Thursday, January 07, 2010

Traveling on $100 a Day

As I wait for the planet to tilt back toward the sun I've been daydreaming about taking extended trips on the Blue Highways of America. At one time I thought a Travels with Charley setup - just me and my dog tooling around the USA in a camper, would be a good way to go.

My recent obsession with motorcycles, and the price of gasoline, has made me think a trip on a two wheeler might be the way to go. I used to think about a bicycle but that seems too slow right now - and a little on the masochistic side when I think about the people I saw riding bicycles across the middle of Montana last summer.

I'm thinking 10 gallons of gasoline a day at about $3/gallon, $15 for food, $15 for miscellaneous (campground fees, laundry, shower, oil, stove fuel, maint) might be a fair estimate.

For $60/day I could travel 300 miles each day sleeping outside for a few days and then check into a motel every 3 or 4 days to clean up, wash clothes, get a good nights sleep, log-on etc.

It's a really rough guess. I don't think I'd really want to travel 300 miles every day; depending on where I was it might make more sense to not travel at all, more than 300 miles, or less than 300 miles and just spend my time stopping to look at/experience anything that looked interesting. Can't think of how many times I've passed something on a trip where I thought, "that looks interesting but I don't have time to stop or turn back to check it out." It sounds nice to slow down and have all the time I wanted to take to just wander around.

I plan to try it out this summer with some shorter trips over highway 20 the North Cascades Highway maybe drifting up to Canada and over to Montana at some point.

I'm still trying to figure out the right vehicle. The Sportster is fun but has very little carrying capacity for camping gear. It is also fairly tiring for long rides without a windshield or fairing. It would work if I only wanted to stay in motels and drive short distances - or if I want to get a rack/sissy bar that I can strap a bag on. It gets 50 mpg and with a 4.5 gallon tank has a good range. The KZ has a lot of carrying capacity but isn't as fuel efficient - with a 4 gallon tank and a range of only about 100 miles in stop and go conditions. I think I have to buy a different motorcycle.

Or I have to remember what it was like when I was 17 and drove my Honda 350 hundreds of miles around Montana over the Going-To-The-Sun Highway in Glacier Park and up the Cooke City Highway into Yellowstone just tooling around in the big open spaces. It didn't have a windshield, rack or saddle bags and would vibrate enough at certain speeds that you couldn't use the mirrors, but none of that seemed to be a problem, so my idea that I need the "perfect" motorcycle to get out and go may just be an excuse.


I really like the idea of one of these Concours motorcycles though and I may end up selling my two to end up with this one. Or maybe keep all three - Sportster for short trips in nice weather, KZP semi-beater for winter/commuting and then the Connie (or the newer GTR14) for road trips.

The Concours seems to be a good bang for your buck sport touring motorcycle, reading the owners comments they seem to be quite happy. I see new ones on E-Bay for a little over 10K and some slightly used ones like this one on Craigslist in S.F. for 4K 2003 Kawasaki Concours (trade?). I wonder what the weather would be like for a ride from San Francisco to Everett this weekend...?