View Poll Results: Which route should we take (especially in terms of fun)?

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Multiple Choice Poll.
Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. Default From Atlanta to Phoenix

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default You might wish to re-think some of this thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by tymeborn View Post
    Hello everyone. I have read a great deal of posts and I must say that both the forum and the website are great.
    Thanks, your thread criteria is likely to grate on the collective nerves of this membership a tad -- but we will give it a shot anyway -- Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    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.
    A good plan!
    Do you have any suggestions for this kind of software?
    You might like the Yahoo Travel Planner -- here are some views about it and the others
    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.
    This is where we would probably draw the line. As a matter of policy, we prefer to embrace the notion that there are no boring places in the Americas (some difficult people, but no boring places) and so such a query rubs us the wrong way around here.
    As an additional note, it goes very close to Mexican border from time to time, and we had problems with that before.
    This is good feedback to know and think about.

    There are lots of opinions here about this route -- and you will probably get some more as well.

    Mark

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

    Default I-40 boring?

    Seriously, I've driven this route only through the NM-AZ-CA portions and I thought the vistas from it were amazing. I've only driven little short stints on a couple of the other routes so I can't really offer you advise there, sorry. But I would suggest taking the route that takes you through things you really want to see. Since you want to see Pensacola and stop in Austin, go for it. It is a bit early for hurricanes so you'll probably be fine. Just check out The Weather Channel on TV each night to make sure nothing is brewing, or on the computer if you'll have access, and adjust if needed. I kinda like last-minute changes during a road-trip. It spices things up a bit. :-)

    I'm sure someone who has traveled these roads more extensively than I have will come in and give you some advise on the different routes. I don't know if you'll get someone who will actually rate them in terms of scenic value though. All of us here pretty much agree that there are no boring roads. And what one person considers scenic, another might not. Like our disagreement on what you see on I-40, for example. But I'm sure they'll give you some insights to make your decision on.

    I want to address the software planning issue. Many of us here like MS Streets & Trips for planning purposes. It has a lot of flexibility and is a handy planning tool. It will do what you want. You can designate what hours you want to travel during the day (start/stop times), how often you want to schedule a rest stop during the day, and you can plug in multiple destinations and tell it how long you want to plan to stay there. For example, Big Bend National Park 6 hours, El Paso 3 hours, etc. and then it will automatically tell you where you will be stopping for the night based on the time you tell it you want to stop at night. Very handy.

    However, it's not perfect. It doesn't have near as many interesting places to stop and visit along the way built into the program as it should, imho. I think the AAA website tool actually does a better job of pointing out those types of locations to you. And, of course, neither are complete so websites like this, guidebooks, maps, etc. are still your best bet for finding what to stop at along the way. But then you can plug this info into MS S&T. Sometimes you have to use the address to do so.

    You also don't want to trust its travel time estimates. I have found that there are times when it's amazingly accurate. But other times, it's way off. And it's hard to know ahead of time. So I just use the travel time estimates as guidelines and not as gospel.

    Also, the directions can be way to onerous to plow through. When you're leaving a place, for example, it might tell you something like:
    * head east for 0.2 miles and bear left on Forsythe
    * continue for 0.25 miles and take exit ramp
    * continue 0.6 miles and merge onto I-40

    Oh, my gosh. Drives me batty. I would rather have something like go east and take Exit 292. So I often end up retyping the directions, simplifying them, so I don't get confused about every dang turn it gives me. Just give me the rough highlights. I don't need something to "hold my hand" at every little turn.

    Anyway, my review is a thumbs up even with its faults.

    BTW, you could actually do what you want with the AAA planner, too. Just go by mileage. If you know that you will be leaving Pensacola at roughly 8am and the next place you want to visit is 150 miles away, figure it will take you about 3 hours to get there. Estimate how long you'll stop, say it's for 2 hours, then you'll know you're leaving about 1pm. Etc.

    Thousands of miles of driving in the US has taught us here that you can figure traveling at roughly 53mph average east of the Mississippi River and 57mph west of it. This factors in time for quick fuel/bio/meal breaks. Not long, lingering meals but quick stops.

    So, really, I think you can get what you want from the AAA using that guideline to plan your timing with. Personally, I wouldn't invest in MS S&T unless you're planning on using it a lot. But it does go on sale fairly often and I have seen rebates for purchasing it. So if you get it cheap enough, why not?

    Have I confused you yet?

  4. #4

    Default Us too

    We also had a bit of a grilling from the border patrol mob down on the Mexican border. We actually got stopped three times and, although we were quickly waved on twice, it did start to become very tedious.

    I recently visited Dallas so, if you do end up there, I'll reiterate the adviceI was given here - eat at the Record Grill. It is right in the heart of the Dallas landmarks and is certainly cozy, so it fits your requirements on both counts!

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