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  1. Default One Year RoadTrip

    Editor's Note: This trip is now underway -- you can read the periodic field reports here. Although this thread has been closed -- it is still here for ideas as you plan you own trip...

    This is my first time posting to this site although I have been doing quite a bit of reading here over the last few months - awesome website! My brother and I are planning a year long road trip begining next July and ending....well whenever it ends, but we are guessing around one year. I have approximately one million questions and would like to seek any advice, ideas, constructive criticism, etc. that I can get. A few of the particulars:

    1. Idea: Travel through 49 states (probably won't make it to Hawaii)Canada and Baja, Mexico hitting lots of national parks, festivals or anything else that sounds interesting, spending the majority of time camping and having a very loose schedule of where we will be going. I will list a general idea of where we think we may be at certain times of the year below.
    2. Money: Our plan is to have $20,000.00 total to start the trip with, after purchasing a reliable vehicle.
    3. Automobile: ????? At this time we are looking at conversion vans that have a small kitchen, toilet, maybe a shower. We have seen late 90's models with about 70 to 80 thousand miles in the range of $6,000 to 7,000, which is our price range. While we will be doing quite a bit of camping and outdoor cooking, etc. we like the idea of having a small sink, refigerator and stove in the van for the convenience I am sure we will need and want at times. We have looked at Volkswagon vanagons, but most are at least 20 years old and I have questions about reliability and power. Any advice here? We are thinking our gas budget will be somewhere in the $4,000 range for the year, but that will obviously depend on the vehicle and the route. Any ballpark guesses as to how realistic this is?
    4. general route:
    July 15th - Havasupai Falls Grand Canyon
    Aug. 1st - Southern Baja Mexico (La Paz)
    Aug. 15th - Yosemite Natl Park
    Sept. 1st - Black Rock Desert (Burning Man)
    Sept. 15th - Fairbanks, AK - This is a huge question in the trip - When is the best and most realistic time to be able to see the northern lights. I have read a lot of conflicting reports, but it seems like the Fall & Spring equinoxes are both good times and we would much rather go in September than March. Any input?
    October - Montana/Wyoming/Utah
    November - Texas/Oklahoma. Louisiana
    December - Mississippi/Alabama/Florida
    January - Georgia/N. Carolina/Tennessee
    Feb - Virginia/Maryland/Pennsylvania
    March - New Jersey/New York/Rhode Island
    April - Mass/Vermont/Maine/Canadian side of Lake Ontario & Lake Erie
    May - Michigain/Ohio/Indiana
    June - Wisconsin/Minnesota/S. Dakota
    July - Nebraska/Iowa/Kansas

    Obviously I didn't list all states - just wanted to give an idea of the general route. I think we have most of the basic gear covered such as a larger tent for car camping and a smaller(lighter) one for hiking, Dana K2 packs, Dragon fly stove, etc. but we are admittedly mid level campers at best and have lots to learn (and I am sure we will!) I know this isn't very specific, but I would like to solicit some help in all areas from places to go, car/gear advice, pitfalls to watch out for, problems with our general route or the concept as a whole. We also would like to be able to get quite a bit captured on both video and still pictures. Please ask any questions for more specific info and I really appreciate any and all help - THANK YOU!!!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-11-2007 at 11:06 PM. Reason: Add navigation link to field reports

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A Year roadtrip

    Quote Originally Posted by scott5678 View Post
    This is my first time posting to this site although I have been doing quite a bit of reading here over the last few months - awesome website!
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum & thanks for the kudos!
    4. general route:
    July 15th - Havasupai Falls Grand Canyon
    This will be prime flash-flood season and you will need to check the local weather to even see if you can reach the canyon then
    Aug. 1st - Southern Baja Mexico (La Paz)
    La Paz in August? I think you would do better to save this for cooler months and spend more time exploring the southwest since you want to be in Yosemite a week or so later.
    Sept. 1st - Black Rock Desert (Burning Man)
    Well, I hope you like eating dust -- seriously, this will be a memorable part!
    Sept. 15th - Fairbanks, AK -
    You are doing some serious zig-zagging on this trip -- the weather can be already iffy by September in Fairbanks. I am going have to check in with colleagues regarding the northen lights.
    October - Montana/Wyoming/Utah
    October is "perfect" everywhere in North America.

    Sounds like quite an adventure -- I am sure you will hear from more of us as we think about this.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the quick reply Mark - Good point about flood season at Havasu, I will look into it. I agree La Paz in August does not sound like the greatest idea. I have been there in November and it was incredible! I have some friends who may be down there in August so I was considering going down when they will be there, but to be honest I am not sure if it is a great idea to go at all. Between hot weather, bad roads, etc. I am just not sure if it is worth it. But the beaches are awesome - love it near Todos Santos on the Pacific side. Black Rock for Burning Man I am hoping will just be an interesting experience and interesting experiences are what I am looking for! I feel Alaska is what I may need the most help with - I just don't know what to expect. I have been doing some reading, but some real life input from anyone would be great. Thanks again...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default November in Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma

    West Texas and West Oklahoma are probably ok in November. But, camping wise, November is usually a very wet season for East Texas, East Oklahoma and all of Louisiana. But, there are also usually burn bans still in effect from the dry summer months.

    Also - it's a very volatile time for weather. We've hit everything from the 40s to the 80s in the last two weeks and it's rained about every second day. It's a gorgeous time of the year though. We are just now getting our fall colors and when the weather's not at the extremes it's in the 50s and 60s for the most part.

    Just an FYI for camping.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default More weather

    Feb and March in the Northeast can be iffy. Pennsylvania and Maryland in February concern me due to changing conditions in the mountainous areas of those states.

    April in New England can still be rather chilly, though if it's anything like last year I don't see that being too much of a concern.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you as this trip takes shape!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Weather 93,000,000 Miles Away

    Quote Originally Posted by scott5678

    When is the best and most realistic time to be able to see the northern lights?
    The intensity of the aurorae depend on the weather on the Sun and the number of charged particles put out by it. About the best we can do at predicting that activity is to note that it happens on a 22 year cycle and that we're currently coming up on a minimum in such activity. Good for me - bad for you. Other than that, you want to be in the northwoods when you have good long nights, so at least after the fall equinox and before the spring equinox, otherwise, the atmosphere high above you, where the aurorae happen, will be lit even if you're in evening twilight. So yes, as late into fall as you can push it gives you your best chance of seeing exceptional displays. The down side is that it gets very, very chilly at night at that time of year in Alaska, so there are obviously tradeoffs. I think that if you plan on doing your trip entirely by car, being in Alaska in late fall puts you in a tight bind to try get out via the Alcan without a strong chance of a significant weather related delay (or two). There are websites that predict aurorae but these are short-term predictions. Once you're there though, they can direct you to the best areas and times for viewing.


  7. Default Weather

    Thanks for the weather info guys - we are pretty open to changes and may do so based on your input. On the flip side, over the course of the year I think we will run into weather issues of varying degrees no matter what we do, and are prepared (I Hope!) to roll with them. It really helps to hear this type of input as opposed to reading data/statistics on a website. Thanks!

  8. Default

    Thanks Buck - that website is great! I was able to go back to this past September to see the "forecasts" which over the last two weeks of September were higher than any other time projected through mid-December. I know this may not be the same next year, but it is encouraging to see it is a possibility. It also looks like the average temps. at this time range from a high in the low fifty's and lows in the high 20's, which isn't too bad. That website rocks...thanks!

  9. Default Roadtrip update...

    Just thought I would check back on the progress for my upcoming roadtrip this Summer. My brother and I purchased our Van a couple weeks ago and have taken it out camping once so far for a 3 day trip. We are now looking at leaving in early August and based on earlier advice have decided to put the Grand Canyon off until the Fall and still considering La Paz depending on whether friends willbe making it down there. Any state/regional suggestions of great places not to be missed are greatly appreciated! We are mainly looking at hiking/camping/scenery but are looking for any ideas no matter how "off the wall" they may be. Here are some pics of the van:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default That pink color is little intense

    Quote Originally Posted by scott5678 View Post
    My brother and I purchased our Van a couple weeks ago and have taken it out camping once so far for a 3 day trip.
    I like the built-in storage -- looks like a good roadtrip vehicle. It will be interesting to see how long the "pink" color holds up!


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