Don't Say Yes to the GPS
You'll spend more time in the moment
without your little electronic pacifier.
One school morning my little daughter came running into the kitchen very upset and worried. "Dad," she said, "I need a permission note for school today and the printer won't work!" I explained to her that we also had these things called pens, and we could use them to write the note on paper. Crisis averted!
Many motorcyclists totally screw themselves with that same technology-centered attitude. Maybe I'm overstating my case a little. But this might be the only coast to coast trip you make, and I want you to get it right. And that's why I'm telling you:
Don't bring a God Damned GPS.
That's right. Don’t bring it. Hooking up a GPS is wasting a port on your power block. However, if you are a big freaking baby and absolutely must use GPS, A USB charger port will cover both your phone (which you should bring) and GPS needs.
Who needs a GPS anyway? Did Billy and Captain America have one? No. Did Lewis and Clark? No. Do you need one? Absolutely not. I used the spiral-bound Rand McNally atlas. It is superior to the GPS in a few ways. It’s bigger and you can see much more on a map page than you can on a GPS screen. The map does not break if you drop it or if it falls off the bike. The map does not lose a signal. The map does not rely on electrical current. The map does not attract thieves. If the map is lost, damaged or stolen you can get another for anywhere from free to ten bucks.
Ooooh, you might get lost. Who cares? Are you on a super-tight schedule? Well, that was your first mistake. Rectify it by blowing off the schedule. Now you're really on track. Getting lost could be the best part of the trip, or the worst. Either way, you've made the journey more memorable.
Yeah, a GPS can tell you where a hotel or a restaurant is. Big damn deal. So can your eyes. Take that goddamned electronic pacifier out of your mouth. Isn't the whole point of this trip to be independent and on your own? Christ, my dead grandmother could ride a motorcycle coast to coast with a GPS. Use your eyes, ears and brain and find stuff yourself. Talk to some locals, ride a few blocks out of your way.
And if all else fails you can use your phone as a GPS. That's what I did.
By the Way, Clean Clothes are for Wimps
Don't get too fussy about hygeine. You're on a motorcycle trip, not a Disney Princess Cruise. You don't need more than a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans and three or four each of socks, underwear and T-shirts. Bring one sweatshirt for extra warmth, and a pair of sneaks, sandals or Keens for off-the-bike time. Pajamas? Jesus. A plastic grocery bag will keep the dirty clothes separate. Use laundromat time to write blog entries or keep a journal. You won't regret it.
The spiral-bound Rand McNally Road Atlas fits easily in my excellent Firstgear tank bag. And no one will try to steal it.
GPS? Feh! I used a "pen" and "paper" to write directions to Harrisburg and slip them under my tank bag cover. But if it gets dark? Uh, I'll have to get back to you on that.