drive from east to west

Old Jan 24th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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drive from east to west

This summer (august) I want to drive with my son from Washington to L.A. We are Dutch and used to travel all over and drive >1000 m/d in Europe.
I want to show my son (17) the best of your country, but we've only 19 days exl. flights. I wonder if anyone has routes, tips and tricks to make this trip to a succes. What I am also looking for are special events, cheap b&b or Inns a.s.o.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Tall order. From east to west, you're covering about 3,000 miles. We did this (both ways) back in the 60's when I was 12, and despite the boredom driving, I still remember fondly the trip. It was the three of us, me, my mom and my sister. We started in L.A. and ended in Washington DC where my grandparents lived. We pretty much avoided the south, only because of the civil unrest at the time, but we drove up into Canada (Winnepeg) for a short spell.

Here were the highlights as I remember them (mentally from west to east, then back west):

1. Las Vegas (very different in the '60's, but liked the swimming pools, bright lights, and shows).

2. Grand Canyon -- my mom planned our stay here much longer than actually needed. It's a hole, a beautiful one, but a hole. You look at it, you admire it, and you don't need 4 days to do this.

3. Grand Tetons -- amazing rock formations.

4. Yellowstone National Park. Spend as many days as you can here. My mom cheated us on this one -- that's where we should have spent the extra time.

5. Mount Rushmore -- in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota, but wow, it was cool, and the blackhills area is really nice.

6. Niagara Falls -- been there twice now, and the Canadian side, imo is better than the NY side, but take the cheesy "Maids of the Mist" tour -- it is spectacular!

7. NYC -- Big city, expensive, but so many neat things to do.

8. Boston -- well, we didn't go here and I have never been, but it's high on my list of historical places to visit -- and you MUST go to a Red Sox game.

9. Santa Fe New Mexico. Great artists colony, indian sites, and probably the best sunsets I've ever seen. Serene, peaceful -- one of my favorite towns.

Of course, we didn't visit anywhere in California, since we live here and have been all over before and we didn't visit the west coast on that particular trip, but if I were to do a north/south west coast trip, high on my list would be Monterey, San Francisco, Yosemite, Ashland Oregon, Portland, Seattle, and the San Juan Islands.

Surfergirl is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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It depends, in part, how far north or south you want to go as you cross the US and how time you want to spend on the Intersate Highways. But. . . this is a route I traveled once from New Yok City to San Francisco

I followed US 50 across the counrty with some side trips, 50 was my base route that I always came back to. Some reasonable sidetrips include
Harper's Ferry, WVA and maybe Gettysburg, PA.
Brown's County, IN
Dodge City, KS
Colo Springs (Pike's Peak/Garden of the Gods
Durango, CO then to Cortez and Mesa Verde Nat. Park
Arches Nat. Parl & Moab, UT
Then when 50 heads out across western Utah and Nevada (Loneliest Highway) you can decide to follow it or go north to Salt Lake City and across on I-80 to Reno, NV and then to Lake Tahoe to reconnect with 50 and go west from there.
OR, go south to Las Vegas, head for Los Angeles via Parhump, NV and Death Valley Nat. Park.
I took the southern route.
As for fairs, festivals, etc, try a Google search for a particular state's fairs and festivals.
You're more likely to find inexpensive motels chains (Super 8, Motel 6, Red Roof Inns, etc.) than cheap B&Bs.
there's an almost endless variety of routes to choose from. Enjoy and Welcome!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Thank you for your response.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 10:32 AM
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By special events, what do you mean? There's always summer festivals, music festivals, etc. End of July, early August you get the fireworks festival in Vancouver, BC and Seafair in Seattle.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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I don't think B&B's are ever going to be cheap, and particularly in the summer season. There are many bargain motel chains that are "cheap".
I think you need to choose your sights/sites, and then "connect the dots".
Can't misses are
Grand Tetons/Yellowstone Park
San Francisco and the coastline south of it
I could do without LA
Hoover Dam/LasVegas (just because there is probably nothing like it in the world)
New Orleans
AND Washington DC. I think our capital does not get the credit it deserves for being a very fine city with incredible sights.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 12:22 PM
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Disclaimer: You're going to be traveling in August, the hottest and most crowded vacation time in the U.S. Be prepared for hot weather and big crowds. As such, I recommend you take what I call the Northern Route, that should minimize the effects of hot weather.

Washington to L.A. Nineteen days. Hmmm

Washington -- two days. Visit the Netherland Carillon in Arlington, a gift from your Queen to our people.
Washington to Chicago, with a stop at Gettysburg -- two days.
Chicago -- one full day.
Chicago to Black Hills -- two days.
Black Hills -- one day.
Black Hills to Yellowstone, with a stop at Devils Tower -- one day.
Yellowstone -- two days.
Yellowstone to Utah, with a stop at Grand Teton -- one day.
Bryce and Zion -- one day each
North Rim of Grand Canyon -- one full day.
Las Vegas -- one day
Las Vegas to L.A. -- half day.

Stretch out any of these (other than the travel days) if you think you'll enjoy one site more than another. As noted above, spend extra time in ANY place but L.A., which has amusement parks but not much else.

I feel terrible giving you so little time in so many wonderful places, and telling you to skip such great places as Rocky Mountain NP, Sequoia, and Yosemite. But, in a 19 DAY TRIP, you have to skip or short-change SOMETHING.

In the U.S., B&B are NOT a cheap alternative to standard lodging. They're more designed for pampered stays for couples, and invariably cost more than a chain motel. For the most part, just drive till you want to stop, then pull off at just about any hiway exit with lots of chain motels. Pick up the motel guide at any hiway stop to get an idea of which are the cheapest at any specific exit, and ask there first.

Note that anyone under 21 is NOT allowed in the gambling areas of casinos, and the rule is VERY strictly enforced. Your son will have to spend his day at the pool or try to stop sweating in the 40C heat.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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We drove route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. We had three weeks but took in fact just over tow to do it, at a leisurely pace. We spent the last week with friends in Pasadena and San Diego. It was a great drive and showed us lots of interesting, and less interesting parts of the US.
I hope to go back and do another cross country trip one day.
See if you can get hold of a copy of Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen. he concentrates on two lane roads and old routes for great road trips. I read it and dream, but you may find it helpful.
We didn't go to Las Vegas, Nevada (it wasn't on rte 66) and I have never been there. I can't see the point in going there with a 19 year old who can't enjoy what Las Vegas is all about - the gambling. There are better places to go imho.
If you want to economise then pick up the booklets at gas stations and tourist offices which are full of vouchers for motel rooms. They will save you a packet. They are not all cheapo motels either, there are some very nice ones that have vouchers too.
Ik wens je een hele fijne vakantie!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 07:44 PM
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go to and enter starting and ending points. Scroll down to hotels and select the price range you want, and it will list hotels from DC to L.A. If you are starting your drive from the airport, enter IAD Washington, Sterling, VA or Chantilly VA.

You can also use to give you time and miles from the interstate to the attraction/city you are interested in along the way.

We prefer Holiday Inn Express when we travel. They are inexpensive, clean, and have a free continental breakfast.
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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All the other responders have good ideas, I would not miss Yellowstone NP or Grand Canyon. If you look at the welcome centers as you enter a state you will find motel discount books. I've used them often and they provide discounts for many of the name brand hotel/motel chains and also have maps that show where they are and often include information on what other things they offer, like free breakfast, pools, workout rooms, laundry, etc. and are useful even if you aren't there when there is a discount. Yellowstone and Grand Canyon both have places to stay that people reserve up to a year in advance. I've never traveled there in summer, but have been lucky enough to walk in and ask if there has been a cancellation and there always has, so far, but you need to have a back up plan if you don't get a place to stay. They also have campgrounds which may be more flexible if you wish to camp.
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