Was hoping some knowledgeable folks could take a look at this itinerary and see if there are any glaring omissions, miscalculations, or aught else. I'll more than likely be doing most of the trip alone, starting mid-July (of this year, assuming I don't lose the nerve to quit my job in the teeth of these Tough Economic Times(tm)), driving my '04 Titan pickup, and trying to camp most of the time. I'd be starting off in Orange County, CA and going clockwise.
I want to hit all 48 states. I've traveled quite a bit in the southwest (e.g., Southern Utah, Arizona) and lived a few places in other parts of the country (e.g., Seattle, NYC, Boston). I like (day-)hiking, especially if there are mountains and rivers involved, and enjoy history, particularly WWII and aviation history. Not so much into nightlife, partying, live music, or quaint towns with antiquing-based economies. I'll probably have my 18-speed and inflatable kayak with me.
Here's my current list (with a few explanations and implied questions thrown in) -- the non-parentheticals are the locations I have entered into my AAA itinerary, which seems to grant them more-official status than the parentheticals:
Orange County, CA (Reagan Library?)
Santa Barbara, CA (Hearst Castle?)
Big Sur, CA
Lassen Volcanic NP
Crater Lake NP
Coos Bay, OR
Newport, OR (Go clear up to Astoria?)
Mt. St. Helens NVM
Mt. Rainier NP
Tacoma, WA (Parents live here.)
Victor, ID (Friends live here.)
Sheridan, WY (Brother lives here.)
Devils Tower NM (via Spearfish Canyon/Hwy 14A and Deadwood?)
Mt. Rushmore NM
Badlands NP (Minuteman Missile NHS?) (Dip into Nebraska along the way (Niobrara Scenic River?)) (Ft. Abercrombie, ND?)
Pictured Rocks NL (Pictured Rocks to Chicago area by way of Michigan)
Wayne, IL (Chicago) (Brother lives here.)
Nauvoo, IL (LDS historical site on the Mississippi)
National Museum of the USAF (Dayton, OH)
Niagara Falls, NY
Palmyra (LDS Historical Site)
Adirondacks (Tupper Lake, NY)
Lake Placid Museum
White Mountain NF (Presidential Range?)
Acadia NP (via Belfast to Hwy 1?)
Boston, MA (Adams National Historical Park?)
New York, NY (Statue of Liberty)
Ft. McHenry NM
Annapolis, MD (DC?)
Quantico, VA (USMC Museum)
Shenandoah NP (Sharpsburg/Antietam?)
Monticello (Charlottesville, VA) (White House of the Confederacy/Richmond?)
Jamestown Settlement, VA (Yorktown Battlefield?) (Williamsburg)
Cape Hatteras NS (Wright Brothers Memorial) (Ft. Raleigh)
Myrtle Beach, SC
Charleston, SC (Ft. Sumter)
Key West, FL
Little River Canyon NP&P
Mammoth Cave NP
Joplin, MO (Drive through Kansas, Oklahoma) (Hwy 71?) (Hwy 7 to Hot Springs NP?)
Hot Springs NP
Vicksburg, MS (Vicksburg Battlefield Museum) (Hwy 27 to Natchez Trace?)
New Orleans, LA (River Road to Hwy 1 to Baton Rouge?)
San Antonio, TX (Alamo, Riverwalk, Bats)
Big Bend NP
Carlsbad Caverns NP
White Sands NM
Santa Fe, NM
Mesa Verde NP
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
San Diego, CA (Brother lives here.)
Orange County, CA
Since AAA limits entries to 22 destinations per trip, it's broken up into the following segments (with mileage):
Orange County to Chippewah: 4,722 mi.
Chippewah to Jamestown: 4,256 mi.
Jamestown - Carlsbad Caverns: 5,517 mi.
Carlsbad Caverns - Orange County: 1,827 mi.
Total Miles: 16,322
Here's an image of the map (pieced together from AAA TripTik maps):
Anyway -- spent most of the afternoon/evening today working on this. I think my key concerns/questions thusfar are:
1. Any obvious ways to shorten the mileage?
2. To that end, does it seem worth the extra 900 miles to go to Key West (vs. technically crossing into Florida and then heading right back into Georgia)?
3. Is Big Bend National Park all that pretty/interesting (that'd cut off another 300 miles or so)?
4. Do I have too many National Parks in a row at the beginning of the trip?
I worry that the pace is going to be more frantic than I'd like. Also kind of feel bad about not having much to do with inland North Carolina or West Virginia (I'm just guessing I might like those areas, although I have at least a couple stops along the Appalachians already in the itinerary).
Sorry for the long post and any thoughts are greatly appreciated.