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  1. Default Montreal to Cali and back, summer 2009

    Hi. I'm a rookie roadtripper (18 year old, first trip without my parents) I figured I might need some help for my road trip. Let me just tell you the outline :

    We're 4 people, planning on using 2 cars.
    I will be driving mine, which is a Dodge Grand Caravan Sport 2000 (in very good shape, though). We plan on spending 4000-5000$ dollars each on that roadtrip (I pay half the gas for my car).
    The course is roughly :
    Montreal-NYC-Miami-Louisiana(I plan on spending some time there)-Phoenix-Tijuana(should I?)-San Francisco-Minnesota-Chicago-Montréal.
    It should take 40 days.

    So my questions are :
    Is it possible to sleep in a car?
    Is it safe to camp out of a camp site?
    What should I bring?
    Do you know special places/events that I should visit (how will I spend my time)?
    Does it seem possible?

    And any kind of advice would be welcome, as I know you old-timers can very well make my trip a memorable one.

    Nick.
    Last edited by Nicksantoro; 09-22-2008 at 09:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default why two

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Why are you planning to bring 2 cars for 4 people, especially when you've got a minivan as one of your cars. While there is nothing wrong with taking two cars, and there can be some advantages, it will also double one of your biggest expenses.

    Sleeping in a car is ok, if you are in a safe and legal place. I tend to think its not the most comfortable way to go, and I like getting out of a car after being inside of one all day. However, having a van will make this a bit easier.

    Camping is perfectly safe, and its my prefered way to go about doing things. Personally, if you are planning to take 2 vehicles because of the ability to sleep in your cars, I'd rather spend the money on campsites.

    Here is some good information on things to bring along.

    As far as how to spend your time and if its possible, that's all up to you. On the surface, I don't see any reason why you couldn't do this and have a great time, although I will note that 40 days will fly by much faster than you might expect and you'll have to budget your time accordingly.

  3. Default

    Oh I forgot to mention, we're taking 2 cars cause the other two aren't so enthusiastic about the West Coast and might want to stop in TX.

    For the spendings, i see it like this (and I'm throwing lots of extra money everywhere so we can repair the car along the way, just in case)
    4000$ total for gas
    4000$ total for sleeping, eating (although I'd rather not use campsites or motels)
    2000$ for activities and gifts

    But my major concern is that in 40 days, we'll have lots of extra time for activities and discoveries and I fear that we won't be able to make every day a special one. I know life's not like American Graffiti, but I'd still like my fair share of adventures.

    And does someone know about racism towards french Canadians? Cause I have a Quebec license plate and I'd rather not have my car damaged or anything.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Attitude

    Actually, a lot of what a RoadTrip is about and becomes is up to you and the attitude you approach it with. If you start with the idea that you'll be open to the possibilities that present themselves: That you'll let yourself drive down a road just because it looks inviting; That you'll stop to talk to people and swap your stories for theirs: That you won't have set rules - Then you will make discoveries and have adventures. You've got time enough and money enough for a great trip. Your French Canadian heritage will be a decided advantage in your travels. Americans will tend to treat you as an exotic visitor from foreign shores rather than an intruder. Nous ne nous souviennent pas, mais.... The only thing I would caution you on is to make sure each night that you know that you are welcome wherever you park. Wherever it is someone, be it a private party or a government, will own it and if you don't have their permission you will be trespassing. Motels and campsites can be had cheap enough, and come with showers and some security, that I just don't see that saving the money will always - or even unusually - be worth it.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default french?

    I wouldn't worry about discrimination because of being French Canadian. The sad reality is that a frightening large number of people in the US that don't even know that there is a French portion of Canada.

    As far as finding things to do everyday, that is more of an attitude than anything else. Even on days where you spend the vast majority of your trip driving, you should be able to find something that is memorable along the way if you are keeping an open mind.

    Like I said, sleeping in the car is possible, but I really don't know why you would want to avoid campsites and motels for a trip of this length. How do you envision yourself spending each night? Personally, being couped up in a van with the walls of a truck stop being the scenery every night would get very old very fast.

  6. Default

    Ok thanks alot both.
    So I'm understanding that theres enough in the scenery and culture along the way to have lots of fun and experiences.
    I still have this feeling like we're not ready, we're missing something important, though.
    I'm sure going without further information about events and attractions (not touristical ones) would make us miss out on lots of great times. Is there any guide that has this kind of info for the whole USA? Which one would you recommend?

    And AZBuck, I've been considering spending a couple days (2-3-4) in Arizona.
    What do you think should be done and seen in your state?

    By the way, I'm not very into monuments, museums and historical stuff...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Inquire Locally

    Any guide that has the kind of information you want for the entire United States can't have more than the highlights. We're just too big and diverse. So rather than try to plan out your entire trip, just work out an outline: so many days on the east coast, so many days in the south, etc. Then when you are driving into a state where you plan to spend some time, stop at the Visitors Center when you first enter the state. Tell them what you're looking for and they'll be able to point you to many events and attractions than you'll possibly have time for. Same thing when you're in a small town. Seek out any and all Information Centers. Just be careful, some are nothing more than come-ons for specific attractions. The main thing to realize is that WILL miss out on a lot. You only have 40 days after all. Don't worry about the things you miss, enjoy the ones you find.

    In Arizona, I'd hit the Grand Canyon, Red Rock country around Sedona, Saguaro National Park and Kartchner Caverns for the scenic beauty. And while you say you're not into 'museums and historical stuff' places like Fort Bowie, Tombstone, Oatman, and Walnut Canyon can be enjoyed on so many different levels that, even though they would be considered historic, I think you'd still find a visit to any of them worthwhile.

    AZBuck

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post

    In Arizona, I'd hit the Grand Canyon, Red Rock country around Sedona, Saguaro National Park and Kartchner Caverns for the scenic beauty. And while you say you're not into 'museums and historical stuff' places like Fort Bowie, Tombstone, Oatman, and Walnut Canyon can be enjoyed on so many different levels that, even though they would be considered historic, I think you'd still find a visit to any of them worthwhile.

    AZBuck
    Those places look stunning on google and we'll make sure we see some canyon. Are there rivers where you could do some rafting in AZ?

    By the way, if anyone has some ideas of things that have to be done in their state or wherever in the US, not just in AZ, please tell me I'll take any advice and ideas I can get.

    PS If the trip works out I'll post a day-by-day review of what we've done/seen so it can be useful to those who might try it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default OK...here's my list for Washington state

    Mt. St. Helen's. Ever-changing and healing, this is the #1 must-see, imho.

    In no particular order for the rest - and I've written about most of these extensively in other discussions so you might do a search for more information:
    * Olympic Peninsula (including Olympic NP) - Hall of Mosses trail, the interpretive trail on the North Shore of Lake Quinault, Ruby Beach, Sol Duc Falls/Hot Springs, Lake Ozette, Makah Indian Nation and the farthest west point in the continental US at Cape Flattery, Hurricane Ridge, Mt. Elinor (mainly in the spring), Dungeness Spit, Port Townsend, Hood Canal

    * Mt. Rainier and the foothills - Grove of the Patriarchs, parts of the Wonderland Trail to see Nisqually Glacier (and others), Paradise, Sunrise

    * North Cascades Highway, White Pass & Stevens Pass

    * Grand Coulee Dam area including the dam, of course, and Dry Falls, Lake Lenore Caves, Lake Roosevelt, the coulees, the Potholes

    * San Juan Islands - even just the ferry rides are fun, whale-watching

    * Long Beach Peninsula & Southwest WA coast - Oysterville, Fort Columbia SP, where Lewis & Clark first viewed the Pacific Ocean

    * Palouse Falls

    * Lake Chelan, Leavenworth, Methow Valley

    * Columbia River Gorge

    That should get you started. Lots of rafting opportunities throughout the Cascade foothills...whitewater in spring-mid summer.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A great adventure.

    Hi Nick,

    For the natural wonders you will be passing the National parks site lists all of there parks with lots of info on what to expect, as well as camping info.
    If you were to hit the Grand canyon and perhaps not bother with Tijuana then I would recommend heading into Utah after G/C and visiting Zion N.P. and Bryce canyon.
    This will take you via Page, which would, amongst other places offer you the chance to do some rafting. In the left hand corner of the link you will see "change state" and by clicking on it will offer you an overview of any state of your choice.
    Nearby is Antelope canyon which is a pretty amazing place.
    When heading to San Fran then Yosemite is an incredible place to visit and a detour across Death valley to get there is a popular choice and a great drive, have fun!

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