest, coldest, hottest, and highest conditions.  I like that it comes apart easily for cleaning and that you can buy all the parts and tools you need for it.  That is a mark of quality.  While it's slightly bigger and heavier (it weighs about 1 pound) than the canister-type stoves, the Whisperlite seems like a good choice for us.  Our Christmas gift certificates to EMS will likely go towards this stove.  We still have a few things to get, including a water carrier, one of those foldable buckets, a couple more stuff-sacks for clothes, and some other things, but we've got a great start. 

A Route to the Pacific
Trying to find a good route across the whole country and back using only the scenic roads is kind of a daunting task.  We've done a lot of reading and research on the great roads and regions across the country.  The Adventure Rider forums are a great source for stuff like this.  One major component of the trip will be the National Parks and National Forests.  These will be like dots that we need to connect.
So the big picture looks like this: From New Hampshire we're going southwest toward the Hudson Valley, down through Pennsylvania (Delaware Water Gap), and into northern Virginia, where we'll get on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  That will take us all the way down to the Chattanooga region.  From there it's going to be west toward Memphis.  For this leg of the trip, we have a detailed route figured out.  From this point west, it's less specific until we figure out more details about roads and routes.  
We'll go west across Arkansas or southern Missouri, eventually crossing into Colorado.  We want to see lots of parks in the four-corners region, and we haven't figured out an exact route through this region that allows us to see everything there.  So there will probably be a lot of hop-scotching around that area. 
After this it's west toward the Sierra Nevada in California.  We'll see the Yosemite region before going further west until we finally reach the Pacific Coast highway.  North from there to the Cascades region and the Portland area.  We'll explore that region for a while, hopefully. 
Then it's back East toward Yellowstone.  After Yellowstone it's further East to the Black Hills of South Dakota, across to Chicago, and pretty much straight home from there, as there isn't much between Chicago and New Hampshire that we especially want to see. 
So, the major focus areas where we'll spend the most time will be the Appalachian region, the four corners (Utah/Colorado/New Mexico/Arizona), the Sierra Nevada, coastal California and the Redwoods, the Cascades and Columbia River regions of the Northwest, Yellowstone, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The places between these places will certainly be fun to see, but these are the areas where we're hoping to spend some time doing day hikes and sight-seeing.  
And, of course, we're open to suggestions for more places to see along the way!  We would love to hear about interesting places and routes, so feel free!
We'll definitely keep posting about new developments on the routes.  So stay tuned!
Jeremy B