Scott Finnell - 4 Corners
If you tell your non-riding friends that you are going to take a 4 corners trip, they assume you are heading to that spot in the southwest where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah come together.But to bikers, a 4 corners trip refers to the 4 geographic corners of the lower 48 (Key West, FL; Madawaska, ME; Blaine, WA; and San Ysidro, CA).
The Southern California Motorcycling Association (www.sc-ma.com) provides all the details for a certified completion of the trip.Basically, you must take a picture at each of the four corners, keep time stamped gas receipts, pay a fee and complete the ride in 21 days.For us, the 4 corners ride is one of those bucket list rides that we have talked about for years.But we had no interest in completing it in 21 days.
The scheduled departure for our ride was late May and we hoped to return in late June or early July (the best laid plans of…).Our ride was to be counterclockwise with Key West being the first stop.We departed Georgetown, TX on May 21st heading west.Judy rides a 2008 Gold Wing Trike that pulls our Aspen Ambassador popup tent camper and I ride a 2012 Gold Wing.One of the reasons we didn’t do the certified ride is that we didn’t want to miss any of the great sites along the way.In 2013, we rode to Alaska and routinely covered 400-500 miles a day, with a couple of 700+ mile days thrown in as well.When we returned, we wondered why we had been in such a hurry.We were determined to slow down and smell the roses this time (for us that means staying off the interstates as much as possible and visiting National Parks and Monuments along the way).
The ride to Key West was hot but enjoyable. It took us 6 days and 1700 miles to get there,with only one 450-mile day.Unfortunately, we arrived in Key West the day after Memorial Day.Needless to say, it was a zoo.Tourists were everywhere.It was difficult to find a place to park, let alone get a nice picture or enjoy the scenery. Next time, we’ll arrive before the Memorial Day weekend.
The second leg of our trip is where the fun began.As I mentioned earlier, Judy and I really enjoy the National Parks.Following our Key West stop we visited the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks and then made our way up the eastern side of Florida heading to Maine.One of the most memorable parks we visitedon this leg was Appomattox in Virginia.I’m not as big as a Civil War buff as some of my friends, but I can really appreciate being in the house where Lee and Grant met to end the war.In all, it took us 9 days and 2700 miles to get to Madawaska, ME but we spent an off day in Allentown, PA visiting friends and servicing the bikes and a second off day in Poland Spring, ME visiting with bikerfriends we met on our Alaska ride in 2013. Madawaska was a fun stop.Unknown to us before our arrival, there is a park dedicated to the 4 corners ride.It is very well done with a huge granite marker you can ride your bike in front of for a great picture.While we were there, a biker in a new Polaris Slingshot arrived.It was his last stop on the 4 corners ride. It was really exciting to see someone finish.
Since we weren’t interested in rushing through this ride, I was able to set a secondary goal for the trip.When I first started touring years ago, I made a mental note of all the states I had ridden in.Since retiring in 2011 and completing several more cross-country rides, I was down to 16 states to complete my goal of riding to and in Alaska and all the states of the lower 48 (Hawaii is still outstanding but you can’t ride to Hawaii, you can only ride in Hawaii).On the way to Madawaska, I made sure I hit Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.We also rode right threw DC and got a couple of cool pictures in front of the monuments. Not the most direct route, but that was not our goal.
As we were heading to Maine, I learned my 85 year-old dad was going to have back surgery.Judy and I really debated whether to end the trip and just ride home or seek an alternative solution.After much debate, discussion and a lot of phone calls home, we decided we would continue the trip as far as Montana.One of our dearest friends lives in Billings and we knew if we got there, we could leave the bikes and fly home for the surgery and still continue our bucket list trip a few weeks later.
We began the third leg knowing our trip would pause a few weeks in Billings before we could continue on to Blaine, WA.With this knowledge, time and weather became an issue and we covered the 3100 miles from Maine to Montana in 7 days.The Wings can easily handle 450 miles a day but we missed some visits with friends and a few parks we had planned to see.Without adding too many indirect miles, I was able to ride inRhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, on the way to Billings.I have now ridden in all the lower 48 states and Alaska (and most of the Canadian Provinces but that’s another story)!That’s a big goal checked off the bucket list.This leg wasn’t just about getting there.As fans of the TV show American Pickers, we did manage to spend some time at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, IA, as well as, visit the Theodore Roosevelt National Parknear Medora, ND.
If you are keeping score (and I usually am), during part 1 of our 4 corners trip the numbers are: bikes--2; days on the road--22; mileage to date--7700; lodging--3 nights hotel, 7 nights with friends, and 12 nights camping; meals--ate out only about 6 times, remainder with friends or prepared on the road; cost--food, lodging, gas, tolls was approximately $3200 (does not count routine bike maintenance).
Thankfully my dad is doing well and we will continue on our journey soon.Let’s ride!
Scott Finnell - Blue Ridge Parkway
Total trip: 19 Days
Total mileage: Approx. 4400
I made my first cross-country motorcycle trip in 1979 on a GL1000.I rode from Waco, Texas through Yellowstone National Park and Vancouver, BC to Tacoma, Washington for my best friend’s wedding.Since then, I’ve ridden several 100,000 miles to some of the most beautiful spots in the country.One of my favorites is the Blue Ridge Parkway.This October my wife Judy (on her 2008 Gold Wing Trike) and I (on my 2012 Gold Wing) set out on a fall ride.We left Georgetown with the goal of great riding in the mountains.We allowed plenty of time so we could avoid super long days, Interstate Highways and bad weather, as much as possible.300-350 miles a day was a target but we had a couple of 450-mile days.Our plan was to camp in state parks if the weather was nice and cheap hotels if it got too cold or wet.
Our route took us first to Natchez, Mississippi.In Natchez we picked up the Natchez Trace Parkway and rode it almost to Nashville, Tennessee.The parkway is a great ride of about 440 miles.There are limited commercial vehicles, light traffic and a speed limit of 50 mph.I really like this parkway but I recommend it be ridden on the way to the Blue Ridge and not afterwards.The fall colors of the Blue Ridge make the evergreens of the Natchez Trace seem dull.They aren’t, but my advice is you’ll enjoy it more if you ride it first.
After exiting from the Natchez Trace we headed northeast to the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.Skyline Drive is a 105-mile parkway that runs the entire length of the Park.We had planned to ride the entire parkway but we began about 30 miles in because of our camping arrangements.The Skyline Drive road becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway.If it wasn’t marked, you wouldn’t know when one ended and the other began.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best motorcycle roads in the country.It is 469 miles long and connects the Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.We were lucky enough to hit at the peak of the fall colors. Skyline and the Blue Ridge are 2 to 3 full days of riding.One of the most memorable experiences for us on this trip was when a fighter jet flew a few hundred feet right over us.It was exciting to see so close but it was so loud and happened so fast that it scared us to death before we realized what was going on. Not far from the end of the parkway is the most famous motorcycle road in America, the Tail of the Dragon.As many times as I have ridden in this part of the country, I had never taken the time to ride this famous road.The Dragon is on US 129. It begins in North Carolina but most of the road is actually in Tennessee.It boasts 318 curves in just 11 miles.I must say, it was a little like an amusement park ride.We rode it twice.But beware that the police are active in the area and there are lots of other bikes on the road as well.
After riding the Dragon, we headed over to Greenville, South Carolina where I ran my 89th marathon in my 49th state.From Greenville, we headed back across Tennessee to Springfield Missouri.We avoided the interstates and even road the ferry across the Mississippi.In Springfield, I ran my 90th marathon and my 50th state. By completing the marathon, I became one of about a 1000 people in the country who have run a marathon or farther in all 50 states (I’d been working on that goal for 29 years).After the marathon, we headed back to Georgetown.In all we traveled about 4400 miles through 12 states in 19 days.Remarkably, we only rode through 2 hours of rain.
John Hall - Central Arizona
Total trip 5 days
Total mileage 2368
Total time in the saddle 43 hours
I left Salado Thursday 9/25/14 around 8:00 AM headed for Las Cruces for the first leg of my trip. Made fuel stops in Junction, Ozona, Fort Stockton, Van Horn and finally Las Cruces. Total of 680 miles the first day in 11 hours. Prior to that 600 miles was my longest one day trip to Ruidoso on my old GL 1500. I must say the new 1800 is more comfortable that the old one. I think I wore out the original seat on the old one.
Next morning I left Las Cruces around 7:30 headed for Chandler AZ by way of Globe AZ. Trying to get in as many mountains as possible. Arrived at my hotel in Chandler around 5:30 and thankful that I got there before the severe thunderstorms hit. Left my bike parked in the hotel parking lot all day Saturday because of the severe storms and flooding with possibility of hail and tornados.
Left early Sunday morning and rode to Payson, Show Low, Springerville, Alpine, Silver City NM and back to Las Cruces for the night. This leg of the trip was by far the best. Riding through the Tonto National Forest and the Gila National Forest and mountains of eastern AZ. I wished I had planned on staying the night there instead of rushing to get back to Las Cruces for the night because there is too much to see and when your just passing through trying to get to your next destination before dark you miss a lot of beautiful scenery. I forgot about losing and hour getting back to Las Cruces before dark and I did make it back around 6:30.
Monday morning I left Las Cruces headed back home with the intention of spending the night in Junction since I was losing an hour coming back, but since I made it to Junction around 5:00 I figured that I had enough time to make it all the way home before dark. Got home Monday night around 7:30.
I wish there were a better route to get there because I-10 is not the most beautiful road to travel especially when you’re traveling alone. The advantage of traveling alone is you can stop when you want to and stay where you want to as long or short as you want to. The disadvantage is if you breakdown you’re on your own. You also talk to yourself a lot!
Next trip to AZ, I want to spend more time in the mountains including Sedona, Jerome and Prescott. Been through there a couple times before and its beautiful. I originally planned a 7 day trip to include those locations but then decided I might be too tired to ride back home. Besides the weather was uncertain. Since my wife does not ride with me and she does not like to stay home alone I try to keep my trips as short as possible We also have horses and getting someone you trust to take care of horses is not easy.
Cathy - Multi-state
Total mileage: est. 4300
Hi I'm Cathy, I ride a 2013 ST-S CAN-AM SPYDER with TRAILER, which I purchased from CTPS. I recently went on the trip of my life which included 16 states totaling about 4300 miles. I started out in the middle of July from Texas and went through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia. I stopped in West Virginia for one week and two weekends and stayed with friends. I headed north back to Virginia on through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and on into Vermont where I stayed for three weeks. When I left I went back through New York to the western side towards Niagara Falls and went south through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and back to Texas. I must say that my bike ran flawlessly. I pulled my trailer jammed packed and didn't even feel like it was there. I didn't have any kind of problems with my bike or with people. Hope to go on another soon. You only live once...I'm working on doing just that! Travel safely and have fun.