Revisiting Furkot

If you have visited my blog previously, you are likely aware one of the most indispensable travel tools I have found is the online trip planner, Furkot (www.furkot.com).  I have yet to find a resource that is as comprehensive or one that makes travel planning easier (and FUN!).

When I first reviewed Furkot here at BackroadTraveler.net I alluded to its many features but did not go into great detail.  This morning, as I was perusing the “what’s new in travel apps” I found a fantastic review of Furkot over at GlobeRiders.com.  I even learned a few new things myself!   So, rather than reinvent the wheel, I encourage you to check out the excellent review of Furkot at GlobeRiders.com.

Happy trip planning and have a wonderful 2017!

 

P.S.  In the months ahead, I am also planning on doing a review of Scenic – Touring Planner, Navigation and Tracking by Motomappers.com.  Guido van Eijsden, the developer, seems to be onto something special with this GPS, designed especially for motorcycle riders.  One of the really nice features I’m looking forward to checking out further is Scenic‘s ability to easily (very easily!) integrate with Furkot; plan your trips in Furkot and with a couple simple clicks see all of them listed and readily available for importing into Scenic. I like it when developers make integration so easy!

Aqua Quest White Water Duffel – 100% Waterproof Dry Bag Duffel Bag

aquaquestI purchased my Aqua Quest White Water Duffel in November 2015 and have been very pleased with it.  Aside from the bag being quite large (75L – they do have smaller sizes), it is well constructed, with heavy metal “D” rings in just the right locations for running tie-down straps through to securely attach it to the rear fender of my motorcycle.

The bag features a roll top, with interior velcro bands near the opening to keep the top from opening.  Once packed, you roll the mouth of the bag down to the desired size and secure it with four external m/f clips (two across the top opening, and one at each end of the top opening), to keep it secure and your contents safe from the elements.

An attached velcro sleeve on one of the hand straps allows both straps to be kept together when transporting the bag, and a very comfortable, adjustable shoulder strap can be removed or added as needed; given the fact a 75 liter bag can contain a lot and get rather heavy, a comfortable shoulder strap is a must!  I can easily carry my CPAP machine, toiletries, and several changes of clothes in this bag and still have room for a few souvenirs I may purchase while I’m traveling.

The bag is heavy nylon, waterproof lined, reinforced seam construction.  It feels like it will hold up to a lot of use and beating.  As I previously mentioned, I throw my bag over my rear fender and across my saddlebags; this also allows it so serve as a nice backrest. I then secure my bag with two Rok-straps (another great accessory for road travel).

 

 

Where were the Old Roads?

Once the US Interstate system began to take a real foothold in the late 50’s and early 60’s, US routes that were previously used to traverse the country were at risk of being bypassed or destroyed by the new right of ways. This left many towns and businesses struggling to survive as roads that were once primary routes of travel saw fewer and fewer travelers.

In recent years it seems there has been an increased interest in finding what remains of the pre-Interstate routes in an effort to reconnect with our country’s travel history. A few months ago, I had the good fortune of purchasing two 1957 Rand McNally US Road atlases on ebay.com.  For me, this was like finding a treasure as I had been looking for a ’57 road atlas for a while.  The ’57 atlases were the last atlases that featured our highway infrastructure prior to the Interstate System.  Frankly, the atlases are a treat to behold and I’m looking forward to using them regularly in my future trips, as I look for some of the old roads to incorporate into my journeys.

Pre-Interstate-US-Highway-System-Map (2)I was excited to find a map of the 1955 US Highway System (click this link for full size map) on the Internet just this evening and thought readers of BackroadTraveler.net might be interested in possibly referencing the map in their own search of the old roads.  If you are curious about the old roads, I trust you will find the map very interesting.

Blue Ridge Parkway? Have you tried the interactive map?

When I was preparing my trip on part of the Blue Ridge Parkway earlier this year, I heard there were some construction spots that were forcing detours.  As I was trying to get a better handle in relation to where the actual detours were occurring, I came across the National Park Service’s Real-time road open/close status for the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It proved to be a handy tool I was unaware of up to that point.  If you are heading to the BRP anytime in the future, you might consider saving the link to your Smartphone’s Home screen.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.27.20 PM

Click Here or the image above to go to the Map

Help Finding Those Mom & Pop Motels

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.11.12 PMIf you’re anything like me, a nice Mom & Pop Motel will beat a popular chain motel most days of the week.  As I was doing some Googling recently, to see if there are any apps for the iPhone that will allow you to find Mom & Pop Motels, I found a website that does a pretty good job of highlighting quite a few.  So, I brought up the site in Safari on my iPhone and added the page to my Home Screen.   You may want to do the same!

Click to Visit:  Mom & Pop Motels

 

 

Digging Deeper with Furkot

I began organizing my upcoming trip on Furkot.com. You may have read about it in my last Product Review, “Dynamic Trip Planning Duo”,  I’m really enjoying Furkot and all the trip planning features it offers. Frankly, it’s much more feature-rich than my long-time favorite, Roadtrippers.com. While RoadTrippers offers some great ideas for things to see and do, and has plenty of contributions from member reviewers, I have found that mapping routes tends to be much less fickle in Furkot (even something as basic as telling Furkot the trip is going to have the same starting and stopping point is a breeze; not so with RoadTrippers). Provide some basic details like how many miles you can travel on a tank of gas, how many hours you want to travel on a “full day” and Furkot automatically inserts flags on your map and itinerary  with recommends stopping points for gas stations and lodging.  You can select and make lodging reservations from within Furkot, choose whether you want to avoid highways or not , select the types of places you want to eat, and the types of activities you’d like to do.   You can make copies of your trip (yeah, why shouldn’t you be able to easily make variations of a trip?); something not present in RoadTrippers (at least not that I have been able to find). You can also print your trips, export them to a variety of GPS formats, share them with others, and more.  One definite advantage RoadTrippers has over Furkot (at this point) is a SmartPhone App.

UPDATE:  Furkot has contacted me and pointed me to the following web site!  https://help.furkot.com/features/mobile-apps.html    There IS a way to take advantage of their service on your Smart Device creating a Homescreen icon, and it works really well!  AWESOME!

Here’s a basic idea of my upcoming trip prepared on Furkot.com. Furkot even makes it easy to share your travels via email, social media, and even automatically creating HTML code so you can easily embed a map, like the one below, in your web page.  Click the link below the map and you can even see the trip itinerary. Pretty cool!

My only fear is that Furkot is SO good, it might not stay free!

 

Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Trip

The Dynamic Trip-planning Duo

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 7.45.22 PMI regularly look for ways to plan more interesting trips.  Recently I stumbled across a wonderful website called America’s Scenic Byways (http://scenicbyways.info).  The website allows you to view hundreds of routes (both on-road and even off-road) in ALL 50 of the United States.  The site breaks routes down by state as well as the following color coded categories:

  • All-American Road
  • National Scenic Byway
  • Parkway
  • National Forest Scenic Byway
  • BLM Back Country Byway
  • Other Scenic Road

Routes are integrated with Google Maps as the underlying map service.

Continue reading “The Dynamic Trip-planning Duo”

My “official” motorcycle travel camera!

I have read about and tried a variety of different “tools” for making the most out of my motorcycle travels.  But the tool I use most often is my iPhone 6.   It has become my on the road travel planner, my GPS, my blog update tool, my gas station locator, my best price motel locator, my food locator, my life line to home, and, now, my primary travel camera.

As a semi-professional photographer, I have invested a good bit of money in my relatively modest arsenal of equipment.  However, when it comes to traveling on a motorcycle, I quickly learned it’s simply not feasible to take much with me.  Even in padded camera cases, the jolts occasionally experienced on some roads are not good for most camera gear; especially in the northeast where there are many former concrete slab roads that have been covered over with asphalt — thanks to freezing and thawing, these can result in some very memorable jolts!  On a motorcycle one is also very limited with how much “locking up” they can do of their belongings when they stop for gas or a bite to eat.  It’s nice to be able to “enjoy” each stop and not have to worry about someone stealing thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

Continue reading “My “official” motorcycle travel camera!”

Roadtrippers.com can help make your next road trip memorable

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 11.44.46 AMFor about a year now, I have followed the Roadtrippers.com web site.  I also receive regular email from Roadtrippers.com (a feature you can select when you create a free account) and it’s always fun to learn of new places and dream about future motorcycle trips.

Roadtrippers.com allows you to not only peruse thousands of interesting locations, it includes blog articles submitted by fellow “Roadtrippers” and enough information to satisfy your travel dreams for a LONG time.  You could easily plan a road trip based on Roadtripper’s Travel Guides, which offer suggestions about what to see and do in theme based itineraries.  Blog articles give you an even deeper insight into personal travels of Roadtrippers writers.

Continue reading “Roadtrippers.com can help make your next road trip memorable”

BeadRider® seat covers. Yeah, they DO make a difference!

Who would have ever imagined that something like hard beads could be one of the most comfortable solutions to posterior discomfort when traveling on a motorcycle?  Certainly not me!

Let me start by saying my motorcycle already has a highly recommended seat upgrade from Mustang seats – both driver and passenger.  The Mustang seat gives great support and, by itself, is a pretty comfortable seat.  However, for longer distances, even the Mustang needs help.  You see, the problem with any seat, including gel cushions (which I have spent ample time riding on) is that there is constant equal pressure on a large region of the posterior.  After a while, that translates into an almost “burning” feeling and, if you let it go long enough, almost debilitating pain that will force you to take a break from riding.

When I found that a nice lamb skin covered gel seat cushion was not doing the trick for me I started looking for other options.  Of course, the major options are air cushions and beads.  I really didn’t have the extra money to spend on a decent air seat cushion (which, in their most basic versions, are nearly twice the price of a beaded seat cover) so I asked myself “who would know better about what makes long distance riding comfortable than the Iron Butt riders.”   These are the folks that ride a thousand or more miles in a 24 hour period just so they can say they did it.  So, I started perusing the Iron Butt Association web site and found that there seems to be a general consensus that beads area the way to go… and the name that kept popping up was BeadRider®.

Continue reading “BeadRider® seat covers. Yeah, they DO make a difference!”

Keeping an Online Travel Record

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 11.33.33 AMPrior to taking my first long motorcycle trip, I began researching ways that I could keep loved ones informed of my location.   I determined that the best route was to enroll in a free travel blog that would allow me to conveniently post waypoints via my iPhone (sorry, if you don’t have an iPhone you’re out of luck).  I checked out several of these services and eventually settled on TrackMyTour.  If you want to see what other services are available, you’ll have to Google them (but, trust me, at the present time, TrackMyTour, in my opinion, is the nicest). Continue reading “Keeping an Online Travel Record”

What did I learn from my first 2400 mile motorcycle trip?

10407466_10202149589874406_7701056181469074637_nNow that I’ve had a little time to reflect on the motorcycle trip I took with my son from PA to FL and back, there are a few things I learned and thought might be helpful to share with others who are considering taking a long motorcycle trip.   The experience was wonderful, educational, challenging and inspiring.  I hope this trip will be the first of many.

1. Hydrate – Yes, the first day, I found how quickly dehydration can sneak up on you when it’s hot and you don’t realize how much you’re sweating because it’s evaporating as quickly as it’s happening.  I read about the need to hydrate, I just didn’t expect it to sneak up on me as quickly as it did.   Getting light-headed on an Interstate, out in the middle of nowhere is very inconvenient and, with a loved one as your passenger, it can be downright scary.  From that experience forward I was never without a water bottle resting between my windshield and handlebars. Continue reading “What did I learn from my first 2400 mile motorcycle trip?”

GPS Apps – TomTom, Sygic, and Waze. Who’s going to Florida?

I have toyed around with GPS apps for my iPhone since I got my Honda VTX a couple of years ago.  The top three have been TomTom, Sygic and Waze.  They all have similar features which I won’t touch on here (speedometer, road names, etc.).  Each one has things I like and each one has things I don’t like.

UPDATE 3/19/2016:   As of March 2016, TomTom moved to a subscription service (TomTom GO) and their lifetime maps license is no longer available.  I see this as an unfortunate move given the fact that TomTom’s app is one of the most expensive on the market and, frankly, does not offer enough features or refinement over competitors to merit moving to a subscription service.  Therefore, at the present time and given the useable alternatives, Sygic is now my preferred app for GPS navigation.

Continue reading “GPS Apps – TomTom, Sygic, and Waze. Who’s going to Florida?”

Planning for a Big One

It has been nearly 6 months since I began planning a trip to Florida to see my parents.  My son, Corey, will be coming along for the ride.   We did our first long motorcycle trip to Presque Isle in Erie, PA last summer; roughly 675 miles till it was all said and done.  It was a great experience and we made sure to avoid as much everyday commercialism as possible, opting for the experiences of mom & pop motels, old diners, etc.

This year we travel to Sebring, Florida.  I’m estimating our trip will be roughly 2,400 miles; we are planning to take a side trip through the Smoky Mountains and riding the Tail of the Dragon.  As with our trip to Erie, PA, we will strive to eat at local diners and do our overnight stays in older motels.   Of course, if we really need to make up time at some point, we may jump on the super slab, but, going with the knowledge that it’s the journey that truly makes motorcycle travel enjoyable (highways are boring), we are going to try to stay on secondary roads as much as possible. Continue reading “Planning for a Big One”