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  1. Default Seattle to Chardon, OH--route tips and what to see in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana esp.

    With work easing up a little, I now have time to pull out the maps and start the detailed planning for this summer's cross-country trip from Seattle - Chardon, OH. I've done this drive ... three times before, each time with slightly different routing. This time, I am determined to see Nebraska, one of the states I keep missing for some reason.

    Here's my proposed routing. Note that these aren't the sleeping stops, they are the sights I aim to see along the way. I know we'll need fine-tuning on where to stay based on hotel/motel availability and town size.

    We'll be me, my 16 year old daughter, and my 6 year old son. My 19 year old will likely be joining us on our return trip, which will go through Canada (that might be another post!). My husband is out of vacation time, and has weekend commitments he can't miss; he might be able to fly out and do the return drive with us, which would give us three drivers on the return leg.

    July 13 afternoon OR July 14 morning - leave Seattle -- (stop overnight in Baker City?) --Hagerman Fossil Beds (Idaho) -- Fossil Butte Nat'l Monument (Wyoming near Kemmerer) -- Chimney Rock (Western Nebraska) -- Galesburg, IN (to visit Knox College - must be there on July 19th for open house) -- other stops to be determined -- Chardon, OH

    There must be something interesting we can aim for in Iowa. My last trip across Iowa, all I remember is corn, corn, corn. Ditto Indiana, but less corn. I feel like we should see something of note in each state we cross.

    So, any thoughts? Tips? We like historical sites, parks, natural wonders (i.e. caves, water falls, trees), pie & diners.

    We've seen Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Badlands, Teddy Roosevelt NP, Sioux Falls, Mammoth Cave, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Dinosaur Nat'l Monument, Great Salt Lake, Spiral Jetty, Golden Spike, Bourbon Trail...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Small Is Beautiful

    You seem to be an experienced RoadTripper with a good handle on how to plan to meet your goals. One thing I've noticed as past drives and stops pile up on my 'done' list is that I'm coming to appreciate more and more the smaller quieter stops where you can actually engage with the curators/rangers/docents without the huge crowds that make visiting, say, Old Faithful on a July afternoon less than ideal. So, those are the kinds of things you should be looking for. I'll offer a few specific examples in a moment, but any good mapping routine should let you zoom in close enough that you can see state and local parks (usually marked as green area) and, on really close inspection, local historical societies and museums. You can also, of course do web searches on "statename historical society/site/museum/etc."

    Anyway, some specifics. Since you mentioned Iowa, let's start there. You're going to come within a few miles of my favorite historical site in that state - my birthplace. But seriously, just a few miles down river (Mississippi) from there is Le Claire with its connections to Buffalo Bill and the home site of the company responsible for the TV show American Pickers. If you're a fan of the movie Field of Dreams, the house and field are open to the public in Dyersville, but that would entail a fairly sizeable detour from your main route. Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa and former state capital, has a number of interesting museums including the Old Capitol Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Antique Car Museum of Iowa.

    The same is true for Nebraska. I-80, the backbone of your drive through that state, follows the old Oregon Trail. Chimney Rock is just one of the landmarks associated with that pioneer route. There are many others. The national park service has more detailed route instructions if you want to get right down to the old-wagon-wheel-ruts level.

    So, my main bit of advice to you is to just sit down one evening, preferably with your older daughter and just start surfing the web. Start with something simple, like "Indiana historic site" and just see what comes up. Do the same for "scenic", "natural", "state park", "museum", etc. as well as for each state you plan to spend some time in. That's the best way to find attractions that appeal to you.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-14-2019 at 11:46 AM.

  3. Default

    Good tips. We do like Oregon Trail relics and it would be cool to see the wagon ruts further East - we've seen the ones near Baker City, OR.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, just east of Iowa City, would be a good start. Slightly more off the interstate (80), and on US-6, are the slightly commercialized Amana Colonies, which are just west of Iowa City.

    Somewhere in either Illinois or Indiana, you might want to find some Native American mounds, such as the ones found in Mounds State Park in Indiana. If you're interested in history, that's something usually worthwhile.


  5. Default

    I think the Mounds could be intersesting, especially with a good visitor center. Will look into those!

    I'm having some trouble figuring out stops for the first portion of the trip. We'll head East from SEattle, with the first sightseeing stop at Craters of the Moon. I'm thinking Baker City for the first night, and Arco for the second, then double back the 10 minutes or so to Craters.

    But then I want to see Fossil Butte which is about 250 slow miles from Arco. If we take the time to see Craters properly, we'd drive to Fossil Butte and have to wait until the next day to see the visitor center. I guess we'd have to stay in Kemmerer, WY or nearby to make that work.

    Is there a better way?? Or do I have this right?

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