They say get outside, then shut down the parks.
This weekend I headed up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There's some excellent riding there, but it's too far from home to make a day trip of it, especially since my Kawasaki KLR 650 isn't exactly a highway bike. There are numerous campgrounds throughout the National Forest, however, and they were virtually empty when I went there at the end of May. Easy enough, right?
Wrong. Every single campsite in or even near the National Forest was full. There was no camping to be had. Fortunately, I'd been a "not real biker" and hauled my bike on a trailer behind my camper van rather than strap a tent and everything onto my bike. I found a rest area to park legally overnight and catch some Z's with no problem. In fact, I had a much quieter night than I would've had in a completely full campground. Imagine if I'd been a "real biker" and planned to tent, though. In this day and age, you can't just pitch a tent anywhere you want, at least not in populated areas. That severely limits moto-camping options.
The problem, as with most things these days, is that the coronavirus ruins everything. The government tells us that with many of our normal activities shut down, it's good to get outside, get some exercise, and enjoy some fresh air. In the same breath, that same government also shuts down many parks and campgrounds to prevent you from doing that in the name of social distancing. Motorcycling is fine, but what do you do when you get there?
Simply trying your luck, riding as far as you feel like, and finding somewhere to camp when you get there is no longer an option. Trying to book online shows campsites reserved for months in advance. We have fewer campsites available, plus more people wanting to go camping because there isn't anything else to do to get out of the house.
In places with more wide open spaces, you can probably still find places to go, like BLM land, or simply take your chances in the middle of nowhere. In the densely populated northeast, though, particularly with a widespread attitude of NIMBY (Not In My BackYard), we're out of luck.
That didn't stop me from having an amazing ride yesterday. I found a place to leave the van and trailer for the day, then explored the best that the White Mountains had to offer. I even rode up Mount Washington, the highest point in the northeast. Afterward, I'd been looking forward to a quiet night in the woods, by a campfire, and simply relaxing. That was not to be. I'd considered spending the night in a nearby Walmart parking lot, many of which welcome RV travelers passing through, but after the ride I still felt fresh enough to drive two hours to sleep in my own bed. Chateau du Walmart couldn't match that.
The one option I can think of is that because all of my own previously scheduled summer events got canceled, I have a bunch of day job vacation time I need to use or lose. I'll look into finding somewhere I can reserve during the week, when demand is down, and try this again in a different area. It's certainly not the carefree moto-camping experience it used to be.