I'm glad I'd read the Touring Forums - some of the things I learned from this forum were critical! I got 30 days of rain, major monsoon storms were common and I was very, very happy to have a good tent. I managed 1800 miles of mostly-dirt so all that critical reading about which panniers to buy was worth it. Wayne at The Touring Store is now on my Christmas card list!
I made it from Mexican border to Jackson, Wyoming before I ran out of time and had to scurry home. Most of Wyoming was sheer misery but outside of that, it was pretty nice! This touring thing is OK