Author Topic: venturemc - 2011 New England Pt. I  (Read 942 times)

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Offline venturemc

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venturemc - 2011 New England Pt. I
« on: August 03, 2011, 01:20:22 PM »
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  • This is the start of a 4 part trip report on my month long trip from Sacramento, CA to Bar HArbor, ME and many points in between.

    2011 New England
    After last year’s trip to Michigan/Wisconsin, I had originally planned to head for Alaska again in 2011 (I tried in 2008 but fell short). With only two major trips left on my planner, Alaska and New England, and having been to the Great Lakes area last year, I figured that heading north would give me the most variety from last year’s trip. But when I learned that we were going to experience an El Nina weather year, I expected the route to Alaska would be even wetter than normal since the El Nina pattern tends to target the northwest pretty heavily. So, I decided to head for New England.
    This trip would knock off a good chunk of my riding goals – at the end, I will have ridden my current motorcycle (’99 Yamaha Venture) while towing my tent trailer in all of the lower 48 States. I’m surely not alone in this accomplishment, but I know of very few people who would even try it. This little achievement has been done over the course of four summers: 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2009 I did a tour of the Southwest, but didn’t visit any new States. I’m sure there are others who have covered the lower 48 in shorter time, but being a working man, I only have so much time to devote to travelling and living on one of the coasts, it makes reaching the other side of the country that much more time consuming.
    This year’s trip plan has probably had the most changes to it of any trip that I’ve planned before. The general routing and destinations didn’t change dramatically, but many things did. My original plan had me leaving home on July 6, but some chores at work lightened a bit and I was able to leave on July 2, giving me 4 more days of travel time for only 1 more vacation day. 
    I have a buddy from home who is from Virginia Beach and I plan to meet up with him when he’s back there on vacation this year.  I had originally planned to spend just a weekend with him, but after meeting with him to discuss particulars, I became aware that I could meet him earlier in the week. So I changed a few things to plan on getting to where he was going to be several days earlier. The next day, I got a note from him letting me know that his plans had changed so I rerouted yet again.
    There were just a bunch of little things that kept cropping up (mostly of my own choosing) that required little changes along the way. As of mid June, though, I had pretty much locked in the plan. My plans are always pretty much guidelines and with a few exceptions, there is always room for trip adjustments as I go along. My planning just serves as a guideline so I have an idea of how far I expect to travel in a given day and how any change of plans will affect the following days.
    The basic plan is to head straight across Nevada on 50 and head for Fillmore UT on the first night. From there I will pick up I 70 that cuts pretty much straight through the middle of the country. Once I hit Ohio, I will veer north to Lake Erie and head for Niagara Falls. Besides planning to take in a ballgame in St. Louis, my visit to Niagara will start the lingering part of my vacation. From Niagara, I’ll  head to Cooperstown to visit the MLB Hall of Fame and then head up to Lake Placid in upstate NY. After Lake Placid, I’ll continue east to New Hampshire and then into Maine, with site seeing day trips planned at each locations. From Maine, I’ll swing down into Massachusetts to visit Cape Cod and Fenway Park. From there, I’ll head down to Pennsylvania to visit Gettysburg and then swing back over towards the coast and head through Delaware on my way to Virginia Beach. After several days there, I’ll point myself to the west and start heading home staying in Kentucky which will mark my 48th State. I’ll need to hit Arkansas and Oklahoma on the way home to be able to include the trailer in my lower 48 completion. The trip plans out to be over 10,000 miles and I expect to be on the road for 28 days.
    As is typical for me, I planned my destinations based on locations of KOA Kampgrounds. With one exception on the east coast (New Jersey/Delaware area), they had locations that met my distance and directional needs.
    Gear Modifications
    This year I had very few things to acquire/adjust in regards to my set up – a welcome change from the last few years. Last year I did my trip with only the base part of the tent. I decided to leave the extra space at home. But I encountered so much rain last year that I decided not to do that again. When I got home from last year’s trip, I did a fairly major remodel of the tent setup so that it would be easier to erect by myself. I tested the new set up over Labor Day weekend last year and am satisfied with the new setup. I also added some cloth “shelving” (made from a cheap shoe hanger) that will help me with my overnight organizational needs. These units just fold up with the tent and will prove to be very useful.
    I added a new section to the top of my trailer cover that allows me to store my bedding in a zippered cover on top of the trailer, but out of the elements. I also added a zipper to the lid on the cover of my tongue box instead of the plastic buckles that I have been using. The strapping material just kept degrading to the point of being useless from the sun and rain. Both of these projects were completed before March so were not of any consequence as I approached July.
    Probably my biggest concern this year was my poor gas mileage. Under normal riding conditions, I typically get around 33 MPG which seems pretty crappy for a bike. I’ve seen others claim to get over 40 MPG most of the time, but have also seen others in the same neighborhood as well. There are a lot of variable in mileage, but I tend to ride with “best possible MPG” in mind (within reason of course) and find it very frustrating that my mileage suffers so much. Compared to those getting in the 40s, I’m basically wasting a gallon of gas out of every tank.  Add the trailer to this mix, and my range on a tank shrinks from around 170 miles to around 120 miles, so getting my MPG dialed in makes a pretty big difference.
    I did a road trip down to Tucson in March to see my buddy down there who knows these bikes inside and out. I was hoping we’d be able to dial in my gas mileage a little better. He has an exhaust “sniffer” that allows him to fine tune the fuel/air mixture on the carbs. He rides the same bike as I do and he gets a solid 8-10 MPG more than I do. We actually found a couple of “big” items that should have affected my mileage. But after a nice day ride where we went through more than a tank of gas, I had little improvement after the adjustments. I’ve had him scratching his head now for several months as to why there is such a big difference between our essentially identical setups.  He’s so confused by everything, that he’s planning to head up to my place in August to try again.
    Here we go…!
    July 2
    Despite not getting much sleep the night before, I rose to the 4:00 am alarm. Being 4th of July weekend, I wanted to get a real early start at getting over the hill on I-80 heading towards Utah from Sacramento. I also had a 640 mile day planned so I was doubly motivated to get on the road early. Having already completed 99.9% of my packing, I was able to have a fairly leisurely morning and still get on the road before 5:00.
    Dressed for a chill I headed up the hill. First gas at Truckee and on into Nevada where I swung down to US 50 at Fernly. The second fueling in Fallon and the weather warmed by 8:00 so I got down to my usual warm weather riding gear. The next leg would be a real test of my range with the trailer, so I made sure to keep my speed at or below 60 (despite a 70 MPH limit) to prevent having to dig into my spare fuel. The trailer really has a huge affect on my already poor mileage, so I just have to react accordingly. Putting along on the “Loneliest Highway in America” left me with some free brain cells. Having commented to somebody about the lack of traffic on US 50, I decided to count how many vehicles I encountered on this leg. For the approximate 100 miles between Fallon and Austin, there were 46 vehicles in oncoming traffic and 16 vehicles that either passed me or I passed (hard to believe that I actually passed anybody doing 10 MPH below the speed limit!) - plus 4 bicycles.  US 50 is pretty desolate, but it sure makes for stress free riding not having to deal with traffic.
    I made Austin easily at that clip and was able to pick up the pace a little since for all of the rest of the trip, I’d be forced to stop every 60-90 miles for gas, because the spacing of towns just didn’t allow me to skip any fuel opportunities. I hiked the speed up to 65 or 70 (depending on the leg) and pretty much just kept motoring along.
    I did notice a bit of a difference in the scenery this trip. My previous journeys across US 50 in NV, left me with an impression of “brown” with a few dots of green here and there. We’ve had an unusually long and late winter in the west (we actually had rain and snow on June 28th which is normally just unheard of) and it showed along the way. I definitely saw a lot of green with a little brown tossed in on this trip. It’s still a little tedious, but it was nice change of pace.
    My GPS decided to stop functioning somewhere between Austin and Eureka. This has not been my time for electronics – in the last 3 weeks, I’ve had 2 computers and a TV (none of which is over 5 years old) die and now my GPS. Unfortunately, I expect it will be some time before in a location where I can replace it and at this point I’m just hoping I can find the same model since I’m already set up with the mount and power cords for it. I switched over to my MP3 player for tunes.
    After lunch in Ely, it started getting pretty warm as I knew it would. I started my routine of soaking down my shirt and do-rag to help ease the heat (I call it “turning on the AC”). It works for about 20 minutes then it gets warm again. It wasn’t so bad that I kept stopping to re soak as I have in the past, but I may encounter some heat in the next couple days that will require that.
    I remember there being fuel in Baker which is a few miles out of the way. The map shows a little cutover between Baker and US 50, so I figured it would only be 5 miles out of the way. I found the fuel and immediately remembered the place and not really liking it – it is just a couple of remote fuel pumps and there’s no water or restrooms or anything else, not to mention that it has a gravel lot. I got my fuel and tried to figure out where the little cutover was. I never saw it, but did notice a road that went to some little historical site, but I was on the move and just rode the five mile back to US 50 where I headed south. On the way east, I saw a road that went to the same historical site and put together that that road was the cutover. Thanks for the sign! Heading east on 50, in the distance I could see what looked like a gas station and indeed right on the NV/UT border, there was a gas station. I could have saved 10 miles of backtracking had I known. Again, thanks for the sign!
    After fueling in Baker, I had one more leg that I wanted to be careful on the fuel. It was only about 90 miles, but I’d been encountering some stiff cross winds and didn’t want to push it. That leg just took forever. I swear it was 5 minutes between mileposts. It was just me being tired and a general lack of much to look at, but I was definitely ready to be done. I had one more fuel stop before heading for Fillmore, UT, my destination for the evening. I rolled in at about 5:30 (my time) and had to roll the watch up an hour. That’s the one problem with traveling east – you keep losing time which makes it hard to put in long days and still have some relax time in the evening. I got to camp, got set up, grabbed some chow updated my logs and grabbed a shower so I could get off to another early start since I have another long day tomorrow.
    July 3
    Uggh. Another night with little sleep. I went to bed around 9:00 and tossed and turned for a while and then bang wide awake at 2:45. I tried to go back to sleep but it was just no use. Too dark and too early to get rolling, so I opened up the computer to research my GPS needs, hoping the computer would make me sleepy. I did manage to find out that my particular model has been discontinued and they are just not available – not even on EBay. That left me with a bit of a quandary: it was bad enough I’d have to replace the GPS unit, but now I’d have to find a unit that shares the same peripherals as my old unit or else have to rebuy all that stuff too. I did find out that there would be at least one town (besides Denver) on my route this day that might have option for me. So I planned to stop in Grand Junction, CO to see if I could find something that would work.
    I tried to go back to sleep, but it just wasn’t taking. The sun was starting to peek out over the hill and it was a little after 5:00 am, so I just decided to start getting packed. It’s amazing how just modifying my routine the slightest bit can make things cumbersome. I’m sure I’ll have things smoothed out in a couple of days, but it was sure frustrating getting my things together. But I managed to get things packed and folded in a little over an hour. I headed over to the local gas station/ fast food spot to grab a quick bite and top off. The fast food joint wasn’t open yet, so I had to forage in the gas station just to get something in the belly. This day was just not getting off to a good start.
    I had yet another short leg for the next refuel, since the distance between where I was and the next “full leg” town was out of my range. I had to really pace myself again to insure no issues with running out. I made it with no problems and from there for the rest of the day, I was able to motor a little bit without having to scrimp out every mile I could since I had finally got to civilization and was able to find fuel every 30 miles or so like a normal region. I got to Grand Junction at about lunch time and decided to find a MCDonalds for lunch so I could use their wi-fi and hope to find an electronics store, like a Best Buy to do my GPS shopping. I also had forgotten a charging cable for my MP3 player and hoped to replace that as well and figured that I’d have a better chance at a store like that vs. a Walmart. I head for the MCDonalds and what do you know, there was a Best Buy right next to it! Finally, a break.
    They had the cable that I needed and I suspect that it’s made out of gold as I had to take out a mortgage on it. They also had several GPS units, that pretty much fit all my needs except for one – they don’t make them with MP3 players in them anymore. This really annoyed me, as that was the reason I chose that particular unit in the first place. I considered forgoing the GPS unit, but they are just too handy, so I picked out a cheap unit the fit the rest of my needs and am hoping to be able to get my broken one repaired. For the rest of this trip, I’ll just use my MP3 player for tunes and the GPS for navigation.
    Despite having dealt with my broken GPS issue with relative ease, I was feeling really tired and was considering cutting my leg short. While eating, I researched the KOAs between Grand Junction and Strasburg, CO to see if there was a workable option. The only other one that was even close to suitable, was several miles off the freeway and it looked like I would likely not save much time by going there as opposed to Strasburg which would have defeated the purpose, not to mention putting me an hour or so behind schedule. I was still a good solid 5 hours from Strasburg and really not feeling like making the trip. But I called ahead hoping to be told that there would be no issue getting a site so that I could just keep heading that way and get there if I did. But they said that they only had a few spots not spoken for, so I booked one and decided to make it happen. I could always take a break somewhere if I needed to.
    Not having to worry about fuel consumption, I got up to speed and stayed with traffic for a change. It was refreshing to just ride and not worry about every little thing. It actually perked me up quite a bit and, for the most part, found the rest of the day to be fairly pleasant. I haven’t mentioned the scenery so far, because it will pretty much be a blanket statement for most of the leg – it was awesome. I-70 is just fantastic from where it junctions with US 50 in UT all the way to about a half hour west of Denver. Treat after treat, the scenery just kept blowing me away. I really wished I had a few more hours to enjoy that stretch of road. I was forced to pull off and take a few pictures at one spot, but my time table prevented me from stopping as much as I wanted to. The scenery in UT managed to amaze me yet again; UT may very well be one our best kept secrets.
    The temperature on the day fluctuated a lot. When I got on the road at 6:30 it was almost muggy – no jacket or chaps required, despite being at a relatively high elevation (5K?). 20 or so miles after re-topping my tank, the sun kept ducking behind mountains and I found myself getting quite chilled – so chilled that I had to pull over and put my jacket on. When I stopped to take some pictures 20 miles later, I lost the jacket as it was warming up again. After lunch, I needed to “turn on the AC”. After that leg, I was fine in just my normal warm weather attire for the rest of the day. Climbing passes in the Rockies will certainly help cool things down. I encountered a few very scattered showers along the way, but nothing even close to causing any concern.
    I was a bit worried about having to pass through Denver in the late afternoon. Yes it was a Sunday, but I just never like passing through large cities anywhere near a typical rush hour time and it seems like I always need to get through that “one last city” before I reach my target. After I got through Denver and having about 20 mile left on the day, I noticed this one rain cloud that seemed to be frozen over the highway ahead. I kept trying to guess if I’d have to pass through it, or even worse, find it to be hovering over Strasburg. I thought for sure that I would have to get through it, but I was wrong and it was actually moving away from me based on the slightly wet road that I was on. It kind of felt like a minor miracle that it wasn’t hovering over my intended campsite! I got into camp at about 5:30 having made very good time. I was able to get a nice long evening including ice and dinner at the site so I didn’t have to leave after setting up. Aside from the mosquitoes trying eat me for dinner, I had a very relaxing evening, hoping for a very nice night’s sleep.
    July 4
    I slept well last night for a change. It took a bit of doing getting to sleep seeing as I was within a stone’s throw of a freeway and the KOA had an early 4th of July fireworks thing (not a problem), but once I got to sleep, I was good until about 5:00. I got up, packed up, folded up and hit the road searching for breakfast and fuel.
    As I was pulling out of the KOA I noticed a restaurant right across the street. It looked fairly abandoned, but I saw the “Open” sign lit and pulled in. It was open and I was happy to have a nice solid meal. Breakfast – what a concept! I asked about fuel and was directed to a place locally and I was good to go, on the road fed and fueled by 6:45 or so.
    Since I was still in an area where I expected to find plenty of fuel and a lack of scenery, I kept a pretty good pace all day. It was another warm one (around 95 after lunch) and pretty tedious motoring. I could go on and on about the lack of scenery on this route (I-70) in this State (KS), but I’ll just sum it up by saying that as awesome as I-70 was though all of UT and most of CO, it was equally un-awesome throughout the whole of KS. I was just never tempted to get off the road and site see.
    The fuel was cheap in KS, but I got really poor mileage with it. Granted, I was doing about 72 mph most of the day, but I averaged around 23 MPG for the whole day. Not even close to good. With the lack of scenery, I considered stretching my day out a little bit and possibly head for the St. Louis area, but I was just beat by the time I reached Topeka (my intended stop for the night), that I just decided to stop. Tomorrow’s leg is already short, so no need to force anything.
    I had trouble finding the KOA, but eventually did after several u-turns. I ended up with a nice shady spot overlooking a couple of ponds. Very relaxing despite the sounds of the freeway - nothing like last night, but it’s still there. I had plenty of time, so I decided to go find a decent dinner and did so at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. I think I’ve seen a couple in my general area, but have never been to one. Aside from their wine list (very pathetic!), I found the experience very pleasant and reasonable with a meal that was far more than I could even consider eating at one sitting. I boxed up the leftovers for breakfast and headed back to camp to check emails and catch up on my logs. Having a very pleasant evening chatting with the ducks and geese while waiting for the fireworks show that I’m sure will happen somewhere within view later tonight.
    July 5
    Today was a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally. I had a relatively short day planned (317 miles) to be capped by seeing a ballgame at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Overall, I slept a little better, but still woke up way too early. I tossed and turned for an hour or so, but failed to get back to sleep, so at about 4:45, I started getting packed up. I had some leftovers from dinner the night before and ate that for breakfast before getting under way.
    Almost immediately after getting on the freeway, I encountered a toll booth on 470 a loop around Topeka. The trick here was to take a ticket and then pay later. When that would be, I had no idea. Before I got back onto I-70, I saw another toll plaza that was in the lanes that head to I-70 west. Initially, I figured that this system was kind of retarded – the collection booth was located at a spot that nobody with any sense would use. Where I got on the freeway was closer to the west side of Topeka than where the toll collection booth was and there was no sign of collection for eastbound. I went on my way heading east on I-70, when I came across another toll booth. There were a bunch of different options, none of which was to pass without doing something. After blocking the lane for some time trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, I was finally directed to stick my ticket in the machine and then give the machine some money. $1.55 to be exact. It took me awhile to fish the money out of my pockets which pleased no one behind me. Ah ha – I guess they do know what they’re doing.
    To avoid the morning commute traffic in Kansas City, I took a route that looped south of the cities and came out on the east side of the area with no issues. There was a little traffic, but nothing that was even close to what I would expect back home.
    I noticed that on my way out of KS, that the scenery wasn’t quite as bad as it was most of the day yesterday. The highway reminded me a great deal of the scenery I saw on I-40 a few years ago in the area east of Oklahoma City. Pleasant, green, wooded area on both sides of the freeway. Still nothing really tempting to stop for pics or anything, but at least it wasn’t another wheat field. I think KS was the reason the airplane was invented.
    Fearing the traffic in St. Louis at lunch time, I stopped 10 miles west of the city for lunch. I found a great BBQ place called “Bandanas” and had some tasty ribs, one of my favorites. Unwittingly, I finished my lunch break pretty much right at noon and asked the people at the restaurant if traffic would be an issue in St. Louis. They really weren’t sure, but indicated that it would likely not be too bad if I stayed on the freeway. So I pressed on.
    It was fairly congested, but not awful and I made my way through town. My intended target for the night was Granite City, IL, a little industrial city just east of St. Louis. I put my new GPS to the test and it failed miserably. I couldn’t see the screen and I couldn’t hear the directions so ended up getting a bit lost and turned a 5 minute search into a half hour. One landfill and one oil refinery later, I finally found the campsite.
    As I was pulling in to register, I spotted another motorcycle in camp with a tent trailer and noticed that it was the same type as mine. I registered and the guy said “Go pick out any of the tent spaces you want.” He gave me a map of the grounds and I asked if I could set up next to the other trailer and he said OK. I headed down next to the folks and learned they were form Texas and out on a 3 week trip themselves. We chatted for a bit and compared setups and then I went on about getting setup.
    As I was unfolding my tent, I noticed that one of the 90 degree poles had broken off at the elbow. Not good. I pondered for awhile on what to do – I was in no position to run to a hardware store and buy a replacement pole and tool to bend it. After some thought, I figured out how to mend the pole using a small rock on the corner to act as an anchor and then some duct tape to bind it all together. It actually worked and I was able to finish setting things up.
    After getting set up, I went down for a quick swim and then returned and took care of some business in preparation for the game later that evening. I scheduled a cab ride ($25.50 one way for 8 miles!) and then caught up on my email. While doing this, one of the staff came by and asked if I had a reservation for the spot I was in. I told her that the guy at the desk said I could set up next to the other motorcycle trailer. “Well this isn’t where the map he gave you shows and you have to move – this space has been reserved by somebody else.” Paint me very unhappy. I told her that if had to pack my stuff up, that I would move on somewhere else and she said “Fine, pack your stuff.” This was all a very unfortunate situation with nobody but the clown at the front desk to blame. He wasn’t really listening to what I said when I referred to the other MC campers and after he “approved” my setting up next to them, I pretty much ignored the map he gave me. Funny thing is that I would have preferred the location I was supposed to set up in. It’s rare that the KOAs are so full that this would have been an issue, but it was in this case.
    So much for nice relaxing afternoon. I packed up and decided to head for a hotel near the stadium. Since it was going to cost me $50+ round trip to cab to the game, I figured I might as well get a room within walking distance to the park. I got online and found a room a block from the park and headed out. Once again, the GPS failed me and I got to practice more U-turns and round-abouts trying to get to the hotel. And by this time, the game and afternoon commute traffic were starting up. If I had known where I was going, the traffic wouldn’t have been bad, but it added to my confusion about trying to figure out where I was going.
    I did get to the MIllenium Hotel, and once I did, I found the service to be excellent. There was a doorman type guy who met me as I pulled in. He sized up my needs and let me park my 20 feet of rig right up front in a red zone for the night. The check-in guy was very sympathetic to my day turned bad and comped me internet access.  Overall, a very accommodating staff. I got to my room and of course I had to truck back downstairs because I forgot something (I’m not really packed for staying somewhere other than the trailer) and then got settled in. I showered up, ironed my nicer clothes and headed down to the game a block away. I almost forgot – my room had a great view of the St. Louis Arch. A little bonus for my troubles I guess.
    As I was looking for the box office to get a ticket, I ran across a scalper who had a pretty nice seat and let me have it at a discount. I paid more than I wanted, but it was a pretty decent location so I decided to splurge a little. Got inside, found a beer and ducked inside the park from the concourse so I could walk around before the game started. Just as I stepped in, the first batter was stepping up. This confused me a great deal as my watch showed 6:10 and the game was scheduled to start at 7:15. I expected to have plenty of mosey around time before the game started. Oh well. As, I made my way around to my seats, I asked an usher what was going on – I kind of figured I missed a time change or something, but she told me that the game got bumped up an hour for TV. Aha!
    I found my seat and enjoyed the game. The park was beautiful (one of the newer generation parks) and fans were great. It helped their mood a great deal when the home team hit back to back homers in the first inning! There’s just nothing quite like being live at a baseball game – so much to take in and enjoy!
    After the game I made the 1 block walk back to the hotel. I’m telling you, having a room within walking distance to the park is the best way to deal with a ballgame – hands down! While I was in the park, I noticed that the hotel I was staying at appeared to have a viewing area at the top of their building. I talked to one of the hotel staff and sure enough, they have a nice restaurant at the top of their hotel, and she said I could go up and take a look. The hotel happens to be in the shape of a cylinder and the restaurant has a 360 degree view of the area. I was able to get a good look at the ballpark and the arch as well. I happened to notice that the outer ring of the viewing area was slowly moving. I guess no matter what table you get, everyone gets the same view eventually. Neat idea!
    I went back down to my room and hit the bed. Somehow it had gone from around 8:30 to nearly 10:00 and I had another long day ahead in the morning.
    July 6
    The target for this day was to be Streetsboro, OH. I slept pretty well again, but still woke up around 4:30. Not having to do full packing, I could have gotten rolling pretty quickly, but took my time waiting for it to get a little light out. I checked the weather, and took a morning pic of the Arch. I lugged my stuff downstairs, got packed and was on the road by 6:00 am.
    I decided to hold off on breakfast until my first gas stop since I wanted to be out of the St. Louis area before the commute traffic picked up. I was able to find my way on to the freeway with no problems and head off down the road. I stopped for fuel and had breakfast and went on about my business.
    Somehow I managed to time this leg of my trip  my trip well, as I managed to not be in any of the bigger cities at any of the typical busy traffic hours which I was very happy about. On my way to St. Louis, I had kept a slower pace, trying to hang at around 65 mph instead of the higher 70-75 limits. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my mileage and decided to keep a similar pace for this leg, even though it was a longer leg (over 500 miles). I’ve been working on figuring out my most efficient traveling speeds taking into account that traveling faster requires more fuel stops, which tends to reduce most of the benefits of moving faster. Is it worth it to get much poorer mileage by traveling 10-15 MPH faster? If time was my only issue, then yes, there is a slight advantage to traveling faster, but not by a lot when the additional fuel stops are factored in. Stopping for gas knocks at least 10 minutes out of the day, so getting 130 miles to a tank makes a big difference to 100 miles per tank. When I was traveling at 72 MPH, 100 miles was about my comfort level which worked out to be around 23 MPG. At 65 MPH, I was getting over 130 miles with plenty to spare and averaged closer to 29 MPG – a significant improvement.
    Without considering fuel stops and other uncontrollable delays, the difference in time for a 500 mile day is about 40 minutes. At my current mileage and range factors, it would require one more fuel stop at the faster speed. So I would net about 30 minutes by moving at the faster rate. But it’s also about 4 gallons more which equates to about $14 in gas. Aside from the fuel savings, the bike is just more comfortable at the slower speed (less wind buffeting) and is probably a bit safer as well. So I think I’ll stick to the slower speeds. That’s enough math!
    After I stopped for breakfast, I found that traffic was a little congested pretty much all day - never really bad, but there always seemed to be somebody to pass, or passing me all day long - just a basic grind. The scenery was pleasant, but unremarkable all day so there were no temptations to stop for pictures at all. When I got near Streetsboro, OH, I experienced my first “turnpike” and had the chance to test out the electronic toll pass that I got so I didn’t have to fuss with money at toll booths (of which there will be many on this trip). The device worked fine and I’m definitely glad I went through the effort of researching and obtaining it.
    Counting a few hundred yards of Missouri (in St. Louis), I went through 4 States today. Aside from my jaunt near the 4 corners area a couple years ago, that’s the most States in one day I’ve done. I do have on leg planned later in the trip the will have me going through at least 5 States. I can’t do that on the west side of the country!
    The KOA has a really nice tent area. It’s not totally secluded from the RVers, but it is more remote than most places. I’m looking forward to about two weeks of short days and multiple night stays starting tomorrow. Perhaps it will start to feel like vacation!


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