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  1. Default 12-14 Day Coast to Coast

    Roadtrip enthusiasts and experts,

    I am currently deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. My R&R leave is coming up at the end of July. I had originally planned to dally around Europe for 2 weeks, but my travel companion came into some troubles and now cannot afford such a trip. Traveling alone is not an option for me - the thought of it makes me cringe.

    So I am planning a roadtrip. I grew up in Southern New Jersey, about 30 minutes away from Philadelphia and 40 minutes West of Atlantic City. I have spent a good amount of time in Philadelphia and D.C. My parents and brothers recently moved from New Jersey to Vancouver, WA.

    That's the background. The original plan was to start in Philadelphia (my travel buddy lives there) and drive West to Chicago, staying in that city for 1-2 days. Then on to the Badlands area of South Dakota, including a stop at Mount Rushmore. From there to Yellowstone, to do what there is to do there. From there, I was deciding between driving straight to Northern California or to Portland to see the parents. If Portland, then south through Oregon onto SanFran, then straight back East. If NorCal, then up to Portland for a few days then straight back East (2.5-3 days max on return trip).

    I have a total of 15 days for R&R, starting when the plane lands in Atlanta or Dallas. I have a few questions, and after reading through these forums and absorbing the experience and wisdom of some of the posters here, I am amazed at the breadth and depth of knowledge some of you have (especially Mark!).

    So here are my primary concerns:

    1. Is the itinerary I described feasible for an enjoyable roadtrip in the time I have? I am very anxious about wasting my leave, and in fact have had several nightmare type dreams about this possibility.

    2. Would it be better to choose between Portland or NorCal instead of trying to do both?

    3. Since my buddy messed up the Europe trip, I was considering asking him to drive to SanFrancisco and have me meet him there so that I drive from there to Portland then back East, without having the return trip looming over my head.

    4. In either the "I go one way, he goes both" or the original plan, are there any serious landmarks or sites or sights I am missing that are absolute musts for a first-time cross country trip?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Thank you for your service!

    Quote Originally Posted by SLWhitesell View Post
    I am currently deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    We're hoping that you and all of your mates are able to return home soon. In the interim, thank you for your service!

    You can do a coast-to-coast round trip road trip in 12-14 days, but you won't have much time for resting or sightseeing. By the fastest possible route, it requires 10 full days (8-10 hours per day) in the saddle just to drive from Philadelphia to Vancouver and back. If you were to add in the side trips to Northern California and the other places you are going to be hard pressed to get back in time. It's doable and compared with your duty in Iraq it's going to see easy -- but it will be very fatiguing.

    One question, how do you get from Dallas to Philadelphia?
    (2.5-3 days max on return trip).
    This is not possible unless you were drive 24 hours per day. I've done it twice -- with a professional co-driver -- it is not a fun thing...
    I am amazed at the breadth and depth of knowledge some of you have (especially Mark!).
    Thanks for the kudos, but I'm just the janitor/admin here -- the real expertise is found by reading the 120 or so active road trip enthusiasts who share personal tips on a daily basis here.
    1. Is the itinerary I described feasible for an enjoyable roadtrip in the time I have? I am very anxious about wasting my leave, and in fact have had several nightmare type dreams about this possibility.
    Nightmares should not be happening with road trip planning -- in some ways, dreaming about can be better than doing it. If I were you, I would do a fly-n-drive trip and use either Denver or Salt Lake as the hub and do a circle trip of the Rocky Mtn and Pacific Northwest states. Focus on enjoyable roadtripping and drop the grueling pace of non-stop driving from the plan. Long-distance driving can be meditative -- but I think you need more rest here.
    2. Would it be better to choose between Portland or NorCal instead of trying to do both?
    Yes, although a fly-n-drive format could enable both locations.
    3. Since my buddy messed up the Europe trip, I was considering asking him to drive to SanFrancisco and have me meet him there so that I drive from there to Portland then back East, without having the return trip looming over my head.
    What about a fly-n-drive to San Francisco and the Sierras, Cascades and then fly home?
    4. In either the "I go one way, he goes both" or the original plan, are there any serious landmarks or sites or sights I am missing that are absolute musts for a first-time cross country trip?
    Seriously, you won't time to do much more than drive point A to B on the Interstates punctuated by brief times in 2-3 national parks and family destinations.

    Mark

  3. Default

    Mark - thanks very much for your guidance. I just worked out an arrangement with my buddy. He and his girl are going to drive the car to San Francisco before I arrive. I purchased her a ticket back to Philadelphia for the day I plan to arrive.

    From there, we will enjoy San Francisco for a day or two, and then do the entire trip in reverse. It will look something like this:

    22 July: Arrive SanFran (by government purchased flight from Dallas, part of the R&R arrangements)
    22-24 July: San Francisco/Sacramento (I have a friend at UC Davis)
    24 July: Drive to Portland/Vancouver (parents)
    25 -26 July: Portland/Vanoucver
    26 July: Drive to Yellowstone
    26-28 July: Yellowstone
    28 July: Drive to Badlands
    28-29 July: Badlands
    30 July: Drive to Chicago
    30-31 July: Chicago
    01 August: Drive to Philadelphia
    01-06 August: Enjoy Philadelphia, relatives, old friends, college friends, Jersey shore, etc.

    I am open to stripping some days off of the end of that in order to give myself more time in any of the other spots. My friend and have both conducted long solo road trips in the past (I drove from Lawton, Oklahoma to Indianapolis in one shot, and didn't start until 2:00 PM, and he has driven from central Texas to Philadelphia and back numerous times) so I believe we will be able to handle the long days of driving in order to create more time for other activities.

    And we both simultaneously love the outdoors/camping and urban nightlife, so this seems to offer a great mix of both!

    It also has the advantage of allowing me to see my immediate family on the West coast, and everyone else from my life on the East coast.

    Do you still think it is too crammed? Perhaps I should aim for a 04 August "be back in Philly" date?

    As for my service, I never imagined deployment could be so quiet. I have had endless time to work out, and the tax exemption has helped me with my finances to an incredible degree. I have even taken some graduate classes since being here, and have studied more of the Scriptures and other personal goals in the past 6 months than I managed in the past 2 years! So no, Mark, and the rest of the citizens of the United States, thank YOU for the opportunity!

    You all might be interested in a very different kind of Summer roadtrip, which you can see here http://cuts.name/2uM. It links to Facebook, but it's a public link and you don't have to be a member to see the photos.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default I really enjoyed the slide show!

    Quote Originally Posted by SLWhitesell View Post
    As for my service, I never imagined deployment could be so quiet. I have had endless time to work out, and the tax exemption has helped me with my finances to an incredible degree.
    And I hope it remains that way for all of you and your men. My (extended) family has lost a couple of members from roadside bombs... The scale of the explosions from what is casually called "roadside bombs" makes a mockery of Hollywood-style special effects. Stay safe. And thanks for sharing that slide show -- one doesn't often see wildflowers from Iraq!
    He and his girl are going to drive the car to San Francisco before I arrive. I purchased her a ticket back to Philadelphia for the day I plan to arrive.
    Looks like a good plan!

    From there, we will enjoy San Francisco for a day or two, and then do the entire trip in reverse. It will look something like this:
    22-24 July: San Francisco/Sacramento (I have a friend at UC Davis)
    24 July: Drive to Portland/Vancouver (parents)
    25 -26 July: Portland/Vanoucver
    Here are some tips of places we've enjoyed along that route:

    Redwoods to Seattle – ten days on the North West Coast
    An overview of some of the threads in the PNW
    You really won't have time to duplicate this trip -- but check out Southwest Dave's photos!
    Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway is north of Eureka -- one of my favorite "hidden roads"
    Avenue of the Giants is pretty cool too!
    UK Craig drove much of the route you will be doing -- here's some of it that might whet your appetite for more...
    28 July: Drive to Badlands
    28-29 July: Badlands
    I really love the Badlands -- be sure to turn on your AM radio and listen to the Native American radio programs -- very interesting. Here's a field report about the badlands...
    My friend and have both conducted long solo road trips in the past (I drove from Lawton, Oklahoma to Indianapolis in one shot, and didn't start until 2:00 PM, and he has driven from central Texas to Philadelphia and back numerous times) so I believe we will be able to handle the long days of driving in order to create more time for other activities.
    Since you're going to do a speed run -- you might find these tips helpful!

    I think you'll be rushed in a few places, but I think you'll have a fabulous time!

    Mark

  5. Default

    Thanks again, Mark! Yes, the 30 June withdrawal from the cities is making us all a little nervous up here. Pray for continued quiet!

    I will let you all know how the trip develops and how it goes. And I promise pictures!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    We do advise that you limit your driving to 550 miles a day on Interstates, less on 2 lane roads.

  7. Default

    glc - I shall take that under advisement when plotting my route.

    What about the accomodations in Yellowstone and the Badlands? I have found 2 campgrounds in the Badlands, but they seem to be set on not allowing campfires. This is something of a buzzkill. Does this rule apply to the "open range" camping that is permitted anywhere 1/2 mile away from the road as well? I imagine that it does.

    Does Yellowstone have a similar rule? Does anyone here have experiences camping in either of these places that might prevent frustration or wasted time? I am skillful enough in the cities to avoid such things, but I have had a number of disappointing and frustrating searches for campgrounds/camp sites, and ended up having a lackluster time when we finally did arrive.

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