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Old 07-25-2013, 09:31 AM   #1
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Coast-to-Coast Road Trip

Hi All,

With a sabbatical coming up in Sept-Oct, we are using 49 days of it to cross the US and back again, fulfilling a dream I've had since I was a kid. We are the planning type, and have reservations, but will flex the plan if need be. And the route is interesting, I think, with an effort to stay off of interstates as much as possible.

We are pulling a pop-up. Most days we are camping, though we have interspersed some hotel days. Our goal is variety--we seek some of the wide-open spaces, national parks, etc, but also the big cities.

I started a blog on the whole dream, recalling past trips, and outlining thoughts we had as we planned. The blog will become our trip log once it starts.

As a new participant in iRV2 forums (and this community has made me feel very welcome), I am eager to hear ideas and just converse about the joys and cautions of such a long road trip. The blog address is below my signature. From there you can also click on "trip plan" to find a link to the route.

Would love to hear what you think!

Cal
Coast-to-Coast Road Trip! | Cal Stevens' blog across the States
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:51 AM   #2
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We've done several coast to coast trips and my first bit of advice would be to NOT make reservations.

The problem with reservations is that you are locked into a specific route and are now on a rigid time table.

If you encounter vehicle problems and are delayed for several days then you are going to be stressing abot getting to the park where you have reservations.

We make reservations on the 4th of July and other holidays but the rest of the time we decide where we want to be the next day and call the campgrounds in that area and ask if they have space available that night.
We don't reserve a space, explaining we hope to make it there. We've done that hundreds of times without a problem.

If you find a place you want to explore more you can stay and not have to leave because you have a reservation on up the road.

We've travelled back roads and interstates, enjoying both. Make no mistake, there are so beautiful views from interstates too....Donner pass in California comes to mind as well as the Siskiyou's on the California Oregon border.
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Old 07-25-2013, 11:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for your thoughts, Arch. We like having the reservations, but we're totally committed to bagging any rez and consider the loss as part of the expense involved with the vacation. We like having the knowledge that no matter how long we play and sightsee, a spot waits for us if we want it. W/o reservations, we have spent late afternoons thinking "we need to find a spot!" -- then again, following your advice, it's really nice to be flexible. The compromise here is that, yes, we will lose some rez fees if we change the plan, but we're OK with that.

Thanks again for your ideas!

Cal
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:18 PM   #4
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When we travel a long distance we don't usually make reservations ahead of time for the overnight stops. At our lunch stop, we estimate how much further we will drive, grab the Woodalls directory and call a campground or two. The first question is "do you have plenty of space for tonight"? If the answer is yes, we know we're ok. If they only have a few spaces, we ask them to hold one for us and give them a CC number if they ask for it. Usually a campground that is completely full can recommend others in the area that have space. I don't think we've ever been stuck without a place for the night.
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalStevens View Post
Thanks for your thoughts, Arch. We like having the reservations, but we're totally committed to bagging any rez and consider the loss as part of the expense involved with the vacation. We like having the knowledge that no matter how long we play and sightsee, a spot waits for us if we want it. W/o reservations, we have spent late afternoons thinking "we need to find a spot!" -- then again, following your advice, it's really nice to be flexible. The compromise here is that, yes, we will lose some rez fees if we change the plan, but we're OK with that.

Thanks again for your ideas!

Cal
Coast-to-Coast Road Trip! | Cal Stevens' blog across the States
we use walmarts and other stores for overnight parking when we cannot or do not want to get to our next planned destination that night. truck stops and casinos work for us too.
the allstays website is free to use and is kept up to date by users.

Walmart Locations Store Details & Parking | Walmart Store Locator

Overnight RV parking etiquette
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:10 AM   #6
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I personally would not stay in a Walmart with a Pop-up.

As for reservations, well, school is in session so not many travelers with children opening up the CG's. The Sunday through Thursday setting is rather easy to find a place to stay without reservations. Depending on the high tourist areas, Friday and Saturday nights would be more difficult. With a Pop-up you will have a better advantage of finding a spot at some of the National and State parks then I have with a 40 foot MH.

We usually call ahead the day of travel and DW finds a place for the night at a CG. For the long Holiday weekends I'll try and find a spot about a week before, knowing when i'll most likely get there. For those long Holiday weekends I like to use the KOA if I'm having difficulty finding a spot. Their on-line system is great for reserving and seeing if they have spots available.

Sounds like you will have a fun trip.

Happy trails.
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:14 PM   #7
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This is an EXTREMELY ambitious itinerary ... as I read it you are staying one night in the Black Hills, for example, and 3 nights in the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.

This is more about travelling across the country than it is about seeing and absorbing this great country.

I once went camping with a fellow who could not take the time to stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone for his kids ... he had the arrival time to the campground engrained in his brain ... I never went camping with him again ... every kid (and this Dad) wants an ice cream cone in the middle of a hot afternoon ... even if it is going to make you 15 minutes late to arrive at the campground ....
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Old 07-26-2013, 06:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for you input, Skigramp. Yes, it is about crossing the country, since that's been my dream since childhood. When I was a young fella, I begged my Dad to plan a trip where we could touch the Pacific and then touch the Atlantic. Along the way, I imagined, we would enjoy the road, talk to people, and yes eat ice cream :-). Fortunately for us, we have 7 weeks to do this, to cover the country and back, averaging about 350 per day and only driving half the days.

Obviously we are making choices because we want to cover some ground, and then absorb some wonder along the way, and on rest days.

We also have reservations as a fall-back, and do not feel the need to be on-time anywhere. We'll have plenty of ice cream and late arrivals, especially since most nights we'll probably use the reservations if we want to, and on those days not have to worry about it. If I had more time off work, I'd make the trip longer than 49 days to make it even less ambitious, but I have to work for a living. :-)

Appreciate the conversation!
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Old 07-28-2013, 06:55 PM   #9
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Cal...I was fascinated with your post and blog! We are doing something SO very similar and I am excited for you to,start your journey! My husband then I will be leaving with our fifth wheel trailer in mid-September to travel almost the same route as you and your wife. We are also native Southern
Californians born and raised, and spent summers long-ago traveling with our families back and forth to the Midwest in our parents station wagons, as you did! We did the same thing with our own kids. Boy what wonderful memories! As for other similarities, my husband is 66 and I am 59, married 35 years, four kids total, and two young grandchildren. We plan on a similar route to you, going as far east as Maine and then down the coast to Washington DC and Williamsburg before we turn west. However our route will take us from Ventura county to Las Vegas and Denver and then basically following interstate 80 to the Chicago area. From there we'll travel along the Erie Canal up to Niagara, across upstate New York through Vermont and New Hampshire, and then on to the coast of Maine. Then it's on to Boston, Plymouth, Cape Cod, etc; and a lot of other places we haven't planned in detail yet, before we end up in the Philadelphia area to visit some relatives. From there we go to Maryland to see more relatives, then back to Washington DC where we were a few years ago to see some things we haven't seen yet like Monticello and Williamsburg. As we turn west will go through Appomattox and then on to Cincinnati to visit a friend and then central Illinois to stay at my aunts farm for a few days during harvest. Probably will take interstate 40 home from there. The most ironic thing is when I read that you had planned to visit Mount Pleasant Iowa I realized that that is where I must stop also as my heritage also leads me there! I believe Mount Pleasant is the home of the Harlan House where Mary Eunice Harlan, wife of Robert Todd Lincoln, lived and in later years summered with her family. This was her fathers home..Senator James Harlan. I am a distant cousin of Mary.
Anyway, my husband is retired (thank you LAPD!) and we plan to be gone possibly as long as 8 weeks...we shall see. Worried that we're starting a little late as far as fall colors and open RV parks, but we want to attend grandsons 1st birthday party in mid-Sept before we leave! Excited! I am anxious to read your blog as you embark on your journey, and we won't be far behind. Almost like sending you out ahead of us to "scout the trail" for us! Ha!
Have a safe journey!!
Carol and Ed
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:02 PM   #10
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Thanks for the comments, all. In some cases I'd like to follow up via private message and see if we can begin some correspondence!

We have done a quick trip to "touch the Pacific" and I posted a blog entry for it with some more pics. The camp at Kirk Creek in the Big Sur area is amazing, on a sloped terrace above a bluff, just 30 sites or so, very friendly campers there, both RV's and tents.

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Old 08-03-2013, 01:33 PM   #11
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Last year we went from SoCal to Sarasota, FL to SC to VA to MI and back to CA. A total of about 7k miles in about 5 weeks. Would I do it again? NO!!!! By the end we were exhausted and wore out. Next time we have time like that Thom and I decided that we would take the time to see places and not try to drive cross country like that again in such a short time.
And after the tire blow out on the trailer and having to go backwards after leaving the CG just the hour before we decided no more reservations.
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