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  1. Default Mammoth roadtrip, thoughts requested!

    Hi all,

    This forum has been so helpful in the planning of my roadtrip, i just want to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone here, especially the mods.

    I'm off on a roadtrip a week today with my father; we're from the UK and this is something we've always wanted to do. Below is the schedule. I know we've packed an awful lot in, and i guess i just wanted thoughts as to whether or not you guys thought it was feasible and if there were any legs you would miss out. The only things that are set in stone is picking our first rental car up on the 10th in D.C , picking our second rental car up in San Diego on the 26th and flying back on the 31st from San Francisco.

    Tuesday 7th October – Arrive New York

    Wednesday 8th October – New York

    Thursday 9th October – New York – Washington D.C (via Amtrak)

    Fri 10th October (pick up car) - Washington DC – Charlotte, North Carolina

    Saturday 11th October – Charlotte, North Carolina – Nashville, TN

    Sunday 12th October – Nashville, TN – Memphis, TN

    Monday 13th October – Memphis, TN

    Tuesday 14th October – Memphis, TN – New Orleans, LA

    Wednesday 15th October – New Orleans, LA

    Thursday 16th October – New Orleans, LA – New Braunfels, TX

    Friday 17th October – New Braunfels, TX - Austin, TX

    Saturday 18th October – Austin, TX

    Sunday 19th October – Austin, TX – Amarillo, TX

    Monday 20th October – Amarillo, TX – Albuquerque, NM

    Tuesday 21st October – Albuquerque, NM – Flagstaff, AZ

    Wednesday 22nd October – Flagstaff, AZ – Las Vegas, NV

    Thursday 23rd October – Las Vegas, NV

    Friday 24th October – Las Vegas, NV – San Diego, CA

    Saturday 25th October - San Diego, CA

    Sunday 26th October (pick up Mustang) – San Diego, CA – Malibu, CA

    Friday 31st – Fly to London from San Francisco

    I have four main questions.

    1) Does this look ok to people? Are there any places we should skip and replace with others? Especially with regard to Texas; are we spending too much time there?

    2) Where is the best place to stop mid-way between Washington and Nashville? Is Charlotte a good choice, or is there somewhere else that is better?

    3) Has anyone any suggestions of where to visit on the West Coast given that we've got four days to get from San Diego to San Franciso? Where would you say we should absolutely go to?

    4) We're planning on buying a GPS unit when we arrive as it would probably work out cheaper than hiring one. Can anyone recommend a good entry level model that has a points of interest facility.


    Thank you so much in advance for your help :_)

    Thanks so much in advance guys.

  2. #2

    Default One point of clarification

    Hello Jay,

    It appears your selection of Charlotte, NC as a stopover between Washington and Nashville does not imply that Charlotte is a must for you. I don't know the exact distance, but passing through Charlotte is rather out of the way if Nashville is your destination from Washington. The more direct way, and the much more scenic, in my humble opinion, is I-66 out of DC to I-81, and south down through the Shenandoah Valley, bordering the Blue Ridge Mountains, thence west along I-40 through the Valley and Ridge geological province and across the Cumberland Plateau to Nashville. Taking that route avoids the rather congested urbanized corridor from DC to Richmond and a similarly congested corridor from roughly Durham, NC all the way to Charlotte, along I-85.

    Given that Mr. Mapquest says it's only 670 miles from Washington to Nashville via I-66, I-81, and I-40, you would have time for some side trips if you were to overnight along the way. To that end, Lexington, VA is a nice little college village (Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute), Roanoke, VA has a terrific railroad museum, and the Blue Ridge Parkway/Skyline Drive are within a few miles to the east of I-81 all the way from near where I-66 joins it west of DC all the way to Roanoke. Charlottesville, VA and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello are but 40 miles east of Staunton, VA and can be even more readily accessed by traveling south on US 29 from the western suburbs of DC, thence jumping over the Blue Ridge back to I-81 or the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Enjoy, and welcome to the States!

    Foy

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

    Default Foy points the way!

    I think he gave good advice for that part of your trip.

    It's a bit hard to comment on your trip without knowing why you're going to some of those places. Are these cities destinations you want to see or do they just happen to be along the general route? In other words, what cities are must-sees that you wouldn't remove from your route?

    I tend to base my route on things I want to see, not cities. I tend to avoid cities unless the sights within the city is the destination. For example, you don't have the Grand Canyon on your route...and you're going to be so close to it, too. Is this something you're planning on seeing between Flagstaff and Las Vegas? If so, you'll need more time but it will be worth it.

    You will be driving over 4000 miles in 20 days so you need to plan your time accordingly. I think I would roughly break it up this way: 2 days for Washington DC, 4 days for the Southeast, 2 days for New Orleans, 2 days for Texas, 5 days for the Southwest, and 5 days for the California Coast. Instead of having specific days for specific cities, I would have a more loose intinerary. Of course, you could mix up that allotment based on your own interests.



    1) Does this look ok to people? Are there any places we should skip and replace with others? Especially with regard to Texas; are we spending too much time there?
    Personally, yes, I think you're spending too much time in Texas. But that's only because I see so many interesting places along your route that you're not going to have time for. If it was me and I had to make the choice, I'd spend less time in Texas and more time Washington DC, News Orleans, The American Southwest, and on the California Coast. But, of course, you need to create a trip that appeals to you, not me.

    2) Where is the best place to stop mid-way between Washington and Nashville? Is Charlotte a good choice, or is there somewhere else that is better?
    I agree with Foy

    3) Has anyone any suggestions of where to visit on the West Coast given that we've got four days to get from San Diego to San Franciso? Where would you say we should absolutely go to?
    Here's a good post about beaches along this route. And a discussion with tips on other things to do between these cities.

    4) We're planning on buying a GPS unit when we arrive as it would probably work out cheaper than hiring one. Can anyone recommend a good entry level model that has a points of interest facility.
    This might give you some tips on that. I still just use the GPS on my cellphone the very few times a year I need it and most of us here pretty much agree that you should use papermaps for general route planning and to identify interesting places while on-the-road, using GPS only to get specific directions from point A to point B. Anyway, my experience is so limited that I'm not much help with this.

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for the info guys. Foy - i've just done a bit of searching on the route you suggested and yes, that sounds like easily the best option. So thanks very much for that, i'll report back on how we get on!

    PNW Judy - thanks for your tips with regard to timescales etc. The only places we absolutely want to go are Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Austin and Vegas. Anywhere else is totally negotiable. I'm getting a bit worried that the trip is so close and i just haven't had the time to properly research the areas we're passing through, and i don't want to miss anything amazing!!!! We're trying to see the smaller America i guess, as i think most people are, but with a few big sights thrown into the mix.

    Thanks again :).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Don't worry, be happy!

    Yeah, that sounds trite but, when it comes to roadtrips, it's true. There is no way you can see everything. Full-timers traveling in RVs for years at a time don't see everything. You will see vistas so inspiring that your heart almost skips a beat. You'll see other things that might make you sad due to the neglect or disrespect shown to an area. You will stop at attractions that you'll relish for years. And you'll stop at some so bad that it's all you can do not to laugh out loud at it (or get a little grumpy about the time/money spent on it). You will meet people that charm you and people you can't run from fast enough. And it's all good. It all adds to the experience.

    Maps will show the big stuff like national and state parks, national monuments, etc. If you get a GPS, it will alert you to a few things as well. For the rest, you can stop at visitor centers at the various statelines that you cross and in towns you pass through. Be sure to ask questions and get recommendations from the people there. Try to paint a picture for them of what you want to experience so their recommendations are as specific as possible.

    And, before you leave, give us some specifics. Are you looking for cultural experiences, historical, scenic vistas, the best piece of pie in America, small-town charm, hiking? Just what types of things are you seeking? We have time to give you some advice if you'll help us help you by giving us more information to go on.

  6. Default

    Judy, thanks very much for taking the time to respond again. Hopefully i can be a bit more specific.

    As you say, i'm pretty sure we'll be able to find all of the 'big' places on our route. What i really want to see is the things that, unless i knew they were there, i'd miss them. Real small town charm is the thing that i think we're both seeking, 'cos you just don't get that over here. Local bars that are just that - local, and places where you can get real local food. I guess it's that 'small town charm' that really interests us. We're not that into hiking, but appreciate scenery, but again it's not really the main thing we're after. I hope that gives you a bit more idea - we're looking to be charmed and see things and visit places a way off the beaten track. I hope that makes some kind of sense!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Oh, that's easy!

    Just get off the main path.

    It will slow you down a bit but, when you have time, get off the interstate and use alternate roads. Maps are the best help with this. You can easily see places where you can pull off, use local roads, and hook up with the interstate later.

    Along these local roads, you'll find small towns and some small havens that don't even have a name on the map. Stop at the local restaurant or tavern, strike up a conversation, and enjoy! Ask for tips from local for other places to visit.

    Some of these places will be instantly charming but some will require you to peel back layers to find the charm, and others might not be charming at all. But they should all provide interesting experiences. While I believe people are people wherever you go, I know you will also find differences in personality across the different regions/states.

    Hope that helps.

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