Monday, June 14, 2010

LA to Boston !

Dear Jamie,

Hello! I've really enjoyed looking at your website and
reading the overviews of the various routes. Congratulations
on the new edition of your book! We'll definitely have to check it out.

My husband and I have always talked about doing a cross country trip
(when I was about 7 I remember going from NY to CO with my parents
for a cousin's wedding and making some stops at national parks, and ate at diners early in the morning with farmers along the way. Still have some good memories of that trip.) and it seems the time is now upon us!

My husband just accepted a new job and we are moving from the LA area to Boston, MA. So our question for you: what route or routes would you take to get there and how much time would you allow to give us adequate time to soak in the sights?

Aside from having the travel bug, the charm of the cross country trip to me has always been not seeing the chains, and seeing cool sites be they beautiful national parks, or neat out of the way towns, or unique sites. Route 66 has always seemed appealing (although I worry it may be getting taken over by McDonald's and tourists), but the Oregon trail also seems great especially if you get to see Yellowstone and Niagara Falls, and the Southern route could also be interesting. I know we can't do it
all and will have to plan other trips in the future...

We are up against a deadline (job start, want a little time to
get acclimated in Boston beforehand), so will most likely only
have about a week, perhaps a couple more days may be able to added
but not much more. Your personal suggestions, thoughts are greatly

Thanks so much!

Warm regards,

Kate & Jason
Boston Bound


Dear Kate and Jason --

Thanks for your note, and hope my reply gets to you in time to help with your move.

(Though with the NBA playoffs going on, this seems like a dangerous time to make the move from LA to Boston...)

If you are wary of tacky tourism, I think you are right to be wary of Route 66 -- it's better as a song than as a way to escape the franchised fast-food chains, for sure! There are some good stretches of RT66 still out there, definitely, but if I had the choice I would probably take other routes.

Being an LA boy myself, if I were driving to Boston I would head north on US-395 (up the Owens Valley, along the eastern foot of the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains -- gorgeous, and nary a suburb to be seen, since all the water supply has been "taken" south...) Then I'd veer east at Carson City (maybe detouring up to see Lake Tahoe, if you've never been there...), and take the US50 "Loneliest Road" across Nevada and western Utah. This is also spectacular scenery, and pretty much chain free (though McDonald's has opened in Ely NV, midway along). The drive is pretty quick, as fast as an Interstate but 100x more interesting.

You could then hop onto I-70 at Salt Lake City and race over the Rockies and across the Great Plains -- maybe detouring off the freeway to see Arches National Park (near Moab, Utah), or to explore the tourist-free Colorado National Monument (a quick 15-minute detour off the freeway from Grand Junction CO).

You could alternately head north to Yellowstone, but apart from Old Faithful this is harder to appreciate at a quick look -- it's also very very popular in summer. Maybe another time?

Once you've made it across the Midwest, you could take in a little bit of RT66 across Illinois. Between St Louis and Chicago there are a few neat small towns, right off the freeways but retaining some of their "All-American charms" - I cover these in more detail in my books, but you could get a good sample by stopping at the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield Illinois, or by cruising the well-marked stretch of old RT66 around Dwight, just outside the sprawling Chicagoland metropolis.

Further east, the Great Lakes have many neat old waterfront communities, but these places can take time to find. Niagara Falls and Buffalo (for art and architecture, esp) are both worth seeing, and on your way toward Boston a couple of good detours would be through the Finger Lakes of New York state (around Skaneatles, or Cooperstown, esp if you like baseball or Last of the Mohicans!).

Western Mass is also packed with great towns, which you can probably get to know once you're settled into your new lives...

OK, there are some thoughts, hope they help you with the trip , and that Boston works out for you both.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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