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  1. Default Cross Country Road Trip - Help and suggestions wanted.

    I am based out of Amherst, MA and will be interning in Mountain View, CA over the summer. I was planning to drive to California and back, which gives me the opportunity to see quite a few places. Details below:

    Onward - MA to CA: This happens during the second week of June. I am a little time bound on this journey and am constrained with the stops that I am making. I would need some help taking the best routes though. I have six days to make it from MA to CA and my stops are going to be Philadelphia, Kansas City, MO and Chandler AZ. I have friends and family that I need to visit and hence these stops. I would love to know what are the best routes to take between these places. I don't have a problem driving long hours, my longest being 17 hours. This isn't my first time doing long drives, so anything goes.

    Return - CA to MA: I am really not time bound here and can take any route. I am returning mid-September, and considering my stops are going to take me through a southern route while going, I thought maybe I could do a long northern drive on the way back. The only place where I MAY consider making a stop is in Chicago and that is not a constraint.

    Please do pitch in with all your suggestions and ideas. I would love to make this an awesome road trip both ways.

    P.S : I have already done a SFO-Boston drive and seen the Grand Canyon and done the Big Sur drive. I would love this drive to be more scenic than the last one, so hoping I can take a few byways and back roads.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Regardless of whether you have driven 17 hours before or not, that's a very dangerous thing to do, especially if you are going to be doing it more than one day in a row. Professional drivers are limited to about 11 hours behind the wheel per day.

    With that said, you can safely do this drive in 6 days, but your desired stops do not coincide with where you should be stopping. I'll list the fastest route from Amherst to Mountain View and leave it at that.

    I-91 to Meriden CT, then CT-15 (Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway) to I-287, Tappan Zee Bridge to the Garden State Parkway to NJ Turnpike, best way into Philly depends on where you are going.

    PA Turnpike to New Stanton, I-70 to KC. Take the south bypasses around Columbus (I-270) and Indy (I-465), north I-270 bypass around STL.

    I-35 to Wichita, US-400 to I-54 to Tucumcari NM, I-40 to Holbrook AZ, AZ-77/AZ-377/AZ-277/AZ-260 to Payson, AZ-87 to Chandler.

    Loop-202 to I-10 to Redlands CA, CA-210 to I-215 to I-15 to Hesperia, US-395 to CA-58 to Bakersfield. CA-99 to CA-46 to I-5 to Los Banos. CA-152 to US-101 to Mountain View.

    A prudent and safe driver would make no stops of any duration whatsoever except for overnights in New Stanton, Vandalia IL, Pratt KS, Albuquerque, and Blythe CA. I would urge you to allocate just one more day.

    1/2 day to Philly and see your friends/family (1/2 day).
    2 days to KC with overnight Richmond IN, KC will be a short stopover.
    2 days to Chandler with overnight in Tucumcari. 1/2 day in Chandler.
    Leave early afternoon, 1.5 days to Mountain View with overnight in Blythe.

    That's 7 days, if you can squeeze another day you can spend a day in KC.

  3. Default

    Hey glc,
    Thanks a ton for the advice. That seems like a good plan. I will try to add the one extra day (actually I am hard pressed for time because I will be out of the country and returning only a few days before I start this trip, need a few days to pack etc). Also, I apologize. I was not clear earlier. I have driven long hours, but only because I had to get back somewhere. The point I was trying to make was that I am comfortable driving for a greater part of the day without having to break frequently in-between, or being restricted to doing only 8 hours a day or so.

    Also, any advice on the return trip? I know it's an open trip, but for starters, let's say I have 8-9 days to make it across (add a day or two), no worries about cars and rentals (driving my own) and just care about beautiful places to see and awesome drives to do, like the Montana Roadway, RMCP etc. What would be the best way to start planning that?

    Thanks a ton once again. :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Best way to plan for the return is get good paper maps and start looking for places you want to go and things you want to see. To be honest, even with 9 days you won't be able to see and enjoy very many things, you will have to choose carefully.

    By the way, in recommending specific stops I used the "600 mile rule" which will have you on the road between 10 and 12 hours a day. That's really as much as you should attempt on a multi-day trip.

    Chicago would make sense on a northern trip, but between there and Amherst you will have significant tolls. You would need 1.5 days to do it, that's actually convenient because you can leave Chicago in the middle of the day avoiding rush hour. Speaking of tolls, do you have an EZ-Pass? It works as far west as Illinois.

  5. Default

    I will start doing that glc. From your experience, what are things that I should not miss? So that I can pick and choose from them. Also, I do have EZ-Pass, so that's not an issue. I used it for my previous drive to Chicago. I did not realize (well, it was stupid of me not to check before I did it) how much tolls would cost on the Ohio and Penn pikes. :D

    I will keep in mind the 600-mile rule. That seems like a perfectly doable target per day. It should also give me enough time to enjoy the stops wherever I do stop.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Well, your "not to miss" may be my "so what" so everything is individual taste. Things to look at - (and I'm not including all the California things because you can do weekend trips when you are out there) would be the southern Utah parks (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Cedar Breaks), Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Glacier, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Million Dollar Highway, Rocky Mountain NP, and plenty of others.

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