Monday, December 06, 2010

Solo Road Trip in April

Hi Jamie --

I am a student from France, and want to do a road trip around the USA, in a car, on my own, like the character from Jim Harrison book "The English Major" - Have your read it? It's a story of a man who decided to leave everything to cross the USA (it's all about freedom). I'm sure you'll love it! (URL here:

I want to do my trip around April during 1 month (or maybe more) but I'm still hesitated between your "Border to Border" (from LA) or "The road to nowhere" road trip. I have to prepare it seriously but sometimes it's good to be lost! :)

What was your favorite road trip - I you had to choose one?



Hello Alex --

Many thanks for your reply, and for your mention of the Jim Harrison book. I have enjoyed many of his other works over the years, and very much liked The English Major -- the adventures and insights remind me what is so great about road trips around the USA. Thank you for the tip! I was tickled by the "puzzle pieces" motif, and shared his character's dismay at mobile phones and other techno-chatter. ( Which is an odd thing for me to say, I suppose, via email to a person on the other side of the world, but "c'est la vie", yes? )


Anyway, about your trip: April is a lovely time to be "on the road," but the weather can still be very wintery, so I would point you toward the southerly reaches -- Arizona is at its best at that time of year, so the US-93 / Border to Border trip is perfect (I love Saguaro National Park and the environs of Tucson, which is a pretty civilized place compared to most of the desert Southwest.)

I really like the stretch of my "Southern Pacific" trip along old US-80 through Tombstone (Wild West gunslingers abound!) and especially Bisbee, which is a scenic old 1890s mining town that has been re-born as an artists / hippy community. I also really enjoy traveling in the "Four Corners" region, where New Mexico and Utah and Colorado join Arizona, at the heart of the historic Native American lands (lots of lovely amazing cliff palaces, especially at Canyon de Chelley and Mesa Verde National Park). This is all pretty high-altitude country, so you can get snow and cold weather in April, but it is spectacular and very rich in historic and cultural energy.

To keep all this in perspective, I'd also recommend you spend some time further west, in California -- I just got back from a trip through Big Sur and Santa Barbara along the Pacific Coast Highway, and though I have done it dozens of times in years past I was still amazed by the awesome beauty and wild-ness. Fantastic -- mountains, forests, and golden sand beaches, giant whales and seals and hawks, alongside acres of dully comfortable modern suburbia.

So I hope you will "go for it", as we Americans say. You could definitely have a great month covering this 1000-mile (1600km?) square region -- and if you wanted to combine with a $200 cross-country flight, you could also maybe get another car and set off to explore the "Deep South" corner of the USA -- New Orleans, Savannah, Missisippi, Memphis et al. Another slice of unforgettable Americana, also at its best in April / May.

OK, there are some ideas of my "favorite road trip" -- hope they help you have a great time. Keep in touch, and

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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