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Bouncing a roadtrip off the west coast

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Posted here because this spans multiple regions.

An idea I've been mulling over for a bit which is about now starting to congeal: drive to Santa Monica, say I've touched the pacific ocean, then drive from there to Miami to visit my best friend, and subsequently back home to New York.

I'm allotting myself four days to get out to the Pacific and four days to get back to the Atlantic, but since I plan to spend six days in Miami I've got plenty of float time to absorb delays of even a couple days in the process. I've never driven anywhere west of the Mississippi before, so I must admit I have a sketchy concept at best of how long it actually takes to cover ground out there. But I've been using Google to assist with estimating and assuming I can comfortably cover 700-750 miles in a day, maybe a little more if I make good time. I've come up with the following general plan:

Day 1: I-70 west to Indianapolis or Terre Haute, IN
Day 2: I-70 west to Hays or Colby, KS
Day 3: I-70 west then US 191 south to Monticello or Blanding, UT
Day 4: through Monument Valley, west to St George, then I-15 south and I-10 west to Santa Monica, CA
Day 5: Arroyo Seco Parkway, I-/CA 210 east, I-15 north and I-40 east to Albuquerque, NM
Day 6: I-40 east to Fort Smith or Little Rock, AR
Day 7: I-530/US 65 south, I-20 east, US 59 south, US 98 east, I-10 east to Pensacola or Tallahassee, FL
Day 8: I-10 east, I-75 south to Miami, using US41/Tamiami Trail instead of Alligator Alley if time permits.
Days 9-14: Miami, with side trips to Key West and possibly also Disney (though that's pushing it for a day trip)
Day 15: I-95 north, I-26 west, I-77 north to Statesville, NC or Wytheville, VA
Day 16: I-77 north, I-79 north, I-68 east, I-70 through Breezewood, PA Turnpike/I-81/I-78 back to New York

Other than Santa Monica, Miami, and knowing I have to stop in Winslow, AZ (it's the music fan in me) all I have planned here is a roadtrip, not a sightseeing trip. But I am open to suggestions for any possible quick (<30 mins) stops along this route, of roadgeek or general interest.

I know when driving through the middle of nowhere out west that I have to be cognizant of where gas stations are and where they aren't, but, any other advice on managing that environment? The nights after days 2 and 3 are leaving me in small towns where hotel room availability may be questionable. I can spend the night in my car if I have to, but this is obviously unideal. I at least know rest areas and WalMart are places where that can be done. Again, any advice on handling this? Things/places I should avoid? I'm assuming there isn't much trouble to be found out in the country vis-a-vis sketchy individuals who will see fit to vandalize/rob/assault/etc., but my Connecticut plates may draw attention, particularly from the constabulary... which leads me to one final question: any common speed traps along my route that I should watch out for?

Generally you're in good shape in the west as far as safety goes, and then as far as places to sleep, you also have the option of a lot of public lands in the west. If you're on forest/grassland service or BLM land, you can legally just drive down a dirt road and sleep somewhere. Lock your car obviously, but I've never had/heard of somebody having any issues.

Hays and Colby are solid sized towns though- you should have absolutely no trouble finding an affordable hotel room. Colby is the last real stop before Limon, CO, so it's built up just as an overnight destination. Hays is actually a decent college town, which draws hotels. WaKeeney even has a few chain hotels if you needed. You'll find that unlike back east, a town of 2,000 people tends to have all the major services, especially if it's more than 30 miles from anything else- these places become regional hubs. A town of 5,000 may as well be a big city!

Monticello and Blanding should be the same way because of the tourist draw, but the rooms will likely be more expensive. If I had to pick a night to drive up a random well-graded dirt road, enjoy some scenery, and spend the night, I'd do it in the national forest west of there. I haven't actually been down there yet (I will be in three weeks!), but one of my very good friends is from Monticello and the camping there is awesome. You also won't be nearly the only person doing it, which may or may not add to your sense of safety.

I would add that for gas and things of that nature, be weary in the west. Oftentimes there will be towns on the map that have absolutely nothing in them- best bet is to time yourself to fill up in places with the second or third smallest dot on the map, as opposed to the smallest. If there's 2000 people, you can pretty much bank on a gas station. If there's 1,000 people, there will likely be a gas station, but it might not work 24 hours (probably less of a problem right along the freeway). Less than that and there might be gas, but it could very well be a private co-op you can't use especially in the Great Plains.

The police see plates from everywhere. Particularly on the interstates, you should have no problems from cops with out of state plates.

As for speed traps, I-95 in Ridgeland, SC has speed cameras. Arizona does as well. Florida roads are lightly policed; unofficial policy is 15 over on the interstates before they pull you over, unless you are otherwise driving like a douche, but YMMV. I75 through Gainesville and Ocala does usually have a speed trap set up however.

I highly recommend Key West over Disney. It's more fun for adults IMO, and the Overseas Highway has more road geek appeal (and awesome scenery) than the drive to Orlando.

It's an ambitious drive. If it were me, I'd split it up with a rest day in LA.


--- Quote ---Arizona does as well.
--- End quote ---

Not anymore

That's great news! Are they gone from the whole state or just interstates? I know two people who got tickets on city streets from Tuscon PD during business trips last year.


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