30 days alone on the road, never more than 2 nights in any location, at my age… am I nuts?
I have made solo trips before, but they were from home to a destination, stay a week or two in a hotel or house, and then back home. They were NOT staying on the road for a month. This was going to be a different experience and require a different sort of preparation and equipment.
I decided to travel with an enclosed trailer that could transport my bike, and also serve as a mobile home so that I was not restricted by hotel availability. I had trailered my bikes before on open trailers to cross the hot, boring parts of the country, but living out of an enclosed trailer is very different.
My philosophical approach to this trip was to focus on the most enjoyable activities (riding, sightseeing, meeting people) and to minimize the cost and effort of everything else. I had a deadline to be home for my wife’s birthday; happy wife, happy life.
Gas prices were at historic high levels, which made the break-even point between motorcycle/hotel and trailering around 300 miles per day. Cost savings were a factor in the decision to trailer and camp, but it was not as important as the safety, comfort and convenience factors. August and September are hot and sticky in the southwest, and air conditioned comfort prevents exhaustion. Trailering the bike also provides redundancy; if the car breaks down I have the bike and vice versa. As a result, I only stayed in motels 4 nights out of the 30, mostly because I needed to do laundry and it was raining.
I camped in Walmart parking lots for convenience. Walmart is everywhere, they are open from 6am to 11pm (when not 24 hr), and their parking lots are under video surveillance. This would be important to me when I left the trailer unattended to go riding. It was also extremely convenient for food, supplies, etc. so I didn’t have to stock up for a month before leaving.
I used my Planet Fitness membership to give me access to showers in various gyms across the country. That worked very well.
- Activities to maximize
- I wanted to ride the motorcycle through as many beautiful areas as possible
- I wanted to visit as many states as practical, 9 national parks, and a few key sites that were not national parks
- I wanted to meet interesting people and sample regional cuisine specialties
- Flexibility to adapt to changes along the way
- Activities to minimize
- camping activities like setup, takedown, cooking and cleaning
- Motorcycle riding in unpleasant conditions
- Costs – equipment, gas, food, lodging
- I have a 2002 Toyota 4Runner, but I did not have an enclosed trailer
- I purchased a 6×12 foot single axle trailer with a rear drop ramp and a side door with a keyed lock
- I have a wonderful resource in my mechanic of 25 years, car whisperer Kevin Kinnard of Service Techniques in Chandler Arizona who has also toured on motorcycles and has extensive trailering experience
- He helped set up the trailer so that I could load or unload the bike solo in under 15 minutes and pull it safely with my vehicle
- Weight distributing trailer hitch for safety and comfort… I never knew it made such a difference
- I tested the trail and bike setup in multiple trips around Arizona, even camping in a national forest.
- there were some minor failures that were easily fixed and I was ready to go
- I went for physical and eye exams, resulting in previously undiagnosed medical conditions and new prescriptions
- I used Google Maps “location sharing” to keep others aware of my location to prevent unnecessary worrying
- I checked in every evening with my wife so that others could use her as a contact
- I brought multiple electronics – phone, tablet and laptop to preclude single point of failure
- I had camping supplies just in case: stove, cooking gear, food,
- I brought a cot, folding table, 2 folding chairs
- I had a battery operated fan/light combination that was a life saver in the trailer
The trip was awesome. I met great people along the way. I visited 8 of the 9 parks I meant to (forecast called for 3 days of rain, so I decided that a swamp in South Carolina could wait for another trip). the trailer rig worked wonderfully.
I’m now thinking about where I can take it in 2023.. Alaska?