Hey everyone! I've been poking around this site for a few weeks, and though there is a lot of great information about a cross-country route, I wanted to see if there's anything specific y'all can recommend for my interests (listed below).
I am moving from Northern VA to Portland, OR at the beginning of May. After getting the truck out there, I'm flying back to get my car, and then taking several (3? 4?) weeks with a friend to journey my way leisurely back to the west. I have plenty of time, but don't want to go over 4 weeks; it will begin in early May. The furthest west I've ever been is Minneapolis, but I've explored a lot of the East Coast.
I plan to go north to Ithaca and Buffalo, see Niagara Falls, and then go up to Toronto and across to Detroit, then Chicago. After that, my vision gets hazy. The spots I know I definitely want to hit are Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Yellowstone. Once I get past Yellowstone, I would like to visit my brother in San Francisco and then take the coast up to Oregon.
Beyond that, I'm open to adventure. I love traveling without very solid plans, with a lot of freedom and flexibility. I am interested in seeing/driving through a few parks and forests, I want to see some of the bigger cities, and I'm interested in American history, but not seeing things like, "the spot so and so did such and such". I also have no interest in sports. Locations that are particularly artsy/crafty are of definite interest. Literary landmarks may also be.
As far as lodging - I spent 10 weeks in hostels in Europe and loved the atmosphere, so I'm hoping to find a few of those here and there; if weather permits, I'd love to camp. Otherwise it will be cheap-ish motels.
Food - I've read a lot of the suggestions all over this site about eating well on the road, and I'm generally pretty good about food planning, so I'm not too worried about this. I am, however, VERY interested in experiencing the culture of the various places I end up, so roadside BBQ stands and mom&pop diners and that sort of thing are of great interest. I would love any recommendations of places, anywhere along this very general route, that you have been that were unique, even if not excellent.
Equipment - Roadside emergency kits, power inverter for laptops, etc., little propane camp stove, tent & blankets, lots of water, etc. ... any other particular equipment you'd recommend?
Money - Not a huge concern, but frugality is always desirable. I'm considering getting an annual National Parks pass, and I have several different gas discount cards; do you guys have any other tricks/tips for saving money (beyond the obvious stuff like "don't eat out every meal")?
THANK YOU!!!! I am looking forward to hearing anything you have to offer, and I can't wait to share my journey!