Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vintage Pontiac Road Trip - Florida to Washington

Hey Road Trip --

My dad and I are taking a cross-country trip starting on Sunday in a 1941 Pontiac from Jacksonville, Fl to Poulsbo, Wa. It would be fun to take one of the old highways but without ten million red lights the whole way.

Is there any particular way you suggest?

Thanks for any information you have.



Hello Justin --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and for letting me know about your big (brave?...) trip. I hope the weather co-ooperates; from what I've been hearing the roads almost all over the country are pretty challenging -- maybe lots of red lights are just what you need to get there safe and sane.

From Florida I'd say you should start off with a short day trip down to St Augustine, to stage a "starting line" picture at the picturesque marker for the Old Spanish Trail, which used to run all the way across the USA, ending up in San Diego CA. Though you probably don't want to ride "two-lane" highways all 3000 miles, there are some regions I think you'll want to explore on something more intimate and personal than a 80-mph Interstate freeway.

Since you've got such a cool old car, the obvious road for you to drive is that living legend of a highway, Route 66. That offers a good mix of vintage experiences with modern-day convenience -- plus it has that fabulous theme song.

If you have more time, feel a little more brave or are concerned about weather, I cover a lot of other possibilities in the "Southern Pacific" route in my Road Trip USA book (and on the website, too).

One nice "old highway" alternative to I-10 is the loop that US-90 makes across southern Louisiana, from New Orleans (well worth a detour on any road trip!), through the scenic Cajun Country. where there are many little towns and scenic drives -- the area around St Martinville and Breaux Bridge is especially nice.

Because of winter weather, I think you'll want to avoid as much of the Rocky Mountains as possible, so I'll keep your route as far south as possible -- Interstate-10 will be the main cross-country road, with as many side loops as you want. After Louisiana, another nice place to escape the Interstate tedium is the famous "Hill Country" region west of San Antonio Texas (home of the Alamo, another great photo opportunity !) In the Hill Country and on to the west, US-90 is once again a good through route -- and if you have time, towns like Utopia, Marfa and Fort Davis will give a good sense of the range of life out here "on the range".

Continuing west, another good off-the-Interstates detour loops south from the New Mexico / Arizona border, following old US-80 to Bisbee and Tombstone, with some wonderful detours (to Chiricahua Natiional Monument, for example, or to Kartchner Caverns). If I remember right, there are only 2 red lights in about 200 miles.

From Tucson (which is worth exploring), I'd suggest a run north along US-93 to Las Vegas, stopping for another photo at Hoover Dam, which is very much a classic of late Art Deco styling. The Las Vegas Strip would also be a great place to show off your car! Unless you want to make the drive up the West Coast, I'd say you could follow US-95 north, or make the run thru Death Valley west of Vegas, then up US-395 (which makes a very scenic and red-light-free run along the eastern foot of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains).

The Oregon coast, along US-101, is another great drive with stunning scenery, very few stoplights and some fine old bridges that were all designed and made about the same time as your Pontiac.

OK, it's been fun thinking about your trip. I hope my suggestions help you & your Dad find some fun on your way west, and that you have a safe and enjoyable drive. Please let me know how it goes!

Happy Holidays, and Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

PS: Is the picture above anything like your car? Very very cool !


Hey there Jamie --

Thank you so much for the advice! We took Route 66 for as much of the way as we could. The old car did great with a few setbacks but there were plenty of old time mechanics along the way. The scenery was beautiful and the old motels and service stations were just as I hoped they’d be. I will try to send you a few pictures of the 41’ at vintage rest stops, etc. Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to help plan the trip.


P.S. My car looks like the one you sent but it's an all original black sedan J

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its an oldest model of Pontiac and in a mint condition. I love the history of Pontiac car and they effort well to made the finest cars.I love it so much.Good work done on this blog,its really very awesome.However if you want to check the Vin of your car so side a look on pontiac vin.

10:21 PM  

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