Drive the USA...

creatorsgame

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Anyone just gotten in a car and driven west?

Got married a couple weeks ago. We are both teachers, and I coach HS soccer, so a honeymoon this fall was out of the question.

What we want to do is, next summer, take a month and just drive. See some spots we have wanted to get to get to and never have. Maybe even western Canada and Alaska.

Has anyone done something like this? And if so, any advice/recommendations?
 

Roger N

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Anyone just gotten in a car and driven west?
I have done the cross country thing three times First time in 93 just winged it. A couple of times flipping a coin to see where to head next. Saw a lot of Fed Parks Yellowstone, Grand Canyon etc. just had Rand McNally and followed signs

In 2008 only had two weeks. Went west on I-40 and came back on I-70. Internet used a little

In 2015 headed to Texas then West. Saw great things as we went up the California coast from San Diego to Monterey Bay then headed East. Hit Grand Tetons , Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore. Relied a lot on our phones for navigation. Rand McNally is better.

I ended up driving right through downtown Chicago Yuk

Go for it and wing it. The second biggest roll of twine is just up ahead at the next exit
 
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Shrmdougluvr

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Anyone just gotten in a car and driven west?

Got married a couple weeks ago. We are both teachers, and I coach HS soccer, so a honeymoon this fall was out of the question.

What we want to do is, next summer, take a month and just drive. See some spots we have wanted to get to get to and never have. Maybe even western Canada and Alaska.

Has anyone done something like this? And if so, any advice/recommendations?
No, but seems like an amazing thing to do and wish you well on your journey.
 

OburgOrange

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Teacher as well. Many years ago we took a month and drove west . First leg was 30 hours straight to Pueblo Colorado. Never saw so much corn and silos driving through Nebraska, ugh. From Pueblo to Durango Col. to meet friends. Stayed there a few days . Did the Durango to Silverton train excursion up through the Rockies, amazing. From there to Lost Wages Nevada. Spent a week there. Lots to see and do, we are not gamblers.
From there to Phoenix, making stops along the way. Two highlights, driving through Zion Canyon in Utah - breathtaking, and Paige Arizona ...
spent a week in Phoenix in the middle of summer..ewww.
At the time we had 2 infants. They were great the whole way
 

chugg21

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Anyone just gotten in a car and driven west?

Got married a couple weeks ago. We are both teachers, and I coach HS soccer, so a honeymoon this fall was out of the question.

What we want to do is, next summer, take a month and just drive. See some spots we have wanted to get to get to and never have. Maybe even western Canada and Alaska.

Has anyone done something like this? And if so, any advice/recommendations?
I've sort of done it, moving from Buffalo to Monterey, CA and then back from San Diego to Florida. Would highly recommend it. If you like baseball at all, can usually knock off a few stadiums along the way. Both of my highest recommendations were mentioned by others. #1 would be to do Route 1 in CA either from San Diego up to Monterey through Big Sur or from San Fran down to it, either one works. And also to make sure to spend a few days in Utah. Those 2 places are the most beautiful in the country to me. If interested in Canada, the Seattle to Vancouver coastline is pretty incredible as well though I've never done the drive across Canada, I've always wanted to.
 

Conrad13

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I did it in 2000 and loved it. Getting through the plains states can be rough. Rt 80 through the plains is the most boring. Omaha, NE is probably the most exciting thing. Even the first few hours of Colorado are rough. On Rt 90, Badlands National Park is worth a day or two and the Black Hills in South Dakota and Wyoming are really great if you like outdoors activities. We took Rt 94 out to Glacier National Park a few years ago. It's a long haul but I thought that Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a hidden gem. It's endless miles of beautiful landscape with lots of bison and prairie dogs and not crowded at all. Once you get into the Rockies, there is all sorts of good stuff from New Mexico to Montana.
 

OttoinGrotto

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I did it in 2000 and loved it. Getting through the plains states can be rough. Rt 80 through the plains is the most boring. Omaha, NE is probably the most exciting thing. Even the first few hours of Colorado are rough. On Rt 90, Badlands National Park is worth a day or two and the Black Hills in South Dakota and Wyoming are really great if you like outdoors activities. We took Rt 94 out to Glacier National Park a few years ago. It's a long haul but I thought that Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a hidden gem. It's endless miles of beautiful landscape with lots of bison and prairie dogs and not crowded at all. Once you get into the Rockies, there is all sorts of good stuff from New Mexico to Montana.
Oh man, I-80 is no joke. I've done the NY to Utah drive several times. I found the best way to do it is to start really early in the morning in NY, and not stop for the night until Omaha.

It sounds insane, but if you can pull it off, it makes the 80 monotony through Nebraska and Wyoming a whole lot more tolerable.
 

Eric15

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A week after I graduated college in 2004, 5 of my buddies and I took a month and circumnavigated the country. It was a surreal trip. We did the whole thing pre-smart phone and pre-GPS, simply using an atlas and figuring it out.

Saw all the big spots like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc. but also had so much fun just mingling with rural locals at dive bars in totally random places.

Driving through Montana, Idaho, down California's Route 1, etc. is just unbelievable. The East Coast has some beauty, but its just nothing compared to the West.
 

OrangeDW

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I have done the cross country thing three times First time in 93 just winged it. A couple of times flipping a coin to see where to head next. Saw a lot of Fed Parks Yellowstone, Grand Canyon etc. just had Rand McNally and followed signs

In 2008 only had two weeks. Went west on I-40 and came back on I-70. Internet used a little

In 2015 headed to Texas then West. Saw great things as we went up the California coast from San Diego to Monterey Bay then headed East. Hit Grand Tetons , Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore. Relied a lot on our phones for navigation. Rand McNally is better.

I ended up driving right through downtown Chicago Yuk

Go for it and wing it. The second biggest roll of twine is just up ahead at the next exit
I drove up the California coast further north - near San Francisco. Incredible. It didn’t even seem real.
 

moqui

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when i first moved to california, i drove straight through as fast as i could - 90 into ohio, dropped down and took the 70 into missouri, dropped down again and took the 40 most of the rest of the way, taking the 15 and 10 in california into l.a.

since then, i've driven back and forth 3 times (but never since 05). i've driven the northern route (mostly the 90), the two central routes (80 and 70) from west to east and the southern routes (40 and 10) back east to west. i definitely like the southern routes best. my favorite trip was the summer of 2000 - took 81 down to the 40 and then down route 55 to the 10, made stops in nashville, memphis, new orleans and austin. even got to see rosa's cantina out in the west texas town of el paso. great music and great food.
 

Ghost

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Banff. Banff. Banff. If you do it, go for broke, and make sure you hit it up whilst in Canada. Check out Spirit Island!
Also, if you swing it right, you can take the highway about 90 minutes and reach Calgary, where you can find Asian female entertainment at Vancouver level quality, but at Winnipeg type prices! Enjoy!
 

OrangeDW

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Banff. Banff. Banff. If you do it, go for broke, and make sure you hit it up whilst in Canada. Check out Spirit Island!
Also, if you swing it right, you can take the highway about 90 minutes and reach Calgary, where you can find Asian female entertainment at Vancouver level quality, but at Winnipeg type prices! Enjoy!
Banff...some of my cousins recently went there. I was blown away by their photos/videos of the place. I’d never even heard of it before that. They’ve been raving about it.
 

Ghost

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Banff...some of my cousins recently went there. I was blown away by their photos/videos of the place. I’d never even heard of it before that. They’ve been raving about it.
Yeah, it's pretty amazing - definitely should be on everyone's list.
 

HastingsCuse

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This Summer my son (SU '09) , a teacher, and girlfriend spent 7 weeks traveling from Seattle to Cabo San Lucas and back, going thru Arizona, Utah etc on the way back. Over 7K miles. He was driving a 2007 Honda Odyssey with 140K miles. He took out the back seats and built a platform bed in the back with a solar panel on the roof that ran a refrigerator. Together they spent less than $1500. He ate a lot of fish tacos (usually 3 for $5) and swam in Pacific every day for over a month - cold in Oregon awesome in Mexico.

At the same time, my daughter and her boyfriend (both graduated in May) spent 2 1/2 months traveling from back and forth across the country Starting in Tacoma WA to Yosemite to Vegas to Santa Fe to Outer Banks to DC to NY to Montreal, across Ontario to the UP to Chicago to Madison to Minneapolis to Badlands to Tetons/Yellowstone and back to Tacoma. 26 states and 2 Canadian provinces and over 10K miles. They were driving a 2004 Dodge Sprinter diesel van with over 150K miles. Together they spent less than $2000. Favorite free camp sites: On a beach on on the north shore of Lake Superior in Canada and another near Badlands NP.

Here is the advice from their trips: Biggest expense will be gas. Staying with friends saves money and gives you access to a shower. Walmart allows you to camp for the night in their parking lots for free and since they are open 24 hrs you have access to a bathroom. There is a lot of places for free camping out west - the official name in National Forests (not National Parks) is "dispersed camping." Here's a helpful website: freecampsites.net (2 years ago my daughter spent 5 weeks traveling to western NPs by herself as part of a college summer grant and stayed in free camp sites 80% of the time). Avoid popular NPs around holiday weekends. Cook your own meals whenever possible. When the weather sucks or you need AC and a shower book an AirBNB or cheap hotel.

People you meet are great. Both of them got stuck 2-3 times had to towed out of sand/ditches etc. - my son in Baja and my daughter in Santa Fe National Forest and near Badlands NP. At all times someone helped them out.
Here is my son's lengthy instagram posts about 1 of his experiences:

The last 4 days have been pretty special, forgive me if I ramble for a sec. 2+ weeks ago we stumbled upon Laguana Manuela in hopes of finding a campsite by the beach. 30 mins down a dirt road we found it and immediately got stuck in the sand .Thanks to two awesome fishermen and the seatbelts cut right out of their work truck, Octavio and Noe tugged us out. We enjoyed a night on the beach and on our way out the next morning found ourselves stuck again This time the security guard living near by working with the fisherman, Antonio, was our savior. Him and a crew of others helped tug us out again and we went on our way feeling silly, incredibly appreciative of the help and inspired by the kindness of strangers. And now 4 days ago on our way back north, we 100% knew we had to stop in again to say hi for a night with a 12 pack of gratefulness. And thank goodness we did! Antonio was delighted to see us again because we came back! He insisted we stay another night for a fish taco feast and we had the best day finding sea lion colonies and hanging on the beach with Antonio, his wife Carmen and they’re adorable doggos. The next day wouldn’t be our last either as we ran into Octavio and Noe again who offered to take us out fishing with some of their family. We watched in awe as these guys rounded up fish after fish. When we got back, Antonio and Carmen cooked up two of the biggest in a delicious fish soup that was perfect after a day on the water. That evening we got to meet all of Octavio and Noe’s family and they insisted we take some lobster tails with us that made for a perfect lunch today. Holly nearly convinced me to bring one of the adorable puppies with us too but that will have to wait till the next time I return to this special place.
Language may have been a minor barrier the last couple days but it didn’t stop us from genuinely getting to know some amazing humans. Laguana Manuela has filled my heart with authentic kindness and I am eternally grateful.
Sorry for the story, couldn’t help myself. And after experiences like that I find myself thinking : A F***ing Wall!?! Really!?! #baffled
 

chugg21

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This Summer my son (SU '09) , a teacher, and girlfriend spent 7 weeks traveling from Seattle to Cabo San Lucas and back, going thru Arizona, Utah etc on the way back. Over 7K miles. He was driving a 2007 Honda Odyssey with 140K miles. He took out the back seats and built a platform bed in the back with a solar panel on the roof that ran a refrigerator. Together they spent less than $1500. He ate a lot of fish tacos (usually 3 for $5) and swam in Pacific every day for over a month - cold in Oregon awesome in Mexico.

At the same time, my daughter and her boyfriend (both graduated in May) spent 2 1/2 months traveling from back and forth across the country Starting in Tacoma WA to Yosemite to Vegas to Santa Fe to Outer Banks to DC to NY to Montreal, across Ontario to the UP to Chicago to Madison to Minneapolis to Badlands to Tetons/Yellowstone and back to Tacoma. 26 states and 2 Canadian provinces and over 10K miles. They were driving a 2004 Dodge Sprinter diesel van with over 150K miles. Together they spent less than $2000. Favorite free camp sites: On a beach on on the north shore of Lake Superior in Canada and another near Badlands NP.

Here is the advice from their trips: Biggest expense will be gas. Staying with friends saves money and gives you access to a shower. Walmart allows you to camp for the night in their parking lots for free and since they are open 24 hrs you have access to a bathroom. There is a lot of places for free camping out west - the official name in National Forests (not National Parks) is "dispersed camping." Here's a helpful website: freecampsites.net (2 years ago my daughter spent 5 weeks traveling to western NPs by herself as part of a college summer grant and stayed in free camp sites 80% of the time). Avoid popular NPs around holiday weekends. Cook your own meals whenever possible. When the weather sucks or you need AC and a shower book an AirBNB or cheap hotel.

People you meet are great. Both of them got stuck 2-3 times had to towed out of sand/ditches etc. - my son in Baja and my daughter in Santa Fe National Forest and near Badlands NP. At all times someone helped them out.
Here is my son's lengthy instagram posts about 1 of his experiences:

The last 4 days have been pretty special, forgive me if I ramble for a sec. 2+ weeks ago we stumbled upon Laguana Manuela in hopes of finding a campsite by the beach. 30 mins down a dirt road we found it and immediately got stuck in the sand .Thanks to two awesome fishermen and the seatbelts cut right out of their work truck, Octavio and Noe tugged us out. We enjoyed a night on the beach and on our way out the next morning found ourselves stuck again This time the security guard living near by working with the fisherman, Antonio, was our savior. Him and a crew of others helped tug us out again and we went on our way feeling silly, incredibly appreciative of the help and inspired by the kindness of strangers. And now 4 days ago on our way back north, we 100% knew we had to stop in again to say hi for a night with a 12 pack of gratefulness. And thank goodness we did! Antonio was delighted to see us again because we came back! He insisted we stay another night for a fish taco feast and we had the best day finding sea lion colonies and hanging on the beach with Antonio, his wife Carmen and they’re adorable doggos. The next day wouldn’t be our last either as we ran into Octavio and Noe again who offered to take us out fishing with some of their family. We watched in awe as these guys rounded up fish after fish. When we got back, Antonio and Carmen cooked up two of the biggest in a delicious fish soup that was perfect after a day on the water. That evening we got to meet all of Octavio and Noe’s family and they insisted we take some lobster tails with us that made for a perfect lunch today. Holly nearly convinced me to bring one of the adorable puppies with us too but that will have to wait till the next time I return to this special place.
Language may have been a minor barrier the last couple days but it didn’t stop us from genuinely getting to know some amazing humans. Laguana Manuela has filled my heart with authentic kindness and I am eternally grateful.
Sorry for the story, couldn’t help myself. And after experiences like that I find myself thinking : A F***ing Wall!?! Really!?! #baffled
Lived in San Diego for a while and when people ask me what I miss most I always answer Baja. 20 miles away and you are in another world.
 

ssbriefcase

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Done it many times. Save your soul and avoid I-70 through Kansas area at all costs, I-80 through Nebraska will be a tropical paradise in comparison. Avoid either if possible. I'd almost go straight up to Canada and back down on my next trip. Kidding.. kind of.
 

chugg21

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Done it many times. Save your soul and avoid I-70 through Kansas area at all costs, I-80 through Nebraska will be a tropical paradise in comparison. Avoid either if possible. I'd almost go straight up to Canada and back down on my next trip. Kidding.. kind of.
Kansas was without question the worst part of my trip as well.
 

Roger N

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Hey, you have to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Museum in Abilene. It is a must see. Only a few blocks off the exit.
 
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OttoinGrotto

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Save your soul and avoid I-70 through Kansas area at all costs, I-80 through Nebraska will be a tropical paradise in comparison.
Having only done I-80, this blows my mind.

The creepiest part of I-80 is when you're rolling through Nebraska, like 80 miles from an exit, and you see in the distance against the rocks a small town with a few small homes and a giant, giant liquor store. Doesn't appear like there are any roads in or out, or any signs of life or activity, and there's no exit from where you are so you can get there.

And yet... there are people there that presumably need liquor.

A lot of liquor.
 

DMDMD

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As a native kansan, kansas is the worst. Just throw on some tunes and enjoy 8 hours of belting out your favorite music.
If I could though, Id spend all my time with a camper van and the western national parks, alaska and the canadian parks.
 

ssbriefcase

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As a native kansan, kansas is the worst. Just throw on some tunes and enjoy 8 hours of belting out your favorite music.
If I could though, Id spend all my time with a camper van and the western national parks, alaska and the canadian parks.
I always try to make the drive through there at night.
 

Cusefan0307

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Driving I-70 through Colorado and Utah is a must. It is not for the queasy. There's some spots there that are straight down right off the guardrail.

Nebraska was the worst. For about 200 miles there's nothing but tumbleweeds and open land.
 

OttoinGrotto

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Driving I-70 through Colorado and Utah is a must. It is not for the queasy. There's some spots there that are straight down right off the guardrail.

Nebraska was the worst. For about 200 miles there's nothing but tumbleweeds and open land.
Agreed. The Colorado-Utah I-70 route is awesome, especially that stretch that hits a few tunnels and rides along that stream. We just did the drive to Colorado last week for a wedding. It's a haul, but stunning, especially in the fall.
 

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