This is the wrap-up from the 2009 Fall Trip Kinless took with his parents. His trip reports start here.
This was quite a different experience than our past trips, on several levels.
I forgot how much I hated driving the east coast cities when I was last here in 2005, because their roads are so confusing, especially at night. There's all these stupid restrictions with left turns, U-turns, one-way streets, frontage roads, and parking (or heck even stopping). You really need to pay attention, otherwise that missed off-ramp could cost you an extra 15-20 minutes. It didn't help that my newly-bought GPS (Garmin Nüvi 765T) was not being 100% reliable. I admit I made some clearly illegal turns, but after a while of trying to properly navigate the streets and getting nowhere, you just don't care anymore. I understand everything is old back there, but come on now, take a lesson from the West Coast.
Although we probably squeezed in more than the average seasoned roadtripper would have done, what we did wasn't impossible. We managed to hit all our primary and secondary goals, and only miss some things that would have been nice but weren't even on our itinerary to begin with. That being said, it would have been beneficial to have an extra day or two on our plate. Most nights on our second week we were leaving early in the morning and getting to our hotel late. Not a big deal for me personally, but I'm sure the folks would have enjoyed more relax-time.
The reason I didn't go more than 2 weeks was because I didn't want to use all my vacation time in one gulp. Unfortunately I found out AFTER booking flight tickets that, due to my tenure at work, I now get 4 weeks of vacation per year (instead of 3), so I could have taken a few extra days after all. Oh well, bad timing, but not a huge deal.
I still need to remember to factor in multiple delays such as filling up for fuel, eating, just taking a break, or the main culprit, finding a restroom. My folks are beginning to stretch into their mid-70s, and have officially dubbed themselves "potty seekers" since I have to plan everything around frequent restroom breaks for them. I'm sure I'll understand that some day if/when I get to that age.
OK enough babbling. We're all glad we went. Overall we had a great time and I got to revisit some of the places that I touched in 2005 on the 48-state trip. The fall colors enhanced our trip, especially in the mountainous areas. Great stuff all around.
Favorite places: New York is great, especially Times Square. Would love to come back with a group and hit the night life, broadway shows, etc. The climb to the crown of Statue of Liberty is exhausting, yet exhilarating when you get to the top. Acadia National Park was really nice and would love to spend some time there when it's not so cold. Same with the Seneca Rocks Recreation Area and staying in a nice warm cabin.
Least desirables: Nothing was a bust, really. My biggest beef was with the confusing roads in the big cities, but I already ranted about that. I could complain about astronomical parking prices in New York, and the rip-off Dave & Busters in Niagara Falls, Ontario when they charged us $30.00 more than what was advertised in the menu. (Dad is writing them to complain about that BTW. We'll see what happens there.) But those aren't complaints about locations. I just have to accept that it's expensive on the East Coast.
What's next? Possibly looking at a smaller roadtrip in Spring 2010 using Hwy 395 to head up eastern California and into Oregon/Washington. Plenty more National Parks to cover up there. Also have to think about finally getting to Alaska sometime. And I still have Hawaii left to do.
===== Statistics =====
Total miles: 2,737
Total stops: 28
Total elapsed time: 12 days, 13 hours, 5 minutes (does not include flight time or rides to/from LAX airport)
Total states: 13 (Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia)
Total national parks: 2 (Acadia, Shenandoah)
Total national monuments: 3 (Ellis Island, Liberty Island, Castle Clinton)
Total capitol buildings/state houses visited: 10 (including DC's US Capitol)
Type of rental vehicle: 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan
Gallons of fuel: 128.43 (21.31 MPG)
Total cost of trip: $1,450 (approximate; includes my share of airfare, rental, lodging, gas, food, parking fees, tolls, public transportation, and merchandise)
===== Pictures =====
You'll find the latest and greatest photos under Roadtrip #5 in the albums section of my profile. I chose the best 60 from over 1,000 photos that I snapped. It wasn't easy, but it's enough for you to get the gist of it.
===== That's all folks! =====
Until next time, kids... keep trippin' away. I'd like to hear about your future endeavors or past experiences on the places we hit this round. Plenty of advice/information to be traded.
See y'all soon.