Sunday, August 01, 2010

Upstate NY to San Francisco -- via Mount Rushmore


I have a 3-4 week space where I am planning on driving from upstate NY to San Francisco - possibly through Seattle. I will be making the return trip (minus Seattle) in December/January and am trying to maximize summer sites knowing that I will be weather constrained on my return journey.

I have lived both in NY and CA. I have spent two months camping from SF, up the coast and through the Canadian Rockies. I have also spent time in the South West and in the Great Lakes. Based on what I have seen and the wonderful information from your website, I plan to head down to Atlanta, then west to Abilene Texas, where I have friends, then head up to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Seattle, and on to the Bay Area.

I chose this path mostly because I have family/friends to stay with in all of these places, leaving me with motels and camping for the remaining stops. I have no agenda or time frame to get between points and I can change destinations/stopovers as I go.

Mostly I am just looking for advice. Are there alternate routes you would suggest? Are there places that I really should see that I am forsaking for the comfort of staying with family/friends? And mostly, are there any concerns that a relatively young, female traveling alone should be concerned with along the way? I am an avid camper, hiker and driver. I am also looking to make this journey a bit of a ritual - an experience that will change me and mark the change that is this new phase of my life. It's a lot to ask of a road trip and yet - a beautiful moon over foreign terrain can change the most stoic of men.

Please don't feel it necessary to duplicate information in your book - I have already ordered it. I also plan on spending some quality time in the library between now and Aug 3rd (my departure date). I really am just looking for opinion - and maybe a little affirmation. I have been known to say that a road trip is *always* a good idea - this is just a little beyond the magnitude that I usually undertake.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.



Hi Gretchen --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- I am impressed (and a little jealous!) to hear about your fearless plans for a massive cross-country road trip. I hope you are still enthusiastic, and planning to take the trip!

I've checked your proposed itinerary, and have one main suggestion -- dip down a bit further south, so you can explore the Great River Road journey down thru Natchez Mississippi, across into "Cajun Country" of Louisiana, then down into New Orleans. If you haven't been, this is a great part of the country to see and enjoy.

And while you're down in the south, I'd encourage you to check out what I think are the most interesting parts of Texas -- San Antonio and Austin, and especially the "Hill Country" region west of there. Along with the Cajun areas of Louisiana, Austin & the Hill Country has perhaps the most mind-boggling mix of food + music + culture. (When they came over in the 1850s, German immigrants brought their accordians and their polkas, which got picked up by Mexican musicians to make Tejano/Conjunto music . Best served up with Tex-Mex food...)

Then, after a visit to the Alamo, you could hop back onto your planned route, which all sounds pretty fantastic.

Please keep in touch, and let me know how it all shakes out.

Happy Trails,

With best wishes,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA



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