Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1

    Default From New York to San Francisco in 21 days

    This is the trip you have to do at least once - coast to coast, ocean to ocean, sunrise to sunset. Some do it in days, others take months. There's no right or wrong, no rules, no "best" route. Just go.
    That little piece of poetic wisdom is originally from The Lonely Planet USA Guidebook, our trusty companion on this journey.

    For me, there had always been a mystic quality about a road trip from coast to coast and this summer, I made the dream come true, accompanied by my girlfriend and high hopes for a truly great vacation, which weren't disappointed!

    A couple of things before I start the actual report:

    We started at Newark Airport, New Jersey on August 21st and departed from San Francisco International on September 10th. We didn't choose our own route, we booked the whole thing as a package but we did a lot of research on what we could do, see and experience along the pre-planned route and there were a couple of detours that were very spontaneous and wholly unplanned.

    The most important lesson that I - we - learned as we made our way across the country: there are no "must-sees", even the greatest wonders of nature or civilization might leave one person cold and the same person might find things interesting that others would deem trivial. It's really about what you as an individual want to see/do and where your own heart wants to go.

    That being said, join us on a trip that was epic at times, weird at others, that led us to big cities, charming small towns, very remote places, to places where we saw wildlife, amazing architecture and to great opportunities for hiking, kayaking, rafting or just plain old strolling around.

    This is roughly the route we took, it's not accurate in all places, google says it's 4,600 miles but you can easily add another 20% to that, the odometer said 7,000 when we started and 13,000 when we dropped off the car.



    And here are a couple of pictures as a kind of primer, the real report will follow as soon as I'm done with the travel diary (which is another piece of advice I'd like to share: definitely keep a written account of your trip while you're on the road!)







    Last edited by GalaxyRanger; 09-14-2009 at 12:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default bravo

    I've got to say, that while your quote of Lonely Planet is quite nice, the quote that you came up with yourself really is exactly what makes roadtrips great and what this site is really all about:
    The most important lesson that I - we - learned as we made our way across the country: there are no "must-sees", even the greatest wonders of nature or civilization might leave one person cold and the same person might find things interesting that others would deem trivial. It's really about what you as an individual want to see/do and where your own heart wants to go.
    That is probably the message we try to get across every day on this forum, and it is great to see that you learned this first-hand by getting out on the road!

    Congrats, Great Photos, and we look forward to hearing more about your trip!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Well said!

    Excellent, excellent field report. Thanks for sharing the wisdom and the photos!

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Thanks for the teaser... I can't wait to read the whole report. And I have to agree with Michael... that is what it is all about.

    Lifey who loves winging it

  5. #5

    Default Day 1

    Friday, August 21st.

    There's not a lot to report about day one. We left for Munich early in the morning, around 4AM, had a flight to Amsterdam at around 7 and a connection to Newark Airport shortly thereafter. We flew KLM to Amsterdam but as code-sharing and airlines alliances would have it, the long, 8-hour transcontinental flight to Newark was actually operated by Delta. I had heard good things about Delta in the past, but I'd have to say that KLM is slightly better when it comes to food and the quality of service. Alcoholic beverages still seem to be free, though, on international flights. We stuck to Coke, though, to keep us awake for the long day ahead of us. There's a six-hour time difference between Central Europe and the East Coast.

    I had flown that exact same flight, KLM to Newark, five years ago but I had totally forgotten about what New Jersey looks like, Jersey City anyway, and for Eva, the girlfriend, the "culture shock" was even bigger. She'd never been to the US before and just imagine starting the trip in the Big Apple, the city you have seen so many times before on TV (think Sex and the City...) and then actually having to drive through Jersey before you get there.



    Now, when I say that Jersey is not a pretty place, please bear in mind that all such judgments are purely subjective on my part and reflect only my opinion. This goes for all such judgments on this report. :-)

    But first things first, so we made our way through immigration and customs, picked up our luggage and took the airport shuttle to National Car Rental. We had paid for an economy car (I figured that would be enough for two people) and then the weirdness started. They upgraded us - no charge - to Intermediate and then we were directed to one single car on a very empty side of the parking lot. It was a gray Kia Spectra and that was the only car we were allowed to take. That really seemed weird to me at the time since National has a choice line in Newark, but I just expected things to be all right. So we got our stuff into the car, I noted that it had lots of scratches and other small damage all over it, had that noted down by an attendant and thought things would be fine. The car had Florida license plates and approximately 25,000 miles on the odometer.

    Nota bene: CHECK THE TIRES BEFORE YOU DRIVE OFF THE PARKING LOT! But more about that when we get to day 2.

    It was about 4pm at that time. The plan was to drive over to Liberty State Park and take the ferry to Manhattan.



    You've seen this picture. This is Manhattan as seen from Liberty State Park. See the clouds? Yep. Rain. Lots of it. Coming our way...

    After some looking around (the Park's way bigger than I expected), we found the right spot, or actually the wrong one because the ferry didn't go to the southern tip of Manhattan but to the Financial District on the west side, but we didn't mind, not really, we were just happy to be on our way to New York. And then it started raining. Pouring actually.



    Turned out it was a shower, I hadn't totally stopped by the time the ferry landed but it had slowed down enough to allow for comfortable walking around.

    And that's what we did for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Strolled around downtown Manhattan, had dinner at Quizno's, enjoyed the view, walked over to Brooklyn Bridge.

    We took the ferry back at around 9 or so and drove up to Wayne, NJ, where we spent the night at the Ramada Inn. (Most of our motels were really okay for one night, but there were a couple of places that were really special but I'll tell all about it when we get to it.)

    End of day 1

    Edit: I've heard different people recommend not to do any driving/sightseeing after a long flight/jetlag. Others say that's exactly what you should do to beat the jetlag. We certainly did the latter and it worked fine for us, we were awake enough to have fun in New York, but we were also crazy craving a shower.

  6. #6

    Default

    Day 2, AUG 22nd

    We woke up before 5am, hungry and severely jetlagged. Well, there's an upside to being up early: You can get moving before rush hour sets in.

    We wanted to leave New Jersey as soon as possible, what we had seen so far was ugly, it smelled and the rain didn't seem to stop.

    Heading south, it wasn't long until we changed our opinion about New Jersey almost 180 degrees. We saw a sign that said "Princeton" - and for a moment I thought to myself "could that be THE Princeton? with the university?" - it turned out it sure was. It was a Saturday, so we could park on a lot on campus that's reserved for faculty during the week and we walked between the sacred halls of learning, awestruck.



    The campus is situated in great area, it's a lot greener and more beautiful than upstate New Jersey. We had a lot of fun sneaking into classrooms and auditories.



    It was still relatively early in the morning, the university shop where we wanted to get some souvenirs hadn't opened yet, so we hung out at the Starbuck's, sat next to some professors and overheard their conversations, all was well with the morning after all. I have to say I'm a huge fan of old universities, the one I went to in Germany goes back to the Middle Ages, but Princeton is definitely more beautiful. Really a great place to visit if you're ever in the area!

    I-95 and the adjacent highways, though, really made us hate the East Coast. An endless stretch of food, gas, lodging. Not a particularly scenic route if you have to take the fast highways. We drove through Philadelphia, which, saw Benjamin Franklin Bridge and headed further south to Baltimore, which was meant to be the big stop for today. It took us a long time to decide between Philly and Baltimore and in the end, we wanted to see the Inner Harbor.

    Our first stop in Baltimore was Fort McHenry, though. Driving through Baltimore? Not a pleasant experience. The condition of the pavement was ... well, an experience. The Fort itself was nice, but not really the highlight of the day. We picnicked there nonetheless. Among the seemingly never-ending sound of police sirens, we made our way to the Inner Harbor, which was PACKED on a Saturday afternoon, the crowd was almost unbearable. We had intended to go see the fishies at the National Aquarium, but standing in line one or two hours to get in wasn't something we wanted to do.



    After that rather disappointing experience, we headed further south and got into the middle of heavy late afternoon/early evening traffic on the Baltimore-Washington parkway. At that point, we sort of really disliked the Mid-Atlantic region.

    It didn't rain, but it poured. Really heavy rain. I decided to get off the parkway and try my luck with another road when our trip almost ended before it really got underway. Even going way below the speed limit, I almost lost control over the car after the exit ramp and on the wet road, we almost crashed into a black SUV. Tires squealed loudly as I emergency-braked us in the middle of the road, literally. It was like driving on ice. A heart-stopping moment.
    Totally exasperated, we drove very slowly down into northern Virginia and spent the rest of the evening shopping.

    I took a good look at the tires after the "incident" and what did I see? The rear tires were fine but the front tires were so worn, they could have been used in Formula 1 racing as slicks. I'll certainly never forget to check the tires before I rent another car, not after that day.

    We fell asleep at the Motel 6 in Springfield, VA, tired and happy to have made it through an exhausting day. But first we sipped on excellent white grape juice and chocolate chip cookies. (I wish we could get your selection of juices over here!)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Close call.

    A heart stopping moment indeed, and an awful case of negligence on the renters behalf.
    I'm pleased it didn't turn out as bad a it could have done, but not half as pleased as the rental company I bet, that could of got ugly.
    Your trip seems to be a "mixed bag" of feelings at the moment but I look forward to seeing the rest of the tale unfold.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    A heart stopping moment indeed, and an awful case of negligence on the renters behalf.
    I'm pleased it didn't turn out as bad a it could have done, but not half as pleased as the rental company I bet, that could of got ugly.
    Your trip seems to be a "mixed bag" of feelings at the moment but I look forward to seeing the rest of the tale unfold.
    Yeah, it was one of those rare "Final Destination"-movies-like moment where you feel like you can see a second or two into the future and the whole crash with the other car unfolds happens in front of your inner eye and then it doesn't happen in reality!?

    I'm still very mad at National for those tires but on the upside - and without revealing too much about the next day - they exchanged the car without any ado whatsoever and the next car was perfectly fine and got us to the West Coast safe and sound.

    A mixed bag it was indeed, starting a road trip in one of the most densely populated areas of the US (and the world, probably) is like a baptism of fire. But hey, life's a mixed bag itself, why shouldn't a road trip be? You'll never know where you end up, if you like the place or not, we just rolled with the tide. If something wasn't beautiful then at least it was "educational" :-)

    Or at least that was our way of thinking about things.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GalaxyRanger View Post
    ............. We saw a sign that said "Princeton" - and for a moment I thought to myself "could that be THE Princeton? with the university?" - it turned out it sure was. It was a Saturday, so we could park on a lot on campus that's reserved for faculty during the week and we walked between the sacred halls of learning, awestruck.
    That sounds like a fantastic start to your day... so early in the trip. It is these gems of which you may not have been aware, which mean so much, and are so memorable.

    Lifey enjoying your trip

  10. #10

    Default Day 3

    Driving around the Washington area proved to be what we - after some frustrating experiences - called "American roulette", the way your roads are organized is completely different from the way it's over here. Good thing I brought a GPS, that proved to be our most important navigational instrument. I wouldn't want to miss a good map, but a map doesn't tell you which exit to take or where the next Walmart is situated.

    Well, the first thing we did on day 3 was to exchange the Kia for a new car at the Dulles airport. National was very accommodating and we chose a black Chevy Cobalt, 7,300 miles on the 'meter.

    It being Sunday, we could have easily driven into Washington proper, but after yesterday's congestion experience (on the road, I mean), we took the metro to the National Mall. Did you know it's actually a National Park?

    It was a hot, beautiful day, people played a strange kind of blend of baseball and soccer in the green areas and we hit the Air&Space Museum, walked from the Capitol all the way to Washington Monument and also checked out the Museum of Natural History. You could spend a week in all these great places.

    In the evening, we walked over to the White House. Obama seemed to have some construction going on, we saw green cranes all over the place.

    Not a lot more to say about this day, but I can give you the track list of our road trip music CD:

    Bandits - "Catch me" (from a German road movie, check it out on Youtube)

    Bon Jovi - "Queen of New Orleans" (you can't stop from humming this song when walking down Bourbon Street)

    Bonfire - "American Nights"

    Bruce Springsteen - "Pink Cadillac"

    Bryan Adams - "Open Road" (not in the Baltimore-Washington area!)

    Eagles - "Hotel California"

    Eagles - "Take it easy" (We didn't quite make it to that "corner in Winslow, Arizona)

    Eddie Money - "Take me home tonight" (And thereby hangs a tale which shall be told when I get to the part about Las Vegas...)

    Jackson Browne - "Running on Empty" (nothing you want to think about in a place like Death Valley or so...)

    Joan Jett - "Black Velvet" (Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell...)

    Lobo - "You and Me and Dog named Boo" ("Another tank of gas and back on the road again")

    Prince - "Little Red Corvette"

    Roxette - "Sleeping in my car" (With some motels, you'd rather heed that advice...)

    Scott McKenzie - "If you're going to San Francisco"

    Sniff'n the Tears - "Driver's Seat"

    Tom Kimmel - "That's Freedom" (which actually proved to be the official anthem of our cross country road trip "From the mountain to the valley
    From the ocean to the alley
    From the highway to the river"

    ZZ Top - "Viva Las Vegas"

    And some pictures:



    I remember as a child, seeing reporters on TV standing on Pennsylvania Avenue with traffic zooming past behind them. Those days seem long gone.



    The official road tripper look :-)





    Touching a piece of moon rock

Similar Threads

  1. Dividing 10 days between New York, Boston and some days on the road?
    By stardust in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 08-27-2009, 09:30 PM
  2. From New York To San Francisco - advices needed
    By lastrocker in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-12-2009, 05:35 AM
  3. San Francisco to Las Vegas in 2 or 3 days?
    By louise1721 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 10-11-2008, 02:46 AM
  4. Going from Miami to New York [via New Orleans?] in 14 days (August)
    By kristoffer_zaar in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 08-11-2008, 12:57 PM
  5. San Francisco to New York - 8 days
    By MarcoFerraz in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-13-2008, 05:28 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES