AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?  (Read 3490 times)

cu2010

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 543
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Almost Canada
  • Last Login: October 05, 2022, 09:54:52 PM
Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« on: January 22, 2021, 03:23:23 PM »

So as I mentioned in a thread regarding a roadmeet I'm planning, my job situation has changed... and after next week, I will no longer be employed. I will still have money coming in, so no worries there. However, I'd been toying with the idea of doing some traveling now that I will have all kinds of free time until I start working again, and after throwing many ideas around, am considering taking a multiday road trip to explore this country, with the primary objective of visiting some national parks out west.

Since some of you all are far more experienced travelers than I am (my travels pretty much are confined to the eastern seaboard and parts of the midwest), I'm looking for suggestions of some of the better and more scenic things to see, particularly west of the Mississippi. Right now the plan is to leave in either late February or early March, immediately drive towards the south into warmer climates (exploring the Appalachians and the Great Smokey Mountains along the way), before heading west following a more southerly route. The return trip will involve a more northerly route. I would prefer to not travel the same section of road more than once (with the exception of backtracking to get back onto a major highway from a park entrance or something), though it might prove impossible with the Canadian border being closed. For reference, I'm in far northern New York.

With the current health crisis, obviously there are a lot of differing restrictions across the country as to what can and cannot be open. The primary objective for this trip is to explore the great outdoors (though without so much walking), trying to travel as cheaply as possible (which may include sleeping in the car, or buying camping gear for warmer climates, with only the occasional hotel room when I need to do laundry or if its too cold to camp or sleep in the car), and seeing as much as possible in, say, 14 days. Obviously I plan to take a lot of photos and videos to share with everyone.

So... ideas? Also, would it be a good idea to buy a national parks pass before leaving, or just pay the individual admissions fees at each respective park?
Logged
This is cu2010, reminding you, help control the ugly sign population, don't have your shields spayed or neutered.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 19729
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:28:34 PM
    • Gribblenation
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2021, 03:27:31 PM »

The Parks Pass will recoup your purchase costs after 3-4 Park visits, definitely get it if you plan on visiting more than that.
Logged

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9598
  • Age: 66
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 11:30:17 AM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2021, 01:48:32 AM »

Make sure you can re-enter your own state after your trip, without going into quarantine (or if you can put up with the quarantine requirements). I think NY restricts travel from non-contiguous states, including by NY residents, requiring travelers to either quarantine upon arrival or get a negative Covid-19 test result just before (re-)entry into NY. If you are fortunate enough to get vaccinated before or during your trip, that might work too, but confirm that with your state health department.

Quarantine requirements seem to be uncommon in the lower 48, outside the Northeast. Last I heard, New Mexico had similar requirements. NM's requirements might not apply if you're just passing through, but that state would prefer that you pass through as quickly as possible, with no sightseeing stops.

Indian reservations might present issues. At least in 2020, those included the Navajo Nation, and some Sioux reservations in South Dakota.

California seems generally to be a difficult destination at the moment. Max can tell you more, if you're inclined to extend your trip enough to reach California.

Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

cu2010

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 543
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Almost Canada
  • Last Login: October 05, 2022, 09:54:52 PM
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2021, 09:23:43 AM »

I will be required to quarantine for either 10 days or until a negative test comes back, whichever comes first, upon returning to NY. Not an issue as I won't have a job at the time and will be spending the time preparing to move to Vermont, which would require me to quarantine before moving there anyways.

California is probably going to be left out entirely... not just because of the regulations, but because with everything else I want to see I might not be able to squeeze it in.
Logged
This is cu2010, reminding you, help control the ugly sign population, don't have your shields spayed or neutered.

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 18046
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 60
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 05, 2022, 03:32:26 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2021, 11:42:01 AM »

Weather can be an issue that time of year in the southern Appalachians, and even as far south and southwest as Dallas. The Ohio Valley has had blizzards dumping two feet of snow in the second week of March. And it's been my experience that trucks don't slow down much on mountain interstates (I'm thinking specifically of trips on I-79 and I-81) so that's something else to contend with.
Logged


Government would be tolerable if not for politicians and bureaucrats.

Scott5114

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 15974
  • Nit picker of unprecedented pedantry

  • Age: 32
  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Last Login: Today at 06:56:47 AM
    • Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2021, 01:31:09 AM »

Make sure you can re-enter your own state after your trip, without going into quarantine (or if you can put up with the quarantine requirements). I think NY restricts travel from non-contiguous states, including by NY residents, requiring travelers to either quarantine upon arrival or get a negative Covid-19 test result just before (re-)entry into NY. If you are fortunate enough to get vaccinated before or during your trip, that might work too, but confirm that with your state health department.

Quarantine requirements seem to be uncommon in the lower 48, outside the Northeast. Last I heard, New Mexico had similar requirements. NM's requirements might not apply if you're just passing through, but that state would prefer that you pass through as quickly as possible, with no sightseeing stops.

Indian reservations might present issues. At least in 2020, those included the Navajo Nation, and some Sioux reservations in South Dakota.

California seems generally to be a difficult destination at the moment. Max can tell you more, if you're inclined to extend your trip enough to reach California.

Obviously, one should quarantine upon returning whenever it's feasible to do so, but...for a road trip, how would anyone with authority even know you went anywhere? It isn't spring 2020 anymore; the virus is everywhere. Unlike the Canadian Maritimes "bubble", it's not like CPB is setting up on state lines and grilling you about where you've gone and where you haven't, and as far as I know other states aren't going to "phone home" about otherwise-legal movement between states. And there's no employer policy in the situation here to worry about.

I would imagine most roadtrips of the style a roadgeek takes to be pretty low-risk endeavors anyway. Stay in your car, use drive-thrus and eat in your car as much as possible, and pay at the pump with a credit card, and combined with the OP's plan to avoid hotels whenever possible, the amount of expected close human contact would be practically nil. With the sort of roadtrip being proposed here, there may actually be less human contact than if they had just stayed home.

I would heed the advice to avoid Native American reservations, though. Tribal governments have no problem executing a lot of powers state governments won't. Some Southwestern tribes have indeed done hard nobody-goes-in-or-out lockdowns, so it would be wise to just stay on the Interstate and not risk getting caught up somewhere you're not wanted.

Weather can be an issue that time of year in the southern Appalachians, and even as far south and southwest as Dallas. The Ohio Valley has had blizzards dumping two feet of snow in the second week of March. And it's been my experience that trucks don't slow down much on mountain interstates (I'm thinking specifically of trips on I-79 and I-81) so that's something else to contend with.

That being said, while snow in March (and even into April!) is possible in the Southern Plains, it is rare. I can think of two March-April snowfalls in Oklahoma City in my lifetime. A good strategy may be to get past as much of the Appalachians as is practical, then drop down to the I-40 corridor or lower as quickly as possible. So something like I-90→I-71→I-65→I-40 or so.

If the Southern Plains is going to be on the itinerary, March is a great time to do it, since it is likely to thread the needle between possible winter weather and the start of tornado season in April.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 01:35:29 AM by Scott5114 »
Logged

cu2010

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 543
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Almost Canada
  • Last Login: October 05, 2022, 09:54:52 PM
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2021, 09:36:05 AM »

The plan is indeed to get to the I-40 corridor as quickly as possible; however I've already done I-81 so I'd rather not do that again.

I can do one better than paying with credit cards at pumps: contactless mobile payments. I have the ExxonMobil rewards app (with a crapload of points already accrued over the past couple of years) so not only can I pay using it, I can get discounts doing so too. I would also use disposable gloves for handling the gas pump, and throw them away before I leave. If for some reason I have to go inside the building (whether it be for a restroom break or a snack), bring extra masks and gloves and spend as little time as possible.

I have an electric cooler that I bring with me on my travels- perfect for buying sandwich meats and cheeses, along with other perishable goods, for road trips. I have a thick insulated grocery bag (that's shaped more like a cooler) that I can fill full of ice and keep drinks in. Dry goods can be stored in a plastic tote with a lid to avoid exposure to the sun. Fortunately, many grocery stores now offer curbside pickup (including many Walmarts), so I can always put in an order and pick it up the next morning if I'm stopped for the night (super convenient if I'm Walmart parking lot camping!)

Just a couple questions for folks with more experience doing it, though... and tips for sleeping in the car? I don't have a particularly large vehicle (I drive a Ford Fusion), but it's decently roomy enough in the front seat. Where are the best and safest places to stop to sleep? How do you recommend keeping warm? In northern climates I may have to just give up and get a hotel room, but would motels without external corridors be better? From my experiences I've found hotels with indoor corridors cleaner...
Logged
This is cu2010, reminding you, help control the ugly sign population, don't have your shields spayed or neutered.

Scott5114

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 15974
  • Nit picker of unprecedented pedantry

  • Age: 32
  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Last Login: Today at 06:56:47 AM
    • Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2021, 12:26:58 PM »

I have the ExxonMobil rewards app (with a crapload of points already accrued over the past couple of years) so not only can I pay using it, I can get discounts doing so too.

Well, you can if you can find an ExxonMobil station.


Quote
In northern climates I may have to just give up and get a hotel room, but would motels without external corridors be better? From my experiences I've found hotels with indoor corridors cleaner...

Motels with indoor corridors are generally nicer, but cleanliness is really a property-to-property issue. You can find plenty of sucky internal-corridor hotels and well-maintained external-corridor motels. With the pandemic, I would probably choose an external-corridor property if all possible (don't have to worry about someone having left covid droplets in the hallway just before you pass through). Even if it is a little less clean inside, the turnaround on any given room is going to be long enough that there should be no active virus inside, and you only have to deal with it for one night before you can move on.
Logged

kphoger

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 23174
  • My 2 Achilles' heels: sarcasm & snark

  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Last Login: Today at 12:28:33 PM
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2021, 01:19:51 PM »

Obviously, one should quarantine upon returning whenever it's feasible to do so, but...for a road trip, how would anyone with authority even know you went anywhere? It isn't spring 2020 anymore; the virus is everywhere. Unlike the Canadian Maritimes "bubble", it's not like CPB is setting up on state lines and grilling you about where you've gone and where you haven't, and as far as I know other states aren't going to "phone home" about otherwise-legal movement between states. And there's no employer policy in the situation here to worry about.

Gotta feel for US citizens living abroad.  Our best friends, who live in Mexico, will be coming back to Kansas in about five weeks for the birth of their child.  Fortunately, they're crossing by land, because all air passengers are now required to provide a negative test result before boarding their flight.  (They're still going to get tested before crossing anyway.)  Also fortunately, I don't believe Texas or Oklahoma or Kansas requires home-quarantine for people arriving from outside the country anymore.

I remember, when we returned from Mexico in March at the beginning of the quarantine orders, Kansas required us to home-quarantine for two weeks because we'd been out of the country—yet we had already driven through two US states and had an overnight motel stay in between there and here.  It gets weird.
Logged
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.
Visit scenic Orleans County, NY!
Male pronouns, please.

Quote from: Philip K. Dick
If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.

Scott5114

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 15974
  • Nit picker of unprecedented pedantry

  • Age: 32
  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Last Login: Today at 06:56:47 AM
    • Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2021, 03:49:01 PM »

The traditional US federal system is unfortunately not really built to handle things like pandemics very well, so devolving the response to the state level can lead to some nonsensical outcomes.

Then again, geography-based quarantine requirements are pretty shaky even when the government isn't the one behind it. The Chickasaw Nation had a policy for a little bit that any employee who traveled to any state that had so many cases would be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day unpaid quarantine period. Texas was on the list of naughty states. Which was pretty hilarious, because their largest facility by square footage, revenue, and employee count is located one mile north of the Texas line. Which meant that, as written, a good chunk of the employees at that facility were required to quarantine for going home between shifts. And of course they weren't turning away Texan customers, so it's not like the policy would have done much good anyway. If someone had a desire to go to Texas they could always have just gone and not told anyone at work about it. Needless to say, that particular policy didn't stick around too long, but at least they didn't scrap it until after we had all had a chance to read the email and heckle it.
Logged

dkblake

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 157
  • Location: MA -> NY -> OH -> NY -> VT
  • Last Login: July 08, 2021, 06:08:23 PM
Re: Cross-country roadtrip suggestions?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2021, 03:28:10 PM »

A few thoughts-
-Assuming you're flexible with when you leave and can time it so you're not dealing with lake effect snow, the best way to get to I-40 is 81-90-271-71-65-40. I did Potsdam to Nashville a couple of years ago and that was direct. Plus you get Mammoth Cave on the way.

-Though I suspect you want to see CO/UT and 40 is more direct, my guess is outdoor camping is going to be much better on the I-10 corridor. In that case, you might consider, say, doing 95-85-65 to get to Mobile, going across I-10, then coming up via I-17 (which I think is a super beautiful road) then US 89 or US 191 up into Utah.

-You might also consider a hotel from time to time; I've only done car sleeping a couple of times and you might end up getting pretty sore. (Not to mention, like, showers are nice from time to time.)
Logged
2dis clinched: 8, 17, 69(original), 71, 72, 78, 81, 84(E), 86(E), 88(E), 89, 91, 93, 97

Mob-rule: http://www.mob-rule.com/user-gifs/USA/dblake.gif

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.