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  1. Default Chicago > Seattle > LA > Dallas > Chicago: My spontanous road trip

    Great forum here. I've just started browsing and thought about posting my trip that I'm about to embark on in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I will be going on this trip solo with the notion to get away from it all.

    The tentative itinerary had me going south first clockwise but I've thought about it and I think I will go counterclockwise and head west to SD > WY > Seattle. Reason for this is I'll be tired of all the driving and sightseeing after 2 weeks that I'll 'recover' in Las Vegas for a few days before continuing onward.

    Initial Itinerary:

    Day 1: Chicago > Dallas (13hrs 926 mi)
    Day 2: Stay in Dallas
    Day 3: Dallas > Albuquerque (10hrs 647 mi)
    Day 4: Visit Albuquerque and drive to LV (8hrs 575mi)
    Day 5: Hoover Dam and LV
    Day 5: LV
    Day 6: LV
    Day 7: Las Vegas > San Diego (4.75hrs 358mi)
    Visit San Diego, drive to LA same day arriving in the evening
    San Diego > LA (2.75hrs 120mi)
    Day 8: Stay in LA
    Day 9: LA > San Francisco (5.5hrs 383mi)
    Day 10: Napa Valley/San Francisco/Big Sur
    Day 11: San Francisco > Redwood Forest (5.5 hrs 310mi)
    Day 12: Redwood Forest
    Day 13: Redwood Forest > Portland (5hr 321mi)
    Day 14: Mr. Rainer -OR- Mt. Hood -OR- Mt. St. Helens
    Day 15: Seattle > Yellowstone National Park (12hrs 788mi)
    Day 16: Yellowstone
    Day 17: Yellowstone
    Day 18: Yellowstone > Devils Tower (7hrs 396mi) > Mt. Rushmore (2hrs 130mi) > Badlands (1.5hr 75mi)
    Day 19: Badlands
    Day 20: Badlands?
    Day 21: Badlands > Chicago (12hrs 840mi)
    + 5 days?

    As mentioned, I'm thinking of doing this route in complete reverse. In addition, I'm also considering of simply heading home after LV which would be a great end to this road trip.

    I have accounted about 5 days into this itinerary as I know that every day will not go according to plan and I'm sure I will add/change my stops.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Feedback? Comments?

    Thanks
    Last edited by machine25; 07-31-2016 at 05:15 PM. Reason: clarification

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

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    One thing you should do right now that will take care of those five extra days: reconfigure days 1, 3, 15, 18 and 21. They are all way too long for driving days. Once you reach about 550 miles, you have driven (and stopped for fuel,food, bathroom,stretches) for 10 hours....a working day. You may not even notice that you are tired, but your reflexes will be lots slower. Besides, if you're trying to clear your mind, this will make it more difficult.

    Day 7: you aren't going to make LV to San Diego in 4-3/4 hours. I have driven that in the middle of the night, when there is hardly any traffic, and it's still longer than that. During the day you will be lucky to make it in six hours, and it is especially bad on Fridays and Sundays.

    Day 14: pick one. You won't be able to do more than look at each out the windshield, trying to see Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens on the same day as it is. Take time, get out at the scenic lookouts, take a little hike. Don't rush!

    Day 18 - ?: it is two days to drive from Yellowstone to The Black Hills area. On one you could take the Beartooth Hwy out the Northeast gate of Yellowstone. On the next, you could do Devils Tower - that's about 30 min off of I-90, takes an hour or two to see, then another 30 minutes back to the freeway. Badlands -- unless you are planning some serious hiking, you could use one or two of those days towards your extra driving days that you need.

    Rapid city to Chicago is going to be another place for a two day drive.


    Donna

  3. Default

    Thanks for the welcome and response Donna.

    I'm used to driving long distances and not worried about that at all. The most I've driven in one day is 18 hours straight after working my regular 8 hour shift.

    Day 1 should not be a problem as I plan on leaving Chicago early in the morning, around 4am, to get way outside the city before traffic.
    Day 3 I'll also leave early in the morning to be in Albuquerque around 4pm in time for dinner and some sightseeing.
    Day 15 I'm using the 12 hours from Google Maps but will have to figure in a few stops.
    Day 18 I intended on leaving Yellowstone around 5am and being at Devil's Tower around 1pm, taking a quick tour and being on my way to Mt. Rushmore for around 7pm, spending 1-2 hours there and driving to the Badlands and spending the night there and sightseeing starting the next day.
    Day 7 LV > San Diego, even if it comes out to 6 hours it will not be a problem. I'm just using baseline numbers from Google Maps to get a general idea of time.
    Day 14 I will most likely only go to one, probably Mt. Rainier and hike there.

    Thank you for the reponse.

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

    Default

    Never ever believe the times that Google Maps, Mapquest, iPhone Maps, or any GPS, give you for travel times. They aren't "real world". In the real world, you are going to have to slow down behind a convoy sometime, construction WILL slow you down (because inevitably, there's a vehicle in front of you that will be 5 miles under the speed limit), you have to get fuel, you have to get food (even if you pack it in your car yourself), you are going to have to go to the bathroom. You're human, and the electronic mapping programs are machines.

    Day 15, Seattle to Yellowstone, 788 miles -- besides being about 230 miles longer than we suggest at RTA -- is NOT going to be any 12 hours. One time, in my husband's and my younger past, we tried a 750 mile day. It was closer to 16 hours and we berated ourselves afterward. Learn from our mistake. Don't do it. Same with that stuff on Day 1 -- no matter what time you leave Chicago, you still will not be in Dallas in 13 hours. IF you survived, without killing anybody else in the process, 925 miles is going to be about 18-19 hours on the road. Would you work at your job that long? Probably not.

    Day 18 -- bear in mind that the speed limits in Yellowstone are 30 mph on most of the roads. If you come across an animal jam -- and that's possible, even (especially) in the wee hours of the morning -- you will stop. And wait. And wait. No getting around them, usually. If you leave via the Beartooth Pass (US 212), you will be driving at 40-45 mph -- any faster, and someone will be planning your funeral.



    Donna

  5. Default

    Thanks for those tips.

    As of yet, I'm uncertain when I'll be leaving but this will be happening in as soon as next week or 2 weeks from now. I still have not purchased any items for this trip except for a portable battery pack, car phone charger, handsfree bluetooth headset, yes, I think that's it.

    Here's what I'm thinking I'll need: (if there's a thread on here, I'll search for it later)
    tent
    sleeping bags/pillows/blankets
    first aid kit
    flares
    fix a flat
    AAA membership
    gas canister
    matches/lighter
    toiletries
    cooler
    map
    clothes for unexpected weather ie raincoat
    umbrella
    SD cards
    tripod
    selfie stick
    camera
    additional batteries & chargers
    hammer and tool set (sockets/wrenches/etc)

    Can't think of anything else that's relevant right now

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We have a thread about packing lists. Everyone is different -- what I'd pack and what you will, would be different things. However, it's a pretty extensive list and may jog your brain a little. Check List for Road Trips thread.

    Instead of a selfie stick (which are not allowed in some places like theme parks), how about just smiling at someone who looks likely and ask if they can take a picture of you with your phone? That's what we've done, on just a few occasions. Or, if I see somebody trying to take a selfie, I'll offer to take their picture -- which has been gratefully accepted 95% of the time that I've offered.


    Donna

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

    Default Do you need them all?

    Rather than purchasing all the items on your list, many of which can be purchased at Goodwill and/or charity stores, why not wait until you need them. For instance, you may not see any rain, and that umbrella may annoy you for the space it takes. Same with the raincoat.

    Batteries are available all along your trip, and you may find at times they will be cheaper than the ones you plan to stock up on.

    What is the gas canister for? How many sleeping bags do you need? and why?

    I have never carried a first aid kit in the US. When I need a headachre tablet, a bandaid or some sunscreen lotion, there is always a store not far away, where I can get them. Anything more serious and it is of to consult a medical practitioner. (At home I carry much more, as at times I can be hundreds of kilometres from the nearest store.)

    Just some questions I thought you may like to think about. There is something strange to me, about having to get everything before you set out, instead of getting them when you need them. You may never use some of the things you start out with.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
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    Umbrella gets stored under one of the seats in our vehicle. It's never in the way, there, and it's immediately accessible if it starts to rain. The first aide kit is under there, too, and we've used that just for a Band-Aid or three.

    Gas canister, I was wondering what you'd need that for, too. Fill up when you get to 1/2 or 1/4 tank (depending on your vehicle) and you should never need it. AAA will bring you fuel if you do get in a jam. They'll change your tire for you, too, but you do have to wait for them to come out.

    As far as a raincoat is concerned, my husband and I don't even own them any more. (Of course, we live where it rarely rains.) We carry ponchos - the kind you buy in a little packet for 99c - and they've never left their original packaging. (We broke down and bought heavier duty ones in Orlando when we arrived just as a tropical storm was leaving. Now they're souvenirs.)

    Donna

  9. #9

    Default

    One great place for getting away from it all during your Yellowstone NP to Badlands NP leg is to drive on US-14A in Northern Wyoming. Look for Bald Mountain Campground and hike to the Medicine Wheel. There is lodging in the area if you are not tent camping.

    Quote Originally Posted by machine25 View Post
    Thanks for the welcome and response Donna.

    <snip, snip>
    Day 18 I intended on leaving Yellowstone around 5am and being at Devil's Tower around 1pm, taking a quick tour and being on my way to Mt. Rushmore for around 7pm, spending 1-2 hours there and driving to the Badlands and spending the night there and sightseeing starting the next day.
    <snip, snio>

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default I'll second that.

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    One great place for getting away from it all during your Yellowstone NP to Badlands NP leg is to drive on US-14A in Northern Wyoming. Look for Bald Mountain Campground and hike to the Medicine Wheel. There is lodging in the area if you are not tent camping.
    A beautiful drive with stunning views and abundant wildlife. Highly recommended!

    Lifey

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