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  1. #1

    Default Boston-Kansas-Boston

    Hi everybody, really glad I stumbled upon this forum, looking forward to receive some input from more experienced roadtrippers.

    This March, I will go on my first vacation in years, and I thought I better make it a special one. Iīll be flying from Hamburg, Germany to Boston on the
    2nd, and will fly back from NYC on the 31st. That leaves plenty of time to spend in these two great cities, but I am also planning to rent a car inbetween for 15 days and hit the road.

    My destination is White City, Kansas, not because itīs the smallest and most boring town in the US, but because I know some people there. But the point of the trip is not really arriving there - I donīt think Iīll spend more than 3-4 days there - but being on the road to WC.

    So Iīm gonna tell you my planned route so far, and would appreciate any opinions about it, especially about:
    -Weather: I know that you never know what youīre gonna get, but if you think that thereīs just no way that you can drive through any of the places in the middle of March, let me know
    -Distance: If you think that any of the routes is too long to make it in one (relaxed) day, tell me about it
    Special Places: If you know any of the places I travel through, tell me whatīs worth seeing, where you can get good food at a good price, or if there are any small and inexpensive mom&pop motels.

    Day 1 (approx. March 7th): Boston - Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
    -I really wanted to travel through Pittsburgh, but figured itīd be too long to make it in one day, so this seems like the perfect small town in the East, about halfway inbetween. Plus, I found a really charming guesthouse there.
    Anybody know this town? Must be a great town if itīs named after an athlete, still looking for the day when Iīll be staying in a town called Michael Jordan.

    Day 2: Jim Thorpe - Pittsburgh
    -One of my favorite books is Michael Chabonīs "Wonder Boys", and ever since I have read it I have wanted to go to Pittsburgh. I donīt even care if itīs anything like in the book, but I just have to go there, even if I donīt see much of it. So far, the best lodging I have found for Pittsburgh is a Motel 6, so Iīd really appreciate any help finding a more unique motel.

    Day 3: Pittsburgh - Indianapolis
    -I knew Day 4 had to end in St. Louis, so Indianapolis seemed to be on the way. If anybody knows a better city to spend the night between Pittsburgh and St. Louis, let me know. I could, however, try to get a ticket to the Big Ten Basketball Championship, so maybe Indy is not the worst idea. Anybody know how to get tickets?

    Day 4: Indianapolis - St. Louis
    -One of the least favorite books I have read is Johnathan Franzenīs "The
    27th City", but even if I didnīt like it too much, it made me really want to see St. Louis, especially the Arch. Actually, the setting of the book was the only reason why I read through it. Best lodging I found for St. Louis so far is the Huck Finn Youth Hostel, anybody know it? I will be staying in a lot of Hostels throughout my trip, I know I canīt expect too much comfort in those, but they should be a way to get a good nightīs sleep for little money, right?

    Day 5: St. Louis - White City, Kansas
    - I can already see the beautifully dull landscape of Kansas before my inner eye, I bet as soon as I enter WC I will wish that I had stayed at one of the great cities along the way instead. But memories still make WC look like the most beautiful place on earth, so thereīs no way Iīm driving all the way to Kansas without spending a few days here.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So far, thereīs not much point in talking me out of this trip, this is the part that I think I am going to do like this no matter what. As for the way back to Boston, I thought Iīd take a different route, which would take me further to the North. But for the way back, Iīm not really quite convinced yet myself, so if there are any objections to this route, Iīm have my ears wide open. Also, any alternatives are more than welcome, for the cities on the way back to Boston, I had no such inspirations as books, so if you know any cities along the way that are more worthy to be seen, tell me about it. Anyways, hereīs what I had in mind:

    Day 1 (approx. March 15th): White City, Kansas - Des Moines, Iowa
    -Iowa may sound just as boring as Kansas, and I bet it is, but if you want to go North, I guess passing Iowa makes sense

    Day 2: Des Moines - Chicago
    -Not really too convinced about going to Chicago, so Iīm open to any other cities in that area. Would be cool if they were somewhere by the lake. Or is Chicago the place to go? Hm, just donīt know...

    Day 3: Chicago - Detroit
    -Not sure if Detroit is too pretty, either, but I think I like Detroit, so why not go there.

    Day 4: Detroit - Niagara Falls
    -OK, if youīve been wondering "Why is the guy driving all the way to the North if he doesnīt like any of the cities heīs going through?", now Iīm getting to the part I really wanna see - if the wheather permits driving there, that is. Niagara Falls sounds like a nice place to see, and then I was thinking about heading up to...

    Day 5: Niagara Falls - Toronto
    -...Canada! I really want to go to Canada. Bad idea that early in the year? Let me know! Toronto is one of the cities I think I would want to live in, and I have never even seen it.

    Day 6: Toronto - Montreal
    -Montreal must be a nice place, as well - if only people there knew how to talk English ;-) But isnīt Montreal even further North than Toronto? I can already see icy roads and lots of snow. Somebody calm me down, or at least talk me out of driving there all by myself :-)

    Day 7: Montreal - Portsmouth, New Hampshire
    -Never been to New England before, but itīs already my favorite part of the US. So much beautiful landscapes. I think Portsmouth is the perfect place to end my road trip (if I make it this far in the first place), before Iīll drive the short way to Boston the next day to return the car.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So like I said, Iīm really looking forward to this trip, but Iīm also open to any suggestions, especially for the way back from Kansas.
    I think most days I wonīt drive more than six hours a day - anybody disagree?
    As for expenses, I was thinking about spending $30 a day on average (that does not include gas or lodging, only food and whatever else I may find to spend money on) - does that sound reasonable? Iīm sure I will think of more questions before I leave, but thatīs should do for now, really looking forward to everybodyīs two cents - Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Hostels are not like those in Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fredinand
    Hi everybody, really glad I stumbled upon this forum, looking forward to receive some input from more experienced roadtrippers.
    Welcome to the Forum!
    Best lodging I found for St. Louis so far is the Huck Finn Youth Hostel, anybody know it? I will be staying in a lot of Hostels throughout my trip, I know I canīt expect too much comfort in those, but they should be a way to get a good nightīs sleep for little money, right?
    Put hostel in to the search function (green navigation bar) above and read our comments. I would stay away from hostels in the USA. Motels are a better deal in most cases and far more pleasant! --- I am in the field right now and will be able to respond further later tonight.

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Mark for the welcome and for your heads-up on US hostels, I just used the search function. Iīm still not really scared away, seems to me like as long as you look closely after your belongings and donīt expect a hotel suite, they are still a place to sleep at a very low price. I understand that itīs not the best thing for everybody, but for me and my budget, it seems to be good enough. I am a little concerned about a lack of parking space at those hostels that are located right in the cities, but some of them state that they have private parking spaces available. I would probably look to sleep in a motel every other night or so, just to have some privacy and a (hopefully) clean shower, but unless ssomebody gives me more reasons not to stay at a hostel, I wonīt give thath idea up completely.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A few thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fredinand
    This March, I will go on my first vacation in years, and I thought I better make it a special one. Iīll be flying from Hamburg, Germany to Boston on the 2nd, and will fly back from NYC on the 31st. That leaves plenty of time to spend in these two great cities, but I am also planning to rent a car inbetween for 15 days and hit the road.
    Sounds good to us.
    My destination is White City, Kansas, not because itīs the smallest and most boring town in the US, but because I know some people there. But the point of the trip is not really arriving there - I donīt think Iīll spend more than 3-4 days there - but being on the road to WC.
    There are no boring places!
    -Weather: I know that you never know what youīre gonna get, but if you think that thereīs just no way that you can drive through any of the places in the middle of March, let me know
    After living and driving in Hamburg, I don't think you will find any driving condition very challenging in the USA (except for the reduced driving speeds....)
    Special Places: If you know any of the places I travel through, tell me whatīs worth seeing, where you can get good food at a good price, or if there are any small and inexpensive mom&pop motels.
    For my money -- most corporate-run motels are a better bet than independent Mom & Pop motels. But there is a huge range of opinion on this subject -- be sure to look at the posts found in the Cheap RoadTrip Topic section. Also, here are some useful budget tips.
    Day 1 (approx. March 7th): Boston - Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
    -I really wanted to travel through Pittsburgh, but figured itīd be too long to make it in one day, so this seems like the perfect small town in the East, about halfway inbetween.
    Good plan, I am not familiar with Jim Thorpe, but it would be a long haul to do Boston to Pittsburgh.
    Day 2: Jim Thorpe - Pittsburgh -One of my favorite books is Michael Chabonīs "Wonder Boys", and ever since I have read it I have wanted to go to Pittsburgh. I donīt even care if itīs anything like in the book, but I just have to go there, even if I donīt see much of it.
    Pittsburgh is one of my favorite towns. Be sure to drive through the tunnels early in the morning on the approach to downtown -- it looks like one is driving to the Emerald City. Gerald Thurman filed a good report about his visit to Pittsburgh that you might find helpful
    Day 4: Indianapolis - St. Louis
    -One of the least favorite books I have read is Johnathan Franzenīs "The
    27th City", but even if I didnīt like it too much, it made me really want to see St. Louis, especially the Arch.
    Make sure you watch the movie in the visitor's center -- it is superb and take the ride to the top of the arch! Also go have the world's 2nd best margarita in St. Charles!
    So far, thereīs not much point in talking me out of this trip, this is the part that I think I am going to do like this no matter what.
    No argument from me. I like Kansas!
    Day 1 (approx. March 15th): White City, Kansas - Des Moines, Iowa
    -Iowa may sound just as boring as Kansas, and I bet it is, but if you want to go North, I guess passing Iowa makes sense
    Iowa is a quirky place. Here are some really cool things to check out.
    Would be cool if they were somewhere by the lake. Or is Chicago the place to go? Hm, just donīt know...
    Another cool place is northwest Indiana -- many folks (including locals) have no idea what can be found here.
    Day 3: Chicago - Detroit
    -Not sure if Detroit is too pretty, either, but I think I like Detroit, so why not go there.
    Make sure you make some time to go to the Henry Ford Museum in Deerborn!
    Niagara Falls sounds like a nice place to see, and then I was thinking about heading up to...
    Yeah, that is fun. Be sure to take the boat tour and also go to the Canadian side!
    Day 6: Toronto - Montreal
    -Montreal must be a nice place, as well - if only people there knew how to talk English ;-) But isnīt Montreal even further North than Toronto? I can already see icy roads and lots of snow.
    Remember--- you live in Hamburg! Take it easy -- frequent poster -- Gen -- is an expert in this area.
    I think most days I wonīt drive more than six hours a day - anybody disagree?
    Perhaps actual driving time -- but you will be stopping to check things out, so I would think you need to expect a minimum of 8 hours in the saddle each day.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Montreal

    Guten Tag!

    Montreal must be a nice place, as well - if only people there knew how to talk English ;-)
    Ah, well you should investigate a little more:-), because more than half of the population is bilingual in Montreal -- Meine Muttersprache ist Franzosisch aber Ich spreche English...und ein Bi[ss]en Deutsch:o) I know lots of areas where you won't even hear a single word of French. Montreal is a very cosmopolitan and ecclectic city with a European twist, where you can find virtually any kind of food and entertainment. There are a few posts on this forum about Montreal like this one and that other one.

    But isnīt Montreal even further North than Toronto? I can already see icy roads and lots of snow.
    Well, March doesn't look so bad to us, we have colder months! Montreal is only 6 hours east of Toronto so you won't see much difference in the weather. Personally, the worst snowstorms I saw were around the Great Lakes (Ont, OH, PA, NY) not in Montreal but we do have snow and it does get cold in the winter. Make sure your rental car has winter tires!

    Talking about cold weather, you should make a little detour towards Quebec City, and spend a night at the Ice Hotel! The city is even prettier than Mtl. Just walking in the streets and follow the old walls is an experience in itself. I admit the road is not very scenic between Mtl and Quebec City but it's worth the drive. Try out a "poutine avec saucisses" at an Ashton Restaurant and Au Petit Coin Breton on St. Jean St, be sure to visit the Terrasse Dufferin, the Chateau Frontenac and the lower city (Petit Champlain) and be sure to have warm clothing with you (hat, scarf, gloves, coat the whole kit).

    Have a great trip

    Gen

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks Mark, Merci beaucoup Gen (and I wasnīt too serious about my comment about Montreal, je parle francais seulement un petit peu, and I probably made plenty of mistakes in that sentence already, but Iīm sure I would be able to communicate with anybody in Montreal somehow, I even know some sign language, and Iīm not only talking about "the finger").

    I liked the tip of skipping Chicago and instead spending the night in northwest Indiana, or maybe southwest Michigan, I found a place there thatīs just across the Indiana border, anbody know Bent Harbor? And I think I will also skip Detroit as well, instead staying somewhere across the Canadian border. I live in a big city, so why should I only stay in big cities along my trip?

    And Montreal sounds like a really cool place too, and Iīm not talking about temperature this time ;-) That Ice Hotel looks nice, must be nice to spend a night there, maybe I should start playing the lottery.

    However, right now Iīm just not sure about the trip back from Kansas to Boston. I have come up with 2 alternative routes, and I think I wonīt decide which way to drive back until Iīm in Kansas, see how exhausting the trip to there was, what the weather is like in certain areas etc. Or perhaps I realize that all my stops on the way to Kansas were so deserving of a return that Iīll just take the same route. Or I just stay in Kansas and start a farm, donīt think they have enough of them yet... Possibilities over possibilites. But whatīs most important first is to make it to Kansas safely, everything else I will worry about, then.

  7. Default Farms in Kansas

    If a farm in Kansas is what you think you want, you'll be able to find a few for sale, that's for sure. You should really give this some thought though... :)

  8. #8

    Default

    I need to drag this back to the top as my trip is coming closer.

    So, I have made a reservation, my route for the way to Kansas is still about the same, and I canīt wait for the adventure to start.

    I have to admit that I was a little worried when I heard about those crazy snow storms in the North East last week, anybody know if there is supposed to be more of the same in the next weeks? I guess I will have to see for myself once I get to Boston, I still have a few days there and could cancel my reservation for the car if the weather is too extreme. But Iīm just hoping that all the snow that came down is going to be enough for the next month or so.

    I have dropped the idea of staying at hostels along the way, instead Iīm planning to stay at cheap motels or with some people I have contacted through hospitalityclub.com, seems like a great idea for people like me who are traveling alone and on a small budget.

    I wonīt worry about my route back to Boston until I make it to Kansas, donīt know if Iīll take the longer way through Canada or just the same way that I came.

    I have one question about rental cars, though, which I could not find on the alamo homepage: Can I expect their cars to have winter tires, or do those cost additional fees or are unavailable altogether?
    And whatīs the best internet site to get weather updates, especially about snow fall/storms?

    Alright, thatīs it, now all I need to do before my journey can begin is to finish Steinbeckīs "Travels with Charley" :-)

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

    Default Weather is darn right odd this year!

    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fredinand
    I have one question about rental cars, though, which I could not find on the alamo homepage: Can I expect their cars to have winter tires, or do those cost additional fees or are unavailable altogether?
    Most rental car fleets do not install winter tires on their cars. In addition, most rental cars prohibit the use of chains and other traction devices. So, you really won't know what you will have until you arrive. Incidently, we have recently "inked" a deal with Travelocity and so now you can use this site for making car rental reservations.
    And what´s the best internet site to get weather updates, especially about snow fall/storms
    ? Well, that would be us, of course.... Seriously, the weather reporting sites keep changing their formats as new products are released and so we try and keep on top of the best and update our road conditions links page. There are a variety of options, so take a look at our list and choose the best one for you. #1 Advice -- carry a list of the local road/weather condition hotlines with you and check them frequently. Also, I never go anywhere without a NOAA weather radio in the car. They are cheap and well worth it.
    Alright, that´s it, now all I need to do before my journey can begin is to finish Steinbeck´s "Travels with Charley"
    :-) And don't forget your own copy of ROADS FROM THE ASHES...

    Have fun!

    Mark

  10. #10
    travel_monkeys Guest

    Default

    Some random ideas:
    1. The famous covered bridges of Parke County, Indiana, 2 hrs west of Indianapolis.
    2. beautiful Dubuque, Iowa. There's the NPS's Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, and a Pittsburgh-esque incline up a hill to a great view of the Mississippi. Also, downtown Dubuque is like a page out of the 1800s. Take time to walk along the riverfront too.
    3. Pittsburgh is one of the most underrated cities in America. Take the Duquesne Incline up Mt. Washington for the best view in urban America. Also, check out the Andy Warhol musuem for some classic American art. And take some time to visit Pittsburgh's unique neighborhoods such as the Strip district and it's many produce markets, or South Side and it's old rowhouses and eating establishments.
    4. Take a ride to the top of the he St. Louis Arch, and check out the neat exhibits on St. Louis history on the ground floor.
    5. Head over to 18th Street & Vine in Kansas City for the American Jazz Museum and the Museum of Negro League Baseball. There are also some great live music establishments in that neighborhood, which is a historic hub of Afro-American culture.
    6. Check out the fire in the ground in Centralia, PA. It's a former town of 12,000 people that's now almost completely abandoned. There's an underground mine fire that's been burning for 40 years and they had to evacuate. There are signs saying don't go here and the ground might collapse, and really it might. But people still go there to check the place out because it's so bizarre. There's steam coming up from underground, and the few houses left have crazy supports so they don't collapse.
    Have fun.

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