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  1. #1

    Default Help me plan Montreal to Los Angeles road trip in April

    Hey guys, I'm happy to have found this website and thank you in advance for any input!

    This isn't my first coast to coast road trip as I'm from Los Angeles and drove to Montreal to stay with my girlfriend in November. Brought my dog and a friend of mine accompanied as well. We drove along the route 66 all the way to Chicago, then to Niagara Falls where we crossed the border and up to Montreal. As enjoyable as this was (the good and bad of this trip would have to be told in a whole other talk) I'd like to take a new route going back to explore more! Unfortunately, I'll be driving by myself this time unless some last minute changes to my girlfriend's schedule. I'm really not concerned with the fastest route, but I am short on budget as I won't have someone to share the cost this time. I have no problem and do plan on sleeping in my car many of the nights as we did coming up. This time of the year should be a piece of cake considering it'll be a lot warmer.

    So here are some things I'm considering as I plan this trip:
    #1 Dog! Ava is a young Border Collie mix who needs lots of exercise but can still handle long hours sleeping in the car. Both her and I prefer the outdoor adventures rather than the city life. Although I've come across many state parks which turn down dogs.
    #2 Stick to north side drive or go south first? I have done the LA to Dallas drive and I remember it being boring never ending straight lines.. But it will be warmer in the south. I'm very sick of the cold here!
    #3 Racism? Hey, America isn't perfect. I'm a Japanese-American and while I'm not concerned about being in physical harm, I would rather not be in uncomfortable situations as we found ourselves in some of the states we passed coming up.
    #4 Photography. Landscape photography is a big love of mine so I would love to visit some great sights of America.

    What states, destinations, would you choose??

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default It's your call.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It sounds as though you have a vehicle where you have room and can lay out properly and sleep as you done it on the way there, but generally speaking you can't beat a good nights sleep in a proper bed.

    What with the love of the outdoors and an interest in landscape photography, it's pretty tough to beat the changing landscapes through Colorado into Utah and Arizona and is what I would be looking at. Lots of scenic drives, State and National parks, small towns etc. There are options further north as well, but Yellowstone which is a big crowd puller will still be in winter mode. Where you go and how long you take probably comes down to just how tight your budget is, but at the end of the day it's down to you. Get a good map to study and search around the forums and road trip planning pages above and when you have a few dots on the map and some ideas in the bank, we can help piece it together and make suggestions. I can't comment on racism other than to say that I am surprised you were subject to it at some level at all and even more so on more than one occasion by the sounds of things. In all the States I have travelled through I ave not seen or sensed it happening at all.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It sounds as though you have a vehicle where you have room and can lay out properly and sleep as you done it on the way there, but generally speaking you can't beat a good nights sleep in a proper bed.

    What with the love of the outdoors and an interest in landscape photography, it's pretty tough to beat the changing landscapes through Colorado into Utah and Arizona and is what I would be looking at. Lots of scenic drives, State and National parks, small towns etc. There are options further north as well, but Yellowstone which is a big crowd puller will still be in winter mode. Where you go and how long you take probably comes down to just how tight your budget is, but at the end of the day it's down to you. Get a good map to study and search around the forums and road trip planning pages above and when you have a few dots on the map and some ideas in the bank, we can help piece it together and make suggestions. I can't comment on racism other than to say that I am surprised you were subject to it at some level at all and even more so on more than one occasion by the sounds of things. In all the States I have travelled through I ave not seen or sensed it happening at all.
    Thanks for your feedback!

    Colorado and Utah are 2 places I've never been that I have always wanted to see! My car is just a regular car, Acura TL. It does definitely mess up my back sleeping in it multiple days at a time but as long as I get on a bed and shower every few days, I'm fine. I am concerned about how many days it can take not having someone to share the saddle time. It took us 7 days driving up, although we made many detours.
    As far as racism goes, it was nothing bad, we just felt the uncomfortable gaze in certain places where we were the only colored people as I'm Asian and my buddy is Mexican. We were turned down entry in many restaurants in the Brady District, Oklahoma but I choose to believe it is only because they had passed closing time even though there were people inside and some of them definitely had a later posted closing times.. This area was very richy-fancy dressed people so maybe they thought we were homeless.. idk for sure. We found a food truck on the street so we got to at least eat and we spent the night in the car parked at a nice park(so technically we were homeless lol). Next morning though, we entered a nice cafe with very friendly staff. So I must keep Oklahoma in mind still as the shady spot according to my experience on the road. I understand though, when you're in a place surrounded with only one race, it is something of an odd sight to see others so it doesn't bother me most of the time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    If you just needed to get from Montreal to LA, via fastest route it's 5 days with no diversions. Does that help?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    At just under 3000 miles, going across Canada, through Detroit, then down to Indianapolis and across I-70 till you get to I-15, then south on I-15 to I-10 in LA, is possible in 5 long days driving. Add a 6th day if you stop anywhere for sightseeing along the way. This route may be about 200 extra miles but avoids Chicago and takes you over some of the most beautiful interstate highways in the US: Denver to Cove Fort (at I-15 south), UT.

    In CO and UT, folks are so used to travelers from all over the world that they probably wouldn't pay that much attention to you. If they do, smile, be friendly, say hi. At least, this has been our experience.

    As far as budget is concerned, my husband and I have done many trips on a strict budget. We will use coupons for cheap motels if we can possibly do so -- find these at the state welcome centers or in truck stops/travel centers. We definitely have been happier about gasoline since someone thought of the Gas Buddy app (or the website, before that), because we will look for the most reasonably priced fuel we possibly can find. But our easiest way to save is on food! We pack snacks, juices, and beverages purchased at a regular grocery store or discount store, before we go, and then if we need to stock up along the way, we avoid convenience stores and head for local grocery stores! We either eat at the motel's breakfasts, or we eat a good breakfast along the way, eat our snacks for lunch, and for dinner we can either go out, go to a grocery store and buy food from their take out counter or their freezer zone (if the motel has a microwave in the room), or cook our own meal using an electric fry pan. (We have to be careful about the latter. Some motels are specific about "no cooking in the room except in the microwave" or "no cooking in the room at all".) We also carry our own coffee makings, but we make room in our vehicle for that. I'd rather save money on food and use the savings to stay in a motel with a bed, personally.



    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    Colorado and Utah are 2 places I've never been that I have always wanted to see!
    There you go then ! So many great options through here it's hard to decide, but the good news is there are no wrong choices. You might want to budget for a hotel [or two] in the Rockies as it can still be pretty cold at night. A lot will depend on if you have more or less of the same time going out, or the same of course. You could get west of Denver, say Idaho Springs CO in 4 comfortable days flying solo. With only 3 days remaining you could;

    1) Head to Moab [ with nearby Arches and Canyonlands and Dead horse point State park] while detouring off I70 over the continental divide at Loveland Pass on US6 and the taking UT128 through Castle Valley on the way. After a stopover, drive down through Monument valley on 163 [the famous Forest Gump view] to the South rim of the Grand canyon and then next day to LA. Of course there are fees to enter National parks etc so that will depend on your budget.

    2] Continue on I70 past Moab and visit Bryce canyon and Zion NP and then head to LA on I15 from Springdale UT.

    3] Instead of I70 head down to Colorado Springs in the first 4 days then head west on US24 through Woodland park [views of Pike Peak] to US285/50. US50 will take you over Monarch Pass and through Currecanti Nat rec area and past Black canyon of the Gunnison to Montrose. Then head south on the spectacular 'Million dollar Highway' [US550] towards Durango through the mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton. Stay in one of these two towns the night, Ouray has a cool little campground and I don't think they would object to car camping. From Durango you could drive to Four Corners [small charge] and Monument valley with the option of visiting Mesa Verde or Grand canyon. You could overnight around the GC, or if thats not in your budget/time restraints, perhaps down towards Sedona and then to LA the following day.

    These are just 3 ways of several options of mixing and matching route numbers and what you can do and see will depend on time, but it should give you some places and options to look at and see what grabs your attention. Once you have got the basics sorted we can help put it together.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Public Lands Campsites.

    In the western States there is a lot of public land where you can park and sleep in your car. Some are free campgrounds with primitive toilets. BLM lands are the best to park with a dog. Best way to find out where these places are is check the BLM office in the area. At the visitor centre they should be able to tell you if there is a BLM office in town. If not, enquire at a Forestry service office.

    On my recent trip I found these places very underused. Often I was the only one.... in the middle of August.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    There are some really pretty BLM campgrounds outside of Moab, on the state route between Cisco and Moab, and most are under $10/night.


    Donna

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for all the input! So it seems like the best option to go through Colorado and Utah. I will be passing through Denver for sure as I have a friend I can visit there. I will have to do more research on these places to figure out what I want to see the most but thanks to Dave for the detailed options!

    So working backwards on the route, before Denver, I see the options I-70 through Kansas, Missouri or the I-80 through Nebraska, Iowa and so on.. What do you guys recommend? Should I just follow the fastest route and see what I see? Farther back north, I think I will cross the border into NY state so I don't have to go through nightmare Toronto.

    Thank you for the budget advice Donna, the main thing I should do instead of being lazy and getting snacks/drinks at whatever gas stations I pass like my last trip, find grocery stores and stock up. I am a food lover so I will have to cough up the cash to visit some famous restaurants along the way.

    I don't have a tent but would it be a money saver to buy one and find these campsites and get to sleep laying down?? Or too much trouble.. If I'm sleeping in my car anyway, I'll park anywhere that looks like I won't be bothered.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I don't have a tent but would it be a money saver to buy one and find these campsites and get to sleep laying down?? Or too much trouble.. If I'm sleeping in my car anyway, I'll park anywhere that looks like I won't be bothered.
    These days, local areas are becoming pickier about people staying overnight in their cars just anywhere. We had a man staying overnight in his car on our street. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong place several nights running, because he parked right in front of a home owned and occupied by a San Diego police officer! They chased him off, I guess. Wal-Mart in our area USED to allow overnight parking in its lot, and now it does not. Same with Home Depot and Costco. Your best bets, though not nearly as quiet, are truck stops/travel centers.

    As far as the cost of a tent is concerned: personally, I would find that much more comfortable than my car. A tent and a decent sleeping bag can be found for less than $200, and will last forever if taken care of properly. In April along I-70 west of Denver, however, your sleeping bag will have to be a 4-season (more $$$) bag, because it'll get colder there. You might opt for a cheaper motel in that area. Tents and sleeping bags can be purchased at Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, REI, and (online only) a place called Campmor. BTW, I vouch for Eureka tents. We've had 2 or 3 of them over the years. 25 years after we bought one, I contacted Eureka about how to repair something on our first Eureka tent, and they gave me step-by-step instructions and sent me the needed supply to do it -- gratis. That kind of service can't be bragged about, enough!



    Donna

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