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  1. #1
    Kate_D Guest

    Default CA to CT - Mostly I-70

    We will be moving from California to Connecticut and have 13 days to get there. We're boldly selling everything we can't fit into our mini-van. With two cars, one with our two toddlers and the other with our stuff, we'll make our way from Monterey, CA to Norwalk, CT. We've got plenty of friends to visit between St. Louis and CT, but I'm not sure what to do about the first stretch.

    Here is the plan for the first part:
    Monterey - Las Vegas
    Las Vegas - Moab
    Moab - somewhere in the Rocky Mtn area?
    Rocky Mtn area? - somewhere in KS?
    somewhere in KS - St. Louis

    Here are my questions:

    Do you know of any rest areas with playgrounds or parks that are near I-70?

    We like to eat healthy food and are going to try to avoid fast food restaurants, any recommendations for picnic spots or interesting restaurants?

    What should we do in the Rocky Mtns? We love camping and were thinking maybe about spending a few days camping, but I have no recommendations for where and I'm concerned about cold weather (early June). A cabin or lodge might be okay too. We love to fish and hike.

    Are there any interesting ghost towns along the I-15 or I-70 route?

    Any idea where to stay overnight between the rocky mountains and St. Louis?

    Thanks!

  2. Default Camping, Ghost Towns and keeping flexible

    In <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:State w:st="on">Colorado</st1:State>, if you find yourself on US50 east of Montrose (in the vicinity of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Black</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Canyon</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">National Park</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>), there are a number of BLM/public campgrounds around the reservoir. Also, I recommend a private campground at <st1:place w:st="on">Cimarron</st1:place>. He has some cabins, and a tenting area although that part was closed last summer when I came through there. The proprietor is very friendly and helpful, and the setting is very scenic

    Another very scenic spot is the Taylor Park Reservoir, northeast of Gunnison (CO). It was a good fishing spot a few years ago when I camped there, probably still is. The old ghost town of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tin Cup</st1:place></st1:City> is nearby, although it may require 4WD to get there, Iím not sure.

    For your stop in mid-Kansas, why not play it loose and NOT plan it? Along I-70, there is no shortage of places to stay Ė motels, campgrounds, etc, so I recommend you keep your plans free and see how far you get. The truth is, Iíd probably do that with most of this trip. If you plan to stop fairly early, you wonít have much trouble getting lodging or campsites, most places, and with kids, thatís a good idea anyway.

    Also, in Kansas, while it is not a ghost town, there is a place called Nicodemus. You can find it on US24 east of its junction with US283 (not too far north of I-70). Nicodemus was a town founded and built by Black Americans -- the result of a "Black exodus" by thousands in the latter 1800s. Many communities were formed by these emigrants, who were looking for a better life away from the hard times and discrimination of the post-civil war south -- they eventually found the same kinds of problems on the Plains, and Nicodemus is the only one of those communities still alive. It once had a population of more than 500. As of a few years ago, the town still had a population of about 50 (and a barbecue place called Ernestine's) according to Ian Frazier in his book Great Plains (from whence all of this information came). Frazier's book can be found on Amazon.com.

    Perhaps others can throw in on some of your other questions or with any differing opinions! Bob

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Adventures

    We will be moving from California to Connecticut and have 13 days to get there. We're boldly selling everything we can't fit into our mini-van.
    Good idea! You can always acquire more stuff and it really is liberating to get down to the bare essentials now and then.
    Here is the plan for the first part:
    Monterey - Las Vegas
    What route are you using? I just did this drive last week -- flowers are still great on CA-152 and I would recommend SR-178 past Lake Isabella for the same reason. However that is a long day to do with a couple of toddlers, if you do it, maybe you should consider a stop at Ridgecrest? If you do continue on through Death Valley, need to consider this a 12-hour day. Even the fastest route is still a 9-10 hour day with a stop in Las Vegas.
    Las Vegas - Moab
    Another long day -- how often are you planning to stop on this stretch?
    Do you know of any rest areas with playgrounds or parks that are near I-70?
    There are a bunch of scenic rest stops along I-70 in Utah around the San Rafael Swell -- but I can't remember any with playgrounds -- but most have picnic settings.

  4. #4
    Kate_D Guest

    Default Thanks for your help!

    The first half of our trip will be pretty flexible. I like the idea of front-loading some of the driving while we're energetic and enthusiastic. Plus, I'd like to get out of my home state before I really feel like I'm on the road. But we do have some extra time... So maybe I will take an extra night between Monterey and Las Vegas. My original plan from Monterey - Las Vegas was down 101 and across at Paso Robles, over to Barstow and up Hwy 15. I'll have to think about it. What's Ridgecrest like?

    We've driven plenty of times up and down the CA coast and have a pretty good idea how our kids will manage the drive. But it would be nice to know in advance what cool stops might be along the way to make it a fun trip for them too. (Fun for my 1 and 3 year old girls involve things like parks, slides, balls, wild flowers to pick, fruit stands, lakes or pools, vending machines with candy, animals, toy stores...).

    We're leaving in early June. If nobody has any advice regarding little kids, I'll try to take some notes along the way and post it here afterwards. It seems that Hwy 70 is a popular route and lots of families do the trip.

    Oh - one other thing. Is the motel 6 in Moab okay? It seems pretty over-priced. Are there other reasonable motels, hotels or hostels?

    -Kate

  5. Default

    If you go to the RTA home page, and use the search function, enter "children" as your search term, it will pull together several articles/essays on traveling with kids for you. These may give you a few ideas! For parks and playgrounds, one possibility is to drive through the towns and small cities instead of bypassing them on the interstate -- and you'll nearly always find a park and playground or two. A quick call to the local Chamber of Commerce can help you find them more easily if the town is a larger one. The Motel 6 in Moab may be a couple of grades nicer than others, or it may simply be that the area can bear a higher cost because of the healthy tourist trade. Bob

    (Added note: If you go to the Motel 6 site, and pull up the Moab location, you'll see from the photo that it isn't the usual "plain Jim" Motel 6. It is a much nicer place, from the look of it)
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 04-29-2005 at 03:56 PM. Reason: Added Motel 6 info

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default an opinion

    Oh - one other thing. Is the motel 6 in Moab okay? It seems pretty over-priced. Are there other reasonable motels, hotels or hostels?
    My opinions about Motel 6 are well documented on this forum. But in general, I have found the accomodations at a Motel 6 are generally inferior to other similarily priced lodging choices in a given market. There never seem to be tubs at Motel 6 establishments and I never tend to look at them for lodging. There are some real sketchy places in Moab. What I would suggest is to NOT MAKE ANY RESERVATIONS until you see the property. There is a really nice lodge -- I think it is the KOKOPELLI LODGE -- but I suspect it will be beyond a reasonable budget. When I was there the last time -- cost was not really much of a consideration.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Dr. T Guest

    Default

    You asked about Ridgecrest. A few years ago my husband and I were driving from LA to Las Vegas. We decided to take the route through Ridgecrest because it would take us through Death Valley and Pahrump. Pahrump is where the late night radio show, The Art Bell Coast to Coast Show, is broadcast--my husband and I both enjoy listening to that program.

    In addition, this route takes you by Edwards Air Force Base (a thrill if you like aviation and space-program history) and the high desert (lovely views!). Ridgecrest is a nice respite in between LA and Vegas. I like the military commuity feel it has, since China Lake Naval Weapons Center is right next store (I'm sure it is why Ridgecrest exists!). My only advice is to drive quickly through the town of Trona outside of Ridgecrest -- I didn't find it a very plesant place.

    We did enjoy our own private air show outside of Ridgecrest when we saw several fighter pilots doing maneuvers. I only wished we had visited the Sequoia National Forest, which, by the map, looks very close by.

    Hope you're able to take this route.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Trona Pinnacles

    Dr. T.,

    Trona is like so many struggling mining towns in the west, too few jobs and too few opporunities for the kids who grow up there. However, in your haste, you missed one of the most amazing places in California. Just outside of town is the Trona Pinnacles area. A truly surreal place, in fact "The Planet of the Apes" used this area for filming. This year, it was home to millions of migrating butterflies and is one of our favorite places to pause...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default The most direct is probably better in the first phase

    The first half of our trip will be pretty flexible. I like the idea of front-loading some of the driving while we're energetic and enthusiastic. Plus, I'd like to get out of my home state before I really feel like I'm on the road. But we do have some extra time... So maybe I will take an extra night between Monterey and Las Vegas. My original plan from Monterey - Las Vegas was down 101 and across at Paso Robles, over to Barstow and up Hwy 15. I'll have to think about it. What's Ridgecrest like?
    Kate, I actually think given the entirety of your trip that you should stick to the original plan and drive from Monterey to Las Vegas the first day. However, I would stil suggest using 152 eastward to I-5 to CA-58 and then over to Barstow and north. Flat-out this is still going to be an 8-9 hour trip, which is more than enough for a first day!

    Mark

  10. #10
    Kate_D Guest

    Default Great!

    Thanks for prodding me out of my Motel 6 rut. I found a hotel in Moab that looks great - Hotel Off Center, owned by the same people as the Kokoalee (or whatever...) hotel. Reviews show it to be inexpensive, family friendly and funky. Sounds perfect for us! I just hope they have availability!

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