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  1. Default OK THIS IS WIDE OPEN.....Arkansas to California and back

    My wife and I live in Arkansas and we were planning a trip to Cozumel, but it turns out my wife has a SERIOUS phobia of flying. So rather than have to go through planning a vacation and then possibly not being able to get her on the airplane (very possible), I thought maybe a great road trip could be just as exciting.

    We live in Fort Smith Arkansas and neither of us have really ever been anywhere. I lived in Tampa FL for about 9 months once, but that's about it. My wife has never even seen a real beach!

    So I'm thinking maybe we could drive to California, maybe San Fransisco area, Monterey, etc. for our beach destination. During the trip I'd like to see the Grand Canyon, Redwood National Forest, Joshua Tree, etc. But there may be things in between here and there I don't know about...

    We could have 7 days from start to finish in the first week of August. Mapquest says from Ft. Smith to San Fransisco would be 26 hours and 1800 miles.

    I'm open to any suggestions and would greatly appreciate any advice.

    Thank you,

    Justin and Karen
    Last edited by RizingSoul; 07-08-2008 at 07:12 AM. Reason: misspelling

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 7 days only?

    Better find a closer beach. There are lovely beaches in the Gulf and on the East Coast.

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums.

    We generally recommend that people limit their driving to 500 miles per day, 550 tops. This will take you about 8.5-9 hours per day to travel (including time for very brief stops for food, fuel, etc.). You will also have time for limited sightseeing stops throughout your day. Of course, the more sighseeing you want to do, the less miles you will want to cover.

    Never believe the time-to-drive estimates from online mapping software. 1800 miles/26 hours means you would have to average 69 mph and never stop for food, fuel, or to enjoy a scenic vista. Not gonna happen, is it?

    So, really, with 7 days, you would get to San Francisco and have a few minutes to enjoy the pounding surf before you would have to get in your car and head back home. The only way this trip would work if it's a fly/drive so you have the whole 7 days to go one-way...and that's not an option for you.

    You either need more days or a closer destination. For a first roadtrip, I think a closer destination makes the most sense right now. After you've gotten a shorter roadtrip under your belt, you can start planning longer ones. But you want to be sure it's something you enjoy before going too far from home, imho. Especially since you both have such limited travel experience.

    While I haven't been there myself, friends who live in Mobile, Alabama, tell me that there are plenty of nice beaches both east and west of that city. Maybe you should look into a beach someplace like Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I can't vouch for the beach itself so you'll want to do a bit of research, but it's only 670 miles to get there. About 1.5 days. This gives you 3 days to make the roundtrip and 4 days to enjoy the beach.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default agreed

    I'm in agreement with Judy, trying to make it to San Francisco will mean lots and lots of driving, with very little time to visit to places you say you want to see.

    Online map programs are great because they can give you accurate information about how distances are for a trip, but one of the biggest mistakes people make is taking the time estimates as gospel. When you are looking at a trip of this distance, its pointless to look at the hours, you really need to look at the trip in terms of day. This thread will give you a good estimate of what we recommend for traveling distances in one day.

    With a limit of 7 days, and a goal of seeing an ocean beach, I agree with Judy: Your best bet for an enjoyable trip will be to look for something along the Gulf or Atlantic coasts.

  4. #4

    Default Miles, fires, and burnout

    Hi Justin and Karen,

    Here's my bottom line: If you want to see an ocean beach and have 7 days' vacation time, you need to move from Ft Smith. East or west, take your pick, but it is, seriously, it's a real challenge from where you're starting from.

    California is a challenge right now, to begin with. Major league brushfires are in the Big Sur and Santa Barbara area right now, and in the past few weeks, have affected the Santa Cruz and other Bay area locales. I would think there is every possibility fires could be an issue concerning access and travel right through the remainder of Summer and Fall.

    Mapquest shows me right at 1,100 miles from Ft Smith to Wilmington, NC, where Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach all beakon. That's a hike, too, but do-able in a pinch.

    What I'd consider is the Wilmington area, and do it in a single long day and a second shorter day. Asheville, NC is around 800 miles from Ft Smith, and if you start EARLY you can probably avoid rush hour in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville and do virtually all of the drive in daylight. You'd get to Asheville and its trendy, fun, relaxing downtown restaurant and bar district in time to freshen up, enjoy a nice meal and some strolling, and a comfy overnight stay. Leaving early the next morning has you with a 350 mile drive to Wilmington, all on I-40, and most of that distance is 70 mph speed limit with only the urban/suburban congestion of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill to be concerned with rush hour issues. If you leave Asheville at, say, 0600, you can have a late lunch by the Intracoastal Waterway at the bridge at Wrightsville Beach by around 1pm, while you're waiting for the 3pm check-in for your room at the Blockade Runner.

    I can't and won't argue against the 500-550 mile/day recommendation, but personally I've done more and felt comfortable with it. MM and Judy, above, are absolutely on target in terms of Mapquest's "driving time" figures being overly optimistic. Taking into account nature, fast food, and fuel stops only, you must run 80-85mph in order to AVERAGE 66-68mph over the course of a driving day. It's do-able, but aside from the fact that it's illegal in all 50 states, it's risky and requires, at the least, the very best of vehicle prep and driver ability. Doing it 4 out of 7 days, and dealing with (to me) extraordinarily heavy Bay area or Southern California local traffic the other 3 days just doesn't sound like fun to me.


  5. #5

    Default Hello neighbors

    Justin & Karen,

    I live in Alma and I've road tripped a lot. All the other posters are absolutely correct. 7 days will not be worth it to head to California. I've been to the other places that people have suggested, but here is a new one for you: Myrtle Beach, SC. I was just there this past March and it's a long drive - me and my friends drove straight through. But it was completely worth it and we were only there for a week. There's a lot to do and miles of beautiful beach!

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