Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And so it begins...

On my way home after another daily grind at the office, I couldn't help but laugh out loud under my helmet when I saw what the postman delivered today:

I had been expecting this package for a few days, but I was still caught off-gaurd when I saw it, which made the surprise even better.

What's in that package, you ask? Well, sometime last year, while searching the intraweb for trails to ride my dirt bike, I happened upon Sam Correro's Trans America Trail. Or just simply, the TAT. And what is in that package is all the maps and directions necessary to complete the trail. All you need to know about this trail is plainly visible on the homepage. In my mind, I had just struck gold and I looked around to make sure noone was looking. At this point, there was really no question on whether or not I was going to do it, but when... and how?

After a few minutes of researching and reading the awesome trail reports, it was apparent that this wasn't your average 1-week vacation getaway... not even a 2 or 3-week deal. No, this was going to be, at least, a 4-weeker and if you work in a cube everyday like me, that's just dang near impossible if you want to keep your job. I really am grateful for what I've got, but I don't want to look back with any regrets either. And I'm nearly 100% sure I'd regret not taking this trip at this point in my life.

So, job or no job, I'm going and I couldn't be any more happy.

Now it's time for the planning stage. This isn't a hop on the interstate and drive west type deal. This is a hop on your dirt bike (knobby tires and all) and ride mostly unpaved roads over the blue ridge mountains, ozarks, plains, desert, rockies and cascades, clear across this great country for 4,800 miles and right into the Pacific Ocean.

I have already "planned to plan" this thing out the best I can. I figure the more I organize now, the more flexibility and freedom I'll have when I'm on the trail. I have a little less than five months to prepare and now that I have the maps (all 93 of them), it's time to start drawing a timeline, loading GPS coordinates (and buying a gps unit), circling potential motels, fuel stations, camping spots, restaurants and off-trail landmarks, figuring out how best to blog it and what all I'll need to take with me. Here are the maps grouped by state:

To be honest, I really feel overwhelmed right now. I have questions piling up and relatively few answers. My planning window for my whole life has always been somewhere between 30-minutes to 12-hours. Anything outside of that timeframe has always been unscheduled. So, this is something new for me, but here are my initial answers to some of the most obvious questions:

Q: When?
A: Independence Day . When else? Also, from what I hear, the timeframe for passing the snow-covered Rockies is small, so running through this section in late July will allow me to pass.

Q: What are you going to do about your job?
A: Ask for time off? I really don't know at this point...

Q: What are you going ride?
A: Already got that :) (2008 KTM EXC 450):

Q: That's a dirt bike, where are you going to store all your shizzle?
A: No idea, not really sure what all I'm going to take at this point.

Q: What are you going to do about your dog?
A: I dunno.

Q: How much money are you going to need?
A: I dunno.

Q: Are you coming back?
A: I plan on it, but you never know.

Q: What kind of camping skills do you have?
A: Not much

Q: What kind of navigation skills do you have?
A: The sun rises in the east and sets in the west right? That ain't too hard.

Q: What kind of survival/first-aid skills do you have?

Q: Have you lost your mind?
A: Yes, please let me know if you find it... I'm hoping it's somwhere near Port Orford, OR though...

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