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The W - Random - Cross country road trip advice
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Jericholic53
Boerewors








Since: 18.3.03
From: Honolulu, HI

Since last post: 284 days
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.78
In a couple of weeks I am going to be driving across the country with a friend of mine (starting sept 15, looking to make it to the final stop by the 23rd). We're starting in Boston with a quick stop in New York, then it's off to Las Vegas before heading up to Seattle. Being from Hawaii I've never been to any states other than on the west coast, so the parts in between those three points on our trip is what I'm here asking about. My friend and I are planning on taking the "northern route", and going to Chicago, but is there anywhere we should definitely stop off at? Any places to avoid? Also, any general advice for long driving trips like this? One co-worker has said audiotapes are a must. I know this board has a very diverse geographic make up, so all insights and comments are greatly appreciated!! :]



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wmatistic
Andouille








Since: 2.2.04
From: Austin, TX

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.08
Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

Kansas, Iowa, Illinois

If the road is curvy or has great things to look at out the window, the drive tends to go faster. When you're staring at flat cornfields for 300 miles....poking your eyes out begins to sound fun.

I'd avoid Chicago too, but I've got a personal thing against big cities as they tend to be full of incredibly rude people. Chicago is definitely a leader in that regard.

Surprisingly, depending on the path you take, Arkansas is incredibly pretty through most of the state. No big things to see, just nice driving.

Jericholic53
Boerewors








Since: 18.3.03
From: Honolulu, HI

Since last post: 284 days
Last activity: 3 days
#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.78
    Originally posted by wmatistic
    Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

    Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

    Kansas, Iowa, Illinois


Looking for both I guess, I'm not big into those tourist trap type places, but at the same time I don't want to be driving for miles upon miles hoping that a rest stop or eatery eventually shows up. ;]

Any specific reasons for avoiding those states you mentioned?



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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.73
    Originally posted by Jericholic53
      Originally posted by wmatistic
      Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

      Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

      Kansas, Iowa, Illinois


One reason to avoid Kansas is you are taking the northern route. To appreciate the heartland, you need to take your time and get off the interstate. I agree these places suck if you just stay on I-whatever, Living out here for almost 20 years has changed my opinion of the heartland. They are great places to visit. You have the subtle and sublime and the really tacky/funny. Think the first Vacation movie and cousin Eddy.

The heartland and especially the Great Plains is a different world from the coasts and almost atdifferent world. Not for everyone but rewarding for those with the time and who make an effort.



Perception is reality
JayJayDean
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Seattle, WA

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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.40
If have only been to the west coast, the following MUST be mandatory food stops on your way.

- Waffle House
- Chick-Fil-a
- Steak & Shake
- Sonic

Also, I would ABSOLUTELY suggest you try to make your trip from Vegas through the Columbia River Gorge (I-84) to Portland, then take I-5 north to Seattle. If you've been to the west coast you might have known that alrady, but it will make the last part of your trip about a billion times more interesting than if you take I-90 through eastern Washington (the Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois of the northwest).



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wmatistic
Andouille








Since: 2.2.04
From: Austin, TX

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.08
    Originally posted by Jericholic53
      Originally posted by wmatistic
      Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

      Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

      Kansas, Iowa, Illinois


    Looking for both I guess, I'm not big into those tourist trap type places, but at the same time I don't want to be driving for miles upon miles hoping that a rest stop or eatery eventually shows up. ;]

    Any specific reasons for avoiding those states you mentioned?


The line about 300 miles of nothing but corn fields and flat straight roads would apply to those states. You have no idea how well the state lines were made. You drive through Missouri and it's hilly with curves and a great view. The second you hit Kansas going west, boy howdy can you tell without needing a sign. Same goes with most of Illinois, though the very northern part is somewhat better. Iowa....yeah. Of course the people around the Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma area are very friendly. Just not much reason to stop, or opportunities for that matter.

Though K.C. BBQ is almost reason enough to force yourself through Iowa.
StaggerLee
Scrapple








Since: 3.10.02
From: Right side of the tracks

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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.37
Find your way to Chicago, and then get on Historic Route 66. It's old school America at it's best.

whatever
Lap cheong








Since: 12.2.02
From: Cleveland, Ohio

Since last post: 34 days
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.07
Since your path will be going *right* by here anyway, if you have a day to kill I highly recommend stopping at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Easily accessible from I-80/90, about an hour and a half out of Cleveland. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, this is the best roller coaster park in the USA. Absolutely worth the stop, especially on a trip like yours.

Luckily for you, Ohio recently renovated the rest areas on I-80, so they're quite nice (and clean) for driving trip service stops.

Western Ohio from Toledo on is one big cornfield snoozefest. Make sure before you get to Chicago that you DO NOT stop in Gary, IN. A colleague of mine and I joked that they should have a sign, "Welcome to Hell" at the Gary border.

If going the northern route thru Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Dells are a fun stop as well, more of a touristy spot though.

(Phooey! my web at work is wonky today.)
{ EDIT: Quote marks must be used in pairs! - CRZ }

(edited by CRZ on 30.8.07 1314)


(edited by whatever on 30.8.07 1436)


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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

Since last post: 4 days
Last activity: 19 hours
#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.73
    Originally posted by wmatistic
      Originally posted by Jericholic53
        Originally posted by wmatistic
        Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

        Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

        Kansas, Iowa, Illinois


      Looking for both I guess, I'm not big into those tourist trap type places, but at the same time I don't want to be driving for miles upon miles hoping that a rest stop or eatery eventually shows up. ;]

      Any specific reasons for avoiding those states you mentioned?


    The line about 300 miles of nothing but corn fields and flat straight roads would apply to those states. You have no idea how well the state lines were made. You drive through Missouri and it's hilly with curves and a great view. The second you hit Kansas going west, boy howdy can you tell without needing a sign. Same goes with most of Illinois, though the very northern part is somewhat better. Iowa....yeah. Of course the people around the Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma area are very friendly. Just not much reason to stop, or opportunities for that matter.

    Though K.C. BBQ is almost reason enough to force yourself through Iowa.


One way you can tell is the roads in Kansas are actually maintained. It is rather boring if you stay on I-70 but get off and you can explore pure americana. Great greasy spoons, tacky souveniers, the world's largest ball of twine. Go more south and drive through what is left of Greensburg after the tornado, view a feedyard with 50,000 cattle in one spot, visit the Cosmosphere and see the largest collection of space stuff outside D.C. or stop at Ft. Larned and see the only intact fort on the Santa Fe trail and ruts from the trail almost 175 years old. Not everyones cup of tea and I felt like you before moving here.

But believe it or not, KS, NE, OK and TX have a lot to offer in the countryside if you want to look.

Almost forgot the barbed wire museum.



Perception is reality
wmatistic
Andouille








Since: 2.2.04
From: Austin, TX

Since last post: 16 days
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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.08
    Originally posted by DrDirt
      Originally posted by wmatistic
        Originally posted by Jericholic53
          Originally posted by wmatistic
          Really just depends what you're looking for. Nice scenery on the drive, or fun places to stop at?

          Places to avoid even driving through if possible:

          Kansas, Iowa, Illinois


        Looking for both I guess, I'm not big into those tourist trap type places, but at the same time I don't want to be driving for miles upon miles hoping that a rest stop or eatery eventually shows up. ;]

        Any specific reasons for avoiding those states you mentioned?


      The line about 300 miles of nothing but corn fields and flat straight roads would apply to those states. You have no idea how well the state lines were made. You drive through Missouri and it's hilly with curves and a great view. The second you hit Kansas going west, boy howdy can you tell without needing a sign. Same goes with most of Illinois, though the very northern part is somewhat better. Iowa....yeah. Of course the people around the Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma area are very friendly. Just not much reason to stop, or opportunities for that matter.

      Though K.C. BBQ is almost reason enough to force yourself through Iowa.


    One way you can tell is the roads in Kansas are actually maintained. It is rather boring if you stay on I-70 but get off and you can explore pure americana. Great greasy spoons, tacky souveniers, the world's largest ball of twine. Go more south and drive through what is left of Greensburg after the tornado, view a feedyard with 50,000 cattle in one spot, visit the Cosmosphere and see the largest collection of space stuff outside D.C. or stop at Ft. Larned and see the only intact fort on the Santa Fe trail and ruts from the trail almost 175 years old. Not everyones cup of tea and I felt like you before moving here.

    But believe it or not, KS, NE, OK and TX have a lot to offer in the countryside if you want to look.

    Almost forgot the barbed wire museum.


I was born in Oklahoma, lived in K.C. for three years, Carthage, MO for three years, Rolla, MO for four years and the wife's family lives in Pittsburg, KS. In other words, I've seen most of what you mentioned and I'm in no way impressed with anything Kansas, Nebraska or Oklahoma. Sorry, just not for me.

As for Texas, that's where I live now, and most of the state is pure ugly, but I live in Austin where it's amazingly perfect. Never moving again.
TheOldMan
Landjager








Since: 13.2.03
From: Chicago

Since last post: 81 days
Last activity: 11 hours
#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.07
    Originally posted by Jericholic53
    In a couple of weeks I am going to be driving across the country with a friend of mine (starting sept 15, looking to make it to the final stop by the 23rd). We're starting in Boston with a quick stop in New York, then it's off to Las Vegas before heading up to Seattle.


Not to toss a damper on the idea, but a quick Google tells me you're looking at some 3,850 miles of driving in 9 days? Even sticking to the interstates, with rest stops and dining I find it hard to average much more than 60 miles an hour (your leadfoot may vary), but 7 hours a day average driving time may cut into the sightseeing. I've hauled *ss 14+ hours in a day more than once (Chicago to East New Jersey, Atlanta to Chicago), so I might suggest factoring in a couple of "driving days" to leave you time for attractions other days. Especially if you want to spend a day or two in Vegas, baby

So as has been said, there's a lot of long, low-populated stretches west of the Mississippi .. but if I was heading that way I might look at stopping somewhere in the National Park Service (nps.gov)




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AWArulz
Knackwurst








Since: 28.1.02
From: Louisville, KY

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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.57
You almost have to cross Indiana on this trip and while it's a very unexciting state, let me suggest a side trip for middle America fascination. Get to about South Bend on the 80 tollway - and look for signs that say Nappanee - it's oh, 30 miles south of the tollway - head there, and check it out -

Slow down, it's Amish country - people will be driving all over the place in horses and buggies, you'll see people plowing fields with Horses, and riding Bikes. Very "green"

In Nappanee itself, eat at the Big Amish restaurant - it's hard to miss. Then, head east a little bit on 6 - check out all the Amish farms - then head on back to the toll road.

Americana

I second the Route 66 thing - if you have time - that's a fun trip, but through the south - it goes into New Mexico



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Since: 25.8.05
From: Michigan

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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.50
I concur with JayJayDean on the places to eat. I don't know how far north your route will take you. All I can say is that if you end up going through Missouri, buy your gasoline there. Our family drove from Michigan to Arizona earlier this year and Missouri had by far the cheapest gas prices. Also, if you end up going through southern Colorado, try to do it during the day. We ended up driving through the mountains at night and ended up missing the views.

I would also suggest buying a case or two of bottled water. Then, go to your local Wal Mart and pick up some powdered drink mixes that you can add right into the bottled water, something along the lines of Kool Aid singles.

One last suggestion, check your tires every time you stop. We rented a mini van and the day before we were going to leave, my wife noticed we had a flat tire. We got it fixed and we were on our way. But the last thing you want is to get into the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.
estragand
Summer sausage








Since: 18.6.02

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#14 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.50
If you end up on I-70 through Kansas, watch out for the World's Largest Groundhog around Goodland, KS. Complete with miles of billboards advertising it, like old Burma Shave ads. "Pet the Baby Pigs"--wow, who can resist THAT?!

It's absolutely ridiculous. The groundhog is a big plaster creation, maybe 12 feet tall. In the past they've had stuff like six-legged steers or two-headed mules. Genetic livestock mutants. Kinda' sad and depressing actually. I don't recommend stopping, but seeing the billboards will entertain you for awhile.

I-70 through Eastern Colorado is awful. But as soon as you get to Denver, things pick up. From Denver to Glenwood Springs along I-70 is about 150 miles and quite scenic the entire time. There's a "picture frame bridge" on I-70, about 20 miles west of Denver. You'll know it when you see it. September's a great time to run this route: no skier traffic and the heavy snow hasn't clogged the highway yet. Although don't be shocked if you encounter some snow.



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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

Since last post: 4 days
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#15 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.73
    Originally posted by estragand
    If you end up on I-70 through Kansas, watch out for the World's Largest Groundhog around Goodland, KS. Complete with miles of billboards advertising it, like old Burma Shave ads. "Pet the Baby Pigs"--wow, who can resist THAT?!

    It's absolutely ridiculous. The groundhog is a big plaster creation, maybe 12 feet tall. In the past they've had stuff like six-legged steers or two-headed mules. Genetic livestock mutants. Kinda' sad and depressing actually. I don't recommend stopping, but seeing the billboards will entertain you for awhile.

    I-70 through Eastern Colorado is awful. But as soon as you get to Denver, things pick up. From Denver to Glenwood Springs along I-70 is about 150 miles and quite scenic the entire time. There's a "picture frame bridge" on I-70, about 20 miles west of Denver. You'll know it when you see it. September's a great time to run this route: no skier traffic and the heavy snow hasn't clogged the highway yet. Although don't be shocked if you encounter some snow.


Actually, it's the world's largest prairie dog. we don't have groundhogs on the prairie out here.



Perception is reality
estragand
Summer sausage








Since: 18.6.02

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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.50
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    Actually, it's the world's largest prairie dog. we don't have groundhogs on the prairie out here.


Right you are. I was born in Pennsylvania, so I still call 'em "Groundhogs", even though they are "prairie dogs". But really, do ya' think that would mess someone up?

To make up for it, here's Some Info on "Prairie Dog Town".



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AWArulz
Knackwurst








Since: 28.1.02
From: Louisville, KY

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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.54
    Originally posted by estragand
      Originally posted by DrDirt
      Actually, it's the world's largest prairie dog. we don't have groundhogs on the prairie out here.


    Right you are. I was born in Pennsylvania, so I still call 'em "Groundhogs", even though they are "prairie dogs". But really, do ya' think that would mess someone up?

    To make up for it, here's Some Info on "Prairie Dog Town".


Groundhogs are woodchucks, where prairie dogs are smaller

wiki
The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as the woodchuck, land beaver, or whistlepig, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Most marmots, such as yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the woodchuck is a lowland creature. It is widely distributed in North America and common in the northeastern and central United States. In the west it is found only in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, and northern Washington.
The groundhog is the largest sciurid in its geographical range, typically measuring 40 to 65 cm (17 to 26 in) long (including a 15 cm tail) and weighing 2 to 4 kg (4.5 to 9 pounds).


The prairie dog (Cynomys) is a small, burrowing rodent native to the grasslands of North America. On average, this stout-bodied rodent will grow to be between 12 and 16 inches (30 and 40 cm) long, including its short tail. They are found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the U.S., prairie dogs are primarily found west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales.





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Since: 25.2.02

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#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.18
The most sensible route between Chicago and Las Vegas would be to get on I-80 through Iowa and Nebraska, then jumping on 76 to Denver, then 70 through Colorado and Utah, then I-15 south.

The Colorado part west of Denver is extremely rewarding. Stay in Dillon a day and enjoy tooling around Summit County. It might be a bit early for fall colors, but if you're lucky...

The longest stretch of nothing will be between Green River, UT and the I-15 connection. 100 miles of no service, so stop in Green River if you didn't already in Grand Junction.

An alternate route would be to swing down to St Louis from Chicago then crossing I-70 in Missouri (adult book store capital of the world) then Kansas (a drive which I enjoy but my wife hates.)

If you take the Nebraska route, you will have many opportunities to try a Runza. As long as you're east of Coralville, Iowa, eat at every Steak n Shake you possibly can (if you take the MO/KS route, they're as far west as Topeka). Steak n Shake should have their Halloween milkshakes available by then, which includes the excellent caramel apple milkshake. Oh...and Culver's. I suggest the mushroom and swiss basket with cheese curds and Culver's root beer. Cedar City and St George, UT will have Iceberg Drive-Inns, home of the biggest onion rings you've ever seen.

(edited by Mr Heel II on 7.9.07 0807)
estragand
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Since: 18.6.02

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#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.50
    Originally posted by AWArulz
    Groundhogs are woodchucks, where prairie dogs are smaller

Sometimes I'll go to a restaurant that only serves Pepsi and I'll still refer to my beverage as "a Coke"!

If you take the I-80 to I-76 to I-70 route, that's a fairly efficient drive... but then you'll miss out on all the Stuckey's! There's only ONE Stuckey's on I-80



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DrDirt
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Since: 8.10.03
From: flyover country

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#20 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.73
    Originally posted by estragand
      Originally posted by AWArulz
      Groundhogs are woodchucks, where prairie dogs are smaller

    Sometimes I'll go to a restaurant that only serves Pepsi and I'll still refer to my beverage as "a Coke


This would be like wanting single malt scotch and saying Dr. Pepper instead. It would be easier to confuse a badger out here with a ground hog than a prairie dog. A prairie dog is a lot closer to a squirrel. And growing up in Ohio in farm country I know ground hogs.

Plus prairie dogs carry plague.



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