Every once in a while, I get bored of writing about myself. Luckily, there are thousands of other interesting travelers to write about. I found out one said traveler is planning a motorcycle voyage on the Trans-America Trail. I’m terrified of motorcycles and I had never heard of this trail. So I did one of my favorite things that isn’t travel; I got drunk and interviewed him about his trip. Here is what he had to say about planning a solo motorcycle trip across the country; we’ll call him Motorcycle Diaries.
GnomeTrotting: So tell us about this trip you want to go on.
Motorcycle Diaries: It starts off in North Carolina and ends in Oregon. But I’m going to do it from Miami to Seattle. The off-road portion starts in Jericho, TN.
GT: Like the show?
MD: You’ve seen Jericho? That show’s really good. So it starts there but one of my really good friends lives in North Carolina. So I was thinking of going to Ashville and then getting on the TAT (the Trans-America Trail) from there. Most people are able to do it in three weeks, But I want to do it for two or three months. So I can do detours and visit friends along the way.
GT: So where does the Trans-America trail take you? What are the highlights?
MD: North Carolina, through Pisgah National Forest, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, through Canyonlands, Idaho where you pass Gran Teton and Yellowstone, and Oregon.
GT: What do you hope to get out of this?
MD: I guess self-awareness, hanging out two months by myself in the middle of nowhere.
GT: How much do you think this is going to cost you?
MD: On the low end, probably $3500. On the high end around $5000. I’m planning on camping, but if the weather is bad, I want to budget for hotels. The trail is mostly on federal land and it goes from national park to national park. The parts that aren’t on federal land are on public land. But the people who own those properties have mostly okayed campers staying in their land if they’re doing the Trans-America Trail.
GT: How will you shower? Groom yourself?
MD: There are public showers in the national parks… and in the river. I was also thinking of going clean-shaven and with short hair to see how long my hair grows during the trip.
GT: Little Forrest Gump action? Alright. Where are you going to take a shit?
MD: In the national parks, there are facilities. But otherwise, it’s gonna be a hole in the ground. I’ll carry a spade.
GT: How are you taking your stuff? Are you taking a hiking backpack?
MD: There are saddle bags, like a giant U that goes on the back of the bike that are called panniers. I’ll probably take one made of out waterproof material. The ones that are steel or aluminum are called ankle breakers, cause if you go down, you get dragged back and your ankle gets stuck. They’re also heavier. And since the trip is mainly off-road, the lighter you are, the faster you can go.
GT: Wouldn’t it be easier to just drive and save your ankles?
MD: Cause you can’t do the full trip in a car. Like in Colorado, there’s a stretch of road that is 3.5 feet wide and to the right it’s a wall of ice and to the left there’s a cliff. And there are river crossings.
GT: That sounds kind of dangerous.
MD: I guess a bit. There are some rough parts. In the summer especially since it’s wet season. I need special tires because if the ground is wet, in a place like Arkansas, for example – the water and clay makes like an oil which is a pain in the ass to drive through.
GT: Are you going to get a GoPro?
MD: I want to get a GoPro.
GT: Are you gonna have cell phone service?
MD: From what I understand, there are certain bits where you have service. But I’ll have a GPS and a roll chart, which gives you directions, and maps. So I can check in with people at home at least once a day with the GPS.
GT: So are you terrified?
MD: At times, yes. Just because I’ve heard so many doubts about the fact that I’m doing it by myself. The majority of people do it with others. But I can do short test runs to national parks in Florida. And the good thing is that since I’m not going with anyone, if I decide “fuck this” and buy a plane to Seattle, I’m not letting anyone down.
GT: What would make you say “fuck this”?
MD: Probably bad luck. Extreme weather hazards, my bike breaking down, or if I can’t find a place to crash. But it’s hard because I only have myself to depend on. Like to lift the bike out of a ditch if anything happens. There are stretches through deserts, with 250 miles between towns. So if anything went wrong, I’ll be in the middle of nowhere. Like if I fall and break my clavicle, I’ll be in the middle of the desert alone.
GT: How are you gonna hook up with people along the way? Bring someone back to your tent?
MD: I had not thought about that. That’s hilarious, I’ve thought of every essential – water, food, spares for the bike – but I hadn’t thought about that.
GT: Sex is essential, too. So after you’re done with this, where do you want to go?
MD: I want to go sailing, but I’m not sure how far or how long yet. Instead of doing a Transatlantic trip, I was thinking of going around South America and going up the Pacific.
GT: Are you scared of pirates?
MD: Not really
GT: But they exist right?
MD: They exist.
GT: Do you want to take my gnome on this motorcycle trip or maybe sailing with you?
MD: No, I hate gnomes. They creep me out.
GT: What? Fuck you.