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chalclear Dec 27th, 2006 01:38 PM

California to New York by car in five weeks
Hi everyone. Previously we were going to hire an RV and travel LA to New York however, fodorites have convinced us to go the car/motels thing. So now we are asking if there is anything to see once we have left the Rockies. Here is where we are at thus far:
Possiby changing itinerary to fly into San Fran - hire a minivan (as was suggested by a fodorite) and travel the route (but not necessarily in this order) Reno:Carson City:Yosemite:Death Valley: Grand Canyon: Bryce Canyon: Arches: Salt Lake City: and then on to Denver. Now here is where we need some advice. Up till now, this area is all very scenic, right? From Denver, what is there to see heading towards Chicago, Great Lakes, Niagara etc, or should be we thinking of rather flying and then picking up another car. Of course we realise it would be a one-way hire if we leave the car in Denver, but cost wise, it may be worth our while rather than hoofing it back to San Fran. Of course, you need to know what types of things we like doing and seeing. Well, we aren't city folk - we enjoy open spaces, beautiful scenery and love meeting the locals. Yes, we do enjoy seeing the cities, but not as much as the landscape such as would be seen in the Rockies. So thanks everyone in advance for your advice. Let's hear what you have to suggest.

Dukey Dec 27th, 2006 03:01 PM

we enjoy open spaces...

hmmm, as in Kansas wheat fields? Or perhaps you can divert through the Black Hills of South Dakota and eastward through the Badlands as a start.

There is PLENTY to see East of the Rockies.

gail Dec 27th, 2006 04:16 PM

With all due respect to those living in the Great Plains of the US, especially those who work in farming, there are vast distances in the middle of the US where you can see nothing but corn, wheat and other fields for hours or seemingly days at a time.

While I am not generally a city person either, all that flat space got incredibly boring after a while. There are certainly thiongs to see between Rockies and East Coast of US, but distances between are long.

I mikght take the time it would take to drive thru this area and add some to your East or West coast plans - in the west it might be Bryce Canyon, Zion National, Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks. In the east it might be any of the major cities, possibly part of the South, or ocean areas.

A lot of choices - and no real wrong ones - just tough ones trying to decide what to see.

nytraveler Dec 27th, 2006 04:34 PM

Given your very limited time I would dump the first car and then fly to the east coast. (Not that there's nothing to be seen/done in between - but with only 5 weeks you have to pick and choose - and there's not really much inbetween to rival NYC, DC or Boston.)

simpsonc510 Dec 27th, 2006 05:00 PM

I'm with dukey on this one. As a life long resident of "downstate" Illinois, I have to say, we love the open spaces as well!! I'm proud to live in the fly over part of this wonderful country.

Things to do in the "middle"... what about Chicago, St Louis, the Badlands, the Ozarks of central Missouri, Nashville, Memphis...

We have European friends who come to our fly over country to see the muddy Mississippi River!

chalclear, I hope you have a wonderful time on your long cross-country trip. The USA has much to see, and that includes the middle part of the country as well as the coasts.

Carol, proudly from Illinois

NeoPatrick Dec 27th, 2006 05:15 PM

You won't like this answer, but I'd really consider a big loop starting and ending in San Francisco, doing the areas you mention, plus Yellowstone, and going up into the Canadian Rockies. This loop will easily take 5 weeks and would be spectacular.

If you MUST see New York, then fly there for 5 days and do it, but fly back (or can you get an open jaw flight where you fly into SF and home from NYC?

No offense but trying to put the beauty of the muddy Mississippi and the corn and wheat fields of miles and miles of Kansas and Nebraska into the same category as Bryce and the Grand Canyons, and the Rockies just isn't going to fly with me. They may be a nice diversion, but what would you give up from the five weeks to replace with those areas?

hulajake Dec 27th, 2006 06:40 PM

Sorry so many seem to have such a negative opinion about such a vast section of the country. From Denver you have a couple of options go I76 into western Nebraska than north upto Toadstool State Park there is a fossil bed in the area. Continue north to Ft. Robinson and than the Black Hills of South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore. Another option is north to Cheyenne, Wyoming west on 80 to 191 than north to the Grand Tetons National Park than Yellowstone National Park . You could continue north to Glacier National Park in Montana or head east from YNP to either Custer's Battlefield south of Billings,Montana or go through Sheridan towards Rapid City, South Dakota and see Devils Tower by Hulett,Wyoming than continue to Mt. Rushmore. There are one or two more things to see but it appears some would rather not believe that.

DebitNM Dec 27th, 2006 06:47 PM

<i>Arches: Salt Lake City: and then on to Denver</i> IF this is all you are going to do in this area, you will be missing the best part of Colorado. SW Colorado [Durango, Ouray, Telluride, Mesa Verde] is worth the trip over from Moab. Do consider adding it to your trip.


NeoPatrick Dec 27th, 2006 07:36 PM

hulajake, I think you misunderstood my point if you were referring to me along with others.
All those things you mention are wonderful. I've done them all (except Toadstool) and loved them. You haven't mentioned Wind or Jewel Cave or Custer State Park either, or even Mount Rushmore. All great places. But cancel Grand Canyon or Yosemite or Bryce so you can do them? No way. Sorry, they are nice and wonderful, but not the priority sites for someone with very limited time on a first visit to the whole of the US.

chalclear Dec 27th, 2006 08:41 PM

All of you - thanks so much - this is getting more and more difficult! Here is another option - maybe we should extend our holiday so we can do the lot! Oh for a heap of time and money! Please keep the ideas coming - nothing like local knowledge. We are busy writing everything down.

janisj Dec 27th, 2006 10:21 PM

As several of us mentioned on your other thread - you only have 5 weeks and that is about right for the big western loop you had planned. (or w/ some squeezing, time enough for the western states and a little time in NY)

Not a thing wrong w/ the &quot;middle&quot; of the country - but you simply don't have time for the entire country. Even if you added 2 or 3 weeks you are still trying to bite off too big a chunk.

Several of us mentioned the problem of really high one-way rental fees - and if you hire a van the fees will be even higher. Plus many rental companies and insurance <b>will not cover for more than 4 weeks</b> on a contract.

So you would need to hire two different vehicles in any case. soooooo: rent one car/van for your western bit. Then turn in the car and fly to New York state for Niagra Falls and on to NYC.

gail Dec 27th, 2006 11:09 PM

I realize this is getting difficult - but extending your trip is not going to solve the problem. At age 50 and having traveled each summer, starting as a kid, to various parts of US, I still have an enormous list of things I would like to see.

First, I would decide if you prefer to see highlights of many places - driving a lot, or see fewer places in more depth.

Then, decide which cities you have an interest in (since you seem not to be a city person). For example, while NY, Boston and Washington on east coast all have much to offer, you really can't see them all. And while there are phenomenal national parks in the western part of US, you are always going to find many of us here to recommend you not miss a certain one.

Check prices for minivan versus car - usually a lot more expensive and for 2 people not really useful space.

Have a great trip and stop trying to plan the perfect trip while not missing anything. No matter where you go on the list it will be great, and you will always wish you had seen something you didn't.

NeoPatrick Dec 28th, 2006 05:36 AM

chalclear, now you know how we felt when we had 10 weeks to see ALL of Australia AND New Zealand. We had a lot of picking and choosing to do. One of our best deals was a sort of flying &quot;pass&quot; with Quantas, where we got something like 5 segments for a very small sum, so we did a fair amount of flying -- between North and South Island, from Wellington to Perth, from Perth to Tasmania, from Tasmania to Adelaide, from Sydney to Brisbane, from Brisbane to Cairns. But we did a heck of a lot of driving in each of those areas too (particularly from Adelaide to Sydney including Kangaroo Island).

How much CAN you extend?

droolpatrol Dec 28th, 2006 05:46 AM

OK no one has suggested a southern route yet, perhaps along I-40? You can head to SW Colorado (Durango, Telluride, Ouray, etc), cut south through New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle (which is stunning in its own way) I think it's cool to watch the countryside change. Then perhaps if you get tired of flatness and farms, you can drop the car in OK City and fly to your next destination, or continue on I-40 to Ark, TN, and the Carolinas. Besides, where else but the plains can you watch your dog run away for 3 days?

hulajake Dec 28th, 2006 12:54 PM

NeoPatrick please reread the two posts Chalclear's original and mine. First they ask about sights after Denver which I added to not subtracted from. Hopefully no one else was confused.

NeoPatrick Dec 28th, 2006 01:04 PM

I don't think I misunderstood. You said, &quot;Sorry so many seem to have such a negative opinion about such a vast section of the country.&quot; I don't think any of us have such a &quot;negative opinion&quot; of all the center of the country, we were just saying that there is not enough time to ADD all those places after Denver and that yes, clalchear would be wise to fly over them (as asked). Trying to do all those things would mean that chalclear would have to cut many of the other things they seem set on in order to travel and see the center of the country. And rather than cut those original sights, I was suggesting they skip the &quot;midwest&quot; to use a very vague and broad term.

sdtravels Dec 28th, 2006 05:30 PM

I feel I am particularly qualified to comment on this post. My husband and I spent 7 weeks driving starting in Georgia and covering, in order, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, where we spent a week for a well needed rest, then Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virgina, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. We are in our 50's, we have been to all 50 states. I am from the east coast, my husband is from the mid west. We have also spent three weeks in Australia/New Zealand taking 17 flights within the 21 days. In other words, we can cram a whole lot in to a trip. From Colorado on, our trip was pedal to the metal to NJ for a family event, three days and press on home. We didn't stop and didn't see any sites from Colorado on out. There is absolutely NO way you can fit the whole country in 5 weeks. My advice would be to see as many as you can of the national parks in California, Utah, Nevada and the Grand Canyon and make one big loop. Fit in Napa Valley, LA, Las Vegas for a break from scenery. You won't be disappointed. Come again and do the east coast.

trippinkpj Dec 28th, 2006 06:25 PM

Did I miss what time of year this is being done? That makes a difference in what I'd suggest for your loop, because of the weather. Thanks!

Austin Dec 28th, 2006 07:37 PM

I don't have much to add, but I will say that back in the 70's, I took a cross country trip starting in NY. We went thru Ill, Nebraska, (and states between) down to Nevada, UT, CA, OR, WA, MT, ND, SD, etc, and back to NY. It was 5 weeks and 10K miles. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. You are in for the trip of a lifetime. The standouts were Yellowstone, Glacier, Badlands, and all the great people we met on the way. Take your time, stop in the little diners, talk to the locals, enjoy the parks...I have so many wonderful memories of that trip. I'd love to do it again.

TheWeasel Dec 28th, 2006 07:49 PM

Your itinerary lists Reno and Carson City - those 2 could pretty easily be dumped, IMO.

I kind of agree with Patrick's idea of a big loop starting in San Francisco, although I'd tone it down a bit to give you some time for the East Coast. Definitely include Yellowstone, but the Canadian Rockies is probably too far to fit it in and give yourself time for everything else.

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