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March 2013

Date: March 7, 2013

Fred Rau

The Basic Itinerary
In advance of leaving, I always plot out a basic route and schedule that will get me to my destination when I want to be there. Then I leave at least a day, and sometimes two, in advance of that schedule. That’s because bad weather, road construction, illness or mechanical problems could always slow me down, and even if none of that occurs I always know I have extra time in the bank for taking the odd little side road to explore some heretofore unseen part of the country. This year, here’s the basic outbound plan: 

-Thursday, March 7:
 Leave home and ride Highways 74, 79 & 78 through the Anza Borrego State Park, along the Salton Sea and through the sand dunes to Brawley and I-8. Then hightail it along I-8 through Gila Bend, Arizona, and stop for the night around Casa Grande. Approximately 375 miles.

-Friday, March 8:
 Today I just stay on I-10 all day, riding to El Paso, Texas, for the night. Approximately 425 miles.

-Saturday, March 9: Another long day of just pounding endless interstate through Texas, to get to Junction for the night. Approximately 435 miles.

-Sunday, March 10: My third day of riding I-10 across Texas! Goal for today is Beaumont. Approximately 400 miles.

-Monday, March 11:
 I finally get out of Texas, and for at least a short while, off the interstate! Just outside of Beaumont, and just before entering Louisiana, I will switch to Highway 190, riding through small Cajun towns for the next 160 miles until I reach Baton Rouge and have to get back on I-10, which quickly splits to I-12, which I will ride to Biloxi, Mississippi. Biloxi is one of my favorite stops on this route, as you can get a pretty nice hotel right down on the boardwalk by the Gulf at a fairly reasonable price. Approximately 350 miles.

-Tuesday, March 12: After a relaxing evening of great Cajun food in Biloxi, it’s back on the interstate to Mobile, Alabama, where I am always tempted to stop for a couple of hours at Battleship Park to visit the USS Alabama. From there, it is just more interstate into Florida, probably stopping for the night around Lake City. Approximately 410 miles. 

Like I said, I’m a real history buff, so one of my favorite stops on the way to Daytona is the USS Alabama in Mobile. Each time I stop, I spend about 90 minutes exploring the sights here, so I figure in another five or six years I might have seen it all.

-Wednesday, March 13: Today I am only about 175 miles from Daytona, and should be there by lunchtime to drop by the track and see my cohort, Lamont. From now until Sunday, we will be hanging out at the BRP display at the Speedway, meeting other Spyder riders and answering a few thousand questions from the crowds that will come around to see and demo ride the Spyder roadsters. On Saturday, after the Daytona 200, we will probably take a couple of laps around the track as we did the past two years, compliments of BRP.

-Sunday & Monday, March 17 & 18: These will be my “days off” before heading back home. I plan on visiting several old friends who live in Florida, and stuffing my face with shrimp. I will also endeavor to stay off the road as much as possible on the 17th, as that is St. Patrick’s Day, when the number of inebriated drivers on the road goes up about 500% over average. 

-Monday, March 18 through??:
 Now comes the fun part. When I am headed to a specific destination, I usually have to be there by a certain day, so I’m reluctant to wander off route to any great degree. But coming back home is another matter entirely. I try to plan both my personal and professional obligations so that I have a fair amount of time to kill before getting back. This allows me to “free tour,” wherein I will be headed in a general direction, but without any specific route or schedule to adhere to. In this case, I might be back in California in six days, or it might take as long as 10 days. 

"Free touring"

When I am “free touring,” often my route for any given day is decided by weather conditions. I have a real-time Doppler radar app on my smartphone, so if I stop at a rest area and see there is a storm ahead, I will simply go in whatever direction the storm isn’t, even if it means a 300 or 400 mile detour. Several of these storm-dictated detours have been the best rides of my life. 

Obviously I travel with a GPS—in this case the excellent Garmin Zumo 660 made for the Spyder. Sure, it’s great for finding routes, motels, restaurants and such, but most people don’t realize it can do a lot more. I have added the largest memory card the unit will hold, and in this have loaded thousands of POIs (Point Of Interest files) downloaded from the internet, using such websites as I have files on every National Park and Monument, plus specialty files for “Attractions” and for “Scenic Drives,” and one from the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” listing every eatery ever featured on the show. So now when I’m traveling I can simply go to my GPS and touch “Find,” then “Near My Current Route” (or “Near My Present Location”), then “Custom POI Files,” and I will immediately be rewarded with the location, direction and distance to points of interest I might want to explore. Or, if you want to get fancy and simplify things at the same time, it isn’t difficult to learn how to set “proximity alerts,” so the GPS notifies you automatically when you get within a predetermined distance of whatever kinds of locations you determine. It’s a marvelous tool for someone like myself who loves odd and interesting sights, and is also a history buff. One of my favorite files contains virtually every Civil War battlefield, and I have visited almost all of them over the past four or five years, thanks to this handy GPS function. 

The GPS can be a great tool for finding interesting things to see, if you learn how to use it.

So it is that I can’t tell you where I might be traveling from March 18th to the 25th or 30th, because even I won’t know until almost the moment it happens. However, with my handy laptop along, what I will do is try to post on the Can-Am Spyder Facebook page nearly every night, letting anyone who might be interested know where I am for the night, and approximately where I plan to go on the next day. If you care to follow along, or find you are somewhere near my path of travel, email me at and I will try to hook up so we can ride together for a bit, or have lunch or dinner together. I check my email on my phone at almost every rest or gas stop during the day.