Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cross-Country, Ohio to California

Hi Jamie!

I just recently bought your book, and have been poking around on the
website, too. My sister and I are cooking up a plan for a grand US
road trip for August 2011. It actually all started out with me winning
tickets to take a zeppelin flight in California, and has now ballooned
into the quintessential American road trip that we've both always
wanted to take.

We live in Ohio, and want to drive to California and back in August.

Looking at some of your routes, it looks like Route 66 and US 50 hit
all the places we want to go (I want to hit up St. Louis, the Cadillac
Graveyard, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco,
and my sister really wants to add some sites in Utah, and also

We'll be on a pretty tight budget, but will be taking our own car. If
we were to do this loop, how much time would you recommend allotting
for it, without it being ridiculously expensive? (And, would budgeting
roughly $1500 per person be reasonable?)

And, if I can throw in a second question -- if we were to substitute
US 50 for your Oregon Trail route on the way home (hitting up
Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore), do you think that would add more
time/money to the trip?

Thanks so much for any advice you can give!



Hi Amanda --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and for sharing your plans for what sounds like an incredible trip!

Route 66 is a great trip, for sure, and if you want to add some Utah sights I would recommend veering to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and touring the amazing scenery of Monument Valley and Zion on your way to Las Vegas. Then you can bomb across to LA, head up the coast to SF (for your zeppelin ride? )

Or if you didn't really want to see LA, you could go from Las Vegas across Death Valley and enter California via Yosemite National Park, which is perhaps the most beautiful place in the whole wide world.

On the way back from California, I'd recommend heading easy from SF on the US50 "Loneliest Road" trip via lovely Lake Tahoe and Great Basin National Park, then maybe doing the gorgeous big loop north (via US93) across Idaho (which is stunning and pretty), then turning east, via US20 or I-90, to Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore and maybe the unexpected beauty of the "Sand Hills" region of northwest Nebraska.

You could then drop back south to Denver, and make your way home from there.

This is a fabulous trip, and to save money I'd suggest you try to: A. spend as little time as possible in expensive California and and B. do some camping and/or hostelling -- there are especially good hostels in California, all with private rooms, which make SF _almost_ affordable.

I think you could have a great time doing this trip in about 2 weeks, without going over budget -- so long as gas prices don't head over $5/gallon, and you don't get too tempted by all the food and fun of Las Vegas & Hollywood & San Francisco.

Hope you have a great time -- let me know how it turns out (photos of your blimp ride greatly appreciated!)

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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