Wednesday, March 31, 2010

College Grad Road Trip -- !

Hey Jamie,

This summer, a few friends and I (4 of us total) are planning on taking a road trip across the country in June/July to celebrate our college graduation. We are not exact on time, we're thinking between 3 and 4 weeks, but I just wanted to know if you had any advice on must-see stops and food. We are planning on going south first, starting in California, checking out the Grand Canyon in AZ, The Alamo in TX, then up through Nashville/Memphis in TN (we're big country music fans), eventually heading back to California through the north, stopping at Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. We are really interested in seeing local festivals, like hot air balloons, and attending a rodeo or two, we're just not sure where. We're planning on making up a list of things to do, like a scavenger hunt, to complete along the way! Attend a rodeo is already on the list! Any advice would be great, thanks!!



Hello Courtney --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and congrats on (nearly...) finishing college. You've definitely earned a big fun trip.

Sorry that it took me awhile to write back-- I just found this half-written message in my Outbox -- but I definitely like the sound of what you're looking for: Local festivals, rodeos, and a honky tonk or two -- this is all great stuff. You can make plans to see as much as you can before you hit the road, but the key to making this a great trip is to leave yourself enough time and mental space to "follow your nose" - if you hear about a concert or festival or event, go for it, and alter your plans to make it fit.

Don't worry too much about missing something -- just enjoy the things you find.

OK, onto the travel planning. California -- check. Grand Canyon -- check. These are great places to explore.

Then, on your way east to the Alamo, how about a detour thru the "Indian Country" of the Four Corners region? The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley are amazing, and there are a number of music festivals in attractive towns like Telluride CO and Santa Fe / Taos New Mexico.

Telluride for sure has a fantastic bluegrass fest around the June summer solstice, and much more: URL

(And thanks to Waylon and Wiliie and that crazy crew, Austin TX has had a lively alt-country music scene for ever...).

There are also rodeos all over the West, but the most fun one has to in Cody Wyoming, at the gates of Yellowstone, where they've been having summer-long rodeos almost every night for decades (for an up-close look, buy tickets near where the riders load onto the broncs and bulls).

This sounds like a fun trip -- if you ever track your summer scavenger hunt road trip into a Google Map or blog, let me know -- I look forward to hearing what you get up to!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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