Hello everyone. I have read a great deal of posts and I must say that both the forum and the website are great. Thank you all.
Me and my wife will be moving to Phoenix from Atlanta. We were planning to fly and have our car delivered by a professional company, but then for various reasons we decided to drive.
As a matter of fact, 2 years ago we made the reverse trip, from Phoenix to Atlanta. I love road trips and even plain driving, but my wife did not like the experience that much. So this time, I would like to plan the trip in a much better way such that she will enjoy it as much as I do.
First, I am trying to find a nice computer tool to help me plan it. I have tried various online map tools first (including Google and Mapquest), but they don't serve much, just the plain route... I also tried the AAA planner, but it did not provide me any flexibility to play around with where I stop and stay for a while. The MS MapPoint is kind of close to what I am looking for. At least it can tell me where I will be at a specific time of the day, so that I can schedule a few hours of sightseeing at some place or plan for fueling and logding. Do you have any suggestions for this kind of software?
Second, I am not certain at all about the route. There are many possibilities.
(1) Take I-20 and I-10, that is from Atlanta to Dallas and then to El Paso and Phoenix.
(2) Take I-20 and then I-40, from Atlanta to Dallas and then to Amarillo (TX), Albuquerque (NM), Flagstaff (AZ) to Phoenix.
(3) Take I-40 all the way, from Atlanta to Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Phoenix.
(4) Take a more touristic route to Pensacola (FL), New Orleans, Houston, Austin and then follow I-10 to El Paso and Phoenix
(5) Take the extreme route, start with touristic Pensacola (FL), New Orleans, Houston, Austin and then take north to Dallas to follow I-40, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and Phoenix.
It was (3) that we took 2 years ago, and there was not that much to see on the road.
Route (1) seems OK to me till Dallas, but after that it is mostly vast emptiness. As an additional note, it goes very close to Mexican border from time to time, and we had problems with that before. It may be fun for Americans, but we are international and we had one surprise before on the way from San Diego to Phoenix on I-8. Some border patrol officers were simply looking for fun and they kept us waiting for 45 minutes at a check point although we had all our papers with us and there was nothing wrong with them. After 45 minutes of bad cop/good cop role playing they said "You are all fine, have a nice trip."
For (2), I am not sure about US-287, the road between Dallas and Amarillo, that joins I-20 and I-40.
(4) and (5) are basically more touristic routes where we visit Pensacola and New Orleans before we permanently move to the west coast. We also have close friends in Austin, so why not visit them once we are taking a longer trip. My concern is the storms and hurricanes. Although end of June is not the top period for hurricanes, I don't want to end up in the middle of one.
My points above aside, I really want to learn how you folks would rate each route in terms of sightseeing. We are mostly interested in experiencing different town atmospheres, visiting landmarks for cities, dining on friendly and cozy corner bistros (nothing fancy, we stay far away from high-star restaurants, usually try to visit where Rachel Ray have gone or would have gone in the neighborhood), and checking out national parks.
In terms of time, we are flexible. We can make it in 3 days if there is not much to see, or take our time to have a 5-6 day trip.