Category: Trip Planning

Google Maps – My God, It’s Full of Stars

Google Maps – My God, It’s Full of Stars

Over the years I’ve been asked many times how I “find” stuff to visit while I’m out riding. It is a mix of serendipity and old-fashioned administrative work. The former I can’t help with other than to say keep your eyes open to the world. The latter? Use what you already have at your fingertips.

When I read about a place that interests me or if I see a photo of something I like – I will Google it for more information. Once I find the basic area or an actual address, I’ll then look it up on Google Maps, checking the street view when possible. That’s when I’ll favorite or star it on Google Maps for safe keeping.

If you’re signed in to a Google account, the stars on your map will be available to you, across devices.

When you open the Google Maps app on your phone, it geolocates you by default. If you’ve starred a place in your current vicinity then navigating to it becomes easy peasy. Just click the star and get directions.

I find these mapped favorites tremendously helpful if I’m passing through an area I’m not familiar with. I might’ve read about something two years ago and long since forgotten the particulars about it. One glance at the map and the little star gives me a clue that some point of interest is nearby and maybe I ought to go and see what it is.

Having that personalized bank of stars just floating out there on the map means there is always something to see.

How to Save Favorite Places on Google Maps

One feature that I like is that you can change the icon for your starred favorites. For example – maybe you don’t want to remove the star from the map but you want to note that you ‘ve already been there. You can change the star to something else to indicated that you’ve visited it.

Last year I bought a Lifeproof case and an X Grip for my phone, making it accessible on my handlebars. This made using Google Maps even easier. I can pull over, see what’s nearby and get directions piped into my helmet via my Sena headset. Isn’t technology amazing?

September Road Trip Notes: Odds and Ends

September Road Trip Notes: Odds and Ends

In September, I took a road trip to mosey around a bit on the Bonneville. These are some of the notes that I jotted down about the peripheral odds and ends that helped to make my trip a success.

A few weeks before my trip, I’d added a RAM X-Grip mount to my bars and a Lifeproof FRE case for my iPhone. I do not have a powered connection for my phone, but actually found I didn’t generally need one. There were 2 times in which I did top off my phone battery with my solar battery out of my tankbag.

The Lifeproof FRE case I bought was nicely discounted at 50% off at Best Buy, thanks to price matching. That was a good deal – $40 well spent. There was an emotional hurdle for me to get over while riding through a short but pouring rain pocket. Seeing my phone on the bars getting wet felt all sorts of wrong. But the case works as advertised.

The phone with Google Maps gave better insight into things than the GPS did. The interface of my phone is second nature and highly flexible whereas the GPS seems a little more rigid. Often I used GMaps to find something, then used those results to navigate via GPS. I also used the phone to look for nearby places I might’ve saved on a map.

The phone would never be my only device for navigation but I found it tremendously helpful as a supplement. I don’t use apps like Rever to record tracks or any of that but I did look up some things on Roadside America. All in all, having the phone on the bars worked well.

I’ve been sporting a Dart flyscreen for a couple months now. I *think* it helps direct the wind a little better but now I can’t remember what it felt like before. I guess it must be working because I have no complaints about buffeting. Though I prefer the minimal look without the screen – it’s alright. It also gives me something to stick my EZ Pass toll tag too.

My anemic stock headlight bulb was swapped out for a nice bright LED bulb. I still think I may need some auxiliary lights but for now, I am certainly more visible and getting more light.

Riding along I was getting a flicker on my headlight. I could see it happening if I was riding behind a car or something that reflected my image. Then lost my lamp altogether. I didn’t hear the little light fan running with the key on so I pulled it apart and a little electrical tape did the trick to keep the connector snug. Let there be light! I did this while basking in the soft glow of the Love Butt in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The stock seat on the Bonneville is hands down, the worst motorcycle seat I have ever experienced. It seems unlikely, but that’s the case. For a cheap fix, I added an Airhawk to use on longer rides a couple months ago. I would not have been able to survive this trip without it.

The sensation of the air cushion is a little… weird at first and takes some tinkering to get the right amount of air in the cushionAnd it’s pretty fugly. But, it relieves the pain I get in my tailbone so I don’t care.

My luggage setup was just tossing my 2 Kreiga bags on the pillion seat. One US30 and one US20. Though I packed more clothes than I needed, I still don’t know if I could’ve fit my air pump and some other bulky odds and ends into the US30 to use a single bag. Having the extra 20 liters on top meant I could easily stow bottles of water and other quick-access stuff.

I love the Kreiga bags. They keep things dry, mount to any bike and hold a bunch o’ crap. The only thing I didn’t like is obviously you can’t lock them. I had my MacBook with me, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have cared all that much.

This is stupid but, was tremendously useful. I picked up a tres-80’s brand new velcro wallet with a ring attached to it in a thrift shop for $2. Because I’m an idiot when at the gas station I often just jam my credit card in my side pocket after running it through the card reader.  A hundred miles later I’ll put my hand in my pocket only to find the card tenuously hanging in there.

Then comes the ritual of thanking the old gods and the new that it managed to stay in my pocket and didn’t go flying out along the road. I’ll then promise myself I that I won’t do that again, only to do it again. It’s like I have a mental block.

So… I clipped this junk wallet into my front jacket pocket. When I get off the bike to fill up, I pull the wallet out, letting it dangle, run the card through, fill up… if the wallet was still dangling – I know I forgot to put the card back in. This was the first trip in which I didn’t have to thank my lucky stars that I didn’t lose my credit card.

Having a modular helmet for the last few months has been great. It’s flexibility really shined during this trip. It made my roadside stalking-about so much more pleasant. I’m not apt to take my helmet off, that’s just my way. Being able to flip up the chinbar while taking photos, filling up, using the restroom, or grabbing a drink was so much better! Plus, interior sunshade for the win.

My LL Bean convertible pants are the jam. They’re so lightweight, quick drying and have zip-off legs. I probably could’ve skipped taking 3 other articles of clothing because of these pants. When space is a premium, dropping a pair of jeans out of the mix makes a difference. I have them in black and feel like they are tidy and stylish enough to sit down in a restaurant without feeling like a total hobo.

Thanks for reading. Safe travels, friends!

Wrestling the Monster of Pre-Trip Guilt

Wrestling the Monster of Pre-Trip Guilt

Whenever I am getting ready to head off on a solo trip somewhere, inevitably I find myself conflicted by a range of discordant emotions. There is, of course, the giddy excitement and wonder about what I’ll see and do along the way. But, conversely, there are the feelings at play that work to undermine my positivity. The big one? Guilt.

Guilt : noun
2 b: feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : self-reproach

To put it plainly, guilt is a fucking asshole. And because the feeling is self-induced, ergo I too,… well, you know.

Sometimes the hardest thing about taking a trip is just getting out the front door. The challenge comes from releasing yourself from the must-dos, have-tos and ought-tos. It is in those moments of feeling selishness or self-doubt that I have to remind myself of what it was that pushed me towards making the decision to go in the first place.

Fear, guilt, self-doubt – they’re all just slow and painful ways of poisoning yourself.

Road Trip Planning – Fighting the FOMO and Shrinking My Radius

Road Trip Planning – Fighting the FOMO and Shrinking My Radius

In a few weeks, following the Void Rally, I’ll once again set off on a week-long road trip. Already being away from home makes it easy to continue going further. From Fredericksburg, Virginia – I’ll be heading… south? West? This is my dilemma.

Since I’m closer than I would normally be, I’ve considered visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But, the facility is undergoing construction until fall of 2018, which could dampen the experience. And just up the road, is the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which I’ve long wanted to visit. But, I’d really like it if my family were able to be there, too. I think I’ll end up passing on those this time around.

On the western side, I have a few places that I would like to visit, two of them in West Virginia and one in Ohio. And with a stretch, I wouldn’t be sad if I stopped by the SPAM Museum in Minnesota. I still lament missing it when Kenny and I were passing through a few years ago. But, that’s 1200 miles from my house on the slab and nearly the same distance from Fredericksburg. I think that’s something for another time.

My radius is shrinking.

For this rideabout, I’m going to be on the Bonnie. I don’t really want to pound out highway miles to get somewhere as I’ve done in the past. Really what I want is to meander and continue my exploration of small town America. There is a limitless education to be had there.

Ugh. What the hell am I doing? I’m over-thinking this. I should just stick a pin on the map for the three things I know that I want to see and let the ride plan itself. I’ve got to shake this FOMO that gets the better of me and makes me do stupid things. I get so wrapped up in having unfettered time that I try to cram a shit-ton of stuff into it because I get scared that I may never have the chance again.

Weird. I feel like I just cleared that up for myself. I’ve been going around in a circle on what to do with my time. But, now that I’ve typed this out – the dilemma no longer exists. I guess I just needed to clarify my expectations to myself. ::punches self in arm with a smile:: PSIAWAS. (That is a terrible acronym.)

Road Trip Inspiration: Hillbilly Hot Dogs Postcard

Road Trip Inspiration: Hillbilly Hot Dogs Postcard

Recently, I wrote about my friend Chris and how he sends me postcards from the places he visits on his motorcycle. Last week I received a card from Hillybilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV.

The card looks like a folksy representation of a roadside shack you might see being reclaimed by the land in the mountains somewhere. But… it’s a restaurant. And, I think I must go.

Google Streetview of Hillbilly Hot Dogs:

My daughter and I looked at their menu on their website when the postcard came. Apparently, they serve up 2 and 3-foot hot dogs as well as something called The Homewrecker.

Jalapeños, sautèed, peppers and onions, nacho cheese, habenero, chili sauce, mustard,slaw, lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese, piled high on a 15-inch, 1-pound all beef weenie in a big ‘ol bun! As Sharie says, “It’s 15-inches of pure eatin’ pleasure!!”

I’ll have to take a pass on that, but I’d like to see someone else take one of those down. Hoooo lawdy – the aftermath must be misery. It has probably more than earned its name.

A few years ago, I became aware of HHD when it was a bonus location during the Void Rally. It was a stop I’d chosen but ultimately dropped because my schedule was too tight. In a few weeks, I’ll be hitting the road for a little ramble and I think I’ll have to rectify missing it.

As I think about it, I believe I must’ve passed HHD riding along Route 2 toward Point Pleasant in 2009. We were on our way from Kentucky back to New York. I can’t recall if we passed through Point Pleasant on purpose or if it just happened to be on the way. All I know is I saw the Mothman. And now, I need to see myself a West Virginian hot dog.