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Old 06-05-2010, 01:47 AM
 
1,645 posts, read 2,940,893 times
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I could go into a bit of a backstory about why I want to take this trip and why now, but I won't bore anyone with that. Long story short, I've taken a little over 2 1/2 weeks from late July into August and have reserved a few thousand for a road trip I've been contemplating for quite some time. My car gets decent mileage and it took me about $160 to get to New Orleans by car. After that, I decided that it couldn't be ridiculously expensive to do this loop. I've always had interesting experiences on the road, most good and some bad, but always interesting. So I want to take the car on every aspect of this trip and no longer plan to fly anywhere I can physically drive to in the North American continent. I'm planning a move within the year (can't wait), and this is my last real opportunity for a while to have some decent time off work and enjoy a vacation.

Now, I live in Northern NJ and want to drive down New Jersey, through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, into Florida, then cut west through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, into and up California, through Oregon, through Washington, and then start cutting back east through Idaho and Montana, cut southeast to South Dakota, through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and then back to New Jersey.

Variables: I'd like to cut north to parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I'm not sure how out of the way that would realistically take me on the road. Also, I'd like to hit Utah, but going that far south would probably have me end up doing a different route back through Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, so I'm not sure about that.

Obviously I will spend a lot of time driving, but that's of no issue to me (I've done 16 hours a day for a few days and have done a 25 hour ride straight). With that said, I won't be able to spend a long amount of time anywhere, but I can revisit what I desire to down the line. This trip is all about seeing some of the major things I've always wanted to and getting more states under my belt.

Things I'd like to see (choose from) along the way): Parts of the Eastern Shore (MD), Richmond and Monument Avenue, Monticello, Shenandoah National Park, Asheville (might be too out of the way) or Chapel Hill, the Outer Banks, Winston-Salem, Charleston and the Low Country, Savannah, Okefenokee Swamp, St. Augustine, Pensacola, Mobile, Natchez and Vicksburg, St. Francisville, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, Sedona, Tombstone, Flagstaff/the Grand Canyon, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Napa Valley, the Redwoods, Astoria, Tillamook, Crater Lake National Park, Portland, Leavenworth, Seattle, Coeur d'Alene, Snake River Valley (distance issue), Glacier National Park, Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Galena, Chicago, West Baden Springs, Sandusky, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster.

I'd like to also see: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches NP, Park City, Moab, Salt Lake City, the Twin Cities, Duluth, Door County, and Madison, but again I'd have to figure out a way to detour to those areas.

In summation, any advice/comments/help would be greatly appreciated. I might call a little more time off work if neccessary, but other than, I'm pretty much just game and looking for suggestions. Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2010, 04:15 AM
 
Location: Australia
7,951 posts, read 2,521,943 times
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My opinion is that 2.5 weeks is nowhere near enough time to do justice to the trip you're planning. We once did a 10,000 mile round trip from Newark NJ (across the northern states heading west, then looping back through the southern states heading back east). It took us SIX WEEKS, and even then we had to rush the last couple of days to get back to Newark on time.

Admittedly we were only driving from around 9am to 6pm... and we stopped as and when we found something interesting to look at... but still, two-and-a-half weeks sounds like a mighty rush and you won't have time to even catch your breath, let alone see all the sights along the way!
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Old 06-05-2010, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Bangor Maine
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To cover all that territory in just 2 and a half weeks you will spend most of your time driving. If you want to enjoy the parks maybe you could skip some of the other places. You mentioned Sedona and for that I would give it at least a full day if not more. The same goes for Savanna. If you rush through all the places you mention your memories of the trip will be a blur. Slow down and enjoy!

I have never been to Glacier - just to the Missoula MT area - but they say in the past 10 years many of the glaciers have melted and it just doesn't hold the beauty it did say 20 or 25 years ago. If you decide to spend a day in Charleston I can recommend a tour of Magnolia Plantation.

Last edited by Newdaawn; 06-05-2010 at 07:40 AM.. Reason: addition
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Fresno,ca
322 posts, read 922,764 times
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wow i'd love to join you on this trip!!!! that would be so awesome going on a road trip I'm from california so i'd probably head north then east then south and back west. Definitely give it more then 2 and a half weeks at least 5 weeks!!! =) have fun
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Old 06-06-2010, 01:28 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
18,165 posts, read 33,630,849 times
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I'm a road warrior so don't have an issue with your trip, but I would consider lopping of the LA / San Diego end, as it is cheap to fly there for a weekend (even from the east coast). Since you didn't include Las Vegas, I would go from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, then go east and back north to Arches and across to Bryce, then Yosemite / Sequoia.

I would do the NO CA coast redwoods and head to Crater Lake, north to Bend, OR then to Timberline Lodge, then back down east side to Hood River, side trip east (20 min) to Mosier or the Dalles, OR (great geology in Columbia Gorge), then west to Portland, but be sure to Take a look at Bonneville Dam (7 ft sturgeons) and take Scenic Gorge Highway into Portland (several great viewpoints, and remember the road designer built it for the viewing pleasure of travelers.... windows in the tunnels!!)

See the International Rose Gardens (free) near Zoo in Portland (sunset is nice there + free concerts nightly) and of course Powell's Books (nearby).

West to Cannon Beach, and second park south ~ 10 minutes (HUG POINT) hug point + oregon - Google Search

Be sure to see the stagecoach road there (walk 300yds north @ hug point beach) cut in seaside (original highway 101), nice tide pools, and another special place for sunset (great orange rocks and soil). From Astoria, head to Castle Rock, WA and see Mt St Helens, then north to Mt Rainer. Go by here if you possibly can Dan Klennert's Spirits of Iron (free)

I would head north to Port Townsend, then to Poulsbo and ferry into Seattle from Bremerton (good in afternoon for pics of Seattle (Free for passengers eastbound))

If you have time, I would go the north Cascades Highway to get to Leavenworth, but Highway 2 is OK if you need to save some time.

I would probably lop off Glacier also as it is a long ways out of the way and really deserves more time in park than a quick trip through. (which is not so quick)

The route along the Clark Fork is very nice (Sandpoint or Thompson Falls > Plains, MT)

Tetons and NE Yellowstone (beartooth Highway) are nice, (I would avoid the east entrance and Yellowstone Llake, crowded and 20-30 MPH) rte 14a to Sheridan, WY is another spectacular road. Good steaks in Story, WY (you can camp in most city parks for free in WY, Powell is a really nice place to camp). Devils Tower is worth the side trip enroute to Black Hills. Take the rte from Spearfish to Lead, very nice, (Stay at Lead Hostel (Main Street Manor) it is fabulous and inexpensive.) also drive Custer State park Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway and Wind Cave
AVOID STURGIS Rally WEEK in Black Hills The 70th Anniversary Sturgis Rally 2010. Schedules, Lodging, Merchandise, 35,000+ Sturgis Rally pictures and more.... Aug 9-15 and surrounding It is just a tad overdone... and VERY crowded.
Wall drug, and Mitchell Corn Palace are SD traditions.

here are some good rtes, take as many as reasonable.
America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online

I usually drive quite a bit of the non scenic stuff at night, but in the Northern states you can travel in summer from 5AM till 10 pm with significant daylight.

I've done SD, WI, No CA in the last 2 weeks, thanks to CHEAP SW air and $12/day priceline cars.

Even tho my car gets 52 mpg burning free veggie oil, and has a 1200 mile range between fill-ups, I still fly when possible.

50 mpg since 1976, vw-diesels, no OPEC / dinosaurs required
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Old 06-06-2010, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,672 posts, read 66,813,220 times
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Take a closer look at your road atlas. If you go to Galena, you can almost walk to Wisconsin and back from there.

You will probably discover that most of the places you want to see will be disappointing (Cedar Rapids?), and the real treasures will be the places you happened upon that you did not expect. Then you might be inclined to skip your targets, and just go where the road goes.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:21 AM
 
1,645 posts, read 2,940,893 times
Reputation: 1354
First off the bat I wanted to thank everyone for some very insightful/interesting comments and suggestions so far. It is appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobber View Post
My opinion is that 2.5 weeks is nowhere near enough time to do justice to the trip you're planning. We once did a 10,000 mile round trip from Newark NJ (across the northern states heading west, then looping back through the southern states heading back east). It took us SIX WEEKS, and even then we had to rush the last couple of days to get back to Newark on time.

Admittedly we were only driving from around 9am to 6pm... and we stopped as and when we found something interesting to look at... but still, two-and-a-half weeks sounds like a mighty rush and you won't have time to even catch your breath, let alone see all the sights along the way!
I'm planning now to just bite the bullet and commit to the full 3 weeks. Ideally I would love to take two months and increase my budget as well, but it's just not feasible at this point in time, unfortunately.

It's interesting though because you left (for your trip) from the same point as I did, as I live no more than 10 miles from Newark. I don't mind brutally long rides though and could definately get as far as the West Coast in less than 3 days. Of course it will take longer than that to get from Point A to Point B to Point C etc. because of multiple stops along the way, but that's what the trip's about.

Lol, the rush tends to be how all of my road trips seem to go, unfortunately. The hardest part about this will be cutting down the number of places I want to stop at/in. What were some of the highlight destinations along your way?
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:30 AM
 
1,645 posts, read 2,940,893 times
Reputation: 1354
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newdaawn View Post
To cover all that territory in just 2 and a half weeks you will spend most of your time driving. If you want to enjoy the parks maybe you could skip some of the other places. You mentioned Sedona and for that I would give it at least a full day if not more. The same goes for Savanna. If you rush through all the places you mention your memories of the trip will be a blur. Slow down and enjoy!

I have never been to Glacier - just to the Missoula MT area - but they say in the past 10 years many of the glaciers have melted and it just doesn't hold the beauty it did say 20 or 25 years ago. If you decide to spend a day in Charleston I can recommend a tour of Magnolia Plantation.
Oh, Sedona will definately get a full day, as shall Savannah, Charleston, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Napa, Portland, and a few other must do's.

I will probably have to place some stops on the chopping block or at least shorten the time spent there, but I figure that can be determined as I progress. I'm actually most excited to return to the South on my first leg of the trip.

Magnolia Plantation in Charleston sounds lovely! I also want to see the swamp gardens, the tea plantation, glorious Fort Sumter, and just revel in the magnificent scenery and architecture.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:33 AM
 
1,645 posts, read 2,940,893 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djames9 View Post
wow i'd love to join you on this trip!!!! that would be so awesome going on a road trip I'm from california so i'd probably head north then east then south and back west. Definitely give it more then 2 and a half weeks at least 5 weeks!!! =) have fun
Pretty much like a good inverse/opposite of my route. You should do it, my friend. I'm a big fan of the art of the road trip and have really sworn off taking planes around the country. The open road has so many opportunities.

Trust me, if I had a greater amount of time and finances, I could easily spend a year or more on the road and would love to travel each and every state extensively. This is probably what I would do upon winning the lottery.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:57 AM
 
1,645 posts, read 2,940,893 times
Reputation: 1354
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
I'm a road warrior so don't have an issue with your trip, but I would consider lopping of the LA / San Diego end, as it is cheap to fly there for a weekend (even from the east coast). Since you didn't include Las Vegas, I would go from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, then go east and back north to Arches and across to Bryce, then Yosemite / Sequoia.
This suggestion is now one I'm seriously considering upon thinking things over. To be honest, I'm more interested in visiting San Diego than Los Angeles, but if driving north through California, Los Angeles is kind of "the obligatory stop".

Upon hearing this suggestion, I would like to visualize more how Utah can be worked comfortably into the trip. I didn't include Las Vegas because my original route didn't include Nevada and I was thinking about a weekend trip there later in the year with the girlfriend as it is another area I've always wanted to see. Although, if I can come up with a route to take me through Utah and Nevada into central-north California, so I can be on a good path northward, I would then definately consider working it in regardless. Flagstaff I'm more interested in using as a base for the Grand Canyon than anything else.

As far as Utah is concerned, do you think Arches and Bryce trump Zion? Is Salt Lake City worthy of consideration?

Yosemite especially I would love to be able to get in.

Quote:
I would do the NO CA coast redwoods and head to Crater Lake, north to Bend, OR then to Timberline Lodge, then back down east side to Hood River, side trip east (20 min) to Mosier or the Dalles, OR (great geology in Columbia Gorge), then west to Portland, but be sure to Take a look at Bonneville Dam (7 ft sturgeons) and take Scenic Gorge Highway into Portland (several great viewpoints, and remember the road designer built it for the viewing pleasure of travelers.... windows in the tunnels!!)
This sounds exquisite! Oregon especially deserves sme of my time.

Quote:
See the International Rose Gardens (free) near Zoo in Portland (sunset is nice there + free concerts nightly) and of course Powell's Books (nearby).

West to Cannon Beach, and second park south ~ 10 minutes (HUG POINT) hug point + oregon - Google Search

Be sure to see the stagecoach road there (walk 300yds north @ hug point beach) cut in seaside (original highway 101), nice tide pools, and another special place for sunset (great orange rocks and soil). From Astoria, head to Castle Rock, WA and see Mt St Helens, then north to Mt Rainer. Go by here if you possibly can Dan Klennert's Spirits of Iron (free)

I would head north to Port Townsend, then to Poulsbo and ferry into Seattle from Bremerton (good in afternoon for pics of Seattle (Free for passengers eastbound))
All fantastic suggestions! I want to work in the Japanese Gardens as well.

Question about Seattle: This was an issue of debate - Whether I should include Seattle or not. I have a slightly stronger urge to visit Portland, but I don't think the two need be mutually exclusive on a trip such as this?

Quote:
If you have time, I would go the north Cascades Highway to get to Leavenworth, but Highway 2 is OK if you need to save some time.
The clock always looms unfortunately, but I'm going to keep both routes in mind as a more scenic route through that part of Washington seems worth it.

Quote:
I would probably lop off Glacier also as it is a long ways out of the way and really deserves more time in park than a quick trip through. (which is not so quick)

The route along the Clark Fork is very nice (Sandpoint or Thompson Falls > Plains, MT)

Tetons and NE Yellowstone (beartooth Highway) are nice, (I would avoid the east entrance and Yellowstone Llake, crowded and 20-30 MPH) rte 14a to Sheridan, WY is another spectacular road. Good steaks in Story, WY (you can camp in most city parks for free in WY, Powell is a really nice place to camp). Devils Tower is worth the side trip enroute to Black Hills. Take the rte from Spearfish to Lead, very nice, (Stay at Lead Hostel (Main Street Manor) it is fabulous and inexpensive.) also drive Custer State park Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway and Wind Cave
In other words, it would be better to start cutting southward after Idaho and enter Wyoming with a chance to see a fair bit rather than slogging through Montana? This seems reasonable and WY does offer a fair bit more in its national/state parks/recreation centers it seems.

The inclusion of Wyoming/the exclusion of Glacier are going to be my main focuses of debate so far this week as I further map out my route on the computer and on paper.

Quote:
AVOID STURGIS Rally WEEK in Black Hills The 70th Anniversary Sturgis Rally 2010. Schedules, Lodging, Merchandise, 35,000+ Sturgis Rally pictures and more.... Aug 9-15 and surrounding It is just a tad overdone... and VERY crowded.
Wall drug, and Mitchell Corn Palace are SD traditions.
South Dakota really seems like it offers a lot, but yes, I can do without Sturgis. I have a friend actually, who's always wanted to ride out there, but I drive a Toyota Camry, not a motorcycle, so the rally itself doesn't really appeal to me.

Quote:
here are some good rtes, take as many as reasonable.
America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online

I usually drive quite a bit of the non scenic stuff at night, but in the Northern states you can travel in summer from 5AM till 10 pm with significant daylight.
The weather and light will be my greatest aid. I wouldn't even attempt a trip like this past September. I can cover some serious ground on days I don't stop, and many days will probably be a mix of stop and drive.

Quote:
I've done SD, WI, No CA in the last 2 weeks, thanks to CHEAP SW air and $12/day priceline cars.

Even tho my car gets 52 mpg burning free veggie oil, and has a 1200 mile range between fill-ups, I still fly when possible.

50 mpg since 1976, vw-diesels, no OPEC / dinosaurs required
You, sir, and your bounty of knowledge have been a great help. I have to get started really thinking about some rearrangements now!
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