Monday, June 27, 2011

4th of July -- for a 5 Year Old!

Hello Jamie,
Me, my wife and 4 1/2 year old son are planning a West Coast to Midwest road trip.  We currently have 12 days to travel from our home in Columbus,OH to my in-laws home in Seattle, WA with the possibility of 4 more days if my wife gets them off for vacation. 

Originally we were gonna buy a conversion van here and drive there and back but I ran numbers and thought about it and I bought plane tickets one way to Seattle for less money than gas one way and it would save at least 3 days which could be used on the way back east.  We will need to buy a conversion van once there but in my research I've been able to find more available vehicles geared toward what we want due to it being the Pacific Northwest and I wont have to worry so much about rust and what not due to everywhere in the country being less salt heavy than the rust belt of the Midwest. 

We will be traveling the last week of June to the first/second week of July.  We were thinking about traveling down south from Seattle through to the midway of California and then across to to Ohio so with so many possibilities and the Fourth of July being involved in our schedule I was wondering if you had any suggestions.  We are planning on getting your book along with a few others and will have our camping equipment also.  I will be researching good food places as well because we are interested in experiencing various good eats too.  The only thing I could think in regards to the fourth of July was Disneyland and Las Vegas, any other suggestions would be welcome.  Thanks for your input, every little bit helps.




Hello Inbetweener -- 

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope I can help you plan your trip.  I'm afraid I won't be much help with your van-buying issues, but I can say that I have a van conversion myself, and have found it very useful for road trips and for hauling children around to soccer & baseball games, too.  If only gas were still $1 or $2 a gallon, instead of heading towards $5.  

(And I hope you van-buying goes well -- just in case, I'd suggest you make reservations for a rental car...)

The drive from Seattle south into California, and then back home to Ohio, should be fun. For 4th of July, though, I can't really recommend  Disneyland or Las Vegas.  At least not with an under-5 -- save Disneyland for when he's 8 or so (and big enough to ride Space Mountain!)  

And save Vegas for when everyone's over 21... :-)

To me 4th of July is all about small-town parades, fun and games and fireworks.  

I've had some good 4th of July moments on the East Coast (Boston for fireworks, Bristol Rhode Island for the "Nation's Oldest 4th of July parade, followed by a baseball game at Pawtucket!..), but maybe the most fun I've had was in Ouray Colorado, which is sort of on your route, at the foot of the fantastic "Million Dollar Highway", near Telluride.  In an amazing setting, in a 1880s hot springs resort that hasn't really changed in the past 120 years, Ouray celebrates Independence Day with a huge water fight, with fire fighters spraying hoses at each other on Main Street.   

Here's a YouTube video from a couple year's ago:

If I were 5, I'd love it! 

I cover Ouray in my US50 - Loneliest Road road trip, on the website and in the Road Trip USA book, and it's a fantastic drive -- from San Francisco or Lake Tahoe, across the Nevada desert, past Utah's great national parks (Arches, Canyonlands and more), then up into the Rockies for an unforgettable 4th of July.  Another great 4th of July party takes place further east in Colorado, at Royal Gorge, which is another great stop. 

From Colorado you could stay on US50, or hop onto I-70 to get you back to Columbus. 

Hope these suggestions help you have a great trip !  

Happy Trails, 

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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