Hi all. I'm at the bare beginnings of planning a cross-country solo road trip for next spring, probably April (it'll take me that long to pay off my bills and get enough money saved). I'm thinking of driving from Memphis, through Mississippi to the Southern Pacific road (US-80), over to California, and up the CA coast to San Francisco. I'm planning on taking about a month, so side trips are definite possibilities. The timeline is extremely flexible - I just need to get away from everything I know for a while. I'm probably going to take my own car, so I know I have to do all the pre-trip checks and repairs. I'm also thinking of taking my dog, but that's also flexible.
Places to stay - I want to be fairly frugal on this trip, but I don't have a budget figured out yet. I plan on car camping alternating with cheap hotels/motels/hostels. Is this reasonable?
Food - I plan on cooking my own food alternating with local non-chain restaurants (restaurant meals probably once every couple of days). Is this reasonable? Or will I go nuts within a week?
Fun Stuff - I lived in NYC for over 10 years, and San Francisco for a bit longer than a year, and never did the tourist stuff unless I had visitors. I'd much rather mingle with the locals. To that end, I'm thinking of farmer's markets, local festivals, that sort of thing for entertainment. Farmer's markets especially, to replenish my food supply and to support the local economy. I do plan on looking up possible places to go, but if you know of anything along the route that might be good, please let me know.
Also, this is my first long road trip alone (I've driven to Miami and Knoxville with a friend, and to Atlanta and Dallas and Nashville alone [all from Memphis]), and my first camping trip alone. I like being alone, and part of the reason I want to take this trip is to be alone and away from what I know for a while. What pointers can you give? How much money is too little (I know I can never have too much!)?
I know these are very general questions, and as I get closer I will be able to get more specific, but any help you can offer would be appreciated.