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Messages - indyfabz

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As a veteran of an organized, x-country tour with twelve other people I had never met before, I would advise you, and anyone else who might be considering joining you, to be independent or at least be prepared to become independent quickly. If it turns out you are not compatible and need/want to split, having only one tent, one stove and one set of cookware is going to cause problems. Some of the people in my group annoyed me to the point I nearly dropped out at least once to continue on my own. In the end, I am glad I did not. Being in a larger group provided some insulation from the two or three people I did not get along with. I had to share shopping, cooking and cleaning duties with them every once in a while, but other than that I could limit my interaction as I saw fit and not feel on my own.

And you never know who you might click with. I was 34 at the time. My best good friend during the trip turned out to be someone who was 60.

Mid-Atlantic / Re: New Jersey Wolf Preserve & Campground
« on: May 01, 2013, 01:09:07 pm »
Finally made it to this place last week during a 3-day trip from Port Jervis, NY to Philly. Took a detour off the ACA Atlantic Coast route from Millbrook Village in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The campground (Camp Taylor) is somewhat rustic, but the bathroom and shower facilities were clean and pretty well maintained, and there is a lot of shade. On the way there you pass though Blairstown, which has a lot of services, including restaurants, a large grocery store, pharmacy and liquor store. NJ 94 was somewhat busy in places on a Tuesday afternoon, but there is a very good shoulder the entire way. Bears in camp are not uncommon. One had come into camp the night before I was there. There is no bear box, but I was allowed to store surplus food and such in the shower facility.

Took the tour of the preserve the next day. Before I did, I heard wolves howling earlier in the morning. In addition to the wolves, they have three rescued bobcats and two foxes. The tour guides were very informative and the animals are clearly well cared for. It was nice to see that the wolves are not kept in cages or small pens. They are kept in large, fenced, wooded areas that are measured in acres, not square yards.

My detour took me to the center of Columbia, NJ. From there, you can get back on the ACA route via the pedestrain bridge to Portland, PA. (Portland is the home town of the man who wrote the song "All I Want For Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth.") Send me a PM if would like the exact route. Be forewarned that the climb out of Millbrook, while short (about 1.1 miles), is severe the entire way. The 2.5 or so mile climb up to Camp Taylor averages 3.6%, but there are two very steep sections, so it is more difficult than it looks on paper. When you descend back to NJ 94 you will be glad you came up the way you did, as the way down is even steeper. On the steepest part, I had the brakes fully depressed yet could not come to a complete stop.

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway--Will my bike be ok?
« on: May 01, 2013, 11:21:26 am »
Be careful going through Chester, PA. Another flareup of violence there very recently.

General Discussion / Re: touring without "eating out"
« on: April 22, 2013, 11:12:05 am »
Several of you mention "local mom and pop diner" - What is that?

Small, locally owned and operated diners are often operated by the owners' family, thus known generically as "Mom and Pop Diner."  They know and are known by the locals, who often will go there for a regular cup of coffee, sometimes a breakfast, every morning.

In Darby, MT we had breakfast at Sandy's Silver Spoon or something like that. A couple of regular locals came in, went behind the counter and poured their own coffee so the lone waitress could see to the other customers.

Places like that are fun to visit. They are also good places to pick up intel, such a nicer roads to ride. You may even get a surprise. In a local diner in Poe, IN on the Northern Tier, a compadre and I ended up in a conversation with the former Mayor, who was an active farmer. We talked about our trip and he told us all bout the new volunteer fire house the town had built. He eventually went to work in the fields. When we asked for our check a short time later, the waitress told us he had paid for our breakfasts.

Routes / Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« on: April 19, 2013, 09:44:29 am »
At Madison campground the hiker/bikers get to camp in a nice grassy area right behind the office (and it's a well-kept secret that the ladies gave us access to their coffee pot in the morning)!

When I was there many moons ago they had a cache of supplies just for hikers and bikers, inlcuding condiments, utensils and even a double burner propane stove.

What I did not like abiut Madison is what Jamawani notes. Madison was crowded and loud. Moreover, people simply didn't follow the rules about food storage. I got up very early to start my day and saw a lot of empty food and beer containers along with coolers left out.

Definitely get off the main roads when you can, even if for only for a few yards. I nearly got doored during an "animal jam." Someone who thought they had seen a moose or something stopped and the lemmings did the same. As I rode by I thought of how 15 min. earlier I had seen several elk when I turned down an access road looking for a place to take a rest and have a snack. I also remember riding a gravel path to get to Old Faithful. it went right past some gieser that was about to erupt. Much cooler than Old Faithful itself as there were only a handful of people and you could get much closer.

Routes / Re: Across North America
« on: April 19, 2013, 09:29:50 am »
If I had to skip any part of what you have laid out, it would be the portion of the Northern Tier in ND and MT up to Cut Bank, where the route heads into Canada. Amtrak's Empire Builder service can be used as a bridge. However, travelling by train with a bike in the U.S. can be difficult. On that train you can only take bikes between stations that offer checked baggage service. Fargo, ND does. So does Shelby, MT, which is near Cut Bank. Another issue is that the bikes need to be boxed. Amtrak has their own boxes which require little disassembly of the bike. However, whether there will be some available at small stations is not certain. That train can very crowded during the high tourist season since it is often used by groups heading to Glacier National Park. I would be wary of simply showing up and expecting to find two seats on the day you want to travel. And it's not cheap. Just for fun I priced Fargo to Shelby on July 18th. $189/person.

General Discussion / Re: Inspire or Scare the Begeebees?
« on: April 19, 2013, 09:00:33 am »
As a 20-plus year environmental historian in the northern Rockies who has been bicycle touring since 1984 - methinks your worries are misplaced.  Prudence dictates that a person from the East Coast or Europe who shows little awareness of the climate or remoteness of the Intermountain West might benefit from a few cautionary posts.  In contrast, a person who worries every detail usually benefits from a little humor and upbeat encouragement.  YMMV.

Well put. I am an east coaster. While we have some bears in PA and NJ (and other places), I had never spent any time in local bear country before touring in the west, and I had never camped anywhere a day in my life.

During two tours west of the Mississippi I had the good fortune of seeing bears on three separate occasions. One of those occasions was brought about a result of an unthinking/ignorant/sloppy cyclist leaving garbage out at the Jenny Lake campground in the Tetons while he went to try to get better cell phone reception. The young bear (likely an orphan) got into the garbage, had a look-see in the guy's tent and then jumped up on the picnic table to sniff his drying laundry before being scared off by two women banging pots and pans. While proper education may not have deterred that guy, it might result in fewer incidents like that, which incidents can contribute to the ultimate destruction of bears due to habituation. "A fed bear is a dead bear."

Routes / Re: Across North America
« on: April 17, 2013, 04:24:41 pm »
ACA's Nothern Tier is a fine route. You cross into Canada twice, visiting Niagara Falls and Alberta, including Waterton Village, which has a drmatic campsite in town. And going to the Sun Road is Glacier National Park is one of the most scenic roads in the entire country.

Riding out of NYC can be tough, especially if you don't know the area. Fortunately, there are several rail options to get you out of the city.

The nice this about following one of ACA's route is that the maps who the location of services souch as camprgounds, bike shops, motels and grocery stores.

Routes / Re: Allegheny Mountains loop--motel info
« on: April 17, 2013, 04:13:31 pm »
Here are some details from someone who rode much of the loop:

In one of the posts in this thread there is a link to a Crazy Guy journal:

General Discussion / Re: Inspire or Scare the Begeebees?
« on: April 17, 2013, 01:57:26 pm »
I think you need to separate the organization's mission from the substance of comments made my people on this forum. Also, I think the vast majority of posts dispell the misperceptions of people, many of which are innocent or based on incorrect notions. Indeed, if you look at the threads about bears that have been started over the years, I think you will find the vast majority of responses counter the notion that there are bears waiting behind every tree and that, expect maybe in certain places and unique circumstances, they are not really a problem.

Routes / Re: Weather in the TransAm Mountains
« on: April 16, 2013, 10:13:22 am »
Can vary wildly. In 2011, while riding a few days in the TA as part of a loop tour, we had nights between 35 and about 40 in Missoula, Darby and Wisdom, MT. The day we landed in MSO, over 1" of cold rain fell Darby, just missing MSO. That was June 29th. I also understand that the prevailing pattern up to that point had been abnormally wet and on the chilly side. Indeed, after the first day of riding we had clear skies and pleasant warm days. The nice thing is that even if the air is chilly, if the sun is out it warms you quickly.

Elevation does make a difference, In 2000, when I rode the TA from MSO to Fairplay, CO, there was morning frost at Coulter Bay campground in Yellowstone. The night before in Madison was also chilly. Again, that was during the last few days of June. But most of that stretch was pretty much how Josh describes it. Not much rain and nice temps. Definitely keep an eye out for thunderstorms, which can pop up seemingly out of nowhere. One afternoon I was napping in my tent in Dillon when hail larger than peas but smaller than marbles began to fall. Afternoon storms are one reason I like to start early.

Since I had started in the Pacific Northwest in late May I was carrying cold weather gear. I didn't bring anything like an extra sweater but rather slept in layers during the coldest nights.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Missoula to the Pacific
« on: April 15, 2013, 04:02:31 pm »
You will actually join up with the NT at the junction of 200 and 56. Bull River Campground just south of the junction was nice.
I camped at the Bull River Campground last summer. It was nice enough, but primitive. No electricity, no showers. For just $2 more, I could have stayed at the RV park right at the junction of 200 and 56. It has all the amenities and it doesn't require you to go down and back up the big hill to Bull River. I made the wrong call.

I stayed at that RV park the first time I rode through there. I was on ACA's organized NT tour. Most in our group were more "high maintenance" and liked showers, etc. After getting cleaned up, a couple of us rode back north on 200 to a roadhouse we passed. Had some Margaritas. At Bull River, I got to talk with the host--a widower who seemed lonely and bored. The place was nearly empty thanks to a stretch of bad weather. Indeed, it had been chilly and damp the entire day, so a shower wasn't something I was dying for.

General Discussion / Re: touring without "eating out"
« on: April 15, 2013, 10:50:23 am »
I've made a lot of meals with the same items while car camping before, but then you have a big duffel bag full of camp gear with you and things like a bottle of dish soap and all utensils are no big deal.

I still use and old MSR Blacklite cook set minus the frying pan. The two pots nest. I put a bandana between the two pots so they don't rub against each other while I am riding. Inside the smaller pot I can fit a folding spatula, a folding pot strainer, sponge, small plastic vial of dish soap, the pot gripper, a few small Nalgene bottles containing spices, a head of garlic, collapsible plastic cork screw and pack towel.

Think small. You are not going to be on the road that long.

Routes / Re: Allegheny Mountains loop--motel info
« on: April 15, 2013, 10:41:00 am »
According to my version of the map, there are several locations with indoor accomodations. Some of them are listed as "cabins." Who knows what that includes?

One issue I see is that, going counter clockwise, there does not appear to be any indoor accomodations between Paint Bank and the USFS Middle Mountain cabins. That's a distance of nearly 105 miles. To find something sooner, you would have to take either the Dumore or Bartow cutoff.

(The place in Paint Back has an old caboose you can rent. Looks like a popular place where a reservations would probably be a good idea:

You might cosnider sprining for the map (it's available for download) and contacting the places for accomodation details. That would also allow you to check the spacing of other indoor options. Looking into reservations for places along the Greenbrier Trail miight also be a good idea. None fo the places sound like large establishments.

General Discussion / Re: touring without "eating out"
« on: April 12, 2013, 03:27:38 pm »
For stove I do have an MSR DragonFly (can run on unleaded) and was planning on also making a soda can stove, so the two combined might be good for cooking and water.

I have a Dragon Fly. I cook elaborate meals with it, whether I am going solo or with the GF. Why would you need anything else? When solo, I bring two nesting pots. In one I first cook the "go-with"--something like sausage or boneless chicken cut into strips with whatever vegetables I can find, onion and fresh garlic. Once that's done, I will cook the pasta in the second pot. When that's done, I put the first pot back on the stove for re-heat while I drain the pasta. The formula is the same when there are two of us, only we carry a larger second pot to be able to properly cook enough pasta for two.

Here is a meatless version made in camp in about 40 min. of prep and cooking time:

Seems slow, but the water was very cold so it took a while to boil.

As for grocery availability, when you have your route down you can go to Google Maps and search for "Grocery stores near [name of town]". You do have to be careful about hours of operation as you do with restaurants. I have stayed in plenty of small towns where the grocery stores have closed as early as 6 p.m. Your best bet is a larger chain like Safeway.

With all that said, I agree with the others who say that the local cafe, etc., is where many memories are made, even if you just go for a slice of pie after cooking dinner.

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