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  1. Default Western Road Trip Summer 2011


    22 years ago I did a solo east to west crossing over 5 weeks. Now I'm approaching 50 and I've prommised to take my 13 year old son on a US road trip (wife not up to such a journey). We have to travel in late July or August due to school.

    I'm intending to fly into San Francisco, pick up a mid size rental car (pre booked) & drive the following route, over about 3 weeks:

    San Francisco (Fisshermans Wharf, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz), Los Angeles (Beach, Holiwood), Tuscon (Douglas Monthan AFB, Tombstone, Titan Missile, Old Tucon Studio), Grand Canyon, Kayenta (Monument Valley), Yellowstone, Dinasour, Rapid City (Mount Rushmore, Minuteman Silo), Denver. Hotels will be pre booked for San Francisco & Denver. Then fly to NYC for a couple of days, again pre booked hotel, before flying back to the UK.

    I visited all but the last 4 of the above on my last road trip and want to see them again. Last time I stayed mostly in cheap motels (Motel 6) with a couple of 3 or 4 star hotels in major cities. This time I'll probably want to upgrade to a better quality motel.

    So, to my question. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions.

    From my internet searching I think that, because I'm flying from Manchester UK, I'll have to stop in Newark en-route to San Francisco so that makes the journey longer. If necessary I could reverse the route (NYC-Denver-SFO). I'm also a bit woried about jet lag between Denver & NYC affecting my time in NYC.

    Thanks in advance

  2. Default

    If you have the time, I'd consider hitting Rocky Mountain National Park which isn't too far from Denver. Also Craters of the Moon National Monument looks very interesting although I've never been. I'll be stopping there in July. It's 2 or 3 hours southwest of Yellowstone. And you might also consider Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. Near Rapid City I recommend Wind Cave National Park and also the Mammoth Site. Both are very interesting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Fortunate Son

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's great that you want to show your son some ot the great sights of America that you have enjoyed in the past he should clearly have a wonderful time with you showing him around. And you have plenty of time to take this at a leisurely and enjoyable pace. However, a few caveats are in order. First, be sure to get your son's input on what he'd like to see. Any advice you get here will be helpful, but would be even more spot on if you let people know your son's interests. Secondly, the coast road between San Francisco and Los Angeles is currently closed due to a landslide which took out a significant section of roadway just south of Monterey. Access to the highway from the Central Valley is extremely limited until you get down to Cambria. Third, while I appreciate the time constraints on when you can travel, July and August are less than ideal for the areas you have in mind. The southwest deserts inland from Los Angeles and around Tucson will routinely top 100°F (38°C), and that is also monsoon season here in Tucson where you can expect daily afternoon thunderstorms and occasional flash floods. Then as you work your way north to the more popular National Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, which have limited seasons due to snow, everyone else will be trying to see them as well in the three months of summer so crowds will be the norm.

    None of those caveats should give you any reason to reconsider your trip. They are just meant to give you some warning so that you can plan and prepare accordingly.


  4. Default

    While they have assisted you with the travels, I may be able to provide you with a cheap motel. Super 8's are notorious for being a little bit "iffy" in my honest opinion. One place for under $60/night that has impressed me is Days Inn. I have hit up 8 of them so far, an only one was of bad uality, as opposed to 3 of my Super 8 motel experiences, but this obviously is all dependent on location/management. As far as specific locations go:

    -The Best Western (Cross Winds Motor) in Yellowstone is wonderful for the $50 price tag, which may be higher/lower since I have last checked.
    -If you want a great hotel that is trustworthy, Holiday Inn pretty much does a great al-around job, which you can see in the price - a minimum of $75/night and much more in major areas.
    -Los Angeles has some shady cheap places. The Royal Inn disappointed me (which is why I don't go for cheap prices anymore). You may want to check out the Regency in Downey if you are going to stay there overnight. Very nice place with a price only a little bit higher than a cheap motel.

    For Tips On Jet Lag - I USED to fly a lot, before falling in love with road trips. Simple tips would be to:

    1. Drink a lot (apparently the humidity change can get the better of you
    2. Once you are on the plane, set your watch 9if you have one) to the destination time. This will prepare you, i think.
    3. Always stay awake/sleep according to the time at the destination, if what I have read. EX: If you are arriving during the day, stay awake...if you are arriving at night, avoid staying awake. If you sleep during the time change, your body won't need sleep for the rest of the day PLUS the 3-4 hour change, which will just drain you.

    Hope I could assist in any way possible.

  5. Default Thanks Guys (Gals?)

    I have many good memories of my first (last) trip. I remember Death Valley in late August being too hot but Tuscon was just very hot. Air conditioning in both hotel & car is essential.

    Regarding motels. Mostly I just turned-up, about 4pm before most road trippers arrived, and almost always found a room at my first choice. That was in the days before the WWW & cell phones. Is it any easier to make reservations using technology whilst on the road these days?

    I read something recently, not sure if on this site, regarding very cheap (~$30) cell phones from Walmart rather than relying on my UK GSM phone working with a US PAYG SIM card. Are these phones still available?

    I've been hitting the flight search websites recently. Strange how one site sees flights that others don't?

    Good suggestion about asking my son. Have you tried asking a teenager what he want's to see/do? X-Box, X-Box & more X-box. That's one reason for showing him something outside his room. Although he should be able to show me round New York given the amount of time he spends playing Grand Theft Auto.

    Finally, how much is gas these days?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    LT - the Best Western Cross Winds rates are seasonal - in July/August they are over $150. These days, Super 8 and Days Inn are essentially the same thing - they are both Wyndham properties. There's nothing cheap in West Yellowstone in the summer. I can recommend the Evergreen Motel but they are even over $100.

    Yes, Walmart still sells the throwaway pay-as-you-go phones from several different carriers.

    Right now, the average price for regular grade gas is $3.55 a gallon. You can get a better idea of current prices nationwide at using the "gas temperature map", they vary from about $3.20 to $4.20. With the current world situation, it's impossible to predict what they will be this summer.

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