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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default Southwest - trip plan + questions

    Hello,

    Thanks for all the advice provided on this forum, it has really helped me in the planning in my upcoming road trip.

    Me and two of my friends (all 22 years old, from Norway) are going on a 4 week road trip in june/july and our route is roughly LA-San Diego-Grand Canyon-Vegas-Yosemite-SF-LA. We had originally planned to stop in Phoenix for three nights (between San Diego and Sedona), but as my uncle is from Tucson I would really like to visit that city (we are not going to stay with his family). My question is, would it be worth the extra driving to go to Tucson instead? In your opinion, which city has more to offer (sights, restaurants, nightlife, charm, security, etc.)? I am aware of the fact that it will be extremely hot at this time, but as long as we have a hotel with air-con and the chance to go inside during the day I think we will survive.

    Once again, thank for all your help!

    Benedicte

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default My Home Town

    Well, since I live in Tucson and do have to go to Phoenix occasionally, let me comment on the differences. First is their attitudes about themselves. Phoenix sees itself as a big metropolis with all that entails. They've got tons of freeways, major league sports teams, incredible night life, etc. whereas Tucson sees itself as basically an overgrown cow town. The rodeo parade is still cause for the city's schools to close, we have no freeways; our only sports team, the AAA Sidewinders, just folded up its tent and moved to Reno; and night life is largely limited to venues around the University. Now, with all that said, I much prefer Tucson and dread the times I have to go up to Phoenix. There are an incredible number of things to see and do either in Tucson itself or as a day trip out of town. Within or very near the city are Saguaro National Park (two separate units), the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Air and Space Museum which also arranges tours of the nearby bone yard at Davis-Monthan AFB, the Titan Missile Museum, the Arizona State Museum, and a ski slope. Nearby and making a great day trip as a pair are Kartchner Caverns and Tombstone.

    So, yes, I think the extra 170 or so miles to get to the Grand Canyon via Tucson is worth it. And if you come this way, you still 'get' to go through Phoenix on your way to the Canyon. Oh, and because Tucson is at a higher elevation than Phoenix and is not as much of a heat island, it is typically about 5° cooler on any given day than Phoenix even though it is farther south.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default Thank you

    Thank you, that is pretty much the answer I wanted to hear ;) Now I just have to convince my friends, but as they seem to trust my planning that shouldn't be a problem. Do you know anything about the Roadrunner hostel?

    As you are from Arizona, can I ask you a few more questions?

    From Tucson we are heading to Sedona, hoping to stop at the Salt River Tubing for a day of relaxation, and then heading up to Sedona hopefully in time for the sunset. Do you think this is doable?

    Then after one night in Sedona we were planning to go to Flagstaff. My friends had looked at Flagstaff and commented that the city seemed a bit boring/not much to do. Is that true? We are going to Grand Canyon after this. I know one night in each place is not much, but that's the way it had to be this time around.

    Thank you!

    Benedicte

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

    Default More Details

    Sorry, I don't know anything about the Roadrunner hostel personally, so I can't help you there. As far as getting from Tucson to Sedona, with a 'day of relaxation' tubing down the Salt River, I just don't think that's going to be possible. You'd be looking at well over 350 miles of driving which might leave a few hours for tubing, but then you have to consider the time to get to your put-in point, get organized, get out of the water and back to your put-in point. Depending on how long you're actually on the water, you might be able to pull this off, but other than the time spent on the river, I wouldn't call any of it relaxing. The first thing I'd do is check with whatever outfit you'll be using for this and make sure you have a 'worst case' estimate for the time required from the point at which you show up to when you're back in your car at the end. If that's more than 4-5 hours, this is just not going to work at all.

    Flagstaff itself can be a sleepy little town, but I've never been at a loss for things to do. It is also a college town (University of Northern Arizona) so there will be clubs and such.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default Hmm?

    Thanks again. I'm a bit worried now, because google maps says distance from Tucson to Sedona is 229 miles, approx. 3 hours 39 minutes or a bit more with traffic. That's why I thought it would be plenty of time, with about 2 hours driving, tubing, then 2 more hours. But I'd rather trust you than a machine to be honest, but if this is not correct then what about the rest of the trip? Do you know of any planners that are better than google maps?

    Benedicte

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default So Many Details to Consider

    The discrepancy between mapping software such as Google Maps and the real world comes up often, and we try to warn people about taking the numbers they get from such programs as the 'truth'. The mileage estimates are quite accurate, but the time estimates are based on the underlying assumption that you can keep up a certain speed (say 75 mph on the Interstates) without interruption. Those time estimates do not include time for gas, food or bathroom breaks, and do not take into account traffic or construction. In the real world, you can probably maintain about 55 mph. All those little time sinks add up. We recommend covering about 550-600 miles on a day devoted to mostly driving. That leaves a little time for sanity/exercise breaks, but not several hours for tubing. As I noted originally, you'll also have to add in the time to get from your car and onto the water, then to get out of the water and back to your car, dealing with the people providing the tubes, etc. Again, that all adds up. Finally, while it may only be 229 miles from Tucson to Sedona by the most direct route (through Phoenix, and all Interstate) the Salt River Canyon is nowhere near that direct route. That's where I assume you'll be tubing. If you will be tubing in the Phoenix area (but I think the river is dry at that point) then you may still be able to do this.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by globetrotter_norway View Post
    Thank you, that is pretty much the answer I wanted to hear ;) Now I just have to convince my friends, but as they seem to trust my planning that shouldn't be a problem. Do you know anything about the Roadrunner hostel?
    In 2001 I stayed at the Roadrunner for three nights. It is a lovely, small, homely hostel. It was very clean, common areas were great, evening meals were communal and generally had a good safe atmosphere. Internet was free. The dorm rooms were a bit crowded, but that is all, really. The manager was extremely helpful and obliging.

    The owners have since done a lot of renevation, and even though I have been in contact with them, I have not been to Tucson since - more's the pity!

    If it is still owned by the two brothers from Canada, who take it in turn to come to Tucson for three months at a time, then I would highly recommend it. Read here what more recent lodger have to say.

    Why not contact them, and set up a line of communication. You can learn so much about a place (and person) by a few weeks (or months) of correspondence.

    The only other hostel in Tucson in 2001 was above a bar. Not sure if it is still there. I heard from others that it was very noisy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default

    The Roadrunner hostel sounds brilliant, thanks. I will definitely contact them if we do decide to go to Tucson.

    Thanks for the explaining about the google maps, that will definitely be useful in planning our trip. I looked it up, and the website I found is a company that offers tubing from a place only 15 miles off the interstate, so that should not be too far off, if we decide to do so. Thanks for all your help, it is much appreaciated!

    I will probably come back with more questions as the trip gets closer.

    Benedicte :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Oslo, Norway / Aberystwyth, Wales
    Posts
    10

    Default Southwest - trip plan + questions

    Me and two of my friends are going on a 4 week long road trip this summer. I am in charge of the planning (which I don't mind, I love planning!), and I was hoping to get some response on the trip plan I've made. I've read lots of the other posts, guidebooks and used google maps, but obviously it's not easy to figure out an exact plan when I don't actually know the area.

    Here is the plan:

    June
    10: Oslo, Norway - LA
    11: LA
    12: LA - San Diego
    13: San Diego
    14: San Diego - visit Tijuana, Mexico
    15: San Diego
    16: San Diego - Tucson (is this too long to drive in a day? Through a hot desert?)
    17: Tucson
    18: Tucson
    19: Tucson - Sedona
    20: Sedona - Flagstaff
    21: Flagstaff - Grand Canyon
    22: Grand Canyon - Las Vegas via Route 66
    23: Las Vegas
    24: Las Vegas
    25: Las Vegas - Lone Pine via Death Valley
    26: Lone Pine - Yosemite (driving through the park and spending the night on the "SF side" because of cheaper lodging, is it too long in one day?)
    27: Yosemite (trip back into the park) - SF
    28: SF
    29: SF
    30: SF - Berkeley

    July
    1: Berkeley - Pidgeon Point Lighthouse (HI hostel)
    2: Pidgeon Point Lighthouse - Cambria via 17 mile drive (is this doable without too much stress?)
    3: Cambria - Santa Barbara
    4: Santa Barbara - LA
    5: LA
    6: LA
    7: LA
    8: LA - Oslo, Norway

    Here is the route on google maps:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...,0.725098&z=11

    I would muchly appreciate any advice you have. This is an amazing resource for road trip planning, I don't know what I would do without it!

    I also have a question about accommodation. As I love to plan trips (if my career fails I would love to work within the travel business) I've spent a lot of time looking up nice budget hotels/hostels in the different places we are going to. Something out of the ordinary is always nice, and I use tripadvisor a lot. My question is, should we book most places before we go? Or that a bit over-planning? I've presented my plan to the others and they seem pretty happy with it, so once we've finalised it I don't think there will be too many changes. But at the same time I don't want to overplan. We will be going in June and July, I guess that is high season most places?

    Thanks again,

    Benedicte
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-28-2009 at 12:35 PM. Reason: Please do not start new threads for the same trip

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Looks Fine, Except...

    The basic loop you've put together is just fine, and while I might have timed it out a bit differently, that is ultimately up to you and your friends, not me. There is certainly plenty to keep you busy in and around San Diego, Tucson, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But for my money, you're spending a bit too much time in urban areas and not enough visiting the scenic natural wonders that the southwestern United States has to offer. Take a look at some of the national parks such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite as well as the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) along the Big Sur Coast and see if you don't think they're worth visiting at the expense of another day in another city.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-28-2009 at 06:41 PM.

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