hi all! i've been reading and reading and re-reading over the site and have found so much useful and interesting information! thanks to all!
so, i am a native ohioan, and the road trips i propose to do will all start (and maybe end) there--cleveland, to be exact. my wife is from paraguay, and since we are both women, i am not able to sponsor her for immigration (clearly a whole nother topic ;). we're coming to visit the states later this year with her tourist visa, so that means that we can't know exactly how long we will have in the country--upon landing at miami international, the customs officer could give her 2 weeks, or he could give her up to six months. we're hoping for that since that seems to be the default.
if we get that amount of time, we want to do two large trips--one 'east coat' and one 'everything to the west'. i've already got my excel spreadsheet to calculate gas, food, and all that going on :), but my excel likely doesn't know nearly as much as all of you do. any desire to give me some comments?
very rough itinerary:
"East" Trip, rough dates 2nd week in oct to right before thanksgiving, starting in cleveland:
-to philadelphia for a dayish
-up to boston for a day or two, maybe seeing a bit of cape cod
-up to my aunt's in maine for a day or two
-back down to new york, 4 or 5 days
-down through d.c. (probably just for sleeping at this point) to orlando
-a few days in disney (don't laugh! disney is serious business :)
-roughly a week and a half at the sarasota beaches, a friend's place in miami, and key west
-up through gainseville, fl to sleep at a friend's for one night
-over to new orleans for 3 or 4 days
-up to montgomery for one day
-over to atlanta for 2ish days
-back to d.c. for 2ish days
[stay home in cleveland for the holidays]
now, the trip "west" is a bit harder to sketch out. here is one possibility, rough dates 2nd week of january to early march, leaving from cleveland:
-down to nashville to hear bluegrass and spend the night
-memphis for a day or 2
-down into texas for 5ish days--austin, san antonio, maybe houston?
-carlsbad caverns, nm
-visit a friend in arroyo hondo, maybe see santa fe for 2-3 days
-over to grand canyon 2ish days
-las vegas, 2 days max
-san diego, 2-3 days
-up to monterrey, big sur, san francisco for a weekish
-over to denver...thinking we'll stop to sleep in salt lake city, though i don't have a HUGE desire to see it
-over to kansas city to see a friend for a few days
-heading home, stopping in either st. louis or chicago to break up the trip back to cleveland. we really want to see chicago, but i'd rather make it a several-days trip from home than just stopping by at the end of such a tiring trip...
the other option for this "west" trip is to skip the meanderings in texas (just barrelling through memphis-santa fe by way of OK and amarillo, TX), and exchange that time for more time further north--perhaps visiting friends in portland and seattle, and then coming home by way of yellowstone and wounded knee, SD before hitting kansas city.
ok, it seems like i'm not very well planned out, but i swear i've been researching it and working on intineraries for weeks now! it's just more fun to not be settled yet :)
other points to consider:
-we're hoping to do this in my dad's old mazda 626, which already has probably 150,000 miles on it. i OF COURSE plan to get it checked out before leaving and see if they think it can go another 15K or so, keep up with the oil changes, etc. this will also imply getting insurance for the time we're there (my dad will probably be getting a new car at this point and transferring his insurance to that one) and AAA membership. rental cars are definitley an option too since we plan to do round trips both times, but they clearly will be more expensive than buying my dad's car off of him for 500 bucks...
-also will DEFINITELY need to get a temporary cell phone during this trip. any preferences for the best pay-as-you-go plans?
-we belong to couch surfers and TRULY hope to stay with CS hosts in any city where we don't have friends or relatives. anyone have any good (or bad...) stories about trying to do something like that (stay with hospitality exchanges) on such a long itinerary, and it working?
-i've been trying to do research online to see what food costs these days in the states, since i haven't lived there in about 5 years. i've found lots of budget bloggers saying they and their mate can live on $300 a month of groceries. do you think this is true??
-i know this post is way too long!! but i'm excited thinking that someone might actually read it and give me useful advice :)
ideas, comments, points that will bring me back to reality??