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  1. #1

    Default Solo Cross-Country, DC to CA

    Hey everyone, just found and joined this forum. I'm taking my first major road trip this upcoming Monday, leaving Northern Virginia and heading for Santa Barbara, CA.

    I'm 23, out of college, no job yet, and figured that this is the perfect time to do this trip. It's now or never, because once I start a job I can't take 2-3 weeks off unless I get fired! The furthest west I've ever been is Chicago, I'm dying to see what else is out there.

    I have a 98 Honda Prelude with 120,000 miles on it, but it's been meticulously maintained and has never left me stranded.

    I'm doing it alone because all my close friends are either still in school or have full time jobs. This doesn't bother me though because I have plenty of people to see along the way. Plus I prefer to drive alone.

    I plan on moving on a slightly quick pace, about 7-8 hours behind the wheel a day. I'm not very interested in seeing sights that are far off my path, or seeing the big national parks, because I am alone, and I think those things are best done with other people.

    What I am looking forward to the most is meeting local people out in the middle of nowhere. I can't wait to pull into a motel for the night and walk down the street to the local watering hole and have some beers with people from a completely different part of the country.

    So here's my planned route:

    Departing Monday morning for the University of Kentucky, about 8 hours. My cousin goes there.

    Tuesday I will drive another 8 hours to Kansas City, MO, where my best friend is working. Those first 2 legs of my trip will be taken via the quickest interstates available.

    On Wednesday I will leave the beaten path and take US 56 which will take me to Dodge City, KS.

    From here, I plan on following my nose to Monument Valley, probably along US 50 to US 160, then south to Tempe, AZ (right outside Phoenix) where I'll be visiting another friend at AZ State University. This is where I expect the best scenery and the most interesting roadside attractions. Any suggestions here are welcome!

    From there I'll find my way to Santa Barbara, by this time I expect it to be Sunday, so I can probably avoid any LA traffic.

    I haven't quite finalized the trip home, but I plan on taking a more northerly route, going up US 101 to Washington, then cut east and find my way to Chicago to visit my sister who's at school there.

    That's about it. If anyone knows of any great roadside bars and/or cool mom and pop motels, please let me know!

    I'll check in during my trip to see any suggestions and let everyone know how it's going!

    -Rob

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

    Default More Time Needed

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's not a huge deal, but the estimates for driving time that you're getting don't jive with reality or your desire to only go for 7-8 hours a day. Washington to Lexington is going to take about 9½ hours. Even the usually over-optimistic mapping software lists 8½ hours. Lexington to Kansas City is nearly 600 miles, simply not doable in 8 hours. 11-12 is more like it. As a rule of thumb, given your stated desire to have fairly short driving days, I'd limit my goals to about 500 miles a day until I got a little more accustomed to what I could comfortably accomplish. I'd hate to get myself worn out or frustrated in my first two days of travel when they didn't go according to plan.

    On the other hand, I applaud your decision to use US-160 across the southern Colorado Rockies. These are not quite as spectacular as the better known ranges to the north, but the drive over Wolf Creek Pass through the San Juan National Forest. I don't see it mentioned in your post, but just south of this highway between Durango and Cortez is the not-to-be-missed Mesa Verde National Park. You also don't mention the Grand Canyon! Between there and Phoenix, I recommend that you take AZ-89A down through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona before using AZ-179 to rejoin I-17.

    But I think you will be surprised by L.A. traffic on Sunday. It might look good to an Angeleno, but it will look like near rush hour to you (although you'll never catch me on the Beltway during commute time in DC).

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default What he said.........

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck


    But I think you will be surprised by L.A. traffic on Sunday. It might look good to an Angeleno, but it will look like near rush hour to you (although you'll never catch me on the Beltway during commute time in DC).

    AZBuck
    Hello Rob,

    If you'll be entering the LA area on I-10 and are (rightly) concerned about traffic, even on a Sunday, consider bypassing the whole LA basin: Take CA 210 freeway at Redlands to I-15 north, go north through Cajon Pass, turn Northwest on CA 138 at Cajon Junction through Pearblossom to Palmdale, thence CA 14 to Santa Clarita, thence CA 126 to US 101 at Ventura. From Ventura, it's around 25 miles up US 101 to Santa Barbara. The segment from Cajon Junction to Palmdale is mostly 2 lane and a bit like a goat trail, but you're on the north side of the San Gabriel Mountains with the desert on your north and it's a pretty drive. From Santa Clarita to Ventura is a beautiful drive through a canyon with forested mountains on each side and directly through through the middle of some spectacular farm country. US 101 runs the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara.

    FB
    Last edited by AZBuck; 04-11-2009 at 08:01 AM. Reason: Fixed format

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Not trying to be nitpicky, but I-210 does not go that far east. It's CA-30 out there, and you would take that to I-215 to I-15.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's not a huge deal, but the estimates for driving time that you're getting don't jive with reality or your desire to only go for 7-8 hours a day. Washington to Lexington is going to take about 9½ hours. Even the usually over-optimistic mapping software lists 8½ hours. Lexington to Kansas City is nearly 600 miles, simply not doable in 8 hours. 11-12 is more like it. As a rule of thumb, given your stated desire to have fairly short driving days, I'd limit my goals to about 500 miles a day until I got a little more accustomed to what I could comfortably accomplish. I'd hate to get myself worn out or frustrated in my first two days of travel when they didn't go according to plan.
    Hey thanks for the info AZBuck! I guess I forgot to mention, those first 2 legs I have no problem doing longer days. I'll be well rested and have done plenty of marathon drives. What I meant was after Kansas City I'm going to slow down and drive about 6-8 hours a day.

    And thanks Foy for the alternate route to Santa Barbara, sounds like a great route!

  6. #6

    Default What Mapquest shows........

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Not trying to be nitpicky, but I-210 does not go that far east. It's CA-30 out there, and you would take that to I-215 to I-15.
    Good point, glc, I was going on what Mapquest shows (as rechecked this morning). What I am seeing is:

    The freeway exiting I-10 east of San Bernardino shows as CA 210, not I-210. I am vaguely familiar with I-210 designation farther west, across the northern part of the LA Basin, but Mapquest shows my target highway as CA 210, rightly or wrongly. It appears to exit at or near the I-10 mile 81.

    From there, it runs due north, past the east side of the San Bernardino airport, curves 90 deg west at Highland, and junctions I-215 at or near mile 74, on the NW side of San Bernardino.

    I-215 northbound then terminates at I-15 at Devore, and the suggest route then runs a few miles north up I-15 to Cajon Junction where CA 138 to the northwest, through Pearblossom to Palmdale and CA 14 take over.

    Foy

  7. #7

    Default

    Update on Trip:

    I left on the 18th, a bit later than I planned. I took all interstates through VA, MD, WV, and ended up at Shelbyville, KY, right off I-64 on US-60. Nothing great... Good places to eat, but nothing going on at night, even on a Saturday. The place shut down, and it wasn't even a dry county, there were liquor stores everywhere.

    Well on day 2 of my trip, it was raining like crazy, so I cut it short, got off the interstates 1 day ahead of time, and stopped off in Breese (not breeze), Illinois, of US-50. Let me tell you, this place is a road trippers dream. Great, clean, non-chain motel to stay in, $40 a night, the Knotty Pines Motel. right next door is a restaurant/bar, but not the typical one you'd see next to a motel.

    While eating dinner, I met many locals, who were intrigued with my cross country trip. After a delicious and cheap dinner, I headed to the Turf Lounge, 2-3 blocks down the street, and even on Sunday night, I was greeted by 5 local patrons and bartender, who treated me like royalty. I only had to pay for one drink all night, because everyone else bought me the rest! Everyone wanted to know how the hell I ended up in their town! (Answer was: I was far off the interstate). Friendliest people I've ever met.

    Not exactly sure where this should go, but I more than recommend Breese, IL for anyone going anywhere near it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Rob,

    That's the beauty with winging it. One day you end up in a place with nuttin' goin' on.... next day you end up in a place, and won't want to leave.

    Sounds like you are having just the bestest of times.

  9. #9

    Default Pictures and story from my solo DC to CA to DC trip

    http://runninonempty1.blogspot.com/

    Lemme know what you think! Glad to answer any questions for anyone planning their own trip!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-10-2009 at 09:08 PM. Reason: Merged with trip planning posts

  10. #10

    Default

    Whoops, sorry about the double post, I thought I posted it last night, then I came on today to see if I had any replies, and I couldn't find my post! I thought maybe I never hit submit, so I posted it again today!

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