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  1. Default Epic summer road trip- suggestions needed please :)

    Hey all-

    I get the feeling this post will be long, so here goes... :)

    Me, my girlfriend and two friends are going to work in Canada over the summer (we have the right visas and everything is above board) and are then taking three weeks to travel at the end. We will be leaving Vancouver in late August, and here is a breakdown of our route-

    Vancouver, Canada to Seattle WA
    Seattle WA to Boise ID
    Boise ID to Salt Lake City UT
    Salt Lake City to Moab UT
    Moab UT to Farmington NM
    Farmington NM to Williams AZ
    Williams AZ to Phoenix AZ
    Phoenix AZ to Lake Havasu AZ
    Lake Havasu AZ to Las Vegas NV
    Las Vegas NV to Santa Cruz CA
    Santa Cruz CA to Vancouver, Canada

    It's quite a distance, but we're giving ourselves 16 days to do hit each place, with 6 days spare so that we can see the sights. I've been on roadtrips with my parents before around Arizona, Southern Utah and SoCal, so I know a few of the sights around that way, However, the Vancouver-Moab portion of the trip is entirely new to me, as is the Santa Cruz-Vancouver part (which we will break-up, just we don't know where we'll stop :) ) so what should we try to see along the way? I'm a big fan of Williams, AZ just for it's atmosphere, so anywhere like that would be great. We're after the whole mix- historical (museums etc) cultural (any Native American attractions) natural etc, so any suggestions would be great, along with ideas for places to stay. We will be stopping between these places- these are what we need to hit to keep on our intended route, so ideas for places to stay on the way would be good. We will be on a budget (we're all University students), so any ideas for hostels/cheap rooms/campsites would be gratefully recieved. We know of KOA campsites, and The Crazy Lizard Inn at Moab (or something similar), so does anyone have experience of these places?

    Here comes the next set of questions... (Thanks for staying with me so far!)

    We're going to be buying a car in Vancouver and using it for the trip. We figured that renting would cost around the same amount of money, however if we buy a car, we can sell it at the end to get some cash back. Anyway, since I'm only 20, renting would be difficult. (If anyone has suggestions for good hire companies/deals, I'd be glad to hear them).
    So, the dilemma is- Which kind of car to choose? I got my licence in the UK, and I've only driven small to midsize (Ford Taurus size) cars. When I was with my family in AZ, we used a Chrysler LHS, a Chevy Blazer and a Chevy Astrovan over three trips. The people I am travelling with would prefer something bigger along the lines of the Astrovan, and so I have been looking at Conversion Vans. We like the look of the late 80's/early 90's Ford Econoline/ Dodge B250/ Chevy Starcruiser vans, since they tend to have good levels of equipment, and have the bonus of having four good-sized seats and a fold-out bed in the back. Has anyone had any problems with these cars in the past? What should we look out for?
    Since I have only driven smaller cars in the past, I'm wondering if I may find such a van daunting to drive- I'll like the high driving position, but the lack of visibility may put me off. My idea was to look at SUV's like the Cherokee, but the others are worried that this may be too small. Does anyone know of anything in between? I've seen late 80's Chevy Suburbans in our price range (max Can$2500), but these seem to be even bigger that the Econolines, so can anyone recommend a car that would suit us? A new version of the Volkswagon van (the old Woodstock type) would be good, but I've been warned off buying non-American cars because parts will be easier to find.

    Again, sorry for all the questions, but I want to solve any problems so I can just get in that car and drive :)

    Thanks all for any replies!

    EDIT: My little piece of roadtrip philosophy: "I'm off to shake hands with the horizon, and say hello to everything in between" :)
    Last edited by Lunja; 02-18-2006 at 10:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Questions, Questions, Questions...and Maybe an Answer or Two

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    Yeah, I think epic describes your RoadTrip pretty well. I can't give detailed and definitive answers to all your questions, but I'll at least try to give you a feel for where those answers may lie. It would probably take you 8 days or so to just drive the route you've laid out, so with 16 days, you're basically looking at driving half of each day and sightseeing the other half (on average). If you're '6 days to spare' is in addition to that, then I think you've allowed a good amount of time for this trip. Between Vancouver and Moab, just a few of the highlights might be Mount Ranier National Park, some of these places in southern Idaho, the Great Salk Lake, and Arches National Park. From Santa Cruz back to Vancouver, by all means see some of the coast, and pick from among a host of scenic stops along the way such as the Redwoods and Crater Lake. Here is a whole list of lesser known great stops along the way from a well-informed local. For Native American history, be sure to hit Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, and hire a native guide to take you through Monument Valley. There's a whole page devoted to tips on how to travel cheaply, and I also recommend that you have a look at the various state park systems for great low cost camping.

    As far as the car to buy goes, my only experience with the kind of travelling you want to do is in station wagons many, many years ago, and in Chevy Suburbans more recently on geologic field trips. The Suburban is really just a four-wheel-drive overgrown station wagon. It has great visibility with windows all around, and is not as top heavy as some of the more recent SUV designs. It's been around for nearly forever, so parts should be readily available and resale should be as easy as or easier than any other sport-ute. While it doesn't readily make up into a bed, it does have a ton of room for all your baggage and camping gear.

    Say hello to the road for me.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-18-2006 at 12:44 PM.

  3. Default

    Hey AzBuck- Thanks for the reply.

    I'm in total envy of you living in Tuscon- been there a couple of times and always wanted to go back. Infact, I think I might... :)

  4. Default

    Hello again-

    Bit of a bump I know, but I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good guide book for the west. I read one once before going to Florida and it helped us find lots of new places, so I'd like to get one for this trip. Ideally one for Vancouver, and then a more general one for the American west.

    Thanks all!

    Update: I'm thinking a car will be cheaper, easier to handle, better on gas, and easier to resell. Now to convince the other roadtrippers... lol!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Book Reviews on RTA

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunja
    but I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good guide book for the west. I read one once before going to Florida and it helped us find lots of new places, so I'd like to get one for this trip. Ideally one for Vancouver, and then a more general one for the American west.
    The only book reviews that you will find on RTA are those that we personally recommend. We own them and use them. I would suggest you look through our highway guides section -- my recommendation for an over-all guide would be this one produced by Insight Guides.


  6. Default

    Reading through the forums again I've seen a post recommending that a Canadian citizen takes their birth certificate to the border when trying to enter the USA, and was wondering what documentation you would need to cross the border and return to Canada. I will have my British passport, but I'd rather not take my birth certificate to Canada with me...

    Also with regards to driving over there: I have mentioned that I have no experience driving in North America, and so I was wondering if there are any driving schools in Vancouver that anyone could recommend? I hold a full UK licence but I would like some instruction on how to drive there. Finally, is there a booklet or similar that explains the rules of the road in the US? Here in the UK we have "The Highway Code", but I was wondering if there was a US-counterpart.

    Sorry to keep bumping the post, but I thought it'd save me posting an extra topic

    [As Michael says, this is what we prefer, in fact, had you made a new topic the Moderator of the Day would have merged your posts into one thread anyway. Thanks -- Editor]
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-16-2006 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Added comment regarding protocol

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Passport Power

    Don't worry about the bump, in fact, I actually prefer it. It saves everyone from having to re-explain what you are planning to do!

    You also don't need to worry about a birth certificate if you have a Passport. The Birth Certificate and picture ID is only an option for US and Canadian citizens who don't have passports - which is the vast majority of North Americans.

    As far as a rules of the road book, each state is in charge of its own licensing rules so each state issues its own book. I just did a quick search and found sites for the Rules in Illinois which should at least give you some guidelines of what to expect in the U.S.

  8. Default

    Hi all-

    I'm in Canada at the moment (Vancouver is a beautiful city!) and I'm in a position to get a car now.

    However, I'm still in a dilemma. When trying to get a quote for AutoPlan insurance, the broker who had roadtripped around BC before recommended getting a car for $1500CAN or less, but making sure that it came from people we felt we could trust, ie a private seller, mom-and-pop kinda people. I'm still unsure as to what to do- should I just budget more for a car? Is it going to be worth looking at well-kept older cars? The broker's argument was that older cars are simpler to fix if they do go wrong...

    Either way, what are the key things to look out for when buying a car? I know that blue smoke means stay away, as does turning when braking, but what else do I need to be wary of?


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Find a mechanic!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunja
    Either way, what are the key things to look out for when buying a car? I know that blue smoke means stay away, as does turning when braking, but what else do I need to be wary of?
    Purchase an hour or two of a mechanic's time and have him/her check out cars with you. Another option is to use the services of a broker that will guarantee to re-purchase the car after you are finished with it. One of these firms is Adventure on Wheels -- we don't know much about this firm -- but it is one more option for you.


  10. Default

    I've looked at those guys before, but sadly they are based too far away from Vancouver. I'll have a look for more local places.

    I think I'll have to find a mechanic and do it that way. We want to get a car soon so we can start going up into the mountains, Whistler etc.

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