Friday, August 14, 2009

Cross-Country Honeymoon!

Subject: Honeymoon Road Trip


First-let me say I love your website, your interactive map is very cool and informative.

My fiance and I are getting married on September 6th of this year, we spent some time last year on Route 66 in Arizona, and absolutely loved it. We are planning on taking our honeymoon the last week of September. We will be flying out to Jackson's Hole, WY and spending a couple days there. We are planning on taking the Oregon Trail Route back east (we live in S. eastern Massachusetts) definitely want to spend some time in Yellowstone and Niagara, do you have any interesting or offbeat sights for us to see along the way. We really love retro-feeling/kitschy places. Please help!


Kate R


Dear Kate --

Thank you for your nice note, and for taking the time to write in to Road Trip USA.

Your honeymoon road trip sounds fantastic -- the Grand Tetons / Yellowstone region is full of amazing scenery, and well provided with old-time Americana. (Long live Jackson Hole's "Million Dollar Cowboy Bar", while West Yellowstone has another photogenic collection of old motels and a great Main Street!). Heading east, you can shop for his 'n' hers cowboy gear at Lou Taubert's in the heart of Casper (very near a great old movie theater and some slightly unloved 1920s/30s shopfronts.)

How's that for retro-kitsch?

One stop I strongly recommend across the Great Plains stretch of US20 is northwest Nebraska, with lots of real history and one essential piece of kitsch car culture art: Carhenge, outside the town of Alliance. The Black Hills to the north hold Mt Rushmore, that even more gigantic Crazy Horse, and lots of mountain scenery. And Wall Drug is not too far away (on I-90, which may work as way to save time crossing the Midwest.)

Iowa is another long flat stretch, with some pretty near Lincoln Highway-era buildings along old US30, and just west of the Mississippi River is another odd attraction: the Field of Dreams, where that surreal Kevin Costner film was "lensed" as they say in Variety et al. The same small Iowa town, Dyersville, also holds a very intriguing basilica -- full of Catholic kitsch, if you are so inclined. Dyersville also used to have a great die-cast toy tractor (and mini-muscle car) museum, too, but I think the spirit of the place has faded a little since the factory moved to Mexico.

East of the Mississippi, Galena is a very neat little town, and for 1920s architecture Rockford IL is also worth alook (it was also the home of pop band Cheap Trick, if that means anything to you!)

Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and other urban Great Lakes places are packed with too many things for me to choose from, but if you have time they are all very rewarding places to explore. A couple of less-famous stops along the way are the college town of Oberlin (nice central square) and the old Mormon Temple in Kirtland. And just before you hit the PA border, Conneat OH has a great roadside cafe: the mostly outdoor, summer only White Turkey Drive In, serving up turkey sandwiches and root beer floats (though I think they close for the season in early Sept...)

New York State has some great stretches. Needless to say, Niagara Falls is one of those must-see places, but most of the fun, and the best views too, are on the Canadian side, so bring your passport! I love Buffalo but accept that it is something of an acquired taste, but Skaneatles in the Finger lakes area is a very pretty place, as is Cooperstown. Albany, and neighboring Troy across the Hudson, are both packed with characterful diners and other travel essentials.

Closer to home, you probably know all about the Mohawk Trail (Route 2 from the Berkshires) but if you haven't shopped for rubber tomahawks there amongst all the characterful old towns and villages, have a look -- just keep an eye peeled for a 20' tall "Big Indian", right around Shelburne Falls (which is itself well worth a visit.)

Well, there are a few days worth of fun, retro-feeling/kitschy places things to see. Hope you have a great trip (and a nice life together...)

Congratulations & Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA the Book ** new edition out now **


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