How far is too far?

Making final route plans for a cross-country road trip. Of course, everything will go out the window once on the road!

When planning a cross-country motorcycle excursion across the U.S., I’m faced with the fact that everything I want to see and do is on the other side of the country from where I live. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of cool things to see in my neck of the U.S., but I can see them by taking a weekend trip. So, my goal for this summer’s trip is to head west, lay down some big miles for the first few days and get to where I want to be (the western U.S.) as quickly as I can. Then, I can slow down and really enjoy the sights. It seems to be a common theme for most of my long trips.

From my starting point in New Jersey (don’t judge!) I’m hoping to get to Arizona quickly, without beating myself up too badly by trying to ride too many miles daily. I was hoping to go about 900 miles the first day and see how I felt. If I can maintain an average of 55 mph including stops, it would take less than 17 hours. Maybe I’ll make better time and get in another 100 miles, or maybe I’ll fall short of my goal and call it quits much sooner? If this pace works for me, I’d reach Northern Arizona in 2 ½ days. Maybe I’ll get lucky and somehow gain a half day and get there in two days!! That might not be reasonable, though, and it might take until day three to make it there. OK, so two or three days to get where I can start enjoying the sights. No definitive plan yet, but there are a few things I really want to see.

Before I leave home, I’ll pick up an America the Beautiful Park Pass, which will allow entry to all U.S. National Parks. I’ll be going through the Petrified Forest once I cross into Arizona, and it seems like a cool place to stop for a break, take a hike and grab some photos. Monument Valley is a place I’ve seen in dozens of movies, and is within striking distance of the Petrified Forest. Seems like a good place to visit and get more photos before heading over to the Grand Canyon. From there, I’ll head to Sedona and take 89A through Jerome and Prescott. I’d been on 89A years ago, and from what I remember, it was a great ride.

I’ll probably spend some time in AZ, making stops in Phoenix, Tucson, Mt. Lemon and Kit Peak, before heading over to San Diego and making my way up the Pacific Coast Highway. There’s not an exact plan for what to do in California, but I’m hoping to have enough time to see a few things like Death Valley, Sequoia, and the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s so much that I want to see and do, but I know I’ve likely already planned too many things.

Time will be running out by now, and I’ll have to start making my way home. I’ll continue riding along the coast, making my way through Oregon and into Washington. I’m hoping to be able to ride through Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, before making my way east again. There’s a possibility that I’ll be able to ride the Going to the Sun Road, but it really depends on what kind of time I have remaining. The only other things I hope to do on the way back are a quick visit to Mt. Rushmore and a ride through Badlands National Park.

Some of the things I hope to see will be quick, drive-by visits. I’d like to be able to spend more time and explore all there is to see, but I’ll have to make do with what I have. I’ll be spending a lot of miles on Interstate roads, but it’s the best way to put down long miles quickly. I’ll take notes as I travel, so I can start to formulate a plan for future trips, choosing one destination to ride to and spend a fair amount of time exploring that area.

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