Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Summer Road Trip: National Parks, Baseball, and Music

Hello Road Trip USA!

I was so happy to run across your Website, and can't wait to read your book! You are such a God-send! I have been bouncing ideas off my husband since I desperately want to take a road trip this summer, but we are clueless when it comes to planning what to do, route to take etc.

We are two teachers, meaning time is fairly plentiful this summer, but money is tight. I have spent some time reading your descriptions, but thought i would reach out to you for even more specifics. I'm hoping you can offer me some of the personalized advice that I noticed you were kind enough to give other aspiring road-trippers.

My husband and I currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina and have traveled a great deal around our area. Since my husband is a huge Chicago Cubs fan i was thinking we could fly into Chicago to start our trip from there, we hope to rent a car/RV there.

I've never been out West. I would like to see everything, but realize that's impossible, however we do want to see as much as we can while having time to enjoy our stops. Other than Chicago, we are not looking for a big-city experience (we'd rather stay away from Vegas and L.A., although I would like to visit Memphis or San Antonio.). We are seeking beautiful landscapes, quaint towns, basically Americana at its best. Ideally, i would love to see as many national parks (especially Yellowstone) as possible; the Grand Canyon; possibly Joshua Tree; any small towns that are particularly charming; and historic places. We love live music, so we hoped to dip into Texas to visit Grune Hall (spelling??), but I am realizing more and more that seeing everything isn't possible. We also love hiking and antiquing, so we hope to stop and enjoy a little of both along the way.

I'm notoriously indecisive, which means I just keep second guessing myself when it comes to deciding between the Oregon Trail route or Route 66. However, i know that you know our great country well enough to suggest a less-typical route that will open our eyes to this beautiful country of ours.

Any help is so appreciated. You are so kind to offer your words of wisdom to so many people! Thanks for all you are doing!

God bless,



Hi Anna --

Many thanks for your nice note -- I am glad you like the website, and hope you like the book!

Seeing as you have a long-suffering baseball fan in your family, starting off your trip in Chicago could be a great idea -- you can see a Cubs (and Sox!)game, and then get your kicks on old Route 66. Route 66 is a great drive west right out of Chicago to Springfield, following the old road through one quaint town after another across the Land of Lincoln.

The West is another classic road trip destination, and an RV could be a good friend in the wide open spaces of Wyoming and Utah, so it's well worth looking renting a camper (though I should warn you they cost a lot, both to rent and to fill up the fuel tanks).

Seeing as you like hiking, I wonder: Have you thought about camping out some of the way? Not only is camping pretty cheap, it feels a lot healthier -- and if you do a little hiking you could get to some truly beautiful places and feel like it's all yours, rather than having to share the scenery with all the other car-constrained travelers.

The joys of getting away from it all is especially strong in places like the Grand Canyon, where the main overlooks will be clogged with visitors, but if you walk 200 yards down the trail, it's like you have it all to yourself.

There are also some great places to see (and camp out under the stars at night, which are big and bright...), deep in the heart of Texas. The Hill Country area west of New Braunfels, where your "Gruene Hall" is located, is gorgeous. One of my fave places out there is called Lost Maples State Park, which I cover in my Road to Nowhere drive along lonely old US83. Beautiful -- as is nearby San Antonio, home of the Alamo!

Memphis is cool, too -- though I suspect in cities like this you'll want to stay in a hotel (which is another reason for thinking twice about an RV...)

I share your sense of indecision, so maybe you can do both -- get an RV for Yellowstone and Zion and the Grand Canyon, maybe starting in Denver? And then get a car and head south to Texas, east to Memphis and up the Great River Road to St Louis and Chicago, before heading west back out to Denver to fly home again?

I like loop trips, which are a lot cheaper than a one-way with a drop off at the end. It also has a nice, full circle sense of completion. Yours may end up looking more like a Figure 8, but I think you know what I mean.

(And however and wherever you go, be sure to check out a few Cubs games "on the road"? And or see some future Cubs in action at their minor league farm clubs -- in Des Moines / Knoxville TN / Peoria and Boise ID...!)

Lots of possibilities -- lots of fun. Hope my semi-indecisive message helps you make a plan, and hope you have a great trip!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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