Monday, April 30, 2012

3rd Time is a Charm

Come May 12th we head off to finish the National Park Tour we started last August. Actually we are finishing the one we started in 2010 . Our basic route looks like a triangle with the corners being North Uxbridge MA, Jacksonville FL and Kansas City KS. What is the significance of the corners? Jacksonville has Fort Caroline Timucuan Preserve for a NP Stamp and Kansas (hopefully Fort Scott will work) for a BBQ joint to complete the Smoke Chasing 2012 15/15/15 Iron Gut Challenge. This particular challenge one must visit 15 joints in 15 states in 15 days with Kansas as a mandatory state. We will pick up a bunch of towns that start with U or S or A for the GLMC tour, throw in the memorials along the way for the Tour of Honor and to add to the mix National Historic Landmarks just because, the roster is full. (note all pictures a clickable)

The routing was completed this weekend, with 2 problem days. Day 2 which takes us across the Delaware Bay via the Cape May ferry. The miles are a snap; I just have a lot of stops this day, especially the memorials for the Tour of Honor in Washington DC. DC can be rather complex for riding around on bike an stopping for photo ops. At least it will be a Sunday and should be somewhat quiet.

Day 15 is simply a ton of stops (29 of them), but nothing we haven’t done in the past. The only really important stop of the day is the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville. We were at F93 3 years ago and it is one place I swore I would return to. Back then the memorial was a simple shed with a fence that people hung their personal items in dedication to those passengers that gave up their lives on 9/11. The park now has a sculptured memorial. I have said this before, but all of us should visit this site.

Day 9 takes us on RT 7 in Arkansas from Hot Springs (a NP stamp) thru 2 National Forests thru Harrison and finally to Eureka Springs. This is the shortest day at 262 miles with only 3 schedules stops. This is suppose to be a beautiful ride. I am really looking foward to this. Day 10 could be one of the longest days at 429 miles however we will be hitting OK and KS and the roads are pretty darn straight out there and we should be able to make some time. Hopefully no Performance Certificates will be earned.

Day 5, the second longest day in miles (418), takes us into Jacksonville, FL. This is the one segment I let an Interstate (I-95) become a major factor in the roads we will ride. All other roads will secondary roads. We have traveled all the way down the east coast in 09 using RT 17 for the most part, so I let the interstate slide. We needed to make time.

This will in all likelihood be my last IBA National Park Tour. This will be number 3 and a silver certificate (25 states, 50 parks with one in ME, FL, WA and CA). The only other certificates that I could earn would be Gold (which includes the 4 corners of CA, ME, FL, WA and Alaska) and Platinum which is the Gold throwing in Hawaii. We still have the southwest to go to, but right now I don’t see doing that one on a bike. Well if I were to hit the lottery and could retire, I could see heading out that way on a Spyder RT. It is going to be a challenge to keep 4 different grand tours going, but I pretty much have this down to the exact spots we need to hit.

This trip will be just shy of 5,400 miles, but with the screw ups I am sure we will be north of that. We will be on the road for 16 days with one held in reserve in case we need it. Of course Memorial Day is in the mix.

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