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  1. Default First timers -- Indianapolis to San Jose, CA

    First time road trippers, and we're moving from Indianapolis to San Jose in late June-early July.

    We want to add a few extra days and make a vacation out of it -- we're shipping our belongings, but we'll have three cats in the car.

    Any advice? Anything we *must* see? I like funky mid-century stuff, mom and pop places, the Old West and anything that's not a chain restaurant.

    We want to stop and take pictures and see things neither of us has ever had a chance to. We want to make memories!

    So please, please tell me we're not crazy for trying this!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise

    Default Lincoln Highway

    At least part of the way, you'll be driving close to the old Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway dating to 1913. It went from New York City to SF. There are lots of old towns along it that are worth investigating.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Which Century?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As RoadDog pointed out, you could follow the route of the old Lincoln Highway for a taste of the early to mid 20th century, or you could follow parts of the old Oregon Trail for a bit of the mid-19th. You could even drop somewhat farther south and a good bit back in time and travel the route of the 17th century Camino Real. But in the interest of time, let's stick with the first two, which cover a lot of the same ground.

    In broad brush, you'll basically be following I-80 west, but that doesn't mean you have to slavishly stay with it for every inch of the trip. In Iowa, be sure to take the side trip to the Amana Colonies. In Nebraska, there are several photogenic landmarks and historic sites. As you cross southern Wyoming, consider slightly larger detours to Rocky Mountain National Park and/or Dinosaur National Monument, but in any event, plan on a stop at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. In Utah, of course, there's Salt Lake - both the City and the Lake, and in Nevada, you can drop south a bit and follow US-50, the Loneliest Road in America. In either case, be sure to spend some time on the western side of Nevada in Virginia City.

    I share your aversion to exit ramp fast food, so what I do, when I'm on an Interstate and find myself getting hungry, is to take the 5 extra minutes and head into a small town (say about 5000 people or so), cruise the main street and find the local diner or restaurant where the locals appear to be eating. It's typically not fine cuisine, but it is value for the buck on most occasions and almost unfailingly served with a smile and the willingness to talk. Finally, for some tips on travelling with cats, read through the posts in this thread. And if you're crazy for trying this, we all went totally bonkers years ago.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Just one more

    Crazy, hardly! Unless you plan to do it in 4 days, you should have a ball.

    The one place I would add is the Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, south of I-80. My parents told me about this place for years, and I just said "yeah, right" until we went there. No place outside of the Smithsonian has a more extensive collection of just about everything you can think of that has been produced in America over the last 100-150 years. No matter what you are intrested in, they've got it, and probably several generations of it. And lest I forget to mention the carousel, its run by a steam engine and costs a nickel! Ya just gotta do it, but plan to spend at least 3 hours.

    There is also a very good restored village in Grand Island called the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. It is a very pleasant place to stretch your legs on a nice day, as well has having several capable craftspersons who demonstrate their 19th century skills.

    Oh, yeah, Fort Bridger on I-80 in SW Wyoming is pretty interesting. They have both a restored late 19th century military fort, and a reconstruction of Jim Bridger's early 19th century trading post/fort. You'll spend an hour or two.

    Good luck with the cats. We've travel with 2 in our motorhome, and once in a car. We keep blue/plastic ice for them to cuddle up to. It seems to us that they handle the heat better than dogs, but talk to your vet.

    I second the comment about taking a few extra minutes to drive into the nearest small town off the highway. Sometimes you find a restaurant gem, or better a great brewpub. If you drive I-70 instead of I-80 there are excellent pubs in Lawrence, KS, The Free State Brewery on Massachusetts Street, and in Hayes, KS, The LB Brewing Company on 11th. I'd be surprised if there isn't at least one on I-80 in Grand Island, NE or North Platte, NE, too.

    For history along I-70, Old Town in Burlington, CO is very good. The indoor museum is interesting and the buildings, outfitted as if the barber, banker, doctor, etc. had just stepped out for a smoke, are very well done.


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