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  1. #1

    Default Florida to west coast and more

    Hello :-)! I'm new here, and am looking for advice and suggestions on planning a road trip for myself and my teenage daughter. We're looking to take this trip in the beginning of summer 2012, and I'm thinking we'll need about 3 weeks to do this.

    When I was a kid, my dad took my siblings and I on a trip out west to see everything and I'd like to do the same with my daughter. I'd like to include The Grand Canyon, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Golden Gate Bridge, Yellowstone, Astoria (gotta go back and see the Goonies and Short Curcuit houses lol!), Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower, Custer, and Estes Park (my dad lives near the WY/CO boarder). I'm not looking to spend a great deal of time in any one place doing things like horse back riding, biking, rafting, etc. Basically just going, walking around a bit, looking at things, taking some pictures, and moving on to the next spot, except for perhaps the WY/CO area. We'd probably like to spend 2 days there visiting with my dad, but then moving on again.

    I know that's a lot to see/do and distance to cover in 3 weeks, so I'm looking for all the advice and suggestions I can get :-).

    We'll be traveling by car and are open to either camping and/or motels. I'm used to bringing a cooler on long distance trips so open to eating on the go as well. We do have a dog, but whether we bring her or kennel her is still up in the air.

    Thank you for any input you can offer us :-)!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default vast underestimate

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a classic case of too much stuff, not nearly enough time. The loop you've outlined is an 8 thousand mile trip. You're going to need more than 2 weeks just to cover the miles with full days on the road. You've also listed 12 things you'd like to see.

    Right now, you could probably drive to each of those things, but all you'd have time to do is get out of the car, snap a picture of each of these things, and then race back onto the freeway. You don't have to spend weeks at every place to enjoy them, nor do you need to do things like biking, rafting, etc to have a good time, but not ever stopping to take a breath isn't fun either.

    I honestly think unless you scale things back significantly, you're going to have a trip where you end up completely exhausted, you and your daughter are going to be at each others throats, and you really will struggle to have fun or the kind of enjoyable experience that you are hoping to get out of this.

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

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    While the distance is somewhat doable in the time you've allowed yourself, you might want to trim the list. Otherwise, you are looking at a trip where you will feel more like you are working than enjoying yourself. Keep in mind that coast-to-coast, round trip, would be about 10 days of your trip. Adding the drive up to Oregon is going to add to that, and that destination is the one that stuck out to me as something that you might want to remove from this list. Indeed, Astoria to Yellowstone is roughly 900 miles, or two solid days of driving.

  4. #4

    Default

    Ok, so maybe I do have a case of "too much stuff, not enough time" lol. So, without figuring in spending hours at each location or doing anything more than taking in a view and snapping some pictures, what would you all suggest I plan to do? I figured Astoria would be a reach, especially since all I want to do there is visit those houses and see a friend.

    If it were you planning the trip from FL to CA and back, including wanting to go to Devils Tower and Mt Rushmore, how would you plan it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default What I would consider.

    Astoria is more of a stretch than "a reach", and a 500 + mile stretch at that. That's what it will add to your journey, but only you can decide if it's worth it or not. It would be the most logical part of your journey to cut out when looking at your 'wish list'. It may 'only' be a day's drive, but it could be 'the straw that breaks the Camel's back'.

    If it were me, I would try to 'find' the budget and time to extend the trip for another 5 to 7 day's, or from the Grand canyon head up through Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and back towards Denver. That would reduce your overall distance by well over 1500 miles and give you time to take a breath, relax and have some 'Parent and Daughter time' and arrive at your Dad's refreshed with great stories to tell.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default priorities

    The key to any roadtrip plan really is going to be about priorities.

    I will say that dropping Astoria would be a first step. I've been inside the Goonies house, and it's fun to look around although it is just someone's personal residence now, but you also need to remember that the distance from San Francisco to Astoria is more than the distance from Jacksonville to Washington DC. It's a day and a half drive, if you stick to the interstate (and about 3 days if you take the coast), and once you are in Astoria, you're farther away from Yellowstone than when you started in SF! Ultimately, you'd be adding basically 2 full days to make that stop in the fastest way possible.

    Otherwise, with 3 weeks, I don't think I would try to do Florida to California and hit places as far north as the Black Hills. I think the options I'd consider are: going to California, and coming back through Utah and Colorado; Skipping CA and going as far as the Grand Canyon, then going up through Utah to Yellowstone, and back through South Dakota; or adding extending the trip into a 4th week. Even by doing any of those things, you're still looking at a trip that will keep you moving at a pretty good pace, but it will give you enough time to at least stop and see things without having to constantantly being focused on getting to the next place.

  7. #7

    Default

    So, after reading the replies and looking at a map/figuring drive time and mileage, I've decided to drop CA and OR, going as far west as The Hoover Dam, then heading north to Denver on the way to Yellowstone, Devils Tower, and Mt Rushmore. Through looking at the map, I learned that Walnut Creek isn't too far from Mt Rushmore. I've always loved Laura Ingalls, so may add that on the way home :-).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default

    Sounds like an excellent idea to me. There's a ton of parks to explore between Vegas/Hoover Dam and Denver, so that could easily fill lots of your time.

    If you're thinking of visiting Walnut Creek, then you should also consider stopping in De Smet, SD "The Little Town on the Prairie." There is also a brief write up on De Smet if you take a look at the RTA Map Center.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Ditto.

    I agree, I think it will be a far more enjoyable and relaxed trip.

    I am presuming that your journey ends back in Florida, and if that is the case I would think about heading North to Yellowstone and then Rushmore etc and drop down to Denver, before continuing on your journey towards home. It would still make the option of visiting some of Utah's National parks possible, such as Zion, Bryce canyon and possibly even Arches NP, while still saving on the miles compared to heading across to Denver and back out to Yellowstone.

  10. #10

    Default

    I've been thinking about cell coverage out west. Right now I have a local service (Metro PCS) which just covers FL with spotty roaming signal everywhere else. I'm probably going to go with a pre paid or month to month service with a national carrier for one month so I have nationwide coverage. However, looking at the coverage maps for the four leading providers (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and TMobile), even they don't look too promising once I get out in the middle of no where. Of the four though, Verizon seems to be the best bet.

    I've also been wondering about how "out in the middle of no where" it will be out there. I haven't been out that way since I was 10, and I'm 33 now lol. Besides, I didn't really pay much attention to the driving portions of the trip back then. I'm wondering if I should invest in a CB radio and/or an emergency 2 way radio for the places I don't have cell coverage in case of emergency. I'm picturing myself stranded on some isolated road with car trouble and no cell service late at night. Ever see the show "I Shouldn't Be Alive" lol? I know, I may sound silly, but this will be the first time I've attempted a trip like this, not to mention I'll be traveling with my teenage daughter. The longest road trip I've ever done as an adult has been Orlando to Cleveland, OH and back so I'm just unsure as to what I should expect or what possible issues I should plan for.

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