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Karen & Bob Oct 11th, 2000 11:03 AM

long family trip
My family is already thinking about next summer's vacation. We (me, husband 2 kids -- 10 and 12) have decided to do the great American road trip. We have never been away from home for more than a week at a time and have questions about being away for so long. <BR> <BR>I would appreciate any advice from those who take extended trips (ellen griswold, patrick, others) what to do about the stuff that needs to get done at home while on the long trip like paying bills, house and yard work, etc. <BR> <BR>I also have concerns about traveling together for 3 weeks. How do you find personal time while all together in a car for hours on end. I do love my children and husband, but I might need a break from them during the trip. Any suggestions?

Heather Oct 11th, 2000 12:37 PM

Look on <BR>A writer for the Chicago Tribune did a great feature on a drive cross country with his two teenagers. The articles had excerpts from all of their travel journals. They share how they did or did not cope with the "closeness" of being in a car for that long together. The travel page also has a terrific series on "Great North American Drives".

ellen griswold Oct 11th, 2000 01:39 PM

Hey Karen ~ so glad you asked! :-) My favorite topic of conversation! Actually, I'm now planning our New England Adventure for July 2001 ~ even though our son wants to go there "via Arizona!" There's just not much left out west that we haven't explored or experienced! <BR> <BR>Your kids are at the perfect ages ~ our two were 9 and 12 when we took our first 3.5 week trip. I too, was a little concerned ~ hubby grew up on beach vacations, and that is what we as a family had taken to that point. (With some sight-seeing each summer on the way home from the beach!) I however, took several trips out west with my parents so it was already in my blood! <BR> <BR>We may be a dying breed, as I know most prefer to fly. However, driving is totally condusive to growing close as a family. It's truly the only time of the year that we have our kids ALL to ourselves. We kinda zone out into another realm..... <BR> <BR>The itineraries I plan are so packed full of activities and attractions, that there's little time for boredom. We see and do everything possible, including Nat'l Parks, Pres. Libraries & homes; we explore major cities and their attractions, stroll little villages, take in as many major-league baseball games as possible. <BR> <BR>We don't always DO everything listed - but there's always plenty available. I always plan on motels with fitness centers and pools - (Indoor in the northwest, Rockies/Montana etc.) and leave time for hanging out in the evening. (That is, unless we've just arrived and are starting to explore a national park. Most of them are STUNNING at sunset!) <BR> <BR>I pack lots of healthy snacks and we buy lots of deli foods for picnics in the parks, or roadside stops. We all need the break - and we have made some memories we'll never be able to duplicate - we've dined with lizards and road-runners in the southwest, outrageously-friendly ground-hogs in Rocky Mountain National Park and near Devil's Tower, and had our lunches almost taken away by Bufflo in Yellowstone (near Mammoth) and by burros in Custer State Park in S. Dakota! Eating cooler-lunches saves time, calories and cash - and creates lifelong memories. <BR> <BR>Before we leave - we hire a teenage neighbor to mow the lawn, ask a neighbor to water, have our mail and papers picked up by a neighbor, (some have it stopped - we prefer not to) leave copies of our itineraries and voice mail numbers with a neighbor and family. DH pays some bills before we leave- the rest are waiting with a HUGE pile of mail when we return. <BR> <BR>Your life will still be there when you return, but you will never be the same! There's such joy in discovering and exploring together with your kids, and seeing things through their eyes, also. And you will want to start planning your next trip immediately! <BR> <BR>I can honestly say, we all get along better on our trips that at any other time of year! Our kids have grown extremely close over the years - there is nothing like shared experiences! I must admit that I am the only one who has had a bout with anger - there is nothing worse than this - after planning and finely-tuning an itinerary for MONTHS - than to spot something that looks incredibly interesting that you didn't know was there! THEN I'm mad that we missed something! Many times we can work it in anyway - like the time we went zooming past Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Dam on our way to Monument Valley. (No, I don't know HOW I missed it but I'm glad we were able to spend some time there anyway!) <BR> <BR>Well, I've probably given you more information that you wanted, but let us know if you have any more questions. This board is great ~ wish I would have known it was here years ago. It was very helpful in planning our 2000 adventure, which included seeing a lot of the less-visited areas of California and also many areas in Texas. <BR> <BR>Enjoy the planning - truly half the fun!

GOL Oct 11th, 2000 01:48 PM

<BR>Re: bills, house & yard work, (any pets?), have a friend/neighbor water plants, etc. and if need be collect your mail and send the important bills somewhere along the way. But you are only talking about 3 weeks, so I'd deal with this stuff when you get back. Depending on your circumstances, a house sitter may be the answer.... <BR> <BR>First, design your trip (all trips) with a bang of a start and a super finish. It will give you something to look forward to before and during, and something to relive for a long time. <BR> <BR>If you don't know exactly where you are going, have all of you together study a US map with parks, etc and decide where you want to go. Make sure each of you have at least 1 special place on your route. {examples: mule ride in Grand Canyon, visit Kentucky Horse Park, stay in a 4 star hotel, Rock N Roll Museum). <BR> <BR>Be flexible. If you are staying in hotels, make multiple reservations at different locations so you don't have to be somewhere at a specific day. <BR> <BR>Make time for your personal time requirements. If you need it, plan it. Stay a few nights in one place; you can 'chill' while the kids are in the pool, watching movies or off with Dad. Think of your 3 weeks as 3 one week vacations, if this helps. <BR> <BR>Get the kids involved in the planning. Example: let them surf the net for places, directions, etc. <BR> <BR>Bring bikes, if you can. <BR> <BR>Plan for picnics. You can also 'chill' here too. <BR> <BR>Hope something goes wrong! Yes. Turn getting lost or some other minor mishap into a laughable memory. Don't sweat "it" if everything doesn't go perfectly. <BR> <BR>Write a journal, even if brief, after each day.

GOL Oct 11th, 2000 01:55 PM

Just read Ellen's - I strongly second Ellen's points that you get close to your family (all of what she said) and the planning is 1/2 the fun!

ellen again Oct 11th, 2000 02:24 PM

PS ~ Yes, as GOL said, definitly enlist the help of your children! I didn't do that the first two years - and the past three have been even more exciting for them. They research locations, attractions etc. and also do research on accomodations. I also believe in making more than one reservation for certain nights; when drive time is uncertain (in and our of Death Valley for example!) it's allows you to change your plans at the last minute. (Our 3-4 week intineraries are usually three fully typed pages because of this!) The only downside to that is that you MUST remember to cancel them before the deadline or your card will be charged. <BR> <BR>We also have each child write a travel journal from day one. Each morning when we begin our day, we first do daily housekeeping - (clean up, sort souvenirs, file postcards) our daily devotion that I bring for THEM to read to us, and then Journals. At first, they balked - school on vacation?! But now it's just part of the experience. And I must say my Jock son is in Honors English - hmmmmm, wonder if there's any connection there??!! He also plans to be a history or science teacher and work summers as a park ranger - hopefully at a different park each year. Gee, I wonder where his parents will vacation then? LOL

karen Oct 12th, 2000 08:31 AM

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! All of your suggestions have been wonderful. Heather I went to the web site, though I didn't find the article you mentioned, I did find valuable information. Ellen and GOL thank you for the tip on multiple hotel reservations. To GOL no pets at home (though my 10-year-old daughter wants one more than anything else in the world). We will get the input from the kids but I can guess that Katie wants to do the horse farm and Robbie wants to see Mark McGwire play in St. Louis. <BR> <BR>Right now we sort of planned Nashville to Memphis to Hot Springs NP, to Oklahoma City, to Denver, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Mall of America, Chicago, St. Louis, Kentucky horse farm. Maybe rafting in West Virginia at the end. <BR> <BR>Do you have suggestions for good refence material? (besides Fodor's). Right now it seems overwhelming, but I'm glad we are starting in October for a June vacation.

ellen griswold Oct 12th, 2000 03:18 PM

Hi Karen! <BR> <BR>Before I was "computer literate", I relied almost entirely on the AAA Tourbooks and Fodors National Park Guidebooks. The latter are the most comprehensive on the market! I still use those resources, especially when choosing our Nat'l Park Lodges and motels. I cross-reference what I find there to web-sites ~ I still like spending cold winter evenings by the fire curled up with a map and tourbook! :-) <BR> <BR>Sounds like you have a nice trip planned. You said you have a full three weeks, right? May I make a suggestion? It's JMHO ~ but I think you'll find that you can easily fit more into your itinerary ~ unless you're planning to spend more than a 2-3 days at each location. For example, Mt. Rushmore, Kentucky Horse Farm, Devil's Tower will take a day at most. Another might want to save some of the attractions located closer to your home for another shorter trip at a later date, and instead, push out west as far as possible. Again, JMHO! <BR> <BR>Specifically, between OK City and Denver, you will find many wonderful Nat'l Parks and attractions within a day's drive... .not right off the highway, but definitely worth driving to see. Also, between Denver and Mt. Rushmore/Badlands, you might consider adding some other stops ~ there are many options! <BR> <BR>Colorado is rich in natural wonder and actually...Yellowstone Nat'l Park isn't that far away.... Again, JMHO (!!!!) but possibly consider giving up some time at the Mall of America for 2-3 days in Yellowstone. It's a treasure. <BR> <BR>Keep us posted on your plans. And enjoy the process!

GOL Oct 12th, 2000 04:55 PM

<BR>Hi. Planning material. Write e-mail and/or letters to each place you have in your plans. The NPS site ( will have the address of Mt. Rushmore. Ask for trip planning, area attractions, lodging and the official brochure for each Nat. Park Service stop. You will have to write to each one separately (Hot Springs). Ideas: see the arch in St. Louis or Grants Farm (Busch beer) where they have the Clidesdales sp? Many of the more popular NPS parks have vacation planners and annual newspapers. Do the same for the Ky Horse Park. Check the web for their address. Also, there is an outstanding driving tour map to see the 'traditional' horse farms near the KY Horse park area. <BR> <BR>Write / e-mail to each states tourism office and request information. Most states web URLs are www.state.??.us - where ?? is the state abbreviation (California is I don't spend a lot of time online at first, as I like to have brochures, etc in my hands. <BR> <BR>Call the 800 numbers of the chain hotels/motels (Best Western, Choice, Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc..) and get their directory. This will take ~4 weeks. I use these to see which chains had indoor pools along the route or in a specific town, prices, direct tel# numbers (I always call directly to see if I can get a lower price). <BR> <BR>The AAA guidebooks are still good. I use these to see what the area/region/state is 'famous' for and to make sure I don't miss anything along my route. They are a very easy and concise read. Some hotels offer a AAA "book rate" (a display add within the AAA pages) which is often very low and you must show the book at check in [I have found several Fairfield Inns have an ad in the AAA book] <BR> <BR>If you will spend time in cities, check some city sites (what is going on in Denver, say), which should be accessed via a general word in your browser ("Denver Attractions"). <BR> <BR>I don't want to say the same good stuff as the honorable Ms. Griswald, but you should get a National Parks book, as you will find there are many other parks along your route. They are listed by state (I still think their old book is better!) and have all the necessary info. <BR> <BR>I like to make several hand-written calendars and chart out the trip. Then I make reservations as soon as possible, keeping all reservations in one notepad/book (which I bring on the trip with the reservation and cancellation numbers). Later, I narrow down the exact dates and times and adjust the reservations. <BR> <BR>I don't really use Fodors books or other general travel books for planning, but I love Fodors City Packs. They are thin, hard to find, and only published for large cities. If they have one for Denver or Chicago, buy them. They are first rate, especially for planning and visiting in the city. [Oh by the way, many of the questions on New York City in this forum are answered within the New York City Pack] <BR> <BR>I also forgot one thing - get a dozen or so books on tape for your trip from your library. You won't regret it. <BR> <BR>Have a blast.

Teresa Oct 12th, 2000 07:27 PM

Great suggestions, all. My husband and I are road-trip veterans and treasure the uninterrupted time with our kids. Your point about "too much togetherness" is a valid one, though. All-suite hotels like Staybridge Suites, Embassy Suites, etc. are lifesavers. Make sure that you're getting a suite with two separate rooms and not just one big room with a little divider. Makes a world of difference--believe me, your kids will be ready for some time away from Mom and Dad, too, by week #2! <BR> <BR>We have tried the travel diary thing with mixed success. What seems to work better for us is to give each child a couple of disposable cameras and let them make a photo diary of the trip. A tv/vcr combination that plugs into your car's ciagarette lighter is a wonderful thing. I'm sure I'll get blasted, but kids can and will look at scenery for only so long on a cross-country trip before they need some down time. Headphones that plug into the tv are a big help, too. <BR> <BR>Have a great time--

ellen griswold Oct 13th, 2000 05:33 AM

Great thread, everyone ~ I LOVE it! <BR> <BR>Theresa, we too have a TV/VCR in our van and it's great! But usually, it's only used during the L-O-N-G driving stretches (Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa ~ and even then, we try to find things to see along the way - Bob Feller's, John Waynes homes etc.) We also have greatly enjoyed the Adventures In Odyssey tapes/CD's, the radio drama professionally produced by Focus on the Family. ( Our kids grew up with those tapes and we ALL still enjoy them! (Kids-life situations ~ drama/comedy ~ with a moral to the story.) <BR> <BR>Heather ~ (who posted first reply)~ I have not been able to retrieve the Chicago Tribune article ~ any ideas? <BR> <BR>Karen ~ as GOL said, get copies of all the hotel directories and also join their frequent stay programs. You'll be amazed at the price differences and how quickly the nights add up. Our favorites are: <BR>Holiday Inn Priority Club, <BR>Best Western Gold Crown, <BR>Choice Hotels (Comfort/Sleep Inn) Guest Privileges <BR>Hilton/Hampton Honors. <BR>I always call BOTH the national 800 number AND direct number ~ and also SEVERAL times. Yes, it takes some time, but it's truly amazing how often their rates can change. And the lower we get our rates, the more nights we can stay on the road! Just simply ask if they can find their absolute lowest rate, or Manager's specials. For our most recent trip, I used web sites and wasn't able to beat any of my rates that I got over the phone. <BR> <BR>Also, when in the National Parks, we always try to stay right there in the Lodges. When exploring major cities, we try to find a place right in town; weekend rates are always low. Even though we may be doing little more than sleeping at these places, I try to find the best deal with the most "charm". <BR> <BR>So excited for you Karen ~ After five trips out west of 3-4 weeks each, and over 30,000 TOTAL miles!!! ~ we're ready to see New England! Although ds wants to go there "via Arizona"! LOL LOL

karen Oct 13th, 2000 09:40 AM

Thanks everyone for all your suggestions. Checked out every available US travel book from public library last night. Will pick up hotel guides over the weekend. <BR> <BR>Still seems overwhelming! I think we're going to skip white water rafting at the end of trip (too tired). I've always wanted to see the Grand Ole Opry and that's Friday or Saturday night in Nashville (going to try for Saturday show, but Nashville is at least 8 hours from home). <BR> <BR>Husband ("Sparky" to Ellen Griswold) wants to go to Graceland (well, it's his vacation too). <BR> <BR>Hot Springs seems like a reasonable drive from Memphis, with a stop in Little Rock to see the capitol (oh no I'm turning into my mother with educational stuff on vacation). <BR> <BR>Oklahoma City, to see the Murrah memorial and it seems like a reasonable drive from Hot Springs. <BR> <BR>Maybe so some type of 1/2 day covered wagon trip for the kids on the way to Denver. Will have to spend the night somewhere between the two, will get multiple hotel reservations. <BR> <BR>No one in either my family or my husband's been in the midwest so we have no idea of what to see or skip there. <BR> <BR>Plan to stay a couple of days in Denver and do day trips from there like the Air Force Academy and Rocky Mtn. NP. <BR> <BR>I'm not sure about Yellowstone, it seems so far away and remote. The idea of driving from SC to SD is scary in length. <BR> <BR>I've always wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore. I don't think the trip time will be near the re-enactment of the battle of little big horn at Custer State Park but still plan to see that area along with the badlands. <BR> <BR>The Mall of America looked like a place we could stay on the way to somewhere else. However, I do have a 10-year-old daughter ("Audrey" to Ellen Griswold) who might like to stay there the entire time. <BR> <BR>Chicago and Springfield IL for history (mom and dad again wanting something educational). Might try to time trip to be in Chicago for a baseball game. <BR> <BR>St. Louis for the arch and baseball game. <BR> <BR>Kentucky for horses. <BR> <BR>Then home to collapse. <BR> <BR>Thanks everyone for your help with this. I do have a feeling we might be pushing too hard, but I guess we can always update along the route!

cuple Oct 13th, 2000 12:02 PM

Great thread!! <BR> <BR>We're thinking of taking a cross-country road-trip from LA, CA to Washington DC, then possibly fly back to LA. I'd really appreciate your input on the following: <BR> <BR>1. Is it best to rent a car for such a trip, or do the whole round trip in your own car? <BR> <BR>2. Has anyone done this trip before? Is it possible to do one way in 10 days? Or round trip in two weeks? which do you recommend? We'd rather take it slow, and relaxed, instead of a rushed trip. possibly drive about 4-6 hours max per day. <BR> <BR>would love your input!

Teresa Oct 13th, 2000 12:35 PM

Karen, <BR> <BR>It sounds like you have the beginnings of a wonderful trip! We live in western Nebraska (knocking on Wyoming and Colorado's door) and started planning our 1999 Chicago/Pennsylvania/Washington D.C./Virginia/North Carolina trip a year in advance, with much help from this forum. As you can tell, it takes that long! Definitely do the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. Try to get reservations at Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer State Park (Black Hills near Mount Rushmore). You'll have to book it now--maybe it's already too late--but I'm guessing your family will enjoy it. Do a search--I know there's a website but don't know the address. Regarding covered wagons, etc., my neck of the woods is the perfect stopping point in between Denver and the Black Hills and is LOADED with Old West History. Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff National Monument, the Oregon Trail (yes, you can still see the ruts--amazing), and a fabulous covered wagon/chuckwagon experience nearby in Bayard, NE (right by Chimney Rock).

Terry Oct 14th, 2000 06:01 AM

I'd like to give a kid's point of view on the long car trip, although I haven't been a kid for a few years now! <BR> <BR>With a teacher and principal as parents, the only vacations we could afford were driving, and you had the added benefit of having a whole month in the summer (principals don't get the whole summer off!) to drive these massive distances. We took a month-long camping trip from the east coast to California (4 kids under the age of 6!), went to Colorado and back twice, Minnesota 3 times, the Dakotas one, Florida once, and an endless number of shorter trips. <BR> <BR>My abiding memories of the trips are of "incidents", such as my brother disturbing a beehive, the transmission falling out of the car, having to eat swiss cheese and peanut butter because we ran out of everything else, running out of money (no ATMs in the 70s), getting trapped in a freak June snowstorm. Also, being the only one awake when my dad's driving, and stopping at a truck stop with him for hot chocolate at 3 a.m., talking on the CB with truckers, playing with kids we met at the campgrounds, riding the waves in North Carolina, seeing my grandparents, stopping at the laundromat, the July 4 parade in some little town in Nebraska, the rodeo in Montana, the various lakes and pools. <BR> <BR>I truly don't remember the sites we saw, except for a retired battleship that had all sorts of things to play on. That's not what kids remember. They remember the problems and the laughter and the people they meet, not whether they saw the largest ball of twine or a memorial. The sites are important, as they teach kids about our country, but don't concentrate on these things--those don't make memories.

Karen Oct 16th, 2000 05:36 AM

The family spent a good part of the weekend looking over maps and thinking up stuff to do. My son wants to see the scenery in Coyote-Road Runner cartoons. I always thought it was desert southwest territory or Arches NP, and we cannot make it that far on this trip. Any suggestions? <BR> <BR>Thank you Teresa for saying where all the "covered wagon action" is. <BR> <BR>Thank you Terry for the child's point of view. I remember as a child spending what seemed like 3 days to get to the beach in the back seat of the station wagon with my sister (it was maybe 5-6 hours, but the trip was not fun). <BR> <BR>I have concerns about so much time in the car. My goal is not to see America by going down the interstate at 65 mph. Counting up mileage, it looks like a minimum of 5,000 miles for 3 weeks. Yikes. And no matter how many ways we look at it, America does not get any smaller. <BR> <BR>Even with all types of distractions for the kids, it's going to be hard for them and us. Maybe we should have a practice weekend where we drive as far as possible and see if can do this. <BR>

jwagner Oct 16th, 2000 07:01 AM

Karen, <BR> <BR>What a great trip. I'm wondering about some of your routes. Are you going to take the interstate? I live in the midwest (Iowa, to be exact) and figure you'll be taking Interstate 90 from the Black Hills to Minneapolis. You'll cut across the middle of South Dakota and then head into southern Minnesota before picking up Interstate 35 to Minneapolis. If that's the case, here are a few sites that are worthwhile: <BR>1.) Wall Drug, about an hour east of Rapid City. A famous tourist stop. Very cheesy. The kids will love it. Lots of cheap trinkets for sale. The automated dinosaur is worth the stop. <BR> <BR>2.) A 50 minute drive north of the interstate will take you to the Dances with Wolves movie site. <BR> <BR>3.) Al's Oasis on the Missouri River is an ok place to stop for gas, drinks, and a stretch of the legs. <BR> <BR>4.) Mitchell is home to the Corn Palace, another somewhat bizarre attraction that draws in thousands of people. This could be another leg-stretcher. <BR> <BR>5.) Sioux Falls is a nice town, a good place to bed down for the night after your eight hours on the road from Rapid City to Sioux Falls. BUT... <BR> <BR>6.) You might also think about Luverne, Minnesota, a typical midwestern town with a nice prairie preserve called the Blue Mound State Park. <BR> <BR>7.) Your next stretch is a long one without too much to see. One suggestion is to dip 35 miles south into Iowa to spend some time at the Iowa Great Lakes. They have a great amusement park there with a wonderful wooden roller coaster. This would also be a fine place to spend the night. But you might prefer to keep driving. (If you wanted Iowa attractions, I could give you a VERY long list). <BR> <BR>8.) If your husband is a music fan, he might want to stop in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper played their last concert before their plane crashed outside of town. The Surf Ballroom is still in existence and has some cool artifacts and photos. You can also go to the crash site to see a marker (but I wouldn't recommend it unless you REALLY love one of these musicians.) Ten miles west is Mason City, home to some beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright homes, a couple of unusual museums (plus a fine art museum), and the birthplace of Meredith Willson, who wrote the Music Man. Music Man Square should be done by the time you take your trip. <BR> <BR>From Mason City, your trip to the Twin Cities is a quick 2 and a half hours. <BR> <BR>Have fun.

sarah Oct 16th, 2000 09:06 AM

I am so jealous. We just got back from the New England trip - Ellen do not miss Woodstock Vermont, Ogunquit Maine. <BR> <BR>Midwest Suggestions - Definitely spend a least a night in Chicago but stay on the Magnificent Mile. Always so much to do - my kids always have a blast. <BR>Definitely do St. Louis as well. See the Arch but do not go up in - waste of time and money. You can see the arch when you go to the game. Hopefully McGuire will recoup by next year. Another thing you could check out that would be fun is to bike the Katy Trail. Goes from Augusta, Mo (20 miles west of St. Louis, through Herman,Mo (great small town to Columbia,Mo). Follows the Missouri River and is very fun. Midwest Living and Southern Living Magazines did write up on. You can go as far or as limited as you want. You could take two days in St. Louis - spend one downtown and stay at the Hyatt Regency in Union Station. take the metro during the day to the Zoo/Science Center/Forest Park and the evening at the Cardinals game. Spend another day in Augusta and do the bike trail during the day and check out the entertainment at the wineries at night. During the summer Mt. Pleasant Winery has concerts that are so much fun with a great view and kids are welcome. ALot of places to stay along the Katy Trail that rent bikes. Check out the magazine articles. One great place but might be too B & B for the kids is the H.S. Clay house. <BR>All of the above would depend on the weather of course. If St. Louis is going through one of its hot spells biking might not be fun. <BR>Kentucky Lake might also be an option - great area. Alot of folks rent houseboats on the lake but can be very expensive.

GOL Oct 16th, 2000 09:25 AM

<BR>What is the Katy trial? Is it part of the E-W US trail that just officially completed? Any web or US mail addresses. <BR> <BR>Thanks

Ellen Griswold Oct 16th, 2000 10:36 AM

Love this thread! So glad to see that others appreciate the joys of long road-trips! IMHO ~ it's the ONLY way to fly! tee hee <BR> <BR>Sarah, would you share your New England trip report with me? How long were you gone? We had fully intended to spend three weeks exploring it next summer ~ but "Rusty" is wearing us down; he really wants to go out west yet again ~ for a SIXTH time! can we parents possibly refuse a 16 y/o (a 'cool' one at that ~ who actually WANTS to spend that much time with us???!!!) <BR> <BR>So, this is what I thought we'd do... We'll take 14-16 days out west, possibly re-visiting some favorites (we've truly been to the vast majority of Nat'l Parks in all regions except NE) and maybe find some smaller, off-the-beaten-path type sites...a couple days on Rt.66 .... and then take about 11-12 days to explore New England. We're a little less than a day's drive from Boston. <BR> <BR>I KNOW that's not enough time to do it justice ~ dh and I have had some great times in Boston and parts of CT. However, our days are numbered with Rusty ~ he'll be in college in a couple of years ~ and I can't see us taking this kind of vacation with Audrey and one of her friends! The beach yes, an adventure, NO. :-) <BR> <BR>SO...will 11-12 days be enough? Any advice you can offer Sarah, and from ANYONE else, will be greatly appreciated. (I've already completed a rough outline of a three week New Eng. trip thanks to the WONDERFUL info received here.) <BR> <BR>BTW JWagner ~ we enjoyed our stop at Wall Drug, too! The entire I90 stretch is great ~ from The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Pk., Devil's Tower, Cody, WY and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (EXCELLENT!)and Dam, to the 'darling' of the park system, hour at Wall Drug was just enough commercialism for us - especially Audrey! I'm sorry I didn't realize the set from Dances with Wolves was nearby....hmmm....maybe we'll have to take I90 next summer....

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