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  1. Default My Ultimate Summer Trip

    Ever since i was a little kid I loved travel. I lived in Florida, so the biggest thrill for me was to see mountains. My grandparents used to take me and my little brother all over the eastern united states. However as time tends to do, the trips stopped. The Adventures stopped. My parents werent much for road trips- so when my grandparents we no longer able to take us (dead), the trips became a memory. I remember saying, when im in college im going to pack up the car, get with my friends, and go on the biggest road trip of my life.

    Seven years later, the time is here.
    Quickly approching the end of my Freshman year of college and the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the trip is on the horizion. In May 2006 my two friends and I will travel across the country on an unbeleveable adventure. Heres what we have planned.


    From Tampa Florida:
    May 1st 2006 - Nashville Tennessee
    May 2nd 2006-Des Moines Iowa
    May 3rd 2006-Keystone South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore)
    May 4th 2006-Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (camping)
    May 5th 2006-Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (camping)
    May 6th 2006-Yellowstone National Park Wyoming (camping)
    May 7th 2006-Salt Lake City
    May 8th 2006-Los Angeles California
    May 9th 2006-Los Angeles California (The Price Is Right)
    May 10th 2006-Los Angeles California
    May 11th 2006-Los Angeles California (Jay Leno)
    May 12th 2006-Los Angeles California
    May 13th 2006-Sequoia National Forest (Camping)
    May 14th 2006-Sequoia National Forest (Camping)
    May 15th 2006- Grand Canyon
    May 16th 2006- Zion National Park
    May 17th 2006-Roswell NM
    May 18th 2006-Dallas Texas
    May 19th 2006-Baton Rouge
    May 20th 2006-Tampa (home)

    Alot of planning has gone into this trip. Ive used mapquest to determine the distance from Motel to motel, City to City. No days drive exeeds 11 hrs. I have countless maps and guides from AAA- including TripTic. However, what i dont have is experience. Ive read alot of posts on this site, I know its important to have a case of water in the car and have the car checked before leaving. However i have some questions.

    -How exactly would i go about camping at the National Park camp sites? Its too early to make reservations (they dont reserve spaces until mid May) Check in times?

    -What about Laundry?

    -Dinner, cheap places to eat- fast food for 20days is not an option, i saw Super Size Me

    - Can i expect snow in Wyoming in early may? (i've never seen it snow)

    - I know problems will occur, what can i expect?

    - I want to camp near the BIG sequoia trees in Sequoia, where are they?

    Thats all i can think of now. But has anyone traveled any of these legs before?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Too, Too Much

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    I'm sorry, but many of your day's drives are going to be longer than 11 hours. The estimates of driving time you get from MapQuest and other trip planning software are the driving time ONLY. They assume that you can travel 65 mph every second you're on the road, that you never stop for gas, that you don't ever need to eat, that you have Paul Bunyan's bladder, and that you never hit any traffic. In the real world, you can expect to make about 53 mph when you take all those things into account. Your first leg, Tampa to Nashville, is 710 miles, and is much more likely to take more than 13 hours rather than "less than 11". Your second leg, Nashville to Des Moines is another 710 miles and another brutal day of driving. Third day to Rapid City is 'only' 630 miles, or 12 hours of on-the-road time. By the time you get to Mount Rushmore, you will all be exhausted and probably on each other's nerves from all the enforced together time in a very small space. Similarly, Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is almost 700 miles and Baton Rouge to Tampa is 710 miles, This type of speed run is possible, but not much fun, and will certainly not bring back any fond memories of the RoadTrips your grandparents took you on. I strongly urge you to reconsider the scope of this, your first RoadTrip, so that you have time to do more than just push on down the road half asleep

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A few tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog1387
    In May 2006 my two friends and I will travel across the country on an unbeleveable adventure.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I like the attitude and the work and time you have spent on the planning phase. However, as AZBuck has so eloquently phrased it -- there is no way you can keep this schedule -- Even professional drivers would never attempt this.

    Driving times: MapQuest and the other online planning services used an alogorithm for estimating travel times -- they are almost always overly generous with the estimates. On the this site we use two rules of thumb: Interstate travel in the west (not urban west) = an average speed of 57 MPH over the course of a day's travel. Everywhere else an average speed of 53 mph. Even if you are traveling in excess of the posted speed limits, you will find that it is not generally possible to go faster than 57 mph on any day's travel unless you can keep the speedometer pegged in the triple digits. These lower average speeds take into consideration fuel and food stops, stretching, etc. and they are time-tested.
    May 3rd 2006-Keystone South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore)
    Read this field report filed by Peter Thody last summer.
    May 7th 2006-Salt Lake City
    May 8th 2006-Los Angeles California
    Wow, this is a long day in the saddle. -- Don't you want to stop and check out the new Hooter's Hotel in Las Vegas?
    May 13th 2006-Sequoia National Forest (Camping)
    May 14th 2006-Sequoia National Forest (Camping)
    Read this field report by Mark Helmlinger
    May 15th 2006- Grand Canyon
    May 16th 2006- Zion National Park
    May 17th 2006-Roswell NM
    Three brutal days in the saddle if you are going to spend any time looking at what these places have to offer -- From the Sequoias, I would suggest taking the awesome, and little traveled road over Sherman Pass -- through Panamint Valley and drive through my favorite park -- Death Valley and then on Zion. Then go to the Grand Canyon, another field report, and then make your way to Roswell -- it is too far in one day!
    -Dinner, cheap places to eat- fast food for 20days is not an option, i saw Super Size Me
    Read these tips by our road food guru, Dennis Weaver.
    - Can i expect snow in Wyoming in early may? (i've never seen it snow)
    I think you had better count on it!

    Happy Planning! You still have some work to do...

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-09-2006 at 07:03 PM. Reason: format

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum and Congratulations on living out the trip you've been dreaming for.

    Ive used mapquest to determine the distance from Motel to motel, City to City. No days drive exeeds 11 hrs.
    I hate to tell you this, but you've actually given yourself several days where you will be driving for far more than 11 hours, despite what mapquest may have told you.

    Experience teaches that its very difficult to exceed much more than an average of 53 mph over a long distance drive, even when planning for only short rest and fuel stops.

    Just looking at the first few days of your trip, you are planning to travel 700 or more miles each of your first three days on the road. That means you'll be on the road for at least 13 hours for each of those days. You are young, and you'll have a couple of friends, so I don't think doing a 700 mile day here or there would be totally out of the questions, but driving that much several days in a row would be an exhausting trip even for a veteran roadtripper.

    I'd seriously recommend scaling back your plans so you have some time to enjoy this trip. You can always go a little further than you planned, but when you start forcing yourself to drive too hard, the trip stops being fun and can start to be a job.

    Also make sure that you and your friends take RTA's Road Trip Compatability Quiz to make sure you and your traveling partners are all on the same page.

    -What about Laundry?

    -Dinner, cheap places to eat- fast food for 20days is not an option, i saw Super Size Me
    Laundry is available at many campgrounds and motels. If your lodging doesn't have the facilities, every town in america has a laundromat.

    For food, I'm typically eating out of a cooler during my trip. Sandwiches are quick and easy, and a small gas grill costs as little as $20, and can let you cook lots of things even at a rest area.

    - I want to camp near the BIG sequoia trees in Sequoia, where are they?
    I'd check out the Sequoia National Park page. The Lodgepole campground appears to be the closest to General Sherman and the other "famous" redwoods. You might also look into the nearby Sequoia National Monument and Forest. There are also some groves of Giant Redwoods there and you might have more camping options that are less crowded.

    That should help get you started, good luck and have fun!

  5. Default

    wow well that has kind of let the air out of my baloon, but im glad i know this. As i said i lack experience, and the info given to me really helps. Im going to try to tweak the trip a bit. basically yellowstone, sequoia, los angles, and grand canyon are a must. When i planned the trip i figured that i could stop at as many cool sites as i could along the way(mt rushmore, salt lake city), but the realism prevents that. thanks alot for the advice- i wish i would have posted here sooner, i have less than 2 months to make this a little more pheasable

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Time is elastic

    Quote Originally Posted by Frog1387
    wow well that has kind of let the air out of my baloon,
    You are free to re-inflate that balloon any time you wish, your trip is going to be a blast no matter what. Everyone, including veteran roadtrippers, tend to collapse the size of this country when planning trips. North America is a huge place. It takes a long time to travel between parts of it. If you cut your planned route to only go to 1/2 of those destinations, you would still never see all that there is to see. I live in Nevada, if I were to take a two-day roadtrip every weekend for the rest of my life I would never be able to see all of there is to discover in Nevada.

    Another rule: You have plenty of time. Time is elastic and only exists (in reality) in our minds. Whether you have two months or two hours to plan an epic roadtrip -- it will be enough.

    In my youth I subscribed to the notion of the 800+ miles per day form of roadtripping. Now I firmly endorse the "less is more" approach -- if you can, build in some "found time" days on the trip -- with no planned destinations or routes. Let the wisdom of the road plot your course for that day. RoadTripping is dynamic -- some of my most memorable experiences came about when I had no idea where I was going when I left for the day.

    You are about to embark on a voyage of discovery -- (feel that balloon inflating yet?) I hope so.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default For your consideration....

    Welcome, Frog1387!

    I agree with everybody's advise. Having done a few speed runs myself, I know that they can be a lot of fun if you need to drive like heck to get to a particular destination and have limited time. However, after just a few days of marathon driving, the road loses it's allure and it's time for a break.

    Let me make a suggestion....

    Some of the best roadtrips I've ever taken in my life are those with no destinations, no itinerary to keep to, no reservations that require adhering to. For your first roadtrip, I would suggest that you just get in the car and go. Meander. Explore. Take any road that looks interesting. Stop at anything that tweaks your fancy. Stay as long as you want at serendipitious discoveries. Quickly escape from anyplace that disappoints.

    Now, there have been times where we have done speed runs of a day or two to get to an area where we explore like this, and then have had to do speed runs to get home. But these days of driving like heck are offset by wonder, discovery, and lack of schedules that are sublime.

    So I would suggest that you target an area and enjoy the drive there by stopping and exploring along the way, then exploring whatever area you choose, and then, if there has to be a speed run to get home, limit those marathon drives to doing just that.

    This type of trip can be freeing. I mean, how often do we get to live without schedules??? Not often in today's world and, as you enter adulthood, those opportunities will become even less frequent. You are young and have a lot of years for more roadtrips. You can get to other places you've missed on this trip in other years.

    Well, that's my two cents, anyway.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Some Suggestions

    basically yellowstone, sequoia, los angles, and grand canyon are a must.
    I think you're going to have to do one of two things to see all these things. Either extend your trip by a few days, or plan on spending less time at the places you are stopping at.

    When i planned the trip i figured that i could stop at as many cool sites as i could along the way(mt rushmore, salt lake city), but the realism prevents that.
    I don't think the realism stops you from stopping at those places, you've got to travel through them to get to your primary destinations anyway. And afterall, why bother with a roadtrip if you aren't going to stop and see things along the way?

  9. Default

    Thanks for all the advice everyone im really learning alot. I like the idea of the freeness of the road trip, and i think i with the schedule im trying to make- i eliminate the freeness i so greatly seek. theres so much i want to see and im forgeting that i have plenty of time to see it. this trip was about escape. Escape from the demanding nature of college, escape from the hellish florida heat and humidity, and an escape from the ordinary. When people ask me where i was going on this trip i said "everywhere" becuase this trip wanst about one set location, it was about exploring a world i never get to see. The mountains of northwest, lights of L.a, deserts of arizona.

    The only real schedule ive got to keep is i need to be in Los Angles the week of May 8th and i need to be home before May 25th. Everything else up to me. Is there a way a can pull this off? Starting in Tampa, Florida on May 1st.

    This trip will be a blast no matter what we do, and i cannot wait for it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Budgeting your days

    Both Tampa to Yellowstone and Los Angeles to Tampa are on the order or 2500 miles. I think that if you budget 5 days to each of those legs, then you'll have time to stop for a few hours each day at interesting places along the way, be able to have relaxing meals, and still manage to cover around 500 miles per day. Yellowstone to Los Angeles is roughly 1000 miles, so two such days. That leaves you 8 days to spend at Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Bryce, Zion, and Los Angeles, and the only places you'd miss are Mt. Rushmore and Sequoia. Not a bad trade-off for making the trip truly enjoyable. Just remember to concentrate on all the great stuff you'll be seeing, rather than fixate on the one or two places you didn't have time for this trip. There will be others.

    AZBuck

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