Thanks to the founding fathers of the United States of America, we are able to take a Trans-America Trail trip through the free-est country on Earth. We don’t take this privilege for granted and appreciate the sacrifices made by those individuals that continue to protect our ability to travel freely through our beautiful country.
As we move forward, virtually all of our tasks and efforts will be “moto” oriented. This “motoness”, and yes I’m going to hate and curse both spellcheck and autocorrect with each newly defined motoactivity.
Everything will revolve around our motolives. We’ll have motopreparation with motolists, motothoughts, motoorganization, motonavigation using motomaps, motomeals, motomoney, motophotography, mototherapy, motomaintenance, motosafety, etc.
While this may be viewed as motomadness by some, those people that ride motorcycles will likely relate to this perspective and those that don’t ride may need to experience two wheeled travel to appreciate what drives and feeds this interest.
Often times, it can be difficult to find the positive side of what appears to be a lousy situation. And each time I find myself thinking along those lines, I have to remember that more often than not, there’s good that comes with the bad.
About six weeks ago, we were thrown a curve ball and we had to put our trip on hold. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m stubborn and wasn’t willing to just give up. With a little patience, that curve ball turned into an opportunity. We were presented a challenge and it required us to focus and work outside our comfort zone, reflect on our approach, and ultimately trust our instincts.
Consequently, this optimism has prevailed and the trip is on again!
Figuratively speaking, we all get thrown curve balls in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes these curve balls are minor and simply require a quick assessment before a solution is obvious, while other times the curve ball is more significant and the solution isn’t as straightforward.
For us, we got thrown a major curve ball about two weeks ago. The details aren’t important and the situation is such that our trip may not be possible in 2014. Fortunately, the curve ball isn’t personal (health, family, relationship, etc), it’s business oriented and has to be solved in the next month in order for us to continue with the trip this year.
I’m stubborn and an optimist, which means I don’t give up easily and I refuse to let a curve ball ruin a major bucket list item. I’m also a realist and pragmatic enough to know that moving forward without a resolution isn’t the right thing to do from a business perspective.
Sure it’s a bummer and it wasn’t part of our plan, but hey, that’s life after all.
Well, this quick little post hopes to re-engage followers after about a four month blogging break. Perhaps I started the blog a little earlier than necessary, as the activities associated with preparing for the trip came to a slow pace during the wet, Pacific Northwest winter.
While it wasn’t as if there nothing going on, we found ourselves casually busy with the smaller minutiae that didn’t seem overly important to share on the blog. With the return of the sun and drier conditions, you’ll see our activity level return to a more frenetic level as we approach our trip in August.
Lots to still get done including motorcycle shipping arrangements, finalization of trip assignments, working with our friends at Next Adventure in Portland as we square away our camping and mobile kitchen equipment, as well as adding a variety of regional trips to shake out what we think will work for the trans-continental ride.
More to come in the near future.
With only a couple of weeks under my belt, I’m really impressed with BaseCamp and the tools available with the application. Better yet, Garmin doesn’t charge a dime for someone to visit their website and download a copy. More about this later.
When I started, I anticipated a month’s worth of data entry to organize the waypoints along the same lines Sam Correro has assembled the cross-country route. After the first couple of states, I figured out a quick way to make the data entry task a little more efficient by using a 10-key connected to the laptop. I must have inherited some muscle memory genes from my father, who had mastered the 10-key decades ago as an accountant and numbers wizard, as the initial waypoint data entry activity didn’t take a month to complete. Rather, it took me about seven evenings of keypunching, assisted by one of several adult beverages we have collected from our local growler filling station, The Growler Guys, on west 7th Street in Eugene. Growler fill stations are a whole other topic, which we may have to explore in a later post or another blog altogether.
Once I had all waypoints put into BaseCamp, it was quite a sense of accomplishment as I reviewed hundreds of waypoints that compose the TAT. Take a look at the screenshot below. Each of those blue flags represents one waypoint and collectively, all those waypoints will be our path across the US next August!
While the waypoints are great references on the GPS, they will also become somewhat of a distraction for us while riding if they aren’t stitched together in manageable routes. My next task was connecting the dots. Unfortunately BaseCamp isn’t the perfect tool for autogenerating the route for such a dualsport ride, as its algorithms do a good job of organizing the points based on logic for more traditional travel approaches (i.e. shortest distance or fastest route on mainstream, paved road surfaces). Consequently, this forced me to use a more manual construction approach to get the waypoints connected correctly.
Not unlike before, changes in technique naturally result in increased efficiency. Initially, I was picking each waypoint and building the route and this worked very well once I had adjusted the avoidances to better match our style of riding; for example, avoiding interstates and major highways. The image below shows a segment of the TAT in Tennessee – the flags are the waypoints and the blue line is the route connecting the waypoints.
As I was tinkering with the Garmin BaseCamp software, I discovered a really helpful feature that is incredibly cool too. From within BaseCamp, the user can immediately superimpose/drape the waypoints and routes on imagery in Google Earth! This is seamless and BaseCamp pushes the dataset up to Google Earth and organizes everything in short order. Now, take a look below at all the TAT waypoints shown in conjunction with Google Earth imagery… Impressive to say the least!
While this is spectacular in its own right, it was the perfect troubleshooting tool too. A couple of times, I found anomalies in the waypoints and how they worked with the road network on my GPS’s mapset. After pushing the data up to Google Earth and when I was checking the route against the imagery, the anomaly was obvious (i.e. abandoned road) and the perceived anomaly was actually quite deliberate.
As of tonight, all of the waypoints are done and the TN route has been input and checked against the Google Earth imagery. This means I have MS, AR, OK, NM, CO, UT, NV, CA, and OR left! My current goal is to have these hammered by the end of the year. As a side note, this exercise has me thinking about planning some shake-out routes and rides to further experiment with data preparation, dissemination, and field editing.
It’s below freezing outside and there’s seven inches of snow on the ground, so it makes trip planning a good way to pass the time until more favorable riding conditions return. Meanwhile, as things on our checklists get accomplished, we get closer to when we will get to enjoy the less traveled roads as we cross our wonderful nation! We can’t wait…
The last couple of days have been productive in knocking out homework associated with route planning. First round of routes for the Trans-America Trail where it starts in Tennessee and passes through Mississippi (not only is that a fun name to say, its also a fun name to type) have been input into Garmin Basecamp software.
It’s easy to be productive when you have something to that’s enjoyable, exciting, or puts you closer to achieving a goal. It also takes the essence of “will” and a little self motivation doesn’t hurt. Plus, these productive days are rather important in getting everything done on schedule or ahead of schedule. This is the sort of trip that deserves focused attention and throwing things together at the last minute is practically a guaranteed recipe for a less than ideal experience. An off-the-cuff trip is okay as a spontaneous weekend escape, but not acceptable for a month-long trip when there are two other companions along for the ride.
As I indicated above, this is the “first round” of route planning, as I’ve only input waypoints for the turn-by-turn directions available on the rollcharts. Not quite certain if the author (Sam Correro) intentially made errors in the rollchart data (i.e. like some authors, software engineers, and artists) in order to identify copyright violations or they’re just honest mistakes. Either way, the “errors” were obvious enough that the corrections were no big deal.
Next, I’ll need to experiment with grouping those waypoints into routes. The waypoints are great references, but doesn’t permit the GPS user as much fluidity while using during the ride, at least compared to a structured route. Ultimately, we’ll have lots of redundancy among the three of us. There will be three GPSs (not including smart phones), paper maps, rollcharts, and a traditional compass.