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  1. #1

    Default Some advice for my month-long, circle-the-USA trip?

    Hi folks! My name is Peter, and I'm brand new to the forum. Although I read many of the articles on the website last year, I've never participated in the forums.

    I'm going to be taking a month-long solo road trip from Ohio (my home state) to California, and then back again, and I need some help. I'm hoping that a few people here would be willing to give me some advice!

    I'm 35, single with no kids, and self-employed, so taking time and money isn't a major issue. I've done solo speed runs between Ohio and Florida (~900 miles) many times, maybe 10 times or so, and just as many shorter (and more casual) drives between Ohio and DC (~450) miles, so I already know how I respond to being on the road by myself, at least for a day or two at a time.

    So let me lay out the general idea:

    My PRIMARY purpose:

    To meet America (the people) and experience the land. I want to interact with people at the places I visit, in common American settings: the roadside diner, coffee shops, churches, etc!

    ...stopping in little towns along the way to talk with people, take photos and interact with locals as much as possible. (And I plan on playing guitar at some open mike nights at coffee shops too, thanks to openmikes.org)

    My path:

    From Ohio, down through the south and southwest, up along the California coastal highway, up into Oregon, over through Idaho and into Montana, then back down through Wyoming, across the bread basket, then north into Minnesota and Wisconsin, across the Michigan UP, then back into Ohio.

    Only state routes and two lane roads if possible, so no interstates. I know this will add a lot of time to the trip, but hopefully it will put me closer to America, if you know what I mean. Part of the area I need help in is knowing if one months is enough time to make a backroad circuit of the US.

    I haven't decided on a firm path, and I'm not entirely sure that I want one. Is this just stupid?

    I want to visit many National Parks and wildlife areas, especially Frank Church River of No Return wilderness in Idaho, the sequoias, and as much as possible in Utah. Is the Grand Canyon really worth it?

    Although I'm not what you'd call an outdoorsman, but I love being in nature and sleeping under the stars whenever I can. I'm not a fan of bugs, but I also don't mind dousing myself in bug spray either. But in all truth, hearing an animal outside my tent at 4:00 AM still creeps me out... city-dweller, you know... so I'm not sure how I would deal with a bear or moose in my campsite, so your thoughts on this are welcome!

    Why?

    Besides the fact that I just really want to? The trip is going to be a fund-raiser for charity (I'm not here to ask for donations... most of the donations will come from my church and other organizations, and none of the donations are going to pay for the trip).

    To keep all my friends here apprised of my wanderings, I am planning to have a travel blog that will track where I am on the map, with photos and videos of places and people I've visited.

    So that was all the preface... Here are my questions.

    1. What should my questions be? :-) I'm not even sure what I should be asking at this point.
    2. Is camping along the road really much of an option for maybe half the days I'm on the road? (just me and a sleeping bag, maybe a small fire in some places -- or actually sleeping in the vehicle)... and your thoughts on a city-dweller sleeping under the stars in in the desert or woods or even a truck stop.
    3. Best tools for putting together a road trip blog (sharing my current location, uploading pictures & videos, etc).
    4. What kind of gear would you take on a trip like this, if it were you going? (I've already got a list put together for safety/survival supplies)
    5. I may even buy a new vehicle for this trip (I've got a small two-door Acura now, but might upgrade to a mid-sized SUV if it'll help me over the Going-to-the-sun highway in Glacier NP). Any thoughts on this?
    6. any other thoughts?

    I'm sure I'll come up with more...

    What do you think? I understand that this might be too common a question to take a serious stab at, also.

    Peter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Dreams to Reality

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The main question I'd need to answer for myself if I were contemplating such a voyage of discovery, is: How many miles can I reasonably expect to cover in a day WHILE doing what I want to do? You say that you've driven 600-900 miles treks, but I'd be quite willing to bet that none of those drives (if done in a day or so) involved open mike nights, wandering the streets of small town America, or setting up or taking down camps. Just think about a typical day. If you want to spend a few hours talking to people, a couple of hours performing, and the rest of your day (maybe 6-7 hours) driving back roads (at a made-good average of maybe 40 mph) then you're only going to be able to cover around 250 miles a day, which means you have around 7,000 mile for the entire trip. You might be able to squeeze in all the places you've listed in that distance, but not by meandering along back roads. I think you're going to need to pare down your geographic goals just a bit.

    Camping is certainly an option, but do not plan on just pulling off the road at some random spot. I know of no place in the lower 48 that is not owned in some sense by somebody, so you would just end up trespassing, which can be more dangerous than any four-legged animal you might meet. Make use of the parks your tax dollars have helped pay for or head for units of the National Forest and ask about distributed camping.

    While not my strong points, maintaining web sites from the road and camping equipment are not my thing but they are covered elsewhere here.

    Finally, I would not get a new car for this trip. This is one where you want to be comfortable, and if you Acura has served you well, and you know its quirks, make the journey in it. I don't think you want to get a brand new car, put several thousand miles on it immediately and possibly break more than 'it in'.

    But in the end, your trip is the kind we all like to make, just on the road with only a final destination/date and the freedom to be anywhere at anytime in between doing whatever we want.

    AZBuck

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

    Default Choices, choices, choices

    I totally agree with AZBuck, with the meandering you want to do, the desire to stick to backroads, and wanting to spend time meeting people, doing open mikes, etc. I think you need to scale things way, way down.

    I haven't decided on a firm path, and I'm not entirely sure that I want one. Is this just stupid?
    That's never stupid. That type of flexibility should always make some of the best road trips. In your case, I think this is the BEST way to plan your trip. Take your open mike schedule with you so you have an idea of where you want to be when, and then just go with the flow. Do the open mikes you can while, at the same time, enjoying the slower pace of travel to allow you to do the other goals you have set for yourself.

    I want to visit many National Parks and wildlife areas, especially Frank Church River of No Return wilderness in Idaho, the sequoias, and as much as possible in Utah. Is the Grand Canyon really worth it?
    All of these are really worth it. The Grand Canyon is truly one of the grandest places and is aptly named. However, you're not going to see all of these in a month with all the other things you want to do. Save some places for future roadtrips.

    Although I'm not what you'd call an outdoorsman, but I love being in nature and sleeping under the stars whenever I can. I'm not a fan of bugs, but I also don't mind dousing myself in bug spray either. But in all truth, hearing an animal outside my tent at 4:00 AM still creeps me out... city-dweller, you know... so I'm not sure how I would deal with a bear or moose in my campsite, so your thoughts on this are welcome!
    LOL, I've got close to 50 years of camping under my belt, and I just saw my first bear in the wild (from the safety of my car) last summer. Have never seen a moose. I'm not saying that there isn't some common-sense things you should do concerning wildlife and your own safety, but don't over-exaggerate the possibilities either.

    1. What should my questions be? :-) I'm not even sure what I should be asking at this point.
    Well, you're off to a good start.

    2. Is camping along the road really much of an option for maybe half the days I'm on the road? (just me and a sleeping bag, maybe a small fire in some places -- or actually sleeping in the vehicle)... and your thoughts on a city-dweller sleeping under the stars in in the desert or woods or even a truck stop.
    I am probably the biggest camping advocate here and often do it while on roadtrip, as well as longer camping trips deeper in the woods, backpacking, etc. when I can. I would suggest you do a weekend try-out at a nearby campground before you commit to doing it on the road. Find out if you like it first. I love it. You might not. Camping Is Easy will give you some tips.

    You never, I never, nobody should ever just pull over on the side of the road. There are numerous different types of campgrounds for that. I think you're romanticizing this a bit.

    3. Best tools for putting together a road trip blog (sharing my current location, uploading pictures & videos, etc).
    I'm not real familiar with this stuff either. I know you can get a free blog at Blogger and that they're easy to set up. And you can set them up so that you can even email pictures to it from your cellphone. I tend to avoid technology when I'm traveling (except my camera) so I'm not a big expert on this either. I'm sure there's good help out there somewhere.

    4. What kind of gear would you take on a trip like this, if it were you going? (I've already got a list put together for safety/survival supplies)
    My favorite topic (besides camping and roadtrips)! Here's some great tips.

    5. I may even buy a new vehicle for this trip (I've got a small two-door Acura now, but might upgrade to a mid-sized SUV if it'll help me over the Going-to-the-sun highway in Glacier NP). Any thoughts on this?
    Why? I go up logging roads, etc. in my New Beetle. If you like your Acura and it runs fine, why do you need an SUV? You don't need it for Going To the Sun road, or any other road most roadtrippers will be on. Unless you're planning some serious off-road four-wheeling, it's not necessary.

    6. any other thoughts?
    Just keeping dreaming, keep planning, keep asking questions, and then, when all is said and done, hit the road and meander, enjoying serendipitous discoveries along the way. Have no fear but also use good common-sense and a turned-on personal safety radar to keep yourself from getting in bad situations. Every town and neighborhood is someone's home so you should be fine...at least as safe as your are in Ohio.

    Oh, and thanks for the Open Mike website. I've forwarded it to my husband who would love to semi-retire to be a comedian. Personally, I think he's hysterical but it wouldn't hurt to check out his reception at a few of these and see if anybody else does. LOL

    Happy planning, happy travels, and let us know how your trip went after you return.

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