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  1. Default thinking of summer '06 road trip: have several questions ...

    So this summer is, in many ways, my last "free" summer for a very long time :( (school and such) ... SO, I've always wanted to take a "road trip" of sorts and "see america".

    I enjoy camping, hiking, and enjoying nature in all her beauty! and am hoping to experience just that (and avoid big cities if at all possible). My first question is west or east (I'd be starting out in Arkansas)? I've been to the Rocky Mtns and Yellowstone and have really enjoyed the scenery, the "openness" (if that's the right word), and the wildlife. I have little experience with the east, except parts of South Carolina and Gulf Shores. It was nice, but I felt it didn't compare to the west; however, it's not much of a fair comparison given my past experience.

    So given that, west is preferred, BUT: to see what I want to see (Redwood forests, west coast, Grand Canyon [and others I'm forgetting]) seems like a long way to drive. I'm use to 2-4 hour stretches, and have driven around 8 hours at a time on other vacations, but never 7k-8k miles, making a giant loop around the western United States. It has me worried a bit, so I'm wondering what people think. The distance factor, obviously, is much less heading east; but then again, I think I'd enjoy the west more!

    Any comments are appreciated.

    I'd most likely be doing this solo; i've camped for a week by myself and had a great time hiking and exploring the state park I was at, but, of course, what I'm thinking about would take much longer.

    So I guess I'm also asking if it seems feasible, from other's experiences, that this would be enjoyable and relaxing (cause I'll need it!).

    Finally, I'm still searching and searching and have just now found this site, but are there any sites and/or books that have a good list of national parks, state parks, natural-related "attractions", and the less obvious road-side treasurers that can be found? I've already requested travel "guides" for most of the states on my list (free of course), but I suspect those attractions that will be listed will be the more $$ producing attractions, not necessarily what I'm looking for!

    I know I had other questions, but I can't think of them now (besides, the above is plenty). Anywho, any comments are appreciated.

    -Chris

  2. Default

    Maybe you shouldn't go as far west as you planned. Maybe keep it to Arizona as the farthest point west & Utah as the farthest point north. There are so many national parks and national monuments in these two states alone!

    I-40 is a nice drive. Just west of Albuquerque is Petroglyphs National Monument. From Gallup, NM you might go north a little on 491 then take Hwy 264 to Window Rock, AZ and on to Ganado. See the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site before heading north on Hwy 191 to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. There is a really nice campground set in Cottonwood trees. Best part is this campground is FREE! Take one of the guide tours into the canyon.

    From here make your way north to Monument Valley before going to the Grand Canyon. The go north to Lake Powell , Zion National Park (two nice campgrounds) and Bryce National Park (two nice campgrounds one, you have to have reservations). Work your way up north on scenic Hwy 12 to Torrey and Capitol Reef National Park and the Fruita Campgrounds is one of our favorites. From here make your way to Moab, Utah where you will find Canyonlands & Arches National Park and tons of other places to see. From Moab make sure you take scenic Hwy 128 back up to I-70. Colorado National Monument is near Grand Junction Colorado (nice campground). From Grand Junction head south on Hwy 50 to Montrose and near by Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (nice campground). From there head south on Hwy 550 (the Million Dollar Highway) through Ouray & Silverton to Durango. Make a side trip to Mesa Verde National Park and Morfield Campground is another one of our favorites. From here you can make your way down to Farmington, NM and Chaco Culture National Historic Park which has a campground but we've never stayed there.

    If you still have time you can make your way down to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM & Guadalupe National Parks, TX.

    Here are a few good links
    http://www.desertusa.com/park.html
    http://www.americansouthwest.net/

    Utahtea

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply!

    The more I think about, the more I have to agree with you. Maybe because I don't know that area of the country very well, but there really wasn't anything big on my list to see in California, and cutting it and the west coast out would eliminate (if my math is right) around 1.5k miles. I guess the only thing I'd miss is the Redwood National Forest, Mount Saint Helens, and whatever else I'm forgetting about! Do you think these are worth driving the extra distance for (I say extra, but it's quite a ways over)?

    -Chris

  4. #4
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    Default I don't think that was the point....

    Quote Originally Posted by han0522
    ..but there really wasn't anything big on my list to see in California,
    Well, you would be cutting out several national parks and some of the most scenic drives in the world -- but there is much to recommend focusing your attention on Arizona and Utah as Utahtea has suggested.
    I guess the only thing I'd miss is the Redwood National Forest, Mount Saint Helens,
    Mt. St.Helens is not in California.

    Mark

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Well, you would be cutting out several national parks and some of the most scenic drives in the world -- but there is much to recommend focusing your attention on Arizona and Utah as Utahtea has suggested. Mt. St.Helens is not in California.

    Mark
    I meant in cutting out the west coast; heading north from Arizona to Utah and then making my way back to Arkansas, I would miss the Redwoods, Mt. Saint Helens, and everything else Oregon and Washington has to offer ...

    ... but trying to squeeze in the entire west (west of the Mississippi) is far too much and I'd probably feel hurried, so you're right, I'd be better off focusing a little more. I guess I could make WA and OR its own trip at some later date, but, gosh, to be that close (and close is, of course, relative compared to Arkansas) ...

    ... but I am glad I found this website and I've found all of the links, guides and FAQs very helpful, as well as your comments here.

    Thanks!

    -Chris

  6. #6
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    Default How long will this trip be?

    Quote Originally Posted by han0522
    So this summer is, in many ways, my last "free" summer for a very long time
    I re-read your original post and I don't see a time frame for this adventure. So, how long will you have before you have to go home? Arkansas, by the way, is one of my favorite states in the union.
    and have driven around 8 hours at a time on other vacations, but never 7k-8k miles, making a giant loop around the western United States. It has me worried a bit, so I'm wondering what people think.
    Generally, I suggest that a solo roadtripper stick to travel days of less than eight hours to prevent the cumulative effects of too many hours in the saddle (although I have certainly done plenty of those pesky 14-hour days in my career). Here are some tips about that.
    Finally, I'm still searching and searching and have just now found this site, but are there any sites and/or books that have a good list of national parks, state parks, natural-related "attractions", and the less obvious road-side treasurers that can be found?
    We try and stay current with the best of the best in terms of roadtrip guides. Here are some of our recommendations for roadside americana.

    Mark

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    I re-read your original post and I don't see a time frame for this adventure. So, how long will you have before you have to go home? Arkansas, by the way, is one of my favorite states in the union. Generally, I suggest that a solo roadtripper stick to travel days of less than eight hours to prevent the cumulative effects of too many hours in the saddle (although I have certainly done plenty of those pesky 14-hour days in my career). Here are some tips about that.
    We try and stay current with the best of the best in terms of roadtrip guides. Here are some of our recommendations for roadside americana.

    Mark
    I love Arkansas as well. So many of my friends were so eager to leave this state after High School and College; I just couldn't understand it ...

    I've been advised by many to take the summer off from school because next year will be insane, so I'm going to do that. Classes end May 12 and will resume around August 2. I need to be here for most of July to prepare.

    So that leaves half of May and all of June. That said, my plan isn't necessarily to fill this time with this road trip; rather, this is the timeframe around which I have to travel. I'm also trying to leave things as open as possible if I take longer than I had anticipated.

    Honestly, I'm not sure how long it will take; I've never done anything quite like this, so I can only guess: 3-4 weeks at the most? I'm not sure. But I'm trying to be flexible to allow less or more time, and still have a great time.

    -Chris

    P.S. Excellent links. I read through a whole bunch of them last night (and loaded up my bookmarks) and found them all very helpful. Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Default Perfect except for those chiggers!

    Quote Originally Posted by han0522
    I love Arkansas as well.
    I spent about six weeks one late spring zig-zagging around your state. A state with near perfect attributes (except for those blasted chiggers....)
    I need to be here for most of July to prepare.
    What kind of school/training are you about to engage in? I think someone has got to be "pulling your leg" about whatever it is you will be starting later in the summer.
    Honestly, I'm not sure how long it will take; I've never done anything quite like this, so I can only guess: 3-4 weeks at the most?
    One of the realities about time, is that is fully elastic (that is it will expand to fill whatever time you have allocated). To do a compete circuit as described in your first post would require 4-5 years of daily travel. However, four weeks is a good length of time to explore much of the west.

    {Sorry, I have to rest my paw -- I have a damaged thumb and typing is a bit slow}

    Mark

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    I spent about six weeks one late spring zig-zagging around your state. A state with near perfect attributes (except for those blasted chiggers....)
    Agreed. Chiggers are lots of fun ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    What kind of school/training are you about to engage in? I think someone has got to be "pulling your leg" about whatever it is you will be starting later in the summer.
    I wish they were. I'm close to finishing my first year in medical school. Surprisingly (for me at least) we have 2.5 months off for the summer. First years tend to work, do research, reconnect with family, and/or relax. Unfortunately, the second year is very tough compared to the first year; more class time, preparation for the USMLE Step 1, and preparation for the clinical portion of our education (third and fourth year).

    The summers from now on look like this:

    Between 1st and 2nd: Somewhat open
    Between 2nd and 3rd: All time spent studying for the USMLE Step 1 (May and June) and "rounds" in the hospital begin in early July
    Between 3rd and 4th: Have about a week off at the end of June; rounds begin again the first week of July
    After 4th: Work at whatever hospital you matched at for residency

    Given this, second, third, fourth year students, and some physicians have suggested (not only to me) that we take time and relax, because things are about to get crazy.

    For me, I need a break. I'm not as stressed as some, but I definitely need some time off to prepare (mentally and psychologically) for the second year. July, for the most part, will be spent ordering textbooks, registering, paying for school (ugh, debt), shadowing in the hospital, and reviewing the first year material before the second year starts.

    So I have this nice 1.5 month window open where I'd like to see as much of the scenic beauty the western US has to offer (but of course not all).

    But, I'm very inexperienced in this area, so I found this site and decided I'd ask and hear (okay, read) people's thoughts, so here I am :) ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    One of the realities about time, is that is fully elastic (that is it will expand to fill whatever time you have allocated). To do a compete circuit as described in your first post would require 4-5 years of daily travel. However, four weeks is a good length of time to explore much of the west.
    Agreed. I'm still thinking and reading about it, but I'm starting to lean closer to the "skip the western most US states" side, leave that for another time. There's just so much to see!

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    {Sorry, I have to rest my paw -- I have a damaged thumb and typing is a bit slow}

    Mark
    Thanks for your reply, and please take care of your thumb!

    -Chris

  10. #10
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    Default The Hazing of medical residents -- a time honored tradition

    Quote Originally Posted by han0522
    ...I'm not as stressed as some, but I definitely need some time off to prepare
    Medical school hazing -- I suppose it makes some sense -- but very little. Some of it, maybe all of it, is designed to toughen young doctor's psyches -- but I still wonder at the relatively inefficiency of the process.
    So I have this nice 1.5 month window open where I'd like to see as much of the scenic beauty
    What I would suggest is that you travel for three weeks and sleep for the other three...

    I would suggest you fly to Phoenix, make a three week cruise around Arizona, Utah, Colorado & New Mexico and fly home again.

    Mark

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