kiwiinoz
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Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:01 am

Hi all, need your help. Next year we are taking most of the year off work and travelling. First 8 weeks in Europe and then the plan is a 3-4 month road trip across America, starting in New York, finishing in San Francisco. My wife and daughter have never been to the USA, and I have only been on work trips so have not really done enough to get a feel for the diversity of the country.

There are a couple of things on our "must see" list, which include:

New York, (probably 2 weeks)
Texas
Vegas
Grand Canyon
Arizona, (Desert)
Some nice, leafy rural setting

The rest we are still researching but also plan to go pretty "free and easy" as we have plenty of time. Happy to zig zag a little.

I have a couple of questions:

What other recommendations on an East-West route at that time of year?
We are food lovers....any particular region that we shuoldn't miss?
Should we buy a car and sell it at the end, or is there a better option?, (we decided NOT to do the Winnebago thing....prefer a reasonable SUV and then we will just motel it and in some cases stay with friends)

Your help will be greatly appreciated. I know it's a long way in advance but we are getting excited already and want to start looking at our options!
 
sccutler
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:14 am

For four months, you might well buy and sell, depending (of course) upon your budget. The dollars from down under speak with a thunderous voice these days.

Food? Visit New Orleans; there, and San Francisco, are the two best places in our fair land to get a meal. For that matter, I'd strongly counsel a stop at the Cooper's Barbecue in Llano, Texas, for heavenly food in a ... rustic... atmosphere.

But, every region of our republic has its own food specialties, so long as you are strong and avoid the chains.

I honestly do not see the appeal of Vegas, though.

Tell us more about your tastes and inclinations, and we (the collective "we") can help you out.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
rfields5421
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:01 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
New York, (probably 2 weeks)
Texas
Vegas
Grand Canyon
Arizona, (Desert)
Some nice, leafy rural setting

New York - okay

Newport Rhode Island

Washington DC - the Smithsonian complex is worth the hassle

Shenandoah/ Blue Ridge Parkway down the mountains toward Georgia

the Gulf Coast of Alabama and/ or Mississippi

New Orleans

Natchez Mississippi

San Antonio

Fort Davis Texas and Big Bend National Park

Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico

Grand Canyon Via Tucson & Phoenix - drive up Hwy Alt 89 from Sonoma toward Flagstaff - not I-17

Vegas

Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Lake Tahoe

San Francisco

That is about 5,300 miles minimum driving -

Buy Microsoft Streets & Trips on-line from the company store. You can plan your route, stops, etc on your laptop, You can have S&T create daily route files which can be exported to a GPS to help with routing.
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:54 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
Vegas
Grand Canyon
Arizona, (Desert

This is all a easy cluster. From the Canyon to Vegas, one drives through a large part of Arizona. That can be a few days.
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kiwiinoz
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:54 am

Thanks, this helps a lot

Forgot to mention, my daughter will be 4 so parks, etc are definitely going to feature. Might even have to do the Orlando thing as a treat.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:57 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):

What other recommendations on an East-West route at that time of year?

What time of year? I suggest you come during our spring or summer.

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
We are food lovers....any particular region that we shuoldn't miss?

The South (Southeast and Texas) is probably the most famous for American cuisine. Both regions have their distinct take on BBQ. Texas also has great Tex-Mex. New Orleans is also amazing. One thing you don't have in NZ is decent Mexican food, but I think California is the best place for that. You also need to make sure that you eat at a diner, which is another uniquely American culinary institution. I don't mean Denny's; there are mom-and-pop diners all over the place.

While in New York have the New York-style pizza, New England clam chower (best mixed with so many cracker crumbs that your spoon stands up in it), and something from a hot dog cart.

In Chicago, have the pizza, which is deep-dish. One slice is a meal.

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
Should we buy a car and sell it at the end, or is there a better option?, (we decided NOT to do the Winnebago thing....prefer a reasonable SUV and then we will just motel it and in some cases stay with friends)

You could well put 50,000 miles on that car in 3-4 months. The Continental US is *huge.* So I worry about depreciation. But in 3-4 months, you'll see a lot of it. Rushing, I drove from Detroit to Los Angeles in three days of driving, so it's big, but manageable... and you're rarely far from civilization.

There are long-term rentals. I think that might be the way to go. You also MUST have a US mobile phone. You'd like to have an arrangement with AT&T or Verizon because they have the largest networks and often work even in the middle of nowhere (there's a lot of "middle of nowhere" in this country). You'll want a smartphone with a decent GPS program, trust me.

When you get to San Francisco, I hope we'll have a chance to get a beer and you can tell me of your travels.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
kiwiinoz
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:08 am

Time of year will be July, Aug Sept Oct
 
ajd1992
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:22 am

For your leafy, rural area, what about New England? If you're heading East-West then you'll have to start there but from what I've seen, during the autumn it's beautiful.

I've seen a lot of the US (for a tourist), I'd personally avoid Phoenix at all costs. Hot, miserable and nothing to do there.
 
AeroWesty
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:49 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
Should we buy a car and sell it at the end, or is there a better option?,

I agree with Doc regarding a long-term rental. One of the big agencies like Hertz, National or Enterprise might even do a multi-month lease or a series of 30-day rentals where you pick it up in one city and drop it off in the next. Beauty of that is the car you get will be far newer, and if it breaks down, they'll bring a new one to you on a flat-bed truck! You'd also skip having to pay sales tax on the full value just to get it registered, and you might get put into the high-risk group for insurance for a privately-owned car if you haven't had insurance in the U.S. before.

If you decide to drive along the California coast and would like to work in a bit of history along with the sights, the historic chain of Spanish Missions are along US101 from San Diego to the SF Bay Area, plus there's Hearst Castle near San Luis Obispo.

Spanish Missions in California

The Mission Trail

And don't forget to get your kicks on Route 66!

Route 66
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Superfly
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:14 pm

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
Should we buy a car and sell it at the end, or is there a better option?,prefer a reasonable SUV

Sounds like an awesome adventure!
I've known of a few tourist from Europe that have done just that. Buying a used car for about $5000 - $7000 and then driving it around the country for 3 months then selling it. It's much cheaper than renting a car for that period.
As far as a good, comfortable road car, I'd highly recommend looking for a used Mercury Grand Marquis, Ford Crown Victoria. It's much better for long distance trips than an SUV. The high winds in the plains and the deserts will whip around any high center of gravity vehicle and with drunk a lot of gas.
Bring back the Concorde
 
zanl188
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:31 pm

For a nature break I'd suggest the National Parks in the Western US. Glacier National Park is my favorite. Canada has an adjacent park across the border. Driving thru the park during the summer months (roads closed in winter) is an experience you will not soon forget! (You will come away with a new appreciation for guard rails!!)
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:18 pm

Hey rfields5421, your plan looks great, but geographically, it leave a large (and I do mean large) portion of the US out of the trip. Basically any of the Midwest and great plains were omitted. Any particular reason? There is quite a bit you can do out in that area, especially if the whole trip is 4 months.

-DiamondFlyer
From my cold, dead hands
 
BMI727
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:54 pm

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 11):
Basically any of the Midwest and great plains were omitted. Any particular reason?

Well, it's big and mostly empty. Granted, there is plenty of time on this trip, and it's awfully hard to get from New York to San Francisco without crossing through it, having lived in the middle of it for most of my life, getting across the Midwest is a long and boring drive. Honestly, for anyone visiting the US, I'd recommend focusing on the coasts. That's where most of the really good stuff is, the Midwest and plains is just kind of there. Not bad, but not much there that tourists would find exciting.

Quoting kiwiinoz (Reply 4):
Might even have to do the Orlando thing as a treat.

You don't want to be there, or anywhere in the Southeast during the summer. The weather is unbearable. I'd suggest Disneyland in Anaheim instead, and if you need something to do somewhat smaller theme parks dotting the country. Or catch a state fair. Those are interesting, but not necessarily in the good way, pieces of Americana.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:04 pm

Seems you like desert terrain... If so, please do try to visit Joshua Tree National Park in California, I doubt you will be disappointed...
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eaa3
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:50 pm

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):

New York, (probably 2 weeks)
Texas
Vegas
Grand Canyon
Arizona, (Desert)
Some nice, leafy rural setting
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 2):


Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Lake Tahoe

San Francisco

That is about 5,300 miles minimum driving -

I would change that around a bit:

Vegas

Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Los Angeles

Drive up coast on highway 1

San Francisco

And then go to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe from San Francisco. Yosemite is fine as a day trip or two days perhaps.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:57 pm

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 11):
but geographically, it leave a large (and I do mean large) portion of the US out of the trip.

He said he was traveling with his family - and his age in his profile indicates children would be young. He later said the child was age 4.

So a relatively sraight trip hitting his desired waypoints was the criteria. With the child being only 4, I would take out the Smithsonian, and possibly Natchez Mississippi (The old Antebellum homes are amazing - but probably not interesting for a child that age.)

On a trip that length - keeping the child happy and interested is going to be crucial. He can't do 8 hours driving a day for 100 days.

As a parent who has made the cross country trip with young children, older children I've been there, done that, have the scar. As a grandparent, I'm being a little smarter about the trips I take when they are younger, and older.

If he was single, or just a couple, or even with children ages 10 or older - a loop trip which included Upper Michigan, Chicago, St Louis, the Ozarks, Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad on the CO/NM border, the Durango and Silverton, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, Glacier NP, along with Seattle, Portland and the drive down the Pacific coast.

I'd also like to hit Key West on such a trip.

But again, the key factor in my suggestion was the age of children. They aren't going to like a 12-15,000 mile trip.

BTW - I strongly endorse the idea of buying a used car - from someone like CarMax which a coast to coast network would be a good choice. The cost would be a bit higher, but he could get their extended warranty and a guaranteed buyback.

Unfortunately getting a good deal on a used car, and selling it for the best price takes time. A lot of time. He should not give up two weeks one each end of the trip dealing with transportation.
 
AzoresLover
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:04 pm

I'd like to mention a treat that I love, and always get when I am in the area...

When around Phoenix, be sure to buy some Cactus Candy! It is a truly unique treat to me. When flying to SoCal I usually try to connect at PHX just so I can pick up a load of Cactus Candy in the airport.

I'll leave routing suggestions to others. I do have my favorites, since I have driven all over the United States, only missing 3 states...North Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas. But you've been getting plenty of good suggestions here already.

I will mention, though, that one of my very favorite places to visit is Stone Mountain Georgia, about 17 miles east of Atlanta. I have been going there since my college days in the late 1960's. To me, it is a wonderful place to spend a couple days.
Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
 
luckyone
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Quoting Braniff747SP (Reply 3):
This is all a easy cluster. From the Canyon to Vegas, one drives through a large part of Arizona. That can be a few days.

Actually it's only about a four hour drive between the two, although I've done it in three and a half--speed limits mean nothing in large parts of the American West--and a straight shot now that the Hoover Dam Bypass has been completed. The part of Arizona he'd be driving through is mostly wooded believe it or not, and there really is nothing between the two destinations but trailer parks. Beyond driving along the South Rim or taking a helicopter tour, exploring the Grand Canyon with a young child would be difficult. However, spending a day doing that is rewarding enough.
The following link is a trip I took with my mom and my brother through some of the American West, so maybe it can give you some ideas about things to do, and distances and timing. http://sometimesitsabitchsometimesit...om/2009/08/road-trip-out-west.html

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
New York, (probably 2 weeks)
Texas
Vegas
Grand Canyon
Arizona, (Desert)
Some nice, leafy rural setting

I might suggest actually basing yourself in Flagstaff if you're interested in the Northern part of Arizona. The Grand Canyon is about an hour away. When we did it, we left Vegas early in the morning, did a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, and drove along the South Rim. Flagstaff is about an hour away once you're done. If you so desired you could do the reverse on your way to Vegas. If you go to Arizona, Sedona is a must. It's about thirty minutes South of Flagstaff, and the drive is a leisurely and scenic one through a stunning valley. Monument Valley, though most if it is in Utah, is a great day trip, and it is absolutely gorgeous. The drive between Flagstaff and Monument Valley goes through the Navajo Nation and parts of the Painted Dessert. Two hours east of Flagstaff on I-40 is the Petrified National Forest National Park which would be worth stopping at on the way in from New Mexico. There is also Meteor Crater, which is along I-40 as well.

If you want leafy and rural, the American South is delightful in the spring, especially if you time it when the azaleas are blooming--usually around April. Drive through any historic district--such as North Druid Hills in Atlanta--and the architecture and horticulture is lovely. If you come to Atlanta, kids love Stone Mountain. Plenty of kitsch to keep them happy, and plenty of stuff for adults to appreciate as well. Charleston is a place you might consider for the same reason. A light jacket is sufficient in February and March. After May or early June it can get very hot here if you're not used to it, BUT, our hottest days are usually July through September. New Orleans is not one of my favorite destinations. The food is great but the city itself is just a cesspool. I've been twice, both before and after Katrina...and frankly not much changed.

[Edited 2012-01-02 12:01:51]

[Edited 2012-01-02 12:02:32]
 
kiwiinoz
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:11 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 15):
On a trip that length - keeping the child happy and interested is going to be crucial. He can't do 8 hours driving a day for 100 days.

This is a good point. We dont really plan to drive every day. Probably will make a drive twice a week, maybe less if we are somewhere that deserves a bit more time
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:41 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Reply 6):
Time of year will be July, Aug Sept Oct

It'll be hot for most of your trip. You will probably want to zig-zag the country if you're going to be here for 4 months (with a concerted effort, you can drive across it in 4 days in early July, if you only drive during daylight hours). I suggest exploring New England during July. You can also go to Washington, D.C. from New York. It might be a better idea to do NYC and Washington, D.C. before you get your car. You can take a train between the two in about 3 hours and a car will only be a burden in both cities. The same is true of Boston.

Take lots of sunblock and BUG REPELLENT (ticks abound in the Northeast during the summer). During August, you should head west along I-80, which will teach you what it means when we talk about the Midwest. This is when you should go to Niagra Falls. Make sure you have a Canadian visa if you need one. At Chicago, where you should stop for a few days, you can head north into Wisconsin along the shore of Lake Michigan and enjoy our inland, freshwater seas. As you head West, you'll cross Minnesota and the Dakotas, where you can see Mt. Rushmore. I hear that crossing Montana is quite the experience. And if you time it right, you can wind up in Seattle in mid-August. From there, you would slowly make your way South-East. Stop in Salt Lake City and see the Mormon Temple... and the Great Salt Lake Desert, Bonneville Salt Flats (home of many land speed records), and the Great Salt Lake itself. Denver is also on that path. You can head to St. Louis and check out the Arch (and the toasted ravioli... a local institution). Head on through Tennessee and Kentucky. They breed horses and make some spirits to bring you to your knees. From there, head into the Carolinas and Georgia, checking out Atlanta (ATL... you can't miss ATL) and heading south to Florida. Orlando has the Space Center, Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios... Then Miami is... Miami. Maybe stay on the keys for a few days and enjoy a sandy beach under the shade of palm trees.

Heading North from Miami, join up with I-10 West and pass through the Florida Panhandle, on into the Gulf Coasts of Alabama and Mississippi (4s's, 2p's) and then jog south to New Orleans for a Hurricane (bring cab fare), Creole cooking (red beans and rice), and the strangest red light district in the country (you don't need to patronize... but you have to see it to believe it). From there, go on to Houston and across Texas into New Mexico, which shares the American answer to the Australan outback with Arizona. The Mojave Desert stretches across that part of the country pretty much to the Coast. As you explore the beauty that is our Southwest, learn about the Native populations. They built cliff dwellings out of adobe. Make sure to see the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.

You should then head West to San Diego and Los Angeles. Highway 1 heads up the coast. You can spend over a week going from one bed and breakfast to the next all the way up. Stop in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach (Buggs Bunny was often trying to get to Pismo Beach, and he should have tured left at Albuquerque, which means that Buggs is an illegal immigrant from Mexico   ). You should also spend time at Big Sur, Monterrey, Carmel (which is like something out of a storybook). By now it will be October and the rest of the country will be getting chilly, but the West Coast will be having its "Indian Summer." This will be the perfect time for you to explore some of Northern California. Pass through San Francisco and rent a house on the ocean in Mendocino for a few days. Then come back down into San Francisco and give me a call.  
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
airport1970
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:45 am

I have a funny anecdote... Early 90's... I was a ski bum working the slopes in Colorado and I had 4 Kiwi's as next door neighbors. They landed at LAX, bought a newspaper and looking through the advertisements found a cheap car and called and asked if it could be delivered.. to the airport. Years later in internet randomness I ran across one of the guys online and I asked what they did with the car... he said they parked it in a lot at LAX, locked the doors and walked away.  
 
KFLLCFII
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:46 pm

Quoting kiwiinoz (Reply 4):
Forgot to mention, my daughter will be 4 so parks, etc are definitely going to feature. Might even have to do the Orlando thing as a treat.

This:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
and heading south to Florida. Orlando has the Space Center, Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios...

And many great water parks, perfect for that mid-summer cool-off. Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are two of the highest-rated water parks in the country and individually themed (not just a bunch of plastic tubing poking every which way from an unfinished steel tower). My experience in the summer there is that many families, especially from across the pond, spend more than a few days (weeks, from a few I've talked to) in extended stays covering basically everything Disney and Central Florida has to offer. You can get a package deal through them which includes hotel on property, park hopper tickets, and a flexible dining plan. Plus if you stay at one of their hotels on site, transportation to/from all the parks is included and runs very frequently on resort loops...a huge benefit to avoid gas/parking costs.

They do get extremely busy during the summer peak, but if you can hold off until after the first or second week in September when most local kids are back in school, hotel costs come way down...and they've been known to throw in the dining plan at no additional cost once that peak is over to keep people coming through the gates.

My other recommendation, while you're in Florida, is this:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 19):
Then Miami is... Miami.

You can't beat Miami Beach, great for the adults and kids. Not so much in "attractions", but the atmosphere and that tropical sandy beach where everyone seems to want to be. But I wouldn't put it past more than a day or two's stay, because:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 15):
I'd also like to hit Key West on such a trip.

If you've never gone 100 miles out to sea --by driving-- then you've never been to the Florida Keys. Once a railroad extension from Miami over an island chain, the Florida Keys begins about an hour's drive south of Miami and extends approximately a hundred miles into the Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida over beautiful tropical waters and through secluded mangroves and small communities, ending at Key West.

The railroad is long gone and although the original rail bridges were turned into road bridges, they have since been replaced by a dedicated highway alongside, with many of the original rail aqueducts still visible. In fact, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of Florida East Coast Railway's Key West Extension. And if it weren't for that unnamed hurricane in 1935, you still might have been able to take that entire trip down from Miami and points north over a railbed.

As for Key West, it's filled with sights to see, rich in history, and some sort of museum or interesting facet on almost every corner...especially in Old Town near the seaport on the west end. My personal favorites in the area include the Shipwreck Museum, great treasure hunter Mel Fisher's exhibit/museum, and the Key West Aquarium with "petting tank". GREAT for kids, especially those who may not have been exposed to much marine life. It's actually quite a drive from Miami if you do it all in one shot, and to give a full day in Key West, I would recommend at least two nights so you have a travel day on either side. Plus there are many stops along the way worth seeing, and I can definitely name a few if you decide to make the trip.

Once you go down there, you might never want to leave.   
"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."
 
rfields5421
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:25 pm

Some other thoughts.

#1 priority for an automobile is a good reliable working air conditioner. You can expect to see daily high temps over 30C for most of the trip that time of year whenever you are not in mountains. You can expect most of the trip across the south/ southwest (Florida to California) to be low temps above 33 C at night and highs near 36-37 C and at times above 40C.

We had about 20 of those 40C+ days last year in Dallas, over 100 consecutive days where the temp never dropped below 33C.

Another major priority for the vehicle is a new battery. Anything over two years old should be replaced. Our summers will kill a battery very easily.

I also recommend you join AAA or a similar service and sign up for their Roadside Assistance plan. Hopefully you will not need it, but it can save the trip if you do.

Mailing Address - for many things like car registration and insurance you are going to need a US address. There are many "UPS Stores" across the country which offer a mail box service. You can probably find one which you can use as a US address, yet they will gather up all your mail and overnight it to you when you call in and ask for that.

Lodging - is going to be your major expense. Look into national US motel/hotel chains. Staying at a Bed & Breakfast is a wonderful way to travel. The wife and I do it whenever possible. However, they are seldom small child friendly. They are also more expensive than most national motel chains.

You should be looking for (1) loyalty program - so you can earn as many free nights as possible during your trip, (2) indoor swimming pool - in much of the US it will be simply too hot to swim in an outdoor pool during your trip. Kids love pools and it is a great way to relax while they burn off some of the excess energy they store up while you are driving, sight seeing, (3) consider looking into places which have kitchenettes - almost all will have a small fridge, but look for a microwave and a stove if possible. Any meals you can prepare in your temporary residence will be cheaper than eating out.

While traveling, I find the restrooms at McDonalds and Walmart to be the reliably cleanest and easy to access. Gas stations vary tremedously, even among major truck stop chains like Love's Travel Stop.

McDonalds also has the asset with indoor playlands in most locations - so you can take a short break, and let the youngster get some active play time.
 
KFLLCFII
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:51 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 22):

All very good points, and I would add:

I see many people recommending buying a used car. However, even though it might save a little money, are you really going to want to spend an indeterminable amount of time trying to sell it when you're ready to get the heck out of town after all that driving? And lord only knows what shape it's in or any hidden gremlins which will appear at the worst possible moment, and which YOU are responsible for.

Do you really want to be stuck with a repair bill, potentially in the thousands $$, on top of the price you already paid for the car, just to keep the trip moving and still have to attempt to sell it in an unfamiliar country for an assuredly huge loss at the end?

Go with a name-brand rental. They're maintained. It breaks, not your problem. Get their loss/damage insurance. And no matter what happens, you walk away at the end.
"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."
 
corey07850
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:57 pm

Whatever you do, you HAVE to document this!
 
rfields5421
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:36 pm

One last tip - keep us informed of your journey.

If you run into problems, let us know.

The United States is a huge country, but A.Net folks are all across the nation. We can help a lot of the time if you need assistance.

Don't heistate to ask
 
flymia
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:32 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Reply 4):
Forgot to mention, my daughter will be 4 so parks, etc are definitely going to feature. Might even have to do the Orlando thing as a treat.


Don't forget Los Angeles has Disneyland (better than Magic Kingdom IMO) However given my user-name I would suggest a week or so in Florida. Stop in Orlando, go to Saint Augustine on the way up out of Florida. Stay in Miami/Miami Beach and if your in Miami a drive down to Key West is a must IMO. Also a morning trip to the Everglades.

The must not miss places IMO:

NYC, Boston, Washington DC, LA, San Fran, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Orlando, Miami + Everglades, Key West, some place in Texas, New Orleans, Charleston S.C., Saint Augustine FL, Some rural large, high altitude national park Philadelphia, I will put Chicago if its on the way but given its location away from most places people will suggest it might be harder to get to, rather stay on the coast.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:22 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 17):

Actually it's only about a four hour drive between the two, although I've done it in three and a half--speed limits mean nothing in large parts of the American West--and a straight shot now that the Hoover Dam Bypass has been complete

I know- I've done Grand Canyon to Los Angeles via Vegas in 13 hours. I meant if you actually want to see something...
The 747 will always be the TRUE queen of the skies!
 
kiwiinoz
Topic Author
Posts: 1999
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:40 am

Quoting airport1970 (Reply 20):
he said they parked it in a lot at LAX, locked the doors and walked away.

Ha! That's pretty common....except usually much nicer to leave the doors open and the keys in the ignition!

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 22):
#1 priority for an automobile is a good reliable working air conditioner

That will definitely be on the list!

Quoting kfllcfii (Reply 23):
are you really going to want to spend an indeterminable amount of time trying to sell it when you're ready to get the heck out of town after all that driving?

Yeah, this is something I dont have a feel for. We could post it online a couple of weeks before we reach our final destination, but it may all be too much faffing around.

Quoting corey07850 (Reply 24):
Whatever you do, you HAVE to document this!

OK we will set up a blog and post the link here!

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 25):
One last tip - keep us informed of your journey.

If you run into problems, let us know.

The United States is a huge country, but A.Net folks are all across the nation. We can help a lot of the time if you need assistance.

Don't heistate to ask

Thanks!! No doubt there will be a couple of cold beer stops along the way as well

I am definitely getting a good picture and we have added a few things to our "must see" list. I guess we are looking to relax but also looking for some unique features as well, both in landscape and also some interesting cultural "pockets", (New Orleans, Texas).

Thanks all
 
BMI727
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:06 am

Quoting flymia (Reply 26):
Don't forget Los Angeles has Disneyland (better than Magic Kingdom IMO) However given my user-name I would suggest a week or so in Florida.

Florida is not bad, but I would suggest staying away from the South. There isn't much there (Coke in Atlanta is nice and I guess Graceland if you like that kind of thing, which I don't. My grandparents like Charleston too) and the weather in the summer is absolutely miserable. At least watch the Top Gear American Roadtrip before you decide if you really want to go there. My experience has been fairly consistent with that.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
Pyrex
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:38 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):
Some nice, leafy rural setting

You have to spend a week or two in New England, then (my favorite part of the U.S.). Spend a couple of days in Boston/Cambridge (no car needed there), drive up to Cape Ann (much nicer and low-ley than Cape Cod, IMO - suggest a stop at Rockport), drive across New Hampshire into Woodstock, Vermont (lovely little town) and back into NH to see the Mount Washington area before you head deep into Maine to see Acadia National Park. After that, drive down the coast to Portland, Maine,

Quoting sccutler (Reply 1):
Food? Visit New Orleans

Absolutely. Not only great food, but great booze, great music, great people, great architecture - my favorite city in the U.S. along with Boston (for different reasons). It will be very hot and humid the time you will be there but it is definitely worth it. Plus, the daily thunderstorms (every day ar 2:00 PM on the dot, for 15 extremely intense minutes) help cool things down.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 2):
Natchez Mississippi

Over-rated - might be the "nice" part of Mississippi but it is still Mississipi. Plus, in July you will probably want to shoot yourself after 2 minutes outside.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 5):
You'll want a smartphone with a decent GPS program, trust me.

Not true, my friend and I made it all the way from Boston to Houston with nothing but a road atlas and a compass. Much nicer as you know exactly where you are at all times (not true with a GPS) and can easily pick spots to stop along the way, select the scenic route to bypass the highway, etc.

Quoting Superfly (Reply 9):
As far as a good, comfortable road car, I'd highly recommend looking for a used Mercury Grand Marquis, Ford Crown Victoria.

On the upside, people will automatically assume you are a cop and just slow down their cars in front of you, so you can always hitch yourself to them and coast all the way from one end of the U.S. to the other. Saves on gas. 
Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 10):
For a nature break I'd suggest the National Parks in the Western US. Glacier National Park is my favorite.

Have been really wanting to go to Montana for a while - probvably a good choice.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 12):
You don't want to be there, or anywhere in the Southeast during the summer. The weather is unbearable.

You need to cross the U.S. somehow, and would rather take the heat and humidity of the South to the vast flatness of the Midwest. Maybe a compromise through the lovely rolling hills of Kentucky?

Quoting luckyone (Reply 17):
Charleston is a place you might consider for the same reason.

Really want to go there someday.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 29):

Florida is not bad, but I would suggest staying away from the South. There isn't much there (Coke in Atlanta is nice and I guess Graceland if you like that kind of thing, which I don't. My grandparents like Charleston too) and the weather in the summer is absolutely miserable.

As opposed to all the exciting things to see in the Midwest?
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PITingres
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:29 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 29):
Florida is not bad, but I would suggest staying away from the South.

The Deep South has some attractions. New Orleans of course; Natchez and Vicksburg Mississippi are both interesting, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a very nice drive, and Huntsville AL is of course not to be missed if you're a rocket enthusiast. (There is also a lot of kid-oriented stuff to do in Huntsville.) I admit that there's no place I know of in Georgia or most of Alabama that I would rush to visit. I haven't seen much of Louisiana except along the Mississippi River.

Nothing wrong with Florida if you like endless vistas of flat sandy scrub and citrus trees.  
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
Superfly
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:36 pm

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 30):
On the upside, people will automatically assume you are a cop and just slow down their cars in front of you, so you can always hitch yourself to them

Or just past them up.  
Bring back the Concorde
 
BMI727
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:33 pm

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 30):
You need to cross the U.S. somehow, and would rather take the heat and humidity of the South to the vast flatness of the Midwest.

There's really no good way to do it by car. I'd say maybe stay north through Chicago and then to Mt. Rushmore then backtrack and take I-35 south to Texas. Maybe hit the Mall of America too, but frankly it isn't that special.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
nonrevman
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:18 pm

If the bulk of your trip is in the summer months, I would think about avoiding Texas. West Texas has some amazing scenery and national parks, San Antonio and Austin are good for culture, but it will be unbearably hot. We just set a record for the most days over 100 degrees in a year. In addition to that, we have had serious drought conditions, and this is predicted to continue. Three of our state parks were hit hard by fires, with two of them almost being wiped out completely. Late September to October would be a better time to visit, but you will probably be further west by then.

If it were me, I would take a more northerly track from NY to San Francisco. Among many other things, You could visit the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio (assuming you are an aviation buff), visit Chicago, and maybe explore the natural areas of the Great Lakes region. You could then cut across the nation's midsection and visit the states that are well known for national parks. Colorado has Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain, and many natural areas. Wyoming has Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Utah has about 6 national parks. Arizona has the Grand Canyon. If you stick to the rims in the summer, it should be bearable since the altitude is fairly high. Montana has Glacier NP, which is stunning. Just prior to arrival in San Francisco, you can also visit Yosemite. If you visit the parks in September and October, you will also avoid much of the summer rush, which will give you a great experience.
 
Stabilator
Posts: 680
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:40 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 33):
Maybe hit the Mall of America

Avoid at all costs. I live 10 minutes from it and I avoid it like the plague. There was recently a riot there (gang members or something) so if you have a small child I'd avoid it.

Places to AVOID:
North Dakota
South Dakota
Iowa

Things to check out:
Madison, WI - Great city with a great vibe. Home to the University of Wisconsin. Nestled between two lakes. If traveling during the fall, be sure to go to a UW football game held in historic Camp Randall Stadium. Good beer and cheese. Pick up a 6 pack of Spotted Cow, a local favorite.

Also in Wisconsin: EAA Airventure Oshkosh! I wont go into details about what this is - this is A.net and no doubt you know. Held in late August I believe. Im sure you can meet up with fellow a.netters here.

From Madison I'd head north to Duluth, MN. A great little city on Lake Superior with great views and history

From Duluth you can travel on I-35 south which will take you into Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN (known as the Twin Cities), down into Iowa and eventually down into Texas.

You can take I-35 to Kansas City (Entering BBQ country - classic American food) and from there take I-70 west, which will take you into Colorado and Denver, CO.

If there is one state I'd emphasize not to miss, it's Colorado! Beautiful mountains and scenery. With a young child, hiking probably wont be on your list of things to do, but the Rocky Mountains are a treat for the eyes. Boulder, CO is also a great little city located north of Denver. I-70 eventually takes you into Utah where you can take I-15 south into Las Vegas, NV and from there into Los Angeles, CA. Go south to San Diego then take the PCH up to San Fransisco.

One thing I'd like to add is try not to gloss over the Midwest, especially if you're taking 3-4 months. The Midwest offers a lot to a traveler and a very friendly population (more friendly than you will find on the coasts). Minnesota has over 10,000 lakes to enjoy, plus one of the best State Fairs in the country. Give it a shot.

Feel free to ask any questions and I cant wait to hear about your trip!
So we beat on against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
 
Derico
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:53 pm

I'd take precautions with the crime situation. Petty crime (at hotels, gas stations, etc) is WAY up just in the last year.
My internet was not shut down, the internet has shut me down
 
BMI727
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:19 pm

Quoting Stabilator (Reply 35):
Avoid at all costs. I live 10 minutes from it and I avoid it like the plague. There was recently a riot there (gang members or something) so if you have a small child I'd avoid it.

I wouldn't say avoid at all costs, but certainly don't go out of one's way to go there. It's just a big mall - nothing special there at all really. But if you're driving through the area anyway it is an opportunity to get out of the car and walk around a bit, plus it's across the road from the airport.

Quoting Stabilator (Reply 35):
Places to AVOID:
North Dakota
South Dakota
Iowa

Just to clarify, the reasons to avoid those places isn't that they aren't nice, just that there is absolutely nothing of interest there other than maybe Mt. Rushmore. And the mosquitoes will carry away small children. (applies to Minnesota too) You won't want to be doing much of anything outside after dark, which luckily is very late there during the summer.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
zhiao
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:52 am

RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:35 am

Quoting Derico (Reply 36):
I'd take precautions with the crime situation. Petty crime (at hotels, gas stations, etc) is WAY up just in the last year

Yet lower than in most other rich nations
 
kiwiinoz
Topic Author
Posts: 1999
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:07 pm

RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:18 am

Quoting zhiao (Reply 38):
Quoting Derico (Reply 36):
I'd take precautions with the crime situation. Petty crime (at hotels, gas stations, etc) is WAY up just in the last year

Yet lower than in most other rich nations

Agree. We are used to travelling through 3rd world countres in Asia so we are pretty travel-wise. No doubt there are pockets in the US that we should avoid but my overall impression is that it is generally safe
 
Superfly
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:16 am

Quoting kiwiinoz (Thread starter):

Gyreaux130J brought to my attention another great travel itinerary. You should go the same route as Howard Dean.
He gives a great tour schedule of the United States;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yshnhEHBtO4&feature=related
Bring back the Concorde
 
BMIFlyer
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:01 pm

If you are in SoCal at all may I recommend the "Ortega Highway"?

http://www.theortegahighway.com/

I drove it back in November in a soft top Mustang and really enjoyed it  
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
 
gunsontheroof
Posts: 3226
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:21 pm

Can't believe nobody from the Northwest has chimed in here yet...if your trip is during the summer, you'd be nuts not to come through. Absolutely gorgeous weather in July/August and the scenery is fantastic. There's also absolutely no shortage of things to see if you're interested in aviation...not saying that you are, of course.  

It's a bit out of the way, but if you've never been, it's definitely worth a visit while you're on the west coast. There's no shortage of urban/outdoor attractions to keep you busy in the summer and I can pretty much guarantee the weather's going to be more pleasant than just about anywhere else during the peak months...
 
Derico
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 1999 9:14 am

RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:04 pm

Quoting zhiao (Reply 38):
Yet lower than in most other rich nations

I'm not comparing to other countries, just the impression of people I know that have visited and could compare from say, two or three years ago. Even many Americans feel that in many major cities petty crime (I used the word petty), has increased. They will now steal your purse from the car at a gas station, they will steal your stuff at hotels if you are not inconspicuous. You never saw signs in malls to tell you to lock your car and not leave valuables, now every mall has them. Guarding themselves from lawsuits? Probably, but if it wasn't much of an issue it would not be highlighted.
My internet was not shut down, the internet has shut me down
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Road Trip USA!

Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:56 pm

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 30):

Not true, my friend and I made it all the way from Boston to Houston with nothing but a road atlas and a compass. Much nicer as you know exactly where you are at all times (not true with a GPS) and can easily pick spots to stop along the way, select the scenic route to bypass the highway, etc.

The road atlas won't tell you where the nearest gas station is. The GPS will.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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