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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default LA - NY (with a strong focus on southern culture)

    Hi everyone! I'm from Melbourne, Australia and I'm coming to the states this September with my partner. He and I are both really keen to do a road trip that involves all of the places we're aching to see, a lot of places with strong pop-culture references, traditional bluegrass/country/blues music and some places of biblical significance, too (we're really interested in all of these things about America and it's history and have been obsessed with southern American culture since I can remember.) Anyway, I've got a rough idea of how we might go about it, but I figured it'd be great to get some advice, especially as I only have about 4 weeks in total and a couple of places would be unreal to stay in for a few days...

    We land at LAX, so we were going to stay in LA for a night or two to recover from the flight.

    LA - Joshua Tree Desert (staying at the Inn in Gram Parson's room for the night is a bit of a dream)
    Across to Austin TX (I have a friend there, we would stay a couple of nights with her)
    Austin down through Houston and straight through to New Orleans (would ideally stay 4-5 days)
    New Orleans up to Memphis, stopping briefly at Jackson and Clarksdale for obvious reasons, stay in Memphis for a few days
    Memphis to Nashville - we'd ideally like to stay for a week in TN, it's a big priority for us!
    from Nashville up through Kentucky and West Virginia, slowly making our way towards NYC (I'm interested in towns in West Virginia, such as Jolo, any other suggestions would be great)
    I really want to stay a night in Pennsylvania as I'm also super intrigued by Amish culture and would love to see that in the flesh.
    After that,use our last few remaining nights in New York before flying home.

    Does this sound very ambitious? Google Maps tells me that if I wanted to do that stint all in one go that it would take 2 days and 10 hours, so I figure if I double that considering we will be stopping quite a bit in between towns that it should be a rough idea of our travel time... Does anyone have any tips for my more vague areas? Ie: what might be cool to drive through between areas of most interest? We're really keen to do a lot of 'off the beaten track' style traveling, but we also don't want to be irritating and nieve tourists driving around like a couple of pretentious twits. Would be great to have some feedback, thanks so much in advance! xx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    Take what Google says and do this: 2 days and 10 hours = 58 hours. Add 20% and that gives you 64 hours. That's 6 or 7 DAYS of just driving from place to place. If you have 4 weeks, this is very doable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Great! Thank you. That's really comforting to know - it'd be a shame to have to try and rush around!

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

    Default The Music (and Other) Scene(s)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    OK, clearly you know a bit about the American music scene since you have included many of the 'holy cities' of many of our genres on your itinerary. I will simply note a few things that you may have missed. The drive from Los Angeles to Austin is about 1400 miles by the most direct route (I-10). But for a couple of hundred miles more you can include a number of unique sites. Taking I-15 up to I-40 to Santa Rosa, NM and then using US-84 down through Lubbock to Sweetwater, and then a collection of roads (TX-70/TX-153/US-83/US-87/TX-71 - You were planning on getting a good atlas or set of maps, right?) to Austin. Among those unique sites you would get for an extra couple of hundred miles of driving would be, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the 'Standing on the Corner' of the Eagle's 'Take It Easy' fame in Winslow AZ, Petroglyph National Monument, Billy the Kid's grave in Fort Sumner NM, and Buddy Holly's hometown and museum in Lubbock TX. Austin is one of the most vibrant country and blue grass music venues in the world. Plan on staying with your friends for at least a couple of nights and getting them to show you around a bit.

    Between Houston and New Orleans, it would be well worth your time to detour from the main highway in southwestern Louisiana to poke about the bayous of the Creole Nature Trail for a bit of Southern Culture you won't get anywhere else. Then on the drive up to Memphis, spend as much time as you can on US-61, known variously as the Great River Road or the Blues Highway. In Memphis, besides the obvious visits to Beale Street and Graceland, be sure to visit the absolute shrine (in my opinion) of blues, rockabilly, and rock'n'roll, the old Sun Studios on Union Avenue where Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash all got their starts (and occasionally even sang together in what later became known as the "Million Dollar Choir".) Then there's another shrine and a great bit of history to include on your drive to Nashville. Instead of just taking I-40, use US-78 instead from Memphis over to Tupelo MS and visit Elvis' birthplace and then use the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Nashville. If you're interested in the American Civil War, you can also make a bit of a detour to Shiloh National Military Park.

    Next up, Kentucky and West Virginia. You'll certainly be close enough that you have to take one of the tours of Mammoth Cave, and then I would recommend just following a couple of roads like KY-80 and US-119 to get the flavor of the 'hills n hollers' of the Appalachians. Note that the Tug Fork which forms the boundary between Kentucky and West Virginia is the ancestral home of the Hatfields and McCoys. I would also suggest that you continue east into Virginia and drive a bit of either the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Skyline Drive on your way up to Pennsylvania. One 'biblical' stop you might look into is Frostburg MD where they're building a life-size replica of Noah's Ark. Aim for eventually being on I-81 or US-15 as you enter Pennsylvania from the south and you will be in perfect position to visit Gettysburg. Amish country is roughly the area in the triangle between Lancaster, Oxford and Exton PA, but there is no distinct center or concentration to it. Just wander around the back roads in that area on roads like PA-841, PA-896, PA-340, PA-741 and even smaller 'highways'. Strasburg is where I'd recommend you plan to spend the night. From there, the most relaxing way to get to New York is to head north to I-78 and take that into the city.

    Even with all the detours I'cve suggested, you're still looking at 'only' about seven-plus days of driving, easy enough spread over a four week visit.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Addendum

    I noticed after I posted my recommendations that you were planning on visiting Joshua Tree. In that case what you can do is leave town eastbound on CA-62 and take that all the way to the Colorado River, crossing over to Parker AZ and then take AZ-95 up through Lake Havasu City (and the London Bridge of all things!) to pick up I-40 east. Getting to the Grand Canyon would involve taking AZ-64 north out of Williams to the Canyon and along the Rim Drive to Cameron, and then south on US-89 back to I-40.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Hi AZ - Thank you SO much for your very valuable advice! These are exactly the types of things we're interested in doing so I'm really grateful! Definitely already a goal to get to Sun Studios, too, but otherwise all of your suggestions are unreal (and new to us!). We'll definitely invest in some good maps for the trip.

    Thank you! xx

  7. #7

    Default Lawd Have Mercy, that's a seriously Southern trip!

    Hello from North Carolina, sammyj,

    You've received some great advice from the forum thus far. I have just a bit to add:

    Your interest in roots music and your general route will put you in the midst of the homeplace of both country and bluegrass music. In southwest Virginia, the regional and statewide tourism authorities have put together a tour of sites, sights, and performance venues called "The Crooked Road", so named for the exceptionally winding path which US 58 traces from the Cumberland Plateau, across the Great Valley of Virginia, and through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The official website is www.thecrookedroad.org, and there you'll find much about the venues, the towns and villages, maps. You'll see The Crooked Road crosses and runs almost parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway, so the traveler interested in music and old-time Scots-Irish mountain culture can easily experience both. The map shows one end of The Crooked Road is at Breaks, VA, not at all far away from Jolo, WV. That corner of VA and WV is so remote that even the Presbyterians handle snakes. You should plan on being in the southwestern VA, WV, KY border area on a Sunday, too, and spend the afternoon listening to evangelical hellfire and brimstone sermons on many of the small town AM-frequency radio stations. You'll have to bring your own beer, as many counties don't sell it on Sunday and many are entirely dry. That is, in fact, the case over much of the South.

    The Crooked Road passes close by Jonesborough, TN, where old time story-telling is preserved as an art form, Erwin, TN, where in 1916 a circus elephant was executed following a deadly rampage, and it passes directly through Abingdon and Damascus, VA, highly regarded for the Barter Theater (Abingdon) and the Virginia Creeper Trail (Abingdon and Damascus). The VCT is a railroad line converted into a hiking and cycling trail, and one end of it is best known for its 17 mile, all downhill run from the crest of the Blue Ridge back down to Damascus. Riding the VCT is a great way to enjoy the mountains from the beginning of March through October. Mid-October is a particularly fine time to visit the whole of the region, as the autumn colors are normally peaking just then. There are several bicycle rental shops in Damascus and they all offer a shuttle drive to the top of the mountain. Oh, and there are two nicely restored train stations along the route--Whitetop Station and Green Cove Station, the latter made famous by one of O. Winston Link's photographs of a steam locomotive grinding slowly up the steep mountain line.

    Two more gems of Southern culture are stock car racing and college football. Local tracks abound, many of them being dirt tracks, and the premier professional series NASCAR runs at Talladega, AL (on the southernmost tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains) on 7 October, with races at Charlotte, NC on the 13th and Martinsville, VA on 28 October. College football is played on Saturdays for the most part, and the venues range from the gigantic University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (seating 110,000) to small colleges where only a few hundred to a couple thousand students, families, and fans come to watch.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip! Don't let the rattlers in Jolo bite you!

    Foy
    Last edited by Foy; 04-19-2012 at 07:14 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Wow - thank you, Foy! I would never have known those things. I love your tips about listening to the sermons and being amongst some intense snake handling fundamentals. It's really fascinating stuff! Thank you so much for all of that useful information (especially the part about beer being unavailable on Sundays, or any days in certain places. Definitely going to research more into that to avoid any disappointment.) The bike ride sounds unreal too - looking into that now! It's so great to get such awesome tips from you guys! Much appreciated xx

  9. #9

    Default "The Glide" along the Virginia Creeper Trail

    sammyj,

    Amongst our group of cycling friends, we've come to refer to cycling the eastern half of the VCT as "The Glide". One needn't pedal at all for the first 3 miles, light pedaling only for the next 7 or 8, and only slightly more effort required over the final 6 miles to town. At Taylor's Valley, a small community along the trail, there's a spot to purchase sandwiches for lunch and to enjoy homemade chocolate cake, their specialty. From about the 4 mile mark, the rail-trail follows stream valleys, so there are many trestles and innumerable opportunities to stop and enjoy the rushing mountain streams. I've had very good service and reliable equipment rentals from Blue Blaze Rental and Shuttle Service, particularly conveniently located within a few yards of the trail itself.

    Generally speaking, the more rural the county, the more likely it's "dry", meaning no alcohol sales of any sort throughout the county. Prohibition of alcohol sales on Sundays are commonplace even in "wet" counties. If I recall correctly, the entire states of Georgia and Alabama are dry on Sundays, excepting the vendors at the Talladega Superspeedway, where Sunday sales are allowed on exactly two Sundays per year. Here in NC, we still have a few "hot beer counties", where beer may be sold, but it can't be sold cold!

    Foy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default as luck would have it

    I completely stumbled upon the Crooked Road and the Virginia Creeper trail just this past Saturday! I drove it from Damascus to Pound, where I continued north into Kentucky.

    I was just starting the drive home after a night on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and was completely plotting my route as I went. After having lunch in Mountain City, TN, I decided to head north which took me to Damascus, and right along side the Creeper.

    I had no prior knowledge of the area, and really didn't have time to stop, but I was quite impressed by this biking oasis in the middle of the mountains. There had to be at least a half dozen bike rental shops, and tons of people out enjoying the nice spring weather. I made a mental note that this is a place I'd like to come back to, and even more pleasantly surprised that Foy would be talking about it just a few days later!

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