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Starting in Chicago going west

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I live in the Chicagoland area and want to take a roadtrip out west. I'm on a very tight budget and would need to keep it as low cost as possible. I'm thinking I'd probably have about two weeks to work with, I'd like to go September 2010 and I want to see as much beautiful scenery as possible. I'd love to go hiking, explore, and just see and do things that I don't get to do here in the midwest suburbs. This would be my first road trip and my first time ever being out west, so I have no clue where to start. So, I guess my questions would be: In the short amount of time that I have what would be the best places to hit up and the most effective and/or enjoyable route to take? There's so many places out west that I would love to see, but I wouldn't know where to begin choosing between one over the other. Also, is September even a good time to go west? I figured that the weather wouldn't be as hot and maybe the tourist rush would be over. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you=)


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