Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Round the Country in April / May

Hey Road Trip --

I am planning on going around the country in April and May of 2010. I have a minivan and am planning to use campgrounds and motels about 50/50. I thought about biking across country but decided to take the van and drive between 100 and 200 miles a day and then biking the area I will be staying at, riding about 30 miles a day. I bought your book and am wondering if you had an opinion on using route 90 instead of 80 as my southern highway going east to west. I'm from outside Albany NY and will be starting my first leg of the journey in Washington DC for 3 or 4 days. Then hit some of the civil war battlefields before picking up your Atlantic route going as far as Savannah or Jacksonville (route 80 or 90??) before heading west. I plan on going to New Orleans, Dallas, Yosemite, back to Las Vegas (5 days), Grand Canyon (North Rim) Salt Lake City, Portland, Vancouver, Banaff, Calgary, Reginna, Winnipeg, Niagara Falls(Canadian side), Toronto, Ottawa, and back to Albany.

Your opinion on route 90 and any suggestions for any other recommended routes would be appreciated.

Thanks, Jim


Hello There Jim ! --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- sounds like you have a fantastic trip ahead of you, and I hope I can help make it as fun and memorable as it can be.

First off, taking a bike with you is a great idea -- you will see (and hear, and smell..) so much more while riding than you ever would just looking thru your windshield -- and I suspect you will sleep a lot more soundly, as well.

I'll be very interested to hear your experiences riding around Civl War battlefields - this sounds like the perfect way to do it . (You'll certainly gain abetter appreciation of the importance of topography! The world sure seems a lot hillier when you are having to move around under your own "steam"...)

I just hope the DC / Gettysburg / Antietam area is snow-free by the time you get there.

OK -- onto your questions: about US-80 vs US-90, my inclination would be to follow US-80, first because I know it's nice (esp worth a visit is a GA Music Hall of Fame, and all the Allman Brothers / Otis Redding / Little Richard music sights in Macon!) . Columbus (home of Carson McCullers, and the Ballad of the Sad Cafe) is also interesting, but the main event here is the stretch of US-80 between Montgomery and Selma -- utterly fascinating, and the Civil Rights Movement trail really brings that region to life.

(Also, if you make it as far south as Jacksonvllle Florida, consider continuing on to St Augustine, which is a very interesting (and fun!) place to explore.)

However you go, once you made it across Alabama you can swoop down into New Orleans (though think twice before missing Vicksburg and Natchez, and Oxford and Memphis, and all the other great sights and sounds of the Great River Road region...).

West from New Orleans, US-90 winds across the heart of Cajun Country, where there are eminently rideable roads along all those bayous. St Francisville and Bayou Teche is all very pretty, and Breaux Bridge is home to a great Zydeco cafe.

Further west, despite years of trying I _still_ haven' t found a short-cut across Texas -- it is 1000 miles, any way you go. Which means a few days on the road -- so I'd suggest veering a little bit south, via Houston/Galveston so you can see Austin and ride your bike on the Hill Country roads that made Lance Armstrong so, well.. strong. The "No Country for Old Men" area around Fort Davis / Marfa is also very arty and interesting (at least by Texas standards...) I don't really know Big Bend, but the Guadalupe Mountains / Carlsbad Caverns area is full of things to see -- mountains, canyons, caves and wildlife.

You didn't mention Arizona (or New Mexico), but Arizona is beautiful in April / May -- historic Tombstone is here, and Bisbee is a nifty old copper mining / ghost / artist's town. And they have a big bike race, La Vuelta de Bisbee, late in April -- see http://www.lvdb.info/

Also great in April: Saguaro National Park outside Tucson, which has desert wildflowers and some fab bike rides.

Onwards. From Texas, all the way to Yosemite, before coming back to Las Vegas -- are you sure? Couldn't you do Yosemite after Las Vegas / Grand Canyon?? Maybe by way of Death Valley?

Yosemite is amazing, but it is also a long way west -- and you don't even make it all the way to the coast (which is actually very impressive -- most people are drawn to race to the end of the road, and end up missing out on a lot as they zoom along to their destination..)

OK -- back to your plan: Five days in Vegas -- I hope you can do daily bike rides out to Red Rock Canyon, and win big at night in the casinos! :-)

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon sounds more appealing, to me. You will probably be there on the day it opens for the season -- so be prepared for snow on the roads and trails. Sounds very nice... just don't slip off any cliffs.

Then you're heading on to Portland (lovely -- be sure to have a look at Timberline Lodge, up on the shoulders of Mount Hood, and take a ride on thru Columbia Gorge.)

Banff et al is also gorgeous -- but I think I'd better sign off here and send this along to you, otherwise I will be wracked with jealousy!

Hope these ideas help point you toward some great experiences, and that my Road Trip USA book proves its value, too.

Have a great trip -- feel free to write me again, and please let me know how it all goes.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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