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  1. #1

    Default Kansas City to Bangor, Maine

    This Summer I'm planning, with 5 misfit Stephen King fans I call friends, a road trip to Baxter State Park/Bangor, ME from Kansas City. As it sits now we've got 6 confirmed to go, which means we could take my 7 passenger Dodge Durango without too much struggle.

    Last year we took a similar trip to Swallow Falls State Park in the western handle of Maryland and had an absolute blast. That trip was a quickie, leaving at about 9am on a Thursday morning and landing in our camp ground at about 3am Friday morning, then returning Monday morning, a straight haul, all the way through to glory.Last year we rented the smallest enclosed trailer I could find for all our gear to tow and it worked out great, giving us lots of space in the SUV, but last year we only had four people. Should we be thinking two cars for this year's trip?

    This Maine trip, of course, will be longer, and as our trip last year was to much acclaim, I was able to convince the crew to take a full week off, from Saturday July 5 to Saturday July 12. July 4th being a holiday, we'll have all day that day to pack and gear up for the expedition.

    I have only a few things I want to hit along the way:

    - Sokolowski's University Inn in Cleveland, OH
    - the Albany-Rensselaer, NY Amtrak Station for a train trip into NYC for at least one day with our friend who moved to Manhattan, New York City, NY.
    - the best Lobster in the world along the coast of Maine
    - some time in Bangor to get our Stephen King revery on

    As I love to ask.. what am I missing? Other than the misadventures of circumstance which only being there can present, what other bits can I look forward to, should be considering, or should be forewarned about regarding this route and trip?


    Last edited by Hadvin; 03-07-2008 at 10:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default How much stuff?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I've really got to ask, with 4 people, how much stuff were each of you bringing that you needed to tow a trailer for all of your things? I've made cross country trips with 4 people, plus camping gear and guitars in a much smaller vehicle. I'm curious as to what you are bringing that you would have needed so much space for a weekend trip?

    That said, I think a similar plan would still make sense this time. With 6 people, it sounds like you could fit comfortably, but you would need a trailer since clearly the extra people would take up your cargo room. You could also take two cars, but if you are already used to taking a trailer, then I might take advantage of that.

    Another thing I might look into is where you are going to get onto the train to New York. If you go all the way up to Albany, you'll have to rely on Amtrak, if you drove a little closer to the city you could use on of the commuter rail options which would be likely cheaper and run more frequently.

  3. #3


    It wasn't necessarily a ton of stuff but one thing I like to haul around is a large camp canopy. On face the thing might be too much trouble to be worth it, but it's come in handy so many times in so many places, I just love it. The canopy I have is transported in a large travel bag and weighs probably about 100 lbs. That travel bag is, unfortunately, literally one inch too long to fit in the back of the Durango with its 3rd row seat folded down, meaning I'd actually have to put half of the 2nd row seat down, cutting my passenger capacity down to three. So, since trailer rental was about $10/day we decided to pretty much just keep a cooler for snacks and beverages in the cargo area of the Durango, a couple of frisbees, and our collection of road games and books so everyone was able to spread out and stretch a bit, then throw almost all of our gear in the trailer: tents, bags, supplies, food, gear, etc.

    It worked out great, especially being able to stow all of our gear in a lock-able fashion when we went exploring away from our camp site, being able to pack a bunch of firewood in the back of the Durango when we found a local wood chopper guy, etc.

    As for the stop in Albany, you're probably right about Amtrak being our route into NYC. I'm figuring a ticket will be around $30 or so. We might try for a closer spot. Any suggestions on where the NYC commuter rails reach to?

  4. Default So many options, So little time

    Hi Hadvin:
    Taking the train to NYC is an excellent idea. The city is not really car friendly. A one way ticket on Amtrak from Albany to Penn Station in Manhatten is $37 per person. Your other option is to take the Metro North Railroad ( commuter train ) from Poughkeepsie, which is just off I-87, the NYS Thruway. Metro North roundtrip to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan is about $35.50 during peak hours on business days , and $26.50 per person evenings and weekends. so Metro North costs half or less than Amtrack. Parking at the train station in Poughkeepsie is free on weekends.
    It looks to me as though your week is already full of plans, so I don't think you would be able to fit anymore in. But let me suggest checking out Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine if you ever get the chance. Its on the coast about 40 miles south of Bangor. Its a fabulous park, perfect for mountain hiking or mountain biking. Think of the Appalachian mountains on the ocean. And Bar Harbor is a great town in the summer for night life.
    Have a great trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default This Stephen King fan wants to tag along

    But you probably don't need an old lady to worry about. :) Sounds like a fun trip.

    It sounds like you're good at doing speed runs. Just be aware that you're going about twice as far and that a pace like that is tough to keep up over a few days. So try to pace yourself a bit better so you don't wear yourself out. We generally recommend people keep their miles to 500-550/day. Just something to consider.

    Two cars or trailer? Well, since your'e used to towing a trailer, that sounds like a good option. But sometimes it's tougher for people to get along in a cooped up car over several days. And this trip sounds like one where you'll be in the car itself more than your last trip. In that case, two cars can be handy so people can mix it up a bit more. You could communicate via FRS radios and/or cellphones. Of course, this will cost a bit more. So either way works; it just depends on what your group prefers.

    So what Stephen King places are you visiting?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default NYC Rail options

    The option Ambassador recommended is an option I've used and would probably recommend. Except, I would alter your route and instead of taking I-90, I'd take I-80 across PA and then cut up to I-84. You could get on the train at or around Beacon.

    There are a number of commuter rail options going into NY, you just have to remember, if you get on a train west of the Hudson, you'll be filtered into Newark first and may have to transfer for the trip into Manhatten. If you get on the train east of the Hudson, the trains will take you right into Grand Central.

  7. #7

    Default Convoys

    For the past six years we've been on an annual pilgrimage down to Le Mans and each year our group has been growing. We've gone from an Audi A6 with a tent in the boot to a small motorhome to a large motorhome to a monsterous great big motorhome. Two years ago year there were nine of us who went down and it was, despite its enormous size, a little crowded on the drive there and back. We were faced with the decision of whether to tow a trailer down or just take a second vehicle.

    In the end we looked at what everyone else who was organising a group was doing. And that was to add a second vehicle to the run. Whilst others were essentially using their extra vehicle as a support vehicle to carry tents, supplies, etc. we used ours to carry passengers. And I'm so glad we did. It allowed so much more versatility and, with the addition of a couple of cheap radios, allowed us to keep in touch and basically 'share the load' of driving between the two drivers, thus keeping us far more alert. When we arrived at the destination it then allowed much more flexibility.

    The main plus though was the extra speed that we could maintain en route. It cost a little more in diesel to run two vehicles but, with the price of gas being so low in the States, it'll surely not be such a big deal over there.

  8. #8


    Speed runs have kinda become my specialty but only out of necessity. As we, meaning my friends and I, are for the most part still in entry level jobs, none of us have, simply, very much time we're able to take off. It was a struggle for all of us to get a week away from work, for various reasons, so so much as I'd love to take, say, a three week road trip, taking a week to get there, spending a week there, and spending a week to get back along a different route, that type of trip is still probably years in the future. The dream of seeing a road along the route and deciding to see where it leads is, for now, only mythical in its awesomeness.

    But the other side of that "we're young and don't have much vacation time" comes the ability to be a bit more robust in our travel limitations. The drive to Maryland, through Indiana farmland to West Virginia mountain fog, didn't phase me much in terms of focus or wear. That being said, we had an exploratory meeting yesterday so we could start getting our road trip wants and desires out on the table, and started to look at a very (VERY) tentative schedule.

    Friday, July 4: Gear up, shopping, packing
    Saturday, July 5: Travel day from KC to Great Lakes Region, Cleveland, OH
    Sunday, July 6, am: Sight-seeing along Lake Erie coast and Cleveland, OH
    Sunday, July 6, pm: Travel day from Cleveland, OH to upstate New York/Albany, NY
    Monday am, July 7: Park and train-ride into Manhattan, New York City, NY
    Monday am-pm, July 7: Sight-seeing in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York City, NY, train-ride back to Albany, NY
    Tuesday, July 8 am: Travel from Albany, NY to Bangor, ME; max and relax Baxter State Park, ME
    Tuesday, July 8 am-pm: camp setup and relax, Baxter State Park, ME
    Wednesday, July 9, max and relax, ME
    Thursday, July 9, max and relax, ME
    Friday, July 11, max and relax, ME
    Saturday, July 12 - Sunday, July 13: long-haul, return trip, Bangor, ME to wherever we decide to bed down for the night (motel-ish), likely around Indiana
    Sunday, July 13 - Last leg, return to KC

    One of my questions yesterday, to the group, was asking if everyone would prefer to take a shorter/closer trip, and still spend that same week, giving us more time to explore, more time to do things, etc. The group was unanimous in our desire for Maine, so Maine it is. Those three and a half days in Maine, as I figure, will consist of us using our camp in Baxter State Park, which is pretty centrally located, to make sorties out to the coast, up towards Canada, just, overall, exploring and enjoying whatever we can find.

    We also discussed, in some detail, the pros and cons you guys mentioned in bringing a second vehicle versus renting a trailer. While gas in the US is, of course, relatively cheaper than in Europe, gas prices are expected to hit closer to $4.00/gallon, especially in New England this Summer. Taking that into consideration the fuel cost for the Durango, we conservatively estimate, will be around $800. Split 6 ways, that's $133 or so, for fuel alone. Now, I could talk all day about how that has probably decreased the number of road trips we're taking as a society, but that's for another thread. But the cost of a second vehicle, in this case it would be a friend's Chevy Cavalier, would bring overall fuel prices to a conservative $1200. We decided that the extra $400 was just too much a price to pay for the second car.

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    So what Stephen King places are you visiting?
    Well, I'm not 100% on any of this but I'd love to get a few pictures outside his residence, being respectful of course, and also maybe try to find where Castle Rock is supposed to be. I've read some stuff online that it's based on a real town, or more accurately a combination of two towns, so we might go looking for those places. Also, I think, the short story The Mist takes place in a real town, so I think we'll probably try to find a grocery store there and get our silly on. :D Any other suggestions?
    Last edited by Hadvin; 03-10-2008 at 06:58 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Well, we all do speed runs sometimes

    If you're up to it, then go for it. It sounds like you know what you're getting into.

    The only thing that doesn't make any sense at all to me, really, is your first day. July 4th. Are you all off work that day? If so, why not pack up and get ready to go the evening or two before? Even leave the last evening that you're done working to get in a few miles?

    Sorry, no hints on Stephen King stuff. I'm hoping you'll come back and fill us in. :)
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 03-10-2008 at 03:45 PM. Reason: added King comment

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Reservations

    I'm not sure exactly where you are planning to stay that first night in Ohio, but I would recommend getting reservation. Not only is it a holiday weekend, but for whatever reason, I've consistantly found Cleveland is one of the hardest places to find a site to set up camp.

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