I just graduated from college and want to celebrate by doing what I've been wanting to do since age 13: explore the west by car. Right now, it'll be me, a very good friend of mine who I currently live with, camping equipment including a portable grill and cooler, and my 2003 Toyota Corolla leaving from Bergen County, NJ, very near NYC.
Although I've been thinking about this for years now, I've only just begun the actual planning and budgeting process. Neither of us have a steadfast financial restriction but we certainly need to keep things inexpensive. I've researched a few hostels on hostelbookers.com and found several wonderful deals. I don't know what to expect in terms of gas yet.. on a good day, my car gets around 35 highway miles per gallon with a small load. I used the calculator on this site and it says to expect around $700 total for a 7500-mile trip but that'll be on the low end of my expected range because of my sense of spontaneity. :)
Also, I'm not a complete newbie to road tripping. I've taken various small ones throughout the east coast, mostly in the New England, NY, PA, and VA areas, so this trip will focus more out west. I'm thinking of taking mostly interstates on the east side and US/county roads out there.
Any advice on interesting routes and must-see things along the way? I'd like to try out some whitewater rafting and mountain biking too. Most major west-coast cities are on the list (Seattle, Portland, SF, LA) just to give an idea of the area i'd like to cover. Advice for the south/midwest areas would be especially helpful because I'm very new to them.