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  1. Default New to Forum - Planning trip from California to East Coast

    Hi, I've wanted to go on a cross-country road trip for a long time, and I'm lucky enough to have the time and money to (barely) hack this next month -- this will be May of 2016. Thanks for having this forum. I'm here reading the boards for any information about staying safe, good places to go, whatever.

    See I really don't have any particular destinations in mind besides how I want to keep a northerly route through the mountainous vastness of Montana. I'm into the scenery and strange new places a LOT more than crowded, touristy destinations. I don't like crowds. One of the final stops will be some relatives in Kentucky.

    I don't know if I have the time to cover such an epic distance; I have a month. I don't know. That's what I'm on here researching for. There's a buddy of mine who may be able to come with me, making the trip a bit more safe.

    Other than changing the tires and getting a tune-up on my 2011 truck, that's pretty much all the planning I've done so far. But I've found during previous road trips that all I really needed was a destination, and the rest fell into place. Though I've never made one this big. We'll see what happens. See u on the boards.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Little Used Cross-Country Roads

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you're looking to cross the country on scenic uncrowded roads, then the Interstates are a godsend. Not because they're what you're looking for but because they take so much traffic off some of the older two-lane roads built long ago to connect small towns and that only later became 'national' roads. Actually, the first one that came to mind when I saw that you wanted to go "through the mountainous vastness of Montana" was MT-200 which goes all the way from near Missoula to nearly the eastern edge of the state. At either end, it connects, more or less, with US-12 - another road that will cover a lot of ground without hitting many, if any, population centers. But somewhere around southwestern Minnesota, you'll need to start striking out to the southeast to avoid Minneapolis, St. Paul, Madison. Milwaukee, Chicago, etc.

    On your way home, you might want to be looking for an entirely different route in order to experience as much of the country as possible. Some routes you might want to look at for such an alternative would be US-36 through northern Missouri and Kansas, US-34/US-40 through Colorado, and US-50 through Utah and Nevada (where it's billed as 'The Loneliest Highway'.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply. I'll take MT-200. A little weird, it looks like it turns into 87 for a while but then turns back into 200. Well cool, MT-200 it is.

    The sheer scope of this trip is only slowly dawning on me, but this'll probably be my only chance to, so... Why not go crazy. I actually would like to see St. Paul, as people from there tend to be pretty nice. But I'll avoid the urban carbuncle around Chicago and Milwaukee (been to Chicago before... meh), and then head down mid-Illinois to Kentucky. From there I'll go to Providence, R.I, and check out the historical architecture and maybe HP Lovecraft's gravestone.

    From there I'll go back west through the South, then Texas, then the Southwest which I've always wanted to see more of.

    I'll have to calculate whether I can afford this, too. Between food, gas, and lodging, I might need to cut down.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-07-2016 at 09:58 PM.

  4. Default

    Been doing some research. Here's the big question: where the hell do I sleep, and avoid trouble?

    See I'm planning on sleeping in my truck. I will buy a camper shell and get a little twin mattress. This will save me an enormous amount of money, but will also make me vulnerable. I know i'm gonna be in lots of different areas but there should be a handful of basic principles for avoiding the riff-raff who might come sniffing around. I may be able to get a .22 rifle to take with me, and I have bear spray. Plus my truck and battery is in pretty good shape.

    I've slept in my truck before in a suburban off-road area down close to Joshua Tree in SoCal without incident, but I think researching how to be smart about this is the most important chore before leaving... I've got the nasty sense that I got lucky, even though the area was recommended to me by a local -- a pleasant lady who worked at Denny's -- and I saw another car parked up there not too far away.

    ... been doing some reading. Maybe this sleeping in my car thing isn't a bright thing to do, even at places that at first blush looked do-able (all-night truck stops, for instance). Especially in the remote areas I want to go. Fuggit, I'm not some tough-ass redneck, I'll sleep in fleabag motels or at the very least some well-populated campgrounds.
    Last edited by Seanathan; 04-08-2016 at 12:57 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default To be safe and legal.

    There is a large number of truck stops which allow overnight parking with permission. I spend a lot of my time sleeping in my van at truck stops. Ask at reception where they would like you to park, and just double check by asking is it OK to spend the night.

    All the facilities are there, usually a restaurant or fast food outlets, or both. There are showers to be had for a fee ($12 - $20) All have wifi, some free. And it is common courtesy to give them your business - fill your tank, eat in the restaurant, etc.

    There is a directory
    which lists those truck stops which make RVs welcome. I always look for a 24 hour place, one with a M or L lot and a restaurant.

    Then of course there are public lands such as State Parks, State Forests, National Forests and BLM lands with minimal cost campgrounds. All have toilets, mostly basic, but sometimes you will strike one with running water, etc. I have always found the local parks, forestry or BLM office to have the most reliable information. Certainly websites have rarely if ever given me accurate information.

    Check your maps, you will see which parks etc. have campgrounds. They are all marked with a small triangle or tent - sometimes green, sometimes red/orange. Good maps have so much information. I trust you are planning with them.

    Never ever have I been in one of the above mentioned campgrounds where I would have needed bear spray. They will have lockers to put your food in if you are in bear country. The only place I have seen these lockers was in Denaly State Park in AK. (I know they are elsewhere, but I have not seen them.)

    You might like to reconsider carrying a firearm. For one, in 200.000 miles as a senior female solo roadtripper much of it sleeping in my van or tent, I have never been in a situation where I could possibly have needed it. Also in many of the places I have mentioned they will not be welcome, and you could actually be in more trouble with it than you will ever be without it.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    If you carry ANY kind of weapon, you won't be welcome in Canada. They will either turn you around, or confiscate it at the border (never to be seen again). You'd also have to have a passport to go over to Canada and back to the USA, but that's another story.

    Bear lockers are in every Yosemite campground, many Yellowstone campgrounds, and Denali National Park (AK) campgrounds (and those just outside of it that have tent spots). In reading literature regarding Glacier National Park, they have campgrounds with bear lockers as well.


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