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  1. #1
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    Cross Country Road Trip Routes

    At the end of June, I'm leaving Massachusetts and moving to the Las Vegas area. We're stopping to visit my parents in Western PA and then road tripping from there to our new house in Boulder City, NV. Originally we were going to be stopping along the way and visiting some friends/family, but given current situations, that's not as much of a priority, so the route is opened up.

    Here are our constraints:
    2 adults, 1 little kid (age 4), one dog
    We likely have ~10 days to make the trip, this could be upped to two weeks if there were compelling reasons.
    Prefer to keep our distance from other folks for covid reasons, so urban amenities aren't attractive
    We'll mix as much camping as we can with some hotel/motel stays. Our palatial new Kodiak Canvas tent weighs twice as much as the child though, so we're not hiking far into the backcountry (unless we bring a second tent, which is possible).
    We'll have our (flatwater) kayaks and mountain bikes with us, though I wouldn't be looking for rowdy riding for obvious reasons.

    Google Maps shows driving I-80 across Nebraska then cutting through CO and Utah is the exact same predicted time as going south across Missouri then TX, NM, and AZ (34 hours). I was also considering going north through Michigan, across the UP, then across MN, ND, until we hit Bozeman then cutting down across the Yellowstone area and the I-15 corridor to NV (estimated time, 44 hours). This route seemed like it might be cooler for camping.


    Anyone have advice on good routes? Things not to miss that will allow good distancing? General suggestions?

  2. #2
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    If you come through the UP you can tent-up in my yard, which is a 1 min stumble from a micro brewery, 30 second ride to waterfront bike paths, 5 minute walk to the beach, and quick drives to other sceneries.

  3. #3
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    See Mount Rushmore while it's still there

  4. #4
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    Unfortunately the Canadian side of the great lakes is closed to US gringos.

  5. #5
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    And. You're really doing it Marcus. Congrats.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    Always choose the route with the best food.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beder View Post
    See Mount Rushmore while it's still there
    Good point.

    Whatever you do, don't leave the dog tied to the bumper and forget he's there.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill-advised strategy View Post
    If you come through the UP you can tent-up in my yard, which is a 1 min stumble from a micro brewery, 30 second ride to waterfront bike paths, 5 minute walk to the beach, and quick drives to other sceneries.
    That sounds great. Thanks! If we end up going that direction, I'll send you a message. It's probably my preferred route right now, but we have to figure out if it's worth the extra hour a day average in the car with a little kid.

    Quote Originally Posted by riser3 View Post
    Unfortunately the Canadian side of the great lakes is closed to US gringos.
    Cutting through Canada was one of the hopeful plans when we started thinking about this a few months ago, but yeah...a lot of the plans were a bit different when we started thinking about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by riser3 View Post
    And. You're really doing it Marcus. Congrats.
    But yep, I'm going for it. I'll miss the area I'm from and I have some good neighbors, but I'm really excited for the infinite biking/hiking/paddling/skiing/exploring options within a few hour radius of where we'll be. And I'm excited to get to build a program at my new job, esp. at a time where the institution I'm leaving is basically lying through it's teeth claiming normalcy so students will send in their first tuition payments and not think about why they'd want to pay 65k a year for online instruction from a bunch of instructors who don't know how to teach online. So all in all, I'm excited, but the times add uncertainty and a bit of stress to everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by I Skied Bandini Mountain View Post
    Always choose the route with the best food.
    Hmm, my son defines that as mac and cheese, raw fruit and vegetables, rice, and "tacos" (which are just tortilla shells which he eats separately from the cheese, rice, and corn). The southern route would be attractive food-wise, but I somehow care about food less when I'm really hot.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timberridge View Post
    Good point.

    Whatever you do, don't leave the dog tied to the bumper and forget he's there.
    The dog is by far the best traveler in the party. She has first dibs on a seat inside the car. The four year old...

  11. #11
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    I'd go the route you are least likely to hit after moving to the southwest. Seems like that would be Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and then south. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be close enough to hit after the move.

    Sent from my SM-T580 using Tapatalk

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iowagriz View Post
    I'd go the route you are least likely to hit after moving to the southwest. Seems like that would be Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and then south. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be close enough to hit after the move.

    Sent from my SM-T580 using Tapatalk
    That's a good point. A lot of the cool parts of the other route pretty close to the destination.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill-advised strategy View Post
    If you come through the UP you can tent-up in my yard, which is a 1 min stumble from a micro brewery, 30 second ride to waterfront bike paths, 5 minute walk to the beach, and quick drives to other sceneries.
    Which brewery, eh?

    Traveling with a 4 yr old....I would load up with as many videos as possible (Baby Einstein comes to mind) and a portable toilet (kids can't hold it long).

    Have fun.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iowagriz View Post
    I'd go the route you are least likely to hit after moving to the southwest. Seems like that would be Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and then south. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be close enough to hit after the move.
    Indeed, I was going to suggest a route that would take you through some k00l places in the SW that would dump you at Hurricane UT, a couple hours from Las Vegas. I drive to Vegas regularly to visit family, so I know a few nice ways to go there.

    Definitely seek out places you may never have the chance to see again. I regret not doing more local travel whilst living in Ohio (Ahia).

    Will you be working at UNLV, Marcus B?
    ˇÓrale, vato!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iowagriz View Post
    I'd go the route you are least likely to hit after moving to the southwest. Seems like that would be Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and then south. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be close enough to hit after the move.

    Sent from my SM-T580 using Tapatalk
    This is good advice. I've done the drive between UT/CO and Ohio a bunch, and there is actually some pretty nice country to see through the midwest. Lots of nice lakes to stop and take a dip. The drive across 90 through SD is nice with lots to see. There is a campground outside of Sundance, WY in the pines that is quite nice.

    I'll be going from SLC to WI in a few weeks and coming back through SD, I'll try and make a list for ya after the trip if you're going that way.

  16. #16
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    Lake McConaughey in Nebraska is actually a decent camping stop if you go the middle route through Colorado. If that is your route choice, i can offer many suggestions in Colorado and onward to stop too, but it sounds like you're going the northern route.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin
    "I'd eat a bag of Dicks and wash it down with a Coke any day." - iceman

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    But yep, I'm going for it. I'll miss the area I'm from and I have some good neighbors, but I'm really excited for the infinite biking/hiking/paddling/skiing/exploring options within a few hour radius of where we'll be. And I'm excited to get to build a program at my new job, esp. at a time where the institution I'm leaving is basically lying through it's teeth claiming normalcy so students will send in their first tuition payments and not think about why they'd want to pay 65k a year for online instruction from a bunch of instructors who don't know how to teach online. So all in all, I'm excited, but the times add uncertainty and a bit of stress to everything.
    All schools are in similar boat, yes? I know we exchanged PMs a bunch of years ago about your old school and the consortium. While my daughter was mildly interested, the lack of her focus in archaeology and the insane price tags drove her away. And she wasn't interested in the big state U out of the 5. Fast forward to now. She loves the school she chose, has gotten great contacts because of it, including doing a CRM gig this summer because everyone knows everyone in northeast archaeology.
    And she spent a lot less money. The rest of it belongs in the covid thread.

  18. #18
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    Take that northern route. It's gonna be hot as BALLS on that southern route. And that middle route? I-80 through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska? FTS.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beder View Post
    See Mount Rushmore while it's still there
    crazy horse is way cool, bad lands, black hills in general (wind caves, hot springs), little big horn, devils tower are worth a few days on a road trip.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkgt View Post
    crazy horse is way cool, bad lands, black hills in general (wind caves, hot springs), little big horn, devils tower are worth a few days on a road trip.
    Wind Caves is closed right now till labor day while they repair the elevators. Well the park is open, but the cave is closed.

    Also, OP, just saw you are going end of June so you'll be on your trip before me. Have fun! Be aware, all the campgrounds I've looked at around SD in the past few days have been full or close to full, even on many weeknights.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorboy View Post
    Which brewery, eh?

    Traveling with a 4 yr old....I would load up with as many videos as possible (Baby Einstein comes to mind) and a portable toilet (kids can't hold it long).

    Have fun.
    We definitely will be loading up with videos. Our son actually loves long car trips as it's the only time he's allowed to watch as many videos as he wants. We're grabbing a Kindle Fire to be his media center.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viva View Post
    Indeed, I was going to suggest a route that would take you through some k00l places in the SW that would dump you at Hurricane UT, a couple hours from Las Vegas. I drive to Vegas regularly to visit family, so I know a few nice ways to go there.

    Definitely seek out places you may never have the chance to see again. I regret not doing more local travel whilst living in Ohio (Ahia).

    Will you be working at UNLV, Marcus B?
    Nevada State. It's a newer, smaller state school that they created maybe 20 years ago to deal with the population growth in Nevada/Vegas. It will come with all the challenges of a newer, quickly growing institution, but I'm excited as there isn't a lot of institutional inertia, so they're open to trying things. I think it will be a cool place to built a program and the program will be really good for helping the type of students who go to Nevada State get good jobs.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowaddict91 View Post
    This is good advice. I've done the drive between UT/CO and Ohio a bunch, and there is actually some pretty nice country to see through the midwest. Lots of nice lakes to stop and take a dip. The drive across 90 through SD is nice with lots to see. There is a campground outside of Sundance, WY in the pines that is quite nice.

    I'll be going from SLC to WI in a few weeks and coming back through SD, I'll try and make a list for ya after the trip if you're going that way.
    That would be awesome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Lake McConaughey in Nebraska is actually a decent camping stop if you go the middle route through Colorado. If that is your route choice, i can offer many suggestions in Colorado and onward to stop too, but it sounds like you're going the northern route.
    The route is really up in the air still. The northern route is attractive to me for a couple of reasons, but I haven't been across the midwest route either. We'll probably make a late decision (we won't be leaving on this part of the trip for almost a month) based on how my son seems to be holding up, the long term weather forecast, and what's happening with coronavirus stuff. My son loves taking little swims in lakes, so that would be nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by riser3 View Post
    All schools are in similar boat, yes? I know we exchanged PMs a bunch of years ago about your old school and the consortium. While my daughter was mildly interested, the lack of her focus in archaeology and the insane price tags drove her away. And she wasn't interested in the big state U out of the 5. Fast forward to now. She loves the school she chose, has gotten great contacts because of it, including doing a CRM gig this summer because everyone knows everyone in northeast archaeology.
    And she spent a lot less money. The rest of it belongs in the covid thread.
    Yeah a lot of schools are in the same boat, but particularly expensive private universities. My current employers is kind of rich, but not so rich that it can discount tuition revenue and it's a women's college, so it's already kind of niche. It just dodged a major bullet when Trump's latest visa restrictions didn't suspend the OPT visas that let foreign graduates get 1-3 year work visas. My current school's cash cow is Chinese and other foreign students. They're worried about them not coming back given the situation.

    Glad to hear that things sound like they're going really well for your daughter!

  22. #22
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    Having driven across the country several times solo and on long road trips with ex-gfs before........it always takes way longer than you think, and with a 4 year old and a dog you gotta tack a TON of time onto that trip. 10 days will leave very little time to do much unless you only hit stuff 1 hour or less from interstates.

    Also, I definitely recommend taking the northern most/high country route you can. That southern route through TX/NM will be insanely hot at the end of June and camping will be uncomfortable for the most part.

  23. #23
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    Initially I was going to suggest following the Appalachians out of Western PA --> Smokys/Blue Ridge Mtns before shooting southwest maybe via Nashvegas, but if you're up for the Michigan route that's a no-brainer.

    Depending on where you're coming out of W.Pa (Erie area to the north or Pittsburgh area to the south) you can either hug Lake Erie along the Lake Erie Scenic Byway if approaching from the former, or cut through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on your way to the Lake Erie Scenic Byway if approaching from the latter.

    From there get to the east coast of Lake Michigan and don't leave that side of the Mitten until you cross the big bridge - so many beautiful spots; Charlevoix, Petoskey, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Harbor Springs, Traverse City, Torch Lake (Boyne Mountain! - gnar). If you're a golfer and can sneak away, Arcadia Bluffs is like being golfing along the Pacific coast. Gorgeous time of year to be "Up North".
    I still call it The Jake.

  24. #24
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    Take the Northerly route through da UP, Minnestoa, So Dak, MT (Red Lodge, Beartooth, Livingston, Jellystone), down through JH, stay in Pinedale (lots cheaper) and follow the spine of the Rockies: 191 through Rock Springs to Flaming Gorge, Vernal, Dinosaur National Monument. Either split off towards Helper/Price->Green River->Moab, then over to Telluride or stay on the spine through Meeker to Grand Junction->Ouray->Silverton->Durango->Mesa Verde->Bryce Canyon->Mexican Hat->Flagstaff/Grand Canyon then LV.

    Stay high, stay cool.
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    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    Take that northern route. It's gonna be hot as BALLS on that southern route. And that middle route? I-80 through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska? FTS.
    Northern route. Fuck everything on I-70 or I-80.

    What Buster said.

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