Advice from the Friends of GART2010

January 26, 2010

Greets. If you are a first time visitor to this blog, please read what the Great American Road Trip 2010 is about first.

To make the road trip as interesting as possible, we need to aggregate the suggestions and recommendations from friends and well-wishers of the Great American Road Trip 2010. Please help out by adding your suggestions in a comment to this post.

To read the current set of suggestions, just click on the comments link below. Thank you.



  1. From PB in Berkeley, a friend of GART2010:

    Mileage is accrued also going N and S as well as east and west. The decision to do Bryce and Zion is really those and the Canyon vs. Yellowstone. N = cooler. S= hotter than hell.

    What is your notion of history v. park? The answer to that will get you the time spent east v. time spent west.

    Wash DC +- some miles gets you the major civil war sites, yorktown where the sun set on the british empire, valley forge, Philly and the liberty bell and so on. DC has the best collection of museums to learn about the US (NY is much better for egypt).

    From there it is over the shenandoah and loose into the sweaty, yucky middle. fly over land. NY has a few good sites from the revolution, but your van will get towed. Boston is like NY, but with old iron sides, faneuil hall, and stuff like that. NY has Ellis island and the Statue of Liberty, a whole day between them.

    UP to me. I’d fly into DC, see the museums for 2-3 days, and move on to yorktown, jamestown, appamatox, coldspring harbor (birthplace of trench warfare), richmond….Then move west to Monticello, the blue ridge….if you like heat down to new orleans, else up through NY maybe saratoga, ticongeroga (ok its out of the way), quebec city (ok its out of the country)…west….Chicago,…west fort laramie, south pass (the only break in the rockies, yellowstone, grand tetons, follow lewis and clark from there to the mouth of the columbia, then down though the redwoods…..for yosemite and yellowstone, MAKE RESERVATIONS!!!!!

    Read some version of the aLewis and Clark journals. The corps of discovery.

  2. From Maria in NY, another friend of GART2010:

    If you want to see Boeing I seem to recall you have to reserve tix in advance.

    (I did a 30-day road trip across US and Canada with a boyfriend years ago. It was great. I really loved South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. We started in NY, drove west then hung a right at Washington state and crossed over into BC then headed East and back toward NY.)

    I would also highly endore the Raleigh / Durham area, for the hundred of lemurs you can see at the Duke Primate Center, and there’s a good eats in Durham.

    You might enjoy Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon, if you haven’t read it already.

  3. More from Maria:

    Blue Highways is very thick book. Given that it’s about the author’s own driving trip and what he was learning and seeing, maybe your group may wish to give it a dekko before setting off.

    that said, I carried enough reading materials in a box in our car that I could have been doing a PhD thesis with it. Big mistake, I barely cracked any of them open. And this was back in the 90s, before we all carried tiny Internet-ready devices on our persons.

    If you think of staying in Yellowstone, for example at that amazing giant log structure, you have to book that months in advance. I know this becos the ex and I (not Aadi, this was a Brazilian guy from here at the UN) loved the trip so much we wanted to go do it again the next year.

    We made the mistake the first time of booking ourselves into some little motel in West Yellowstone, Montana, that actually had a curfew (!) and you can hear us on the video tape saying, as we were stuck in a traffic jam of bison and bison babies “We gotta get going or we won’t be able to get into the hotel!” Meanwhile, when we arrived at Yellowstone, we saw this staggering, incredible several story-high log structure and we were consumed with regret that we didn’t know beforehand.

    Also, if going to South Dakota, be sure to include time in the Badlands. They are BEAUTIFUL, kinda a bit like the Grand Canyon but without the crowds. For South Dakota related films, you have “North by Northwest” and “Dances with Wolves”.

    We went in June, for the whole month, and it was PERFECT. It was warm enough, but never too hot, and we were able to avoid the crazy thunder and lighting storms and all that tend to roll in as the weather gets hotter.

  4. From Antoine in San Francisco:

    Sounds really cool — I think you should make it to Louisiana, sample the food and the french music — looking forward to the California “etapes” —

  5. From JP, Edison, NJ:

    Lovely! A blog for the trip. Terrific idea, for anyone who wants to repeat or know more about places in US!

    Here are a few things that are on top of my mind (in this area), most of which you may already be aware of:

    * Safari in NJ/PA border. Except Lions/Tigers, almost all animals are out in the open. Six Flags Wild Safari.

    * NYC: Journey to the Stars show at American Museum of Natural History.

    * NJ Aquarium in Camden, NJ. Has a 4D theater, touch-a-shark, underwater Shark Realm.

  6. From IG in Philly:

    atanu, amazing idea. i fully endorse this kind of tripping. 🙂 i probably won’t know till march second week what my summer scene is. but i’ll be in touch. if i can join, it will probably be for a stretch only, but you know that my home in philly is always open to visitors – you and your road trip crew can crash here any time you want, even when i am not here (door is always left open).

  7. From RP in Sunnyvale, CA:


    I plan to enjoy this trip vicariously through your blog.

  8. [From NG in Toronto, Canada:]

    Atanu, I think this is a great project. I do have a few ideas.

    National Parks I suggest you include:
    – Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Its among the best, I believe. I also suggest you park the vehicle and the group spend two days hiking the Appalachian Trail. The Trail runs from North Carolina to Maine, however, the portion that runs through Shenandoah is one of the best places to dip your toes into it. It is an American institution. Suggested reading: A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson.

    – Big Bend National Park, Texas
    – Glacier National Park, Montana

    Cities I suggest you visit:
    – Missoula, Montana
    – Austin, Texas. Unofficial city motto: “Keep Austin Weird”. How could you not go. Also, as a resident of the place for six years, I highly recommend it.
    – Fargo, Minnesota

    While I know this is slightly outside the scope of your project, I would like to suggest a visit to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City. Especially the French speaking areas of Canada. I think it would be interesting to show, and experience the contrast of a francophone, old-European style city just a few hours drive from Boston.
    Toronto would be a good place to visit as well, especially if you’re coming to Niagara, its about an hour and fifteen minutes away. same with Seattle-Vancouver.

    I think you should join and use a website such as Couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing is a great way to meet interesting, usually progressive, people in the places you visit. It can be hard to meet people while traveling, this is a great tool. You don’t have to stay with them, you can use it just to meet people for a drink and a chat.

    Thats all I have for now, but I’m sure more will occur to me, I’ll be back.

    • Mr Hoopyfrood:

      Thanks for the suggestions.

      We are not likely to go through Texas, unfortunately.

      I have considered hopping over to Toronto when visiting the Niagara Falls. And of course, we will certainly cross over to Vancouver BC when we are around Seattle.

      I will post this to Couchsurfing too. Thanks for the reminder.


  9. Hi Atanu….Trip sounds like a fabulous experience waiting to happen. Am sorely tempted to join the bandwagon but have to see how my schedule pans out.. Meanwhile, will be keeping myself updated on the happenings through this blog….Good Luck, Shefali

  10. Suggestion – if possible, do try to make time for something like a 1-2/hr tweet-up (of like-minded folks w or w/o political discussions) in your pit-stops. In any case, would be great to meet you.
    (My location – Chicago, just in case :D).

  11. My suggestions would be to:

    1. Weave in Sequoia National Park / Muir Woods at the 70% mark. You have probably visited these parks when you were in the bay area, but one can never look past these timeless woods. In my opinion, all the other places pale in “importance”. These parks are home to some extremely old, living trees as you know. Majestic life, with some celebrated trees comfortably dating to before the birth of Jesus (e.g. General Sherman at Giant Forest / Seqoia). When I first encountered these old veterans, it gave me a whole new perspective of the hubris of these infant religions. Now how can *you* not pay obeisance to ’em trees :).

    2. Take the path less traveled for the final 30%. Not the US entirely, nevertheless: California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, The Yukon Territory, Alaska. Alaska is the most wondrous of them all, in spite of you-know-who and the trip should end there, officially drawn to a close under your first spotless Alaskan summer night. Actually spending just one night in nature under the Alaskan skies is impossible – I dare you to call it closed after the first night 🙂


  12. For 3500$ ..assume 4500 USD incl airfare for 35 days is a fuckin steal (not just on your per capita GDP time eqv of cost but also by literal conversion).. you cant do this even in India by renting a van. I wish I were a part of this trip. I am incidentally in the US in the said period but not on paid holiday but to slog for my client. In fact being an avid hiker myself, this is like a day dream for me and you are making it happen. I envy it. Will this trip ever happen again. Are there any escort groups that conduct such tours with the same spirit (without the typical chindigiri that tour operators show)

    Please share some tips on how to enjoy with sponsors money (who to ask for and what do I need to explain). I dont mind planning one of my own with some friends right here from India.

    • Yes, Loknath, I am sure that this trip will have a re-run. On a different note, we don’t have any sponsors right now but the next trip I am sure will have some after seeing the results of this trip.

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