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  1. Default MA -> AZ. Roadtrip Newbie looking for advice

    So I'm planning on driving out to Phoenix Arizona, starting from Worcester Massachusetts. I'll probably be heading out in about one week.

    My first step was to check out Google maps, and try a couple modifications thereof. However, I don't want to just trust Google, or my interpretation of any map, so I figured I'd ask here if anyone has any suggestions. I figure my goal is to get to 40, I'm just not sure the best way to get there. I've never driven cross country before, so any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

    So, here is the initial route suggested by Google (well, the gist of it anyway).
    90 through MA, NY, a bit of PA, and into Cleveland OH.
    71 down into Columbus
    70 from Columbus through IN into St Louis MI
    44 from St Louis Into Oklahoma City OK
    40 the rest of the way.

    Google also suggested
    84 to 91 down through CT to 95 into NY and NJ
    78 /81 / 76 through PA
    70 into Columbus – the rest of the way as above

    What I didn't like about this was going down Stamford way towards NY/NJ. I driven down through there a few times, and it has always been a nightmare – Stamford in particular. Granted it has been a few years since I've been down there, but I'm still a little wary of it.

    I modified Google's above route with:
    84 down through CT into NY then PA
    81 / 80 / 76 through PA into Akron
    71 from Akron into Columbus
    From Columbus, the rest of the way as above.

    Any suggestions as to the three above routes? Also, any suggestions on places to check out on the way? I can't afford to spend a couple weeks making the drive, but I certainly do want to spend a day here or there checking out the country. To some extent I'm going to let the route determine what I might see, so I don't want to detour too much. I haven't really spent much time out of the northeast, so I'm sure there's plenty for me to see where ever I go.

    Thanks in advance for any input!

    -Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    I would personally follow this route:

    84 to Hartford, 91 to Meriden, 691 back to 84, then follow your last revision. If you want to stay on Interstates, get I-17 in Flagstaff to Phoenix. You are looking at 5 full days of driving without sightseeing, so plan your time accordingly.

    Between St. Louis and Flagstaff, you will be paralleling old Route 66. There is plenty of history to be seen within a stone's throw of the Interstate.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Western/Central Massachusetts
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    1,703

    Default Merritt Parkway

    I'd cut off the I-84 section post-Hartford and instead go I-91 to the Wilbur Cross Highway then Merritt Parkway (CT-15, Exit 17 from I-91) on into NY and hook up with I-287, I-78, then I-81 and follow on the rest of your plan.

    This keeps you out of Stamford and the I-95 mess, and also keeps you off of what I can only describe as a highway modeled after the scribbles of a drunken monkey that is the I-84 design West of Hartford. (I've never been so consistently upset by a road as I have by I-84; I give it a chance every now and then and just find disappointment...) East of Hartford, the road is darn near beautiful.

    Hartford traffic during rush hour isn't any place I'd want to be, so if you are planning on traveling during a weekday, plan accordingly. That said, I'd have to recommend I-84 versus the Merritt in such a case, as the Merritt carries traffic going to New York City and all that entails, and I-84 would only give you issues West of Hartford in the Waterbury area.

  4. Default

    GLC,

    Thanks! I've acutally done the 84-91-691-84 trick a few times before. It's been a while so I didn't even think of it.

    Anything you've seen a stone's throw from the interstate that you'd recommend?

    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I would personally follow this route:

    84 to Hartford, 91 to Meriden, 691 back to 84, then follow your last revision. If you want to stay on Interstates, get I-17 in Flagstaff to Phoenix. You are looking at 5 full days of driving without sightseeing, so plan your time accordingly.

    Between St. Louis and Flagstaff, you will be paralleling old Route 66. There is plenty of history to be seen within a stone's throw of the Interstate.

  5. Default

    Tim:

    Thanks. You've confirmed my instinct about Stamford. Am I correct in reading your advice as consider the Merritt on a weekend (or perhaps weeknights), but use 84 during weekdays?

    I actually grew up in CT West of Hartford, and for a while worked in East Hartford. My traffic experiences were so traumatic that when I settled back in CT after school, I made sure I lived and worked either North or East of Hartford.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass Tim View Post
    I'd cut off the I-84 section post-Hartford and instead go I-91 to the Wilbur Cross Highway then Merritt Parkway (CT-15, Exit 17 from I-91) on into NY and hook up with I-287, I-78, then I-81 and follow on the rest of your plan.

    This keeps you out of Stamford and the I-95 mess, and also keeps you off of what I can only describe as a highway modeled after the scribbles of a drunken monkey that is the I-84 design West of Hartford. (I've never been so consistently upset by a road as I have by I-84; I give it a chance every now and then and just find disappointment...) East of Hartford, the road is darn near beautiful.

    Hartford traffic during rush hour isn't any place I'd want to be, so if you are planning on traveling during a weekday, plan accordingly. That said, I'd have to recommend I-84 versus the Merritt in such a case, as the Merritt carries traffic going to New York City and all that entails, and I-84 would only give you issues West of Hartford in the Waterbury area.

  6. Default

    Also - followup question - anything wrong w/ taking 90 from MA all the way into OH? It seemed so simple that I figured it must be a trap of some kind.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    The only reason not to take 90 is the tolls. The Mass Pike portion is cheap but it's going to cost you close to 20 bucks to get across NY to PA. According to my mapping software, it is the fastest way, but only by about 20 minutes. Distance is almost identical.

    You are going early enough in the season where lake effect snow shouldn't be a factor, but before taking 90, do check the weather, especially from about Syracuse to Cleveland, just in case.

  8. Default

    Thanks so much. That is exactly the kind of advice I'm looking for.

    I lost my job a couple months ago, so I'll give up 20 minutes to save $20 in tolls. Thanks!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-13-2009 at 11:35 PM. Reason: in-line comments didn't need the extra quote block

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default Not the most scenic route

    Quote Originally Posted by novotm View Post
    Also - followup question - anything wrong w/ taking 90 from MA all the way into OH? It seemed so simple that I figured it must be a trap of some kind.
    I-90 all the way to Cleveland is not the most scenic route, it is tollway the whole way and there are shorter routes.

    Having driven from Boston to States west several times over the last five months, I'd like to suggest that you consider I-90 - or an alternative such as rte 9 or 20 - through MA and then pick up I-88 in NY south into PA and continue along I-81 from there. Rural MA is a delight if you stay away from the larger urban centres and I-88 is a joy to drive, as is I-81. It ended up as my favourite way to get in and out of Newton.

    Lifey suggests you consider it

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Default

    Here's a good compromise that won't be too costly for tolls and will be very scenic - take I-90 to Albany, then I-88 to Binghamton, then NY-17/I-86 to I-90. Toll will be $1.50 in MA and $2.35 in NY. This will cost you about one extra hour over fastest route and will keep you WAY far away from the Connecticut and metro NYC traffic hassles. To me, this is a lot more scenic than either I-90 or I-80.

    One problem I just found in my mapping software - there is a stretch of I-271 around Cleveland that's closed till the end of October - between mile 12 and 18. Hopefully, the detour will be clearly posted, but it looks like you could take I-480 west to I-77 south to get around it.

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