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  1. #1

    Default Chicago to the Pacific and back

    I've lived in Chicago my entire life and have seen very little of our country outside of flying to a few tourists destinations such as New York City, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. I'm having heart surgey on July 10th and I'd like to take a 2-3 week drive from Chicago to the west coast, in early September. And I'm not against flying back to Chicago.

    But I'd like to see the country without taking major highways and I'd like to enjoy myself by taking my time, stopping and meeting new people, and seeing interesting things along the way.

    So... My timeline may be a bit aggressive, but I'd appreciate any suggestions for routes to take on my way west and friendly, little, unique places to stop on my way there.

  2. #2

    Default Good luck with the op!

    Firstly, welcome to the site!

    Wow - there are probably dozens of options open to you, just one of which would be Route 66 which, after a short side trip to the Grand Canyon, would drop you right at Santa Monica. From here you could maybe do a circular route (maybe north along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, across through Yosemite, Death Valley, etc into Las Vegas) before flying back. Alternatively you could head north into Utah to check out some of the (in my opinion) more spectacular national parks, across through Colorado, etc. and back to Chicago by a northern route.

    Maybe you could start by telling us how long you have available, what budget you had in mind and, most importantly, what you want from the trip. I'm thinking perhaps long strenuous hikes are going to be out of the question so soon after the op, but are lighter more gentle strolls your thing? Or do you prefer the idea of cities? Over to you!

  3. #3

    Default Chicago to the Pacific and back

    UKCraig, thanks for the greeting.

    Well, I expect to have up to 3 weeks from departure to return and I'll have enough money for a few hundred dollars/day as I've been saving for something worthwhile and I think I've found a good reason following the surgery. I hope to start my journey a few days after Labor Day and go from there.

    But what do I hope to get out of it. Well, I've lived a very structured and straight-laced life and I want to break out. I've never been one to stray off the path to explore but rather form an agenda, plan the route, and stick to it all the way. So I'm not looking for a strict agenda or route, but more of a "point me in the right direction" and give me a few must-stops and I'll do the rest on instinct. I want to meet new (hopefully friendly) people and see some of the rich things this country has to offer.

    Because I've basically seen none of the country, I've considered Route 66 as it seems a natural from Chicago and I'd really like to see the Grand Canyon. But I'd also like to take a northern route, stop and see my brother in Fargo, maybe Mt Rushmore. I've also thought that it would be nice to drive Highway 1 down the California coast. (I own a Ford Explorer but have been considering renting a convertible as the thought sounds really appealing)

    I don't mind cities (lived in Chicago proper for each of my 39 years) and they can have alot to offer, but I think sometimes they lack intimacy. Either way, I'm sure short gentle strolls will be all I can handle no matter what I end up doing. I love camping and would really like to pitch a tent on my journey, comfort permitting, but I'm not opposed to other means of lodging.

    I'm looking for the first real adventure of my life and I want to have some fun along the way.

    So I'm all over the place. I feel like I want to see everything but know thats not very realistic.

    Help !!!!!

  4. #4

    Default Not this time maybe

    Maybe it's not possible to see everything this time but you have the right idea in playing it by ear whilst you're out on the road, so I'm certain you'll love it and want to do it again soon!

    What can I say? Looking at a map here (and I have to confess I've not driven large chunks of it so advice from others will be needed here) there's a route screaming out to me... but do you have enough time or funds to do it in one hit? Route 66 all the way down to LA, Pacific Coast Highway north to San Francisco (fantastic road) then cross country via Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Fargo, then home to Chicago.

    You'll meet loads of interesting people on Route 66, have a fantastic drive along the PCH, see a fantastic city in San Fran, wonder at the spectacle of Yosemite and Yellowstone and, as you near home, you'll get to visit Mount Rushmore and, more importantly, your brother who, by that time, you'll have loads of stories and photos to share with!

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