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  1. #1
    sunwater Guest

    Default planning a 10K mile trip

    Hi everyone,

    I'm sort of thinking aloud here and hoping for some feedback. I'm in the initial stages of planning a 60 day road trip for the summer:

    FL > Santa Fe NM > Phoenix AZ > Las Vegas NV > Sonoma Mountain CA > Portland OR > Seattle WA > Missoula MT > Boulder CO > Burlington VT > New York NY > Washington DC > Charlottesville VA > Charleston SC > FL

    Whew!

    Obviously there are some gaps, like in the beginning between FL and NM and also from CO to VT. I'm looking to span those gaps fairly quickly, but any tips on points of interest along the way would be appreciated.

    My main concerns are: is it even possible to see all these places (and enjoy them) in just 60 days? Does anyone know of some really great scenic routes to take along any of the legs (i'm trying to avoid major highways)? Any tips for traveling alone?

    I'm on a strict budget as well, so I'd love to know of any good hostels and cheap eats. I'll be doing most of touring around each destination on my mountain bike, so I'm also looking for some good (not too difficult) trails.

    Another question...will my 4-cylinder Honda Civic handle going up and down mountains easily? I've been debating renting something like a Honda Element, because even though the gas mileage won't be as good, I could camp in it and save some money that way...plus it would hold a lot more gear. Opinions on the Civic vs. Element issue please!

    And lastly (sorry this is so long!) I'm debating whether or not to bring along my dog. She's a good traveler and would make for great company, but I'm worried about finding places to stay. Has anyone on here taken their dog on a major road trip like this, and did it hinder your adventure significantly?

    Thanks for reading, any advice would be great!!

    -annie

  2. Default Quick answers, more to come.

    Here's a quick welcome to the forum -- you'll probably get quite a bit of help with this in more detail, but here are a few things quickly.

    -Don't discount the center sections of your trip such as FL to NM, etc. There is always a wide variety of things to see along the way, and many areas of the USA are under-appreciated by most travelers. Even those areas that may appear "boring" at first glance have their attractions, and these can turn out to unexpectedly be the highlights of your trip.

    Sixty days is a great amount of time to be able to explore, you could use more, and you could do it in less. But it will be easy to plan a trip that makes proper use of the 2 months you have, and it will be a great experience, as you may have already guessed.

    We have many tips for solo travelers already available for you here, so while you wait for responses, you might use the search function and the roadtrip planning section from the Home page and see what you can find.

    Your Civic will do fine on the scenic roads -- you'll likely have no trouble at all, as they are extremely reliable and capable vehicles. Have your mechanic do a quick safety and trip inspection before you go, and be sure to get your routine service work done as you travel.

    And by all means, take the pooch! Only a dog truly appreciates the wonders of a roadtrip -- as evidenced by their boundless joy in hanging their ears out the window and sniffing the delights of the passing terrain! The dog will make the trip better!

    More to come. Bob

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

    Default A Source of Great Wisdom

    Quote Originally Posted by sunwater
    ..I'm debating whether or not to bring along my dog. She's a good traveler and would make for great company, but I'm worried about finding places to stay. Has anyone on here taken their dog on a major road trip like this, and did it hinder your adventure significantly?
    From personal experience, I can attest that a dog can be a fount of roadtripping wisdom. By all means take her! There are more recent guides but this one is a good first step for finding lodging for both of you.

    Megan and I wrote an essay about this topic: "Should I take my dog?" It's a frequent question on the Great America RoadTrip Forum. Our answer? If you're able to, by all means, yes! Animals are often far more able to adapt to both the delights and rigors of road trips than people are, and roadtrips with a canine companion are among the most rewarding. to read more, click here.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default 10,000 Miles in 60 Days

    Well, of course it's possible to see all these places in 60 days. I did a trip of about 7000 miles in 16 days this summer. Your's is downright leisurely in comparison. (You only have to average about 175 miles a day!) You can spend a fair amount of time at each of your destinations and still have time for sightseeing along the way in between. As Bob suggested, see some of what's in between. There is always something. Especially look for state parks along the way to give your dog (by all means, take her) and yourself some exercise. Also, having one or two stops each day breaks up the trip and makes it infinitely more enjoyable.

    As for great scenic routes, I'd start with some of these roads, and then also start looking over your maps. Most road maps today mark scenic roads with dashed lines or some such (check the legend), and besides, almost any road can be scenic if approached with the right attitude. For some general tips on saving money, be sure to check out the Art of the Cheap Road Trip.

    One other general piece of advice. You don't have to plan this trip to death, but it would probably be helpful to start with a general idea of where you'll be stopping and for how long, and how you'll be getting from place to place. Otherwise, you might get so enamored of one area that you spend too much time there and end up having to rush through the rest of the trip. How will you know whether you're behind schedule if you don't have at least a rough schedule?


    AZBuck

  5. #5
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    As far as Scenic Routes... I have to recommend this for your Seattle to Missoula route: Take US 2 over Stevens Pass between Seattle and Wenatchee, and be sure to stop at the Alps Candy Shoppe in Tumwater Canyon (about 5 miles east of the turn-off to Lake Wenatchee, known locally as Coles Corner). It's one of the most scenic highways (In my opinion) between Seattle and Spokane without going through Yakima. US 2 is part of the famous Cascade Loop, and is designated as the Stevens Pass Greenway. While you are on the West side of Stevens Pass, be sure to watch out for a little hideaway called Deception Falls. It's barely signed, but it is a hidden treat that few realize is there. After the town of Index, keep an eye out for a brown sign that will read "Deception Falls, Left 1/4 Mile", and you'll want to slow down there. The parking lot is feet from the highway and the falls actually run under the highway, so its not a long drive into the hills. As far as good eats, I can personally recommend Tom, Dick & Harry's in Monitor. They make some pretty good food, but it can be pricey compared to your national chains. If you venture INTO Wenatchee, some other good places to eat. EZs Burgers on your right at the second stoplight upon crossing the North Wenatchee Bridge (cross is Maiden Lane). Dusty's In-and-Out on your left at the fourth stop light from the bridge (cross is Maple, Dusty's is about 500' prior.) The Windmill next to Dusty's is also a a great place, but it's one of those hard-to-get-into steakhouses... best steaks in North Central Washington.
    From Wenatchee, I recommend taking WA 28 to Quincy, then south to I-90 at George. From there, take I-90 east towards spokane. There is a GREAT restuaunt in Ritzville, on the west side of town, but I forget the name and exact location of it (I visited it only once, but it was great food).

    As far as motels, in the rural areas up in the northwest, Motel 6 and your Super 8 motels are good and cheap. Also, campgrounds in this area are fairly inexpensive, so watch for US Forest Service campgrounds along US 2 and state parks in other areas of Washington and Idaho. You can get a free map from the Washington State Dept of Transportation by visiting http://wsdot.wa.gov

    And about mountain biking... I can gurantee you will be salvating when you enter Chelan County. Some good trails/places to ride- the entire town of Leavenworth, Cashmere is a good area to ride, and the Apple Capital Loop Trail will let you have some great views of the Wenatchee Valley and the Columbia River once you reach Wenatchee. The trail runs along both sides of the river, and crosses the river along US 2/97 at Olds Station and again towards the south end of Wenatchee. You can find trailhead parking at Walla Walla Point Park by following the highway into Wenatchee (it turns into Wenatchee Avenue). You will pass EZ's burgers as mentioned above, and take a left at the third stoplight (Hardy, I belive). Follow Hady over the railroad tracks (there are signs pointing the way) about 1/2 mile (at the curve the street turns into Miller. Look for a sign pointing the way to Lowes Home Improvement and take a Left. Walla Walla Point Park is on the left (and if your pooch gets ill or injured while in this area, just down the road from Walla Walla Point Park is Cascade Veterinary Clinic, and they are THE BEST in the area. I personally can recommend Dr. Womack and Dr. Keppler, as they are the ONLY ones to see my cats up in the Wenatchee area... I thought I'd mention them just in case, ya know.

    The Civic should have no problem with the climbs... as Stevens Pass is easily tackled in a Chevy Metro! Just please, run with your lamps on... safety is everything.

    And... I don't think I can think of anything else.
    -Brad

  6. #6
    sunwater Guest

    Default

    Thanks for all the great tips and links...I'll be sure to check it all out. I am having a lot of fun just planning this trip, I can't wait to actually hit the road! I'm glad to see that everyone thinks I should take my dog along, I really didn't want to leave her behind. Some people think I'm crazy for wanting to take her, so I'm happy for your support.

    Does anyone have a road atlas they recommend above and beyond all others? Or are they pretty much the same, as long as I stick to a big name like Rand Mcnally?

    Thanks Brad for your detailed info on the Seattle > Missoula leg, I've printed it out and will take it with me...and thanks for the vet info, let's hope I won't need it though!

    As for the pace of the trip, The destination points I mentioned are all places where I have family or friends, so I'm hoping to spend a few days in each place. That's why I need to span the gaps between points quickly, but I don't want to miss out on the good stuff in between...I'm planning on stopping every 3 hours and wherever I happen to be, I want to get out and explore.

    Also, does anyone have a tried-and-true road trip essentials kit? You know, things that might not seem obvious to take along, but that some of you have learned through experience came in handy? I've got a first aid kit and a compass...

    Thanks everyone!

    -annie

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    You should be able to do your trip in 60 days. However, I'd make a very loose itinerary. If you have tons of fun someplace and want to stay there, you may have to skip another area. That's not a bad thing. That just means you can do it on another roadtrip right?

    So, my advice is to take your Civic....it will do fine....and enjoy and be spontaneous! You have enough time to do that.

    As for the dog...I have a bit of a different take on this. My dog can't stand heat at all. So I never take her with me when I'm going someplace hot. I like to visit museums and other places where dogs aren't allowed. Heat in the car can kill a dog rather quickly. Cracking the windows isn't enough. If it's warm and I have her with me, I'll put the windshield covers up (one for the windshield and one each for the side windows), roll down the windows several inches, and turn on a small, battery-powered fan to help keep her cool. And then do my errand lickety-split so she's not in the car more than 15-20 minutes. Even then, I get a bit nervous about her. And I'm only talking warm, not hot. I wouldn't dare do that in the heat that you'll find through much of the South and the Mid-west.

    The other matter you need to consider is what types of areas you will be mountain-biking in. Are dogs allowed in those areas? If not, what will you do with the dog when you're enjoying the outdoors? Some areas do have day kennels. But what if they don't? Or what if they are full?

    Gosh....I love my dog's companionship. She's one of my best friends. However, I know that there are way too many things I like to do that would not be fun for my dog when I roadtrip so she stays home with family. Of course, we take her with us on camping trips...gosh, she loves doing that and we love sharing it with her. But a road trip is a whole other situation.

    Anyway, I'm not saying you shouldn't take your dog. I'm just saying that you really need to consider your activities and what you will do with her when you're doing those activities before you make a decision. There are some good books and websites out there with hints on how to handle these types of situations. You might want to do some research before you make a decision.

  8. #8
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    I use Rand McNally maps mostly, and I have a LARGE collection of maps. If you have an AAA membership, their TripTiks provide some good info about areas along your route, small handheld maps (easy for taking a quick glance), and they also have interchanges marked if they have Gas Food and/or Lodging (with G, F, and L, icons). I used one on my last trip, and I enjoyed it. The only con to these is that you have to have a set route.

    But I mainly recommend RM's Road Atlas, either Deluxe or Basic.
    -Brad

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

    Default Maps?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunwater
    Does anyone have a road atlas they recommend above and beyond all others? Or are they pretty much the same, as long as I stick to a big name like Rand Mcnally?
    Like Brad, we have lots of maps here in the RTA office. I keep five within a foot or two of my desk. Our time-tested top recommendations are found on the Maps page.
    Also, does anyone have a tried-and-true road trip essentials kit? You know, things that might not seem obvious to take along, but that some of you have learned through experience came in handy? I've got a first aid kit and a compass...
    Here is what we recommend for winter travel and here are some examples of what many of us carry, 365 days a year. Scroll down on the previous link and look at the posts by Cascadia-Brad and others about essential gear for the car.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-09-2005 at 06:52 PM. Reason: Added a couple of words

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Choices, Choices, Choices

    Annie, you may have noticed that your request(s) have elicited numerous responses. I think that's because the questions you raise are germane to most road trips, so everyone has an opinion, but the answers are a matter of personal preference, so everyone has a different opinion. How can I travel cheaply? How much can I see in the time I have available? Take the pet or not? What I hope you take from the replies is a sense of what your range of options are so that you can then make some informed decisions.

    In that spirit, I'd like to address one of the other decisions you're going to have to make - how much time to spend getting from Florida to Santa Fe. You'll face a similar decision on the Boulder to Burlington leg. You've got some competing goals here. You want to 'span those gaps fairly quickly', but you're also 'trying to avoid major highways' and you 'don't want to miss out on the good stuff in between'. So let's look at two possible ways to get from Florida to Santa Fe. Since I don't know where in Florida you'll be starting from, I'll start from Mobile, AL since you almost have to go through there.

    The most efficient route between those two is basically: I-10, I-49, I-20, US-287, I-40, US-285. Now that's about 1280 miles and would take about 21 and a half hours of behind-the-wheel time to drive. Your numbers may vary, but you could certainly do it comfortably in 3 days. That would be the 'span the gaps quickly' route. On the other hand, let me lay out a possible alternate route that's about 1415 miles long and would take a little less than 30 hours to drive. This could be comfortably done in 4 days and still allow for some stops along the way. From Mobile, you'd take US-98 to Hattiesbug, MS, then US-49 and I-20 to Vicksburg, MS. From here take US-80 and US-65 to Pine Bluff, AR, and US-270 to Hot Springs NP. Continue on US-270, US-71 and US-59 to Mena, AR where you'd pick up the Talimena Scenic Drive, AR-88 and OK-1 to McAlester, OK. Back on US-270 to Oklahoma City then I-40 to Clinton, OK where you strike out cross country again on OK-73, OK-34 and OK-33 through Black Kettle National Grassland. Continue westward via OK-33, TX-33 and US-60 to Pampa, TX, TX-152 to Dumas, TX, US-87 to Clayton, NM, and finish off with the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway (US-64, NM-453, US-56, I-25) into Santa Fe. This would be the 'avoid major highways' and take 'some really great scenic routes' choice.

    So the choice is yours, and you can certainly find routes other than the two I've outlined, but I would also note - in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin - that "guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days". If you spend three days in each of your 13 stated destinations, you will be able to do them justice and still use up only 39 of your 60 days, leaving 21 days for the road trip portion. That would allow you some time to explore the roads less travelled along the way.

    AZBuck.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-09-2005 at 08:59 PM.

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