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  1. Default Planning the Great American Road Trip

    Hi.

    I'm from New Zealand, and it's long been a prerogative of mine to get over to the States and do the American Road Trip.

    I've established a bit of a plan, but could use some input, advice, directions (whatever) from anyone who believes they have something useful to add.

    I've never been to America before and, though my Geographical knowledge is relatively decent, and help offered would be appreciated.

    I'm looking at heading across in early November 09. I'll be landing in LA and will start from there, finally ending up in Pittsburgh in time to catch a Steelers game.

    I'm thinking of heading up the coast from LA to Seattle, where I'd head north into Canada and head to Vancouver to see my brother before heading back down to the States and heading east.

    I will be doing this alone.

    I'm thinking of buying a cheap car in LA and then ditching it before i head home again, rather than renting. Still doing research on this - anyone have anything advice in regards to this?

    Anyways, that's pretty much all I have so far. Any or all of this could well be subject to change.

    I have no specific questions. This whole thing can be seen as question, really. I'm really just fishing for ideas and advice.

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default A Great Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by NovRTinc View Post
    I'm looking at heading across in early November 09. I'll be landing in LA and will start from there, finally ending up in Pittsburgh in time to catch a Steelers game.
    How long will this trip be do you think? You need to be prepared to drive in winter weather -- it may be your summer -- but it's gonna be cold up here. Here are some tips. And Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    I'm thinking of heading up the coast from LA to Seattle, where I'd head north into Canada and head to Vancouver to see my brother before heading back down to the States and heading east.
    Nice route -- but you need to ensure that with your visitor visa that you can enter Canada and re-enter the USA in that time frame. Nothing is as easy as it used to be!
    I'm thinking of buying a cheap car in LA and then ditching it before i head home again, rather than renting. Still doing research on this - anyone have anything advice in regards to this?
    Here is a bunch of information on this -- but the real issue is I don't think you'll be able to take the car into Canada and certainly not re-enter the USA with it....

    Here is a must-read from a member who researched all aspects of what you are considering...
    Some of the legalities you need to start thinking about
    Purchase Back options generally work far better.
    Rental Cars can cross the border

    UK Craig's notice about that pesky visa issue.

    As far as routes go, there are potentially hundreds of routes that will work.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,937

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NovRTinc View Post
    Hi.

    I'm thinking of buying a cheap car in LA and then ditching it before i head home again, rather than renting. Still doing research on this - anyone have anything advice in regards to this?
    I have been researching this for more than five years now, and am yet to find a way for a non-citizen to purchase and insure a vehicle in the US. Remember, it is illegal (and unwise) in most places to drive an uninsured vehicle. Even my daughter and family, who recently moved to NJ for work, was not able to insure a vehicle till they got their green card - many months later.

    If you find a way, I would be most interested to hear about it.

    My travel in 2001 (3 mths) and 2004 (5 mths) was mostly by drive-away cars, with the occasional rental thrown in. In 2007 (6 mths) my son loaned me a spare vehicle he had sitting at his place in Boston. And this year, for my 6mth trip, I have resorted to having my own vehicle. However, I needed to get my son's mother-in-law to purchase and insure it for me. A burden I did not want her to have.

    Lifey who can't wait to see her grandchildren again

  4. Default

    Your taste in football teams aside, I'm curious as to the specifics of your trip.

    I.e., how many days, do you want a scenic drive or a lot of 'tourist trap' locations? National parks, theme parks, sporting events, etc.

    If you're going to go north in the U.S. in November, be prepared for snow. That means chains, remembering how to drive in it (especially as you cross the Rockies).

    If you do plan on going to Vancouver, and coming back into the states, will that be directly, or will you drive through Canada a bit?

    LA to San Francisco - Take US 101. From SF to Portland, Oregon, take US101, go over the Golden Gate Bridge, through Redwood National Park (must see), and into Oregon. Either cut over to I-5 or stay on US101 (if time is permitting, it's a slower road in Oregon), to Portland.

    If you want to follow US101, it keeps with the coast towards Astoria, Oregon (where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, famous site where Lewis & Clark reached the Pacific, etc). If you go to I-5, you can go to Crater Lake (remnants of an ancient volcano that collapsed upon itself, forming a massive lake).

    Once out of Vancouver (if you can't go into Canada, see if your brother can meet you in the states at least). Take I-90 east to Spokane. Lake Coeur d'Alene is beautiful, and a must see (I especially like it at that time of year because the grey and pale blues really accentuate the lake and the mountains around it).

    Then cross into Montana. If you're here before Yellowstone closes, hightail it there, if so inclined. Definitely worth seeing, although you never have enough time to truly enjoy the park in one visit (from the north you can at least see the Mammoth Hot Springs, the Pools, other Hot Springs, and of course, the geysers).

    You can either go north into Montana again, or go east towards Cody, Wyoming.

    If you go to Cody, you can cut down to Thermopolis, Wyoming and see the world's largest Mineral Hot Spring. Definitely worth seeing (and if you keep going south, Wind River Canyon is a scenic drive). If you just go straight east out of Cody, you can reach South Dakota and Rapid City.

    There you can see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, etc. Either I-90, I-94, or if you cut down to I-80, head east through the plains. All three have things to see. I-94 in North Dakota has Theodore Roosevelt National Park (the northern part of the Badlands). I-90 east of Rapid City (and Mt Rushmore) has the main Badlands National Park (Definitely worth seeing, and probably my perferred route for a trip like this).

    East in SD, you can pass over the Missouri River (quite beautiful, all times of the year), and into Minnesota (Land of 10,000 Lakes).

    If you're interested in sports, in Albert Lea, MN, cut down I-35 to US18 to US20 to head east to visit the field from "Field of Dreams" in Iowa. Haven't been there yet, but people have told me it's neat to see.

    If you stay north, you can cut over towards Green Bay and see venerable Lambeau Field. Then north into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and down into the lower peninsula. Take I-75 to Toledo, and go east.

    I recommend, Ohio Route 2, and go to Marblehead and take the ferry over to Kelly Island. The Glacial Grooves are worth seeing (even if most of them were excavated years ago for their granite).

    Head through Cleveland, you can see the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a nice stop off south of the city as well. Take I-77 south to Canton, Ohio and you can see the Pro Football Hall of Fame (just west of I-77, south of Belden Village).

    If architecture interests you, and you go south of Minnesota, there's the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Take I-64 east of there into Louisville (and see the World's Largest Baseball Bat, definitely neat). If you're into horse racing, you can see Churchill Downs (not sure exactly where in Louisville, Kentucky it is).

    Continue I-64 east into West Virginia, and there's Huntington, WV. Home of Marshall University (from the We Are Marshall movie, if you're aware of it; whole college team killed in a plane crash returning from a game). Just north in Ohio, is Ironton, OH (24 miles northwest on US52). It's hard to find, but one of the great, old, if mostly forgotten professional football stadiums in America exists here. It's now home for a high school team (Ironton Tigers). But from 1919 to 1930, Ironton was home to a pro team called the Ironton Tanks. Although never a member of the NFL, they did play against them back when schedules were completely open and not controlled by the NFL. This little town had a team that not only beat the one NFL team, but beat two convincingly (both the NY Giants and the Chicago Bears fell in defeat in the 20s). Sadly, the Depression pretty much killed the team off. All that's left is their stadium, now known as Ironton Tanks Memorial Stadium situated behind one of the schools on the northeast side of town.

    If you're an American Football fan, it really is something to marvel at, before the days of the NFL being the end all-be all of professional football.

    Anyways, back to the road. East of Huntington, you can run I-64 to Charleston and down to Beckley. Go north on US19 to the New River Gorge and New River Gorge Bridge. The tallest arch bridge in the western hemisphere (after it was built, somewhere in China now claims the tallest).

    You can then take US19 north to I-79 and up to Pittsburgh. East of Washington in the town of Brownsville, you can stop and see the Nemacolin Castle overlooking the Monongahela River.

    Anyways, I'm getting carried away. Let me know and I can help make better suggestions.

    Sykotyk

  5. Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    I'll be looking at spending 2 months on the road (October and November). So, will try to get as much in as i can in that time.

    Looks like I'm probably just going to fly to Vancouver before I head home. Might make things a little easier.

    Still very keen to buy a car (dead keen on doing this in one of those second-hand muscle cars you can basically only buy in the States), though after all that bad news re: registering and insurance, I'll have to consider renting, which will cost me just as much as buying. I have a friend who's just gone over to the States this month, who's somehow managed to buy a Winnebago. Once he gets back I'll try and find out how he managed this.

    What time does winter really start settling in up North? Ideally, I would have preferred to do this before the snows started, but due to work commitments prior to October, this is as early as I can make it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default weather has its own schedule

    October is usually a very nice month to travel, with fewer tourists but still pretty comfortable temperatures. Having said that, in the north, and particularly in mountain areas throughout the west, snow becomes a distinct possiblity. For example, Tioga Pass through Yosemite National Park was closed for the season because of snow this year on October 30. Other years, its remained open into early December.

    Weather will be what it will be. The later into the year you travel the worse your odds get, but otherwise your just taking a roll of the dice and mother nature will decide how they land.

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