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  1. Default Pennsylvania to California--need help fast!

    My 19 year old son plans to leave in two days with his GF to drive from PA to CA to his first military assignment. They would like to make the trip in 7 days. Right now, the route they plan to take is I-70 to I-44 because the two places they would really like to see are the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Then they will be heading to San Francisco. They would like to see some of the scenic route along the California coast but we are worried it will add too much time to the trip. My questions are:
    1. Can this be done in 7 days without driving 12 hours a day?
    2. Is there a better route than what they have planned?
    3. Is there a scenic route from Las Vegas to San Francisco that someone can suggest?
    4. Are they crazy to be making this trip without any hotel reservations each night?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated for this worried mom!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We drove from California to New Jersey in 6 days, and two of those days were only 6 hours in the car each, so it can be done. Combine our short days into 1 longer one and that leaves a day for Grand Canyon South Rim and a day for Las Vegas. (If planning to hit Las Vegas on a weekend: make hotel reservations. The LA and San Diego crowds think of Vegas as a weekend jaunt.)

    There's no "better route" to take - - everyone's definition of "better" is different. Now, is there a faster route?! Yes....I-70 straight across from PA to its terminus in UT, I-15 north to Salt Lake City, then I-80 straight across to San Francisco. Or...if one doesn't mind taking toll roads, get on I-80 and take that straight across to SF. Both of those have things along them to see, especially I-70. It's close to Rocky Mt National Park in Colorado, goes through Glenwood Canyon (the "hanging freeway" once highlighted on an episode of "Modern Marvels") and a beautiful canyon in UT between Green River and Salina. (We just did I-70 from central OH to central MO, a couple of weeks ago, and it's also beautiful in its own way. We will be taking the rest of I-70 very shortly.)

    I'm without an atlas (other than the one in my head) so I can't suggest the route from LV to SF yet.

    Hotel reservations: we RARELY make reservations. That said, however, we are the type of traveler who are early-risers and get on the highway early in the morning, then drive 10-12 hours to the next destination and pull in at the dinner hour. Others eat dinner on the fly and don't pull into a hotel until late. That leaves you less choice in hotels. Where we make reservations is if we think we will pull in late somewhere, or a popular place on weekends (such as Las Vegas), or a popular place like Gettysburg. So, no, I don't think they are crazy not making reservations.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 08-02-2011 at 06:51 AM. Reason: punctuation, spelling, and additional info

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default It's a mothers 'job' to care (worry).

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    That sounds like the voice of a caring parent. But I am sure if the young man is mature enough to serve his country, you won't have much to worry about.

    Quote Originally Posted by smazzei View Post
    1. Can this be done in 7 days without driving 12 hours a day?
    Coast to coast can be done in six days comfortable driving, so I don't think your son should need to be on the road, twelve hours a day. Just get him to break it up into roughly 500 mile bites, and plan his stops accordingly. When he gets to the Grand Canyon, he should have a little time to admire its granduer.

    Quote Originally Posted by smazzei View Post
    2. Is there a better route than what they have planned?
    The route looks pretty good, but one thing you can do, is to make sure he has good paper maps with him. Relying solely on a gps is not a wise move. It might also be wise to join AAA, if he is not already a member. And that is a good place to get maps.

    Quote Originally Posted by smazzei View Post
    3. Is there a scenic route from Las Vegas to San Francisco that someone can suggest?
    I have to agree with you that the coastal road may be too slow. There is a better route, even if he does not have much time to spend sightseeing, and that is to drive from LV through Pahrump, through Death Valley (quite safe, just tell him to carry drinking water and sunscreen), then through Lone Pine, north along 395 and west along 120, over the spectacular Tioga Pass and through Yosemite NP. (Allow at least a day and a half for this.)

    Quote Originally Posted by smazzei View Post
    4. Are they crazy to be making this trip without any hotel reservations each night?
    I never make hotel reservations ahead of time, and many others don't. However, I get the feeling that you would be much more comfortable if they did. Why not talk it over with him, and make the reservations for him. If you go to the link (above right) you are bound to find some good deals. Just make sure that where there are urban centres that the reservations are on the far side of town. They won't want to deal with rush hour traffic the next morning.

    You might also like to make an arrangement that he checks in with you at a set time each day. I am sure he understands your concern, and won't object to putting your mind at ease.

    Lifey (mother of five - lol)
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-02-2011 at 07:34 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Chalk and Cheese.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    We drove from California to New Jersey in 6 days, and two of those days were only 6 hours in the car each, so it can be done.
    I would have to agree with Donna that it can be done. However, in your case we are talking about a teenager, and in Donna's case we are talking about a senior professional driver. The two can't be compared. I would recommend that your son not try and cover that distance each day, in six hours, but pace himself evenly over the complete trip. Encourage him to stay focused on getting there safely.... and to avoid getting a ticket!

    Lifey

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