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  1. Default Jan/Feb 2011 - Suggestions for a road-trip

    Hello everyone :)

    Hope you're all well.

    I'm posting on here in the hope of some sage advice and 'local knowledge' - and it seems this is the best place on the net to find it!

    My mother unfortunately passed away a few years ago, and my Dad hasn't been doing too well (he's 68 and suffers from anxiety). I've tried lots of ways to help him cope, but it seems that the last remaining (and hopefully best) solution will be to take him on a road trip.

    We live in Northern Ireland, and have never been to the US before.

    I was thinking of travelling in Jan/Feb (when I can take the most time away from my job), and hopefully to somewhere warm and beautiful - it seems that the West coast drive and California is the best choice?

    I'd like to be travelling for two months (I think he needs a long trip away to rebuild himself), but that might end up at six weeks.

    As I mentioned, I have absolutely no knowledge of the US... temperatures, best routes, etc... To be honest, this is the very first step of this journey, and I'm rather nervous about it all!

    So... I was hoping... could you recommend a road trip in the US during Jan/Feb that will be not too cold (we're from Ireland, so 20c (or 68 fahrenheit) is fairly warm for us!), not too taxing, but beautiful with plenty of distractions... and any hints/tips or ideas about where I can hire RVs, where I can park them etc?

    I'm sorry if these are all newbie questions that you get asked a hundred times a day!

    And thank you so much for your time and patience.

    best wishes,
    Clarefire

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Right on the Button

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While a RoadTrip in no magic elixir cure-all, seeing new places and having new experiences, especially with someone you love can certainly lift one's spirits. The southwestern US would be a wonderful break from winter in Ireland, especially the gray skies and rain I experienced in Belfast in January. The California coast has what is called a Mediterranean climate meaning relatively warm all year, and the Mojave and Sonorant deserts can be absolutely wonderful during their 'winter'. There is certainly enough in that general area to pique his interest including the Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles, Edwards Air Force Base, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park, and Organ Pipe National Monument just to list a few of the possibilities. If you decide to come, we can also suggest some lesser known sites between those more famous venues.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thank you so much for the super-quick reply AZ :)

    I travelled myself, solo, for a couple of years in Oz and NZ a few years back... but travelling with my Dad is another kettle of fish. As you said, there is no cure-all elixir, but I'm hoping that the experience will give him the confidence to move forward.

    My heart goes out to you for being in Belfast in January! I'm from just north of our 'sunny' capital... and grey and rain is fairly typical! (although I think I recall a couple of sunny days :) ) I hope you had a good time anyways!

    All those ideas sound fantastic... and I'll go away and work on a few plans, no doubt I'll be back with my discoveries for more advice!! :)

    Just a last question though - should I be travelling from the north to south, or south to north? What is the difference? if any?

    Many thanks again,
    best wishes
    Clarefire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Does Direction Matter?

    Normally, it makes almost no difference at all whether you travel north to south, south to north, east to west, west to east, whatever. But there are a couple of places on your possible trip where that general rule does not apply. Because we drive on the other side of the road, you'll want to take the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) from north to south so that the ocean and lay-bys are on your side of the highway. Similarly if you go to the Grand Canyon, you'll want to drive the South Rim Road (AZ-64) from east to west so that the Canyon is on your side of the road.

    Actually, my visit to Belfast was many years ago, in the early 70s. I managed to get myself roughed up by some thieves, taken blindfolded to an IRA safe house, "detained" by the British Army for a couple of days, and driven across the border with the Republic by a smuggler. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The Grand Canyon can get very cold in the winter - it's at 6000+ feet. You may also want to look at going to Florida.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Road Trips with a twist or two!

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Actually, my visit to Belfast was many years ago, in the early 70s. I managed to get myself roughed up by some thieves, taken blindfolded to an IRA safe house, "detained" by the British Army for a couple of days, and driven across the border with the Republic by a smuggler. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure.

    AZBuck
    Some might wonder about the veracity of the "enjoyable" part! Wow, now that's a road trip story!

    Mark

  7. Default Thanks!

    AZ - Wow, that really is an amazing story!

    As soon as you said you were in Belfast in the 70s my heart sank! But, despite the craziness, it sounds like you came out of it relatively unscathed! I would say that Belfast is a completely different place now... Since the ceasefire there has been a great deal of regeneration and a focus on Tourism (which certainly wasn't there the last time you visited!).

    If you can be tempted away from road-tripping the US, I'd say do come back again! :)

    It sounds like North to South is the best way to approach our little adventure, so I'll bear that in mind when planning.

    Glc - Thanks for the warning - by cold, do you mean icy/snow? I'd like to avoid driving a big RV on snow as much as possible, but I know that might be inevitable at that time of year.

    Also, I like the appeal of California as there seems to be so much to visit and see... but I'll look into Florida too.

    Best wishes and many thanks
    Clare

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default The right choice ?

    If you "limit" your trip to coast and desert areas things should be OK but anywhere near the Sierra's such as Yosemite NP and Sequoia NP you will find snow, cold, road closures, and most likely snow chain restrictions for your vehicle.

    The main RV companies are Cruise America, El Monte and Road bear but you can also find on line companies that offer deals. I would bide your time and research an "average" cost and then keep an eye on things as they all come up with special deals and the savings can be huge, [We saved around $6-700 on a 14 night booking last year.] If you start out in SF I would also recommend a small family run company called the Graners who can pick you up or drop the RV off in SF. It's worth spending 2 or 3 days around the City before picking up an RV as you can get around without transport, will help you recover from jet lag and it is a great little City!

    When pricing up the RV, make sure you include the added costs of bedroom and kitchen kits, mileage charges, any prep fees and other costs. On top of that there will be campground fees and factor in a fuel return of 9/10 mpg. It's a great lifestyle but it will more expensive than a car and Motels and they are a lot bigger than we are used to in the UK. If you plan on visiting a lot of Cities they are not that "user friendly". I am not trying to discourage you, [We love the RV] just informing you as much as possible so that you can decide whether it is the right choice for you and your needs.

    Last of all, if you can get time off in early Fall or late Spring you could open up another world of possibilities for your trip, without having to be too concerned about the weather, but as pointed out previously, there is plenty to see and do.

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

    Default

    by cold, do you mean icy/snow? I'd like to avoid driving a big RV on snow as much as possible, but I know that might be inevitable at that time of year.
    Definitely. It's very possible to see snow at the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff is over 7000 feet and gets many feet of snow annually. I went through Flagstaff around March 1 this year - the roads were clear but there was probably a foot or so of snow on the ground with a storm forecasted to come in the next day.

  10. Default

    Thanks so much for that info SW Dave and glc.

    That's disappointing about Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, as they were places I would have liked to visit, but your info has really helped me to narrow down a route (that, and the fantastic Google Maps!)

    It looks like it'll be best to stick to the coast from San Fran to LA, then bimble out to Las Vegas, and come back to LA via the Mojave? Hopefully that'll avoid the snow/ice and general chilliness.

    I'm tempted to take a little adventure into Mexico at the end of the trip - but that might not be a good idea?

    If you guys think this is a good route, I'll start planning it out better... then start the RV research - thanks again for the tip Dave!

    Ohhh, it's all getting exciting :)

    Thanks so much for all your help and time!!

    Best wishes
    Clarefire

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