Sunday, March 16, 2008

One month of planning

It's been one month since I received the TAT maps and I've made some progress. Not as much as I would like to have made, but it's a good start. Let's see, I have:

1. Researched GPS Units, found the one I wanted (Garmin GPSMap 478), found a good deal on, and received shipment early last week.

2. Figured out Mapsource (Garmin's PC-based tool to help organize your actual GPS unit) and have logged all the waypoints for the Tennessee portion of the trail.

3. Made an Excel workbook to organize my whole trip. To give you an idea of what's in the Excel file, my worksheets are named:

a. "Timeline" - this is the day-to-day schedule with a resolution of morning-afternoon-night

b. "Bike Hardware" - contains all the hardware I'll need to add to my bike with links to potential products

c. "Ride Gear" - contains all the items that I will have on my person and links to potential products

d. "Luggage" - contains all the items that I will be hauling with a resolution to each individual luggage bag that I'll have mounted on the bike

e. "GPS Data" - contains all the GPS coordinates that the author of the trail has logged and printed on the roll charts (I enter into excel first and transfer via macros to mapsource)

f. "Links" - contains links to helpful forum threads from folks who have done the TAT and/or other trails and also some links to specific threads that pertain specifically to modding my bike for the trip

4. Purchased a lightweight laptop.

And, that's about all I've done so far. I feel pretty good about setting up a good outline for the trip and hopefully in the coming months I'll be able to color in all the details.

With a good amount of time before takeoff, I've been hunting for good deals on the equipment that I'll need. The only item I've been able to find a deal on was the laptop ($360) that I found on craigslist. It's 4 years old and scratched up, but it has a brand new battery and all the horsepower that I'll need to connect to the internet and post blog entries.

Whatever items I don't find before T-2 months (~May 4), I'll just have to purchase new. This will give me time to order online, receive shipment, install the bike hardware, test pack all the luggage, test drive with all the luggage, get acquainted with new camping gear and make sure the apparel is comfy.

In the meantime, I've been answering a few of my initial questions:

Q: When?

A: Still planning on Independence Day

Q: What are you going to do about your job?

A: I still really don't know at this point...I have to give 3 months notice for 3 weeks of vacation (which is my annual max), so I plan on bringing it up in a couple weeks

Q: What are you going ride?

A: Still got the 2008 KTM EXC 450

Q: That's a dirt bike, where are you going to store all your shizzle?

A: I've seen some good luggage options for my bike that don't require a whole lot of mods, but I'm not sure if it's going to provide enough space. My bike is new, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone will put out a luggage option soon.

Q: What are you going to do about your dog?

A: I talked my mother into keeping her. Thanks, mom :)

Q: How much money are you going to need?

A: As my nephews would say, "Twelve million dollars"... heh heh, I'm going to save up some dough and just hit the ATM's along the way, I should have enough to get me out there and back, after that, I'll have to hope I still have my job.

Q: Are you coming back?

A: Yep

Q: What kind of camping skills do you have?

A: Not much

Q: What kind of navigation skills do you have?

A: Well, if my GPS has power and is linking up with the satellites, I have quite superb navigation skills.

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

A: Still need to research this on the internet

Q: Have you lost your mind?

A: Yes, and I still haven't found it... although my family has been trying to tell me where it's at, but, for whatever reason, it's still MIA...