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  1. #1

    Default Chicago to San Francisco in 4 weeks

    Right - the flights are booked and the countdown begins. All we need to do now is finalise a route. I'll try to keep this one short but I'd appreciate any feedback anyone would like to offer. The fixed points are arrival in Chicago on July 20 and flying out of San Francisco 4 weeks later - nothing in between (apart from car rental!) has been booked ... and ideally we'd prefer to leave it that way.

    Great Plains - Nebraska or Kansas?

    I favour Nebraska because:
    • It means we can visit Des Moines on the way (just finished Bill Bryson's Thunderbolt Kid) and I've read that Iowa is as close to 1950s America as you can get these days.
    • A route through Scottsbluff leads nicely into Rocky Mntn NP Colorado
    • It sounds like the kind of place to enjoy big country driving (maybe not entirely dissimilar to South Dakota?)

    My wife Carole favours Kansas because:
    • She wants to see Dorothy's slippers

    Colorado - I70, no problem

    That's a bit cocky of me but Colorado looks the kind of place where you can't go too far wrong.

    SW states - straight across or via Arizona?

    This is the big question. Original plan was to pick up Highway 50 in Colorado and basically follow it westward, diverting only to see Arches and Canyonlands. At Reno we would then take a left to visit Yosemite, KC, Sequoia and Death Valley before then shooting over to San Luis Obispo and up the Californian coast. We have actually driven from LA to SF before but that's no reason not to want to do it again!

    Pros of this route, as I see it, are the huge emptiness, the fact that we'd be avoiding crowds and the opportunity to follow a route that most overseas visitors will not have had the time to see. The downside is that we actually end up heading back east in order to visiting the Californian parks.

    Having looked at the map again, it would appear to make much more sense to follow the more logical tourist route by turning left at Arches and taking in Canyonlands > Monument Valley > Grand Canyon > Bryce > Zion > Leeds (my home city in the UK!) > Las Vegas and then doing the CA parks in south to north order.

    I know that, ultimately, it's always going to be a personal decision but any thoughts/input would be appreciated. Is it worth sacrificing the much anticipated emptiness of following the Loneliest Road across Nevada in order to (a) see things in a more logical order and (b) take in the world-famous attractions of the south Utah and Arizona (bearing in mind that we've never been to this part of the USA before so everything will be new)?

    I think we're beginning to come down in favour of this latter route but one thing holding us back is that we would REALLY prefer not to be tied down to specific schedules (but realise that we probably won't be the only people visiting this part of the world at this time of year). We'd like to camp at least some of the time but will be happy to use whatever accommodation we come across (chains, lodges, mom + pop motels). How bad does it get?

    Thanks in advance!

    Peter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Welcome back!

    With 4 weeks, it seems you would have time to do both Nebraska and a quick dip into Kansas to see those Ruby Slippers. Where in Kansas do those slippers reside?

    I agree, you can't go wrong with Colorado. :-)

    Personally, I think all the parks in Utah are amazing and worth seeing. And it would be shame to be so close to the Grand Canyon and not see it. It really is the jewel in the crown.

    If you really want to drive the Loneliest Road, you could take 93 up to 50 from Las Vegas and drive it from there. Or even go up I-15 back into Utah to catch 50 a bit farther east. Of course, this would mean skipping Arizona. Choices can be hard, can't they? In another thread I finally told somebody that they might just need to flip a coin. Either choice is good, just different, but you can't see it all. If you're really into the wide-open spaces idea, than I think zipping back up to 50 from LV might be the better choice for you.

    I hate to tell ya this based on your desire for no schedules, but I would be hesitant to go to most of those parks in the Utah area without hotel reservations. Sorry. Same with Yosemite area. But I think you'll be fine without reservations the rest of your trip. Considering what you'll be seeing in those places, I think having to be tied to reservations for just part of the trip will be worth it since you can be reservation- and schedule-free for the first part and last parts of your trip.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Kansas do those slippers reside?
    Hmmm... just looked them up and it seems they're at the Smithsonian! Nebraska it is then. I win.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    If you really want to drive the Loneliest Road, you could take 93 up to 50 from Las Vegas
    Which, as you say, this means missing other stuff. I think if we've driven as far as the Grand Canyon we may as well follow the more logical route. Choices eh? A friend of mine regularly spins to decide and says you often find out what you were really hoping for depending on your reaction to it being heads or tails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    I would be hesitant to go to most of those parks in the Utah area without hotel reservations.
    Even if we've got a tent in the car?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,954

    Default A few thoughts from this desk

    Quote Originally Posted by vambo25 View Post
    Great Plains - Nebraska or Kansas?
    Both have pluses -- and here are a few more tidbits about the Nebraska route:

    26 ideas from Nebraska...
    Packman's field report
    Bob's suggestions for this route
    Scottsbluff is skipping distance from several of my family's ranches and the site of a RTA rendezvous a few years back.

    Here is a field report about northern central nevada -- part of the big-land-part of your trip.I think both of you would get huge kick out of the Nevada Hotel in Ely!
    Having looked at the map again, it would appear to make much more sense to follow the more logical tourist route by turning left at Arches
    I dunno -- the San Rafael Swell area is pretty special -- there has been talk for a few years to make it a national park. Here are a couple more field reports:

    Viewpoints from the highway
    Some dirt roads in the area.
    We'd like to camp at least some of the time but will be happy to use whatever accommodation we come across (chains, lodges, mom + pop motels). How bad does it get?
    It can get busy -- but you are both experienced roadtrippers and I wouldn't worry about it.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-05-2007 at 12:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vambo25 View Post
    Hmmm... just looked them up and it seems they're at the Smithsonian! Nebraska it is then. I win.
    Oh, I bet if you look hard enough, you'll find some replicas somewhere in Kansas. LOL


    Which, as you say, this means missing other stuff. I think if we've driven as far as the Grand Canyon we may as well follow the more logical route. Choices eh? A friend of mine regularly spins to decide and says you often find out what you were really hoping for depending on your reaction to it being heads or tails.
    I've been known to close my eyes, swing my arm around in circles, and then put my finger on the map. That works, too.


    Even if we've got a tent in the car?
    Well, I guess I meant any kind of overnight places, really. But I think you've got the most flexibility and chances for finding a campground if you're using a tent. When I did the GC, Zion, Bryce loop, it was in late June and each campsite I stayed at had more tent sites available. But the RV spots looked full, or nearly so. Most campgrounds can find a place for a tent. And many commercial campgrounds have overflow places for tent-campers that might not be as nice as some of their other tent-sites but they work in a pinch if you're just "hanging your hat" there for the night.

    If you don't mind having to look around a bit, go for it. Or take a campground guidebook with you and call ahead that day when you know where you're going to end up that night.

  6. #6

    Default Overnighting on the Mississippi?

    It's finally arrived - this year's big adventure starts on Friday. One more piece of advice would be appreciated though.

    We'll be spending this coming Sunday night (July 22) somewhere between Chicago and Des Moines - the Mississippi looks the obvious place. Any recommendations?

    Thanks!

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