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  #1  
Old 01-05-2013, 12:15 PM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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2 weeks to get from Denver to Orlando - which route to take?

Hey I'm planning to do a cross country trip this August/September. 1 month travelling in total.
The first two weeks we'll probably spent between L.A. and Denver, going to Vegas and through the National Parks of CA and the Southwest... I've already been to those states before, so theres no problem choosing the itinerary for that part. From Denver on this is going to be a solo-road-trip and I'm not sure on where to go from there.
My idea was heading up through the Tetons to Yellowstone, then to Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands etc. The rest of the trip could roughly be St. Louis - Nashville - Great Smokey Mountains - Charleston - Savannah - Orlando.

Which route would you take if you had the freedom of having nothing but your vehicle and about two weeks to cross half the country? travelling along the Gulf Coast? north through Chicago? The trip can also still end at any other major airport on the east coast if thats necessary for taking a more interesting route. (somehow I feel that no matter which way one goes it's probably going to be awesome)
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:29 PM
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Great Smoky Mountains for sure.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:30 PM
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Denver - Moose Jaw - Halifax. I've driven enough in the USA already.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by NoMercy346 View Post
somehow I feel that no matter which way one goes it's probably going to be awesome
I70 between Denver and St Louis would be so boring that could make you cry.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:27 PM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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I70 between Denver and St Louis would be so boring that could make you cry.
other than to make some time on the part between South Dakota and St Louis I plan to spend as much time off the interstates as possible
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:52 PM
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Drive down south to the i40 instead of i70. It nearly took a day to just to drive thru Kansas on i70 and bored to death.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:25 PM
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I've driven to and from Denver (from Tampa Bay Area and back). Will have to look at a map and see what route we took. We took two different routes. The way up we took a more west then north route. The way back (Denver to Tampa) we went out east and then south (didn't care for that as much as I recall).


Ill see if I can figure out what route we took. (Was back in 2006)

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Old 01-05-2013, 04:28 PM
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Unless you have constraints:

Farther south should net warmer weather. Nashville, Savannah and Charleston are great choices. Atlanta has a huge amount of things to see also. The BMW factory in Spartanburg and BMW Performance Center are worth stopping for.

Saint Augustine is worth a day or two.

Why end in Orlando?
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:35 PM
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The only thing I could think of Orlando is Disney's World.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:57 AM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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Orlando just appeared to be the most convenient airport to fly back to Europe, considering the current itinerary. don't care about the theme parks

the trip could end at any major hub on the east coast... ATL, CLT, ... doesn't really matter. Most other airports would also require me to head back inland quite a bit after reaching the Atlantic.

btw: did anyone stay in the cabins in Yellowstone? how good are they? seems like staying outside the park really cuts into your available time
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:15 AM
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if you're in the tetons, badlands area - you really should take in Devils tower I think.

If I was you, I'd try and stick to the top half of the country on one side (west) so Oregon/Idaho - and then cut down through Denver and go south - being that this is a BMW forum, I'd do Spartanburg BMW factory tour - and like you said, go Orlando or even Miami to head back to Europe - this strategy would leave you the option of doing the trip again and doing the opposite - start on the south-west, do vegas/grand-canyon, head through Denver and go North on the eastern side - thinking Chicago, great-lakes ending up around Boston/NYC to fly back.

1 month is a long trip - but when you consider how vast the nation is - you're going to seeing such a small snapshot still... I'd also tie it to a theme - we're foodies, so we try to do local food/beer where-ever we go - and I would tie my trip around breweries and food destinations... but it is whatever floats your boat I guess.. if you're into something other than BMWs, it might provide a secondary destination each day... my advice would be to have flexibility in your plans - and stay off the main routes -eat at family owned places - look for full parking lots when it comes to food destinations and ASK locals - often a much better recommendation than yelp or some other website.. but be up-front - as in "I like X, but don't like Y - do you have any recommendations for me?"

When you get into rural USA - you're going to find a lot of people who haven't traveled far from their home spot (in my experience) - if you need a good recommendation of somewhere the next state over - ask a trucker - if it's food/beer - ask one with a big belly... the skinny ones are probably popping pills and might be serial killers.... j/k
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:05 AM
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NoMercy346:
Few questions to help define your situ:
-rental car or your own? (I suspect rental.)
-good handling car or just one to get you point to point?
-Want to drive some excellent 2 lane black top roads getting to next 'point', or just cover ground?
-In your trip from LA to LV, then 'Denver', you have passed some great country...
-Denver back north and west to Yellowstone, is 600 miles and missing some of really good stuff in western CO and SW Wyoming, imo.
-What have you seen, vs haven't?

Fwiw, we did a 2 month, 13,000 mile Road Trip a summer ago, and hit a dozen Nat parks, 35 states, etc. Some serious GOOG maps planning will save you backtracking, allow for hitting spots that didn't come to mind, getting a feel for the distances and huge size, etc.

Post #1 in this thread is a brief recap and pics of a trip we did:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...652&highlight=

More info from you might help in offering ideas...
GL, mD
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:58 AM
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An alternative is to head south. Taos, Santa Fe, White Sands, Carlsbad, Austin, San Antonio, Gulf Coast, New Orleans
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:19 PM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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first of all thanks for all of your input! I'm trying to model my itinerary around your tips, right now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wyb View Post
1 month is a long trip - but when you consider how vast the nation is - you're going to seeing such a small snapshot still...
+1 on that... one reason I'll probably not go to the northeast/NY as I won't have enough time to spend in NYC, let alone D.C etc.
Guess it's a more relaxed trip to just enjoy the drive through the country in the southeast, visiting smaller cities along the way that do not require multiple day stays in the way NYC does.


if you need a good recommendation of somewhere the next state over - ask a trucker - if it's food/beer - ask one with a big belly... the skinny ones are probably popping pills and might be serial killers.... j/k
Quote:
Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
NoMercy346:
Few questions to help define your situ:
-rental car or your own? (I suspect rental.)

yup, rental

-good handling car or just one to get you point to point?
-Want to drive some excellent 2 lane black top roads getting to next 'point', or just cover ground?

I'll go with an SUV again. Anything interesting to drive would cost a fortune from Hertz' prestige/adrenalin collection, especially on a one way rental, so I'm going with room and comfort. Plus I love the feel a big BOF truck on a trip like this.. I'm still figuring out whether I should take the hit in rental cost and mileage to step up to a Tahoe/similar from the usual selection of mommy mobiles you get these days in the lower categories
I'm still up for some good scenic drives, though! Just logging mile after mile on the Interstate isn't really my thing.


-In your trip from LA to LV, then 'Denver', you have passed some great country...
-Denver back north and west to Yellowstone, is 600 miles and missing some of really good stuff in western CO and SW Wyoming, imo.

thought I'd make an overnight stop somewhere around Riverton, WY am I missing much scenery, not heading up the 191 instead?

-What have you seen, vs haven't?

I've been to most of the usual attractions of CA, AZ and southern UT. My brother has not and he only has two weeks of vacation to spend. For me this is revisiting some places I haven't had a lot of time for the last time around, as well as some new stuff (northern UT, CO) Also, job wise, this could be my last opportunity for a trip this long in quite a while so it's quite fitting to pack some of this country's most beutiful places into my ultimate cross country road trip
Current plan is to fly into L.A. head up the PCH then inland to Yosemite, Death Valley on to Vegas. From there on continue to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page, Bryce Canyon, Moab, passing Black Canyon of the Gunnison and across the Rockies to Denver... This is where my solo-adventure starts. (right we're missing SFO, Zion NP etc. but you can only fit so much into two weeks....)
From here on out everything everything is new to me except south FL which is why I don't feel the need to go any further south than Orlando.


Fwiw, we did a 2 month, 13,000 mile Road Trip a summer ago, and hit a dozen Nat parks, 35 states, etc. Some serious GOOG maps planning will save you backtracking, allow for hitting spots that didn't come to mind, getting a feel for the distances and huge size, etc.

Post #1 in this thread is a brief recap and pics of a trip we did:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...652&highlight=

I was admiring your pics back when you posted that thread, it actually helped me convince myself to finally do my own . Must have been an awesome trip.

doing 13,000 mi in two months, did you often feel you are rushing through/missing out on things? I'm figuring 6-7,000 mi for my one month trip so I'm in the same ballpark in terms of mi/day.

More info from you might help in offering ideas...
GL, mD
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2013, 05:31 PM
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An alternative is to head south. Taos, Santa Fe, White Sands, Carlsbad, Austin, San Antonio, Gulf Coast, New Orleans
Taos and Santa Fe FTW. Awesome places to visit.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:28 PM
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Unless you have constraints:

Farther south should net warmer weather. Nashville, Savannah and Charleston are great choices. Atlanta has a huge amount of things to see also. The BMW factory in Spartanburg and BMW Performance Center are worth stopping for.

Saint Augustine is worth a day or two.

Why end in Orlando?
He's travelling in August/September, so the warmer weather in the South might actually be a negative. It can be brutally hot that time of year in a lot of the South with some places being extremely humid besides. I'd take advantage of the time of year and do the northern route.

From Denver head north, hit the sights in Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, Chicago, etc. Maybe go all the way across to Maine, and then head south along the coast, flying out of Boston or NYC.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NoMercy346 View Post

the trip could end at any major hub on the east coast... ATL, CLT, ... doesn't really matter. Most other airports would also require me to head back inland quite a bit after reaching the Atlantic.
JFK / EWR / PHL each solve that problem. If Sept, I'd try to grab some fall foliage in NH/VT and fly out of Boston.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:01 PM
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NoMercy,
RE:
"+1 on that... one reason I'll probably not go to the northeast/NY as I won't have enough time to spend in NYC, let alone D.C etc.
Guess it's a more relaxed trip to just enjoy the drive through the country in the southeast, visiting smaller cities along the way that do not require multiple day stays in the way NYC does."

I agree on your decision to pass on Gotham or DC, unless it was a chance to see friends and/or you have more time.

..."yup, rental

I'll go with an SUV again. Anything interesting to drive would cost a fortune from Hertz' prestige/adrenalin collection, especially on a one way rental, so I'm going with room and comfort. Plus I love the feel a big BOF truck on a trip like this.. I'm still figuring out whether I should take the hit in rental cost and mileage to step up to a Tahoe/similar from the usual selection of mommy mobiles you get these days in the lower categories
I'm still up for some good scenic drives, though! Just logging mile after mile on the Interstate isn't really my thing."

Unless you really need the room, I would pick a smaller suv, maybe a RAV4 or Hyundai Tucson or the like. Will handle better, decent room, better mpg, and it's not like you will be carving corners anyway. Speaking of corners, there are a couple dozen+ fabulous 2 lane blacktops we managed to spend considerable time and cover long distance on...GOOG maps is your friend, or I can rattle some off at you in a later post or PM, as you get closer.

..."thought I'd make an overnight stop somewhere around Riverton, WY am I missing much scenery, not heading up the 191 instead?"
191 is a good route, up into Jackson Hole, then Teton NP, then up into Yellowstone. Yellowstone is packed, on most roads, all summer however. For a drive through with a few stops, it's OK. For finding good stuff, away from the crowds, takes some study, and some hiking, and some time. If you wander through YS toward the 'north entrance/exit', I highly recommend taking the Chief Joseph Highway/WY State Rt 296 for a couple hours, from YS down toward Cody: one of the best roads we drove. And/or hit the Beartooth Highway and Pass, from just north of YS back into MT: an empty road with 12 ft of snow on each shoulder and true alpine conditions even in mid summer, though the road is usually clear, with thousands of fine sweeper curves. That may put you further north than you would be in mid-Colorado, but you are probably pointing east by then, anyway...so, zoom over to Devil's Tower, Badlands and Black Hills of SD, Mt Rushmore, and toward MN, or WI, or IL and the middle east.

-What have you seen, vs haven't?

"I've been to most of the usual attractions of CA, AZ and southern UT. My brother has not and he only has two weeks of vacation to spend. For me this is revisiting some places I haven't had a lot of time for the last time around, as well as some new stuff (northern UT, CO) Also, job wise, this could be my last opportunity for a trip this long in quite a while so it's quite fitting to pack some of this country's most beutiful places into my ultimate cross country road trip
Current plan is to fly into L.A. head up the PCH then inland to Yosemite, Death Valley on to Vegas. From there on continue to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page, Bryce Canyon, Moab, passing Black Canyon of the Gunnison,
Black Canyon is really worth the stop; try to hit it in late afternoon: a mini Grand Canyon with no fences or rules, and no people.
and across the Rockies to Denver... This is where my solo-adventure starts. (right we're missing SFO, Zion NP etc. but you can only fit so much into two weeks....)
From here on out everything everything is new to me except south FL which is why I don't feel the need to go any further south than Orlando."

"I was admiring your pics back when you posted that thread, it actually helped me convince myself to finally do my own . Must have been an awesome trip."
Thank you for the compliment; it was remarkable. We had done several similar/shorter length trips on an m'cycle several times in the '90s, but this trip was 4 fast wheels and lots of time, with nowhere to be...

..."doing 13,000 mi in two months, did you often feel you are rushing through/missing out on things? I'm figuring 6-7,000 mi for my one month trip so I'm in the same ballpark in terms of mi/day." Not really pressed: we had our must dos, wanna dos, and 'hey that spot looks good'. Our only schedule was getting to the boat in Vancouver for the AK cruise. Your plan of that mileage, in that time frame, is reasonable, esp if you blow through some of the middle/eastern middle states, heading back toward the Right Coast.

Motels are best grabbed later in afternoon, easily done by smartphone, on that motel's site, or calling a few near your nightly destination; if they are near full, the site is better than calling, and if they are not full, you can bargain. Be aware that in some of the western touristy/scenic places= the motels of any level, are packed every night, all summer. Wifi is ubiquitous, even in the cheap joints, for checking email, planning routes, etc. GOOG maps is the deal. I would rec'd buying a season pass at your first Nat Park: it will save you a lot of dough, and works in many state parks, too. That's my $5 worth of travel tips, version...
GL, mD





GL, mD
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:49 PM
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Stay North, young man. Travelling through the South in August / September is a beating unless you like 100 degree weather with 90% humidity. Not much going on as no one wants to go outside unless they have to. If you have never visited Chicago or St Louis, you need to hit both of them. Both are great cities with a lot of unique sights and culture. Minnesota and Wisconsin are beautiful that time of year as well.

Last time I took a driving tour of the Midwest was 2006 when we decided to visit 6 major league ballparks in 9 days, always taking in a museum or other landmark as we traveled. We flew into St. Louis, drove to Chicago (Wrigley, Michigan Ave.), Detroit (Comerica), Toronto (Rogers Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame and Niagra Falls), Cleveland (Jacobs Field and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Chicago again (Comiskey, Science & Industry Museum) and back to STL (Busch Stadium and Gateway Arch). Was also considering Canton (Pro Football Hall of Fame), Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, but those got scratched. Most memorable vacation ever.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:02 PM
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Spend lots of time in southern and central Colorado. I70, 80 and 90 are brutally boring. There is nothing to see in KS, NE or SD. I'd do I 70 to Kansas City then S.E. on Hwy 50 to the Ozarks. Stop at Lake of the Ozarks for a day. Road trip to Cape Girardeau from there. Beautiful forested hills with six national forests and twisty roads Ayrton Senna would dream about. From Girardeau north to St. Louis or South to Memphis.
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:33 AM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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First of all, thx again for all your recommendations... just to give you guys a follow up on our trip and to answer a couple of questions that might come up in the planning of a trip like this:

summary: we had about 1 month time for the whole trip. Luckily I could also get one of my buddies to come with me so we were 3 people on the first leg of the trip and just me and my friend on the second, instead of 2/solo.
It was a really awesome time and a cool experience to boot. Driving cross-country certainly lets you appreciate the diversity the country has to offer in incredible nature as well as different lifestyles/vibes... If you get the chance to do this do it!

Miles per day: Overall we covered about 8800 mi going from the left to the right coast. Longest day was over 700mi from Sioux Falls to St. Louis, with most days averaging 2-300mi and a couple 400mi days. We still had time to stop for photos and do hikes in the parks but you could obviously spend more time in any of the locations but IMO we found a good compromise between having time to explore as well as fitting all the driving into a months time.

Vehicle: I had reserved a Fullsize SUV (Tahoe/similar) and we got a fully loaded Suburban LTZ which again proved to be one of the best choices for a road trip, especially one this long. Comfy ride, quiet, lots of room and features (maybe a little overkill on the 2nd part with only the two of us, haha), 32 gal tank, OK power and not scared of a couple dirt roads. Overall we got 18mpg for the whole trip which is IMO pretty good for a big truck like this. My old ZJ V8 is way smaller and gets around 19 hwy at best. That Suburban does over 22 if you stick to speeds around 70 (which we obviously didn't. ) Economy drops quickly once you go over 80 on the Interstate... Oh yeah it's not that fun to toss around on all those cool mountain passes but that's the trade off that comes with all the other pros.
For the last days in south FL we swapped it for a Challenger R/T which was a refreshing change in terms of style and performance . If we had been only 2 people for the whole trip, this would have made an awesome road trip car as it is still plenty roomy and on the comfortable side for a pony car.

Accomodation: For the first leg and up to Rapid City I had everything booked in advance mostly with free cancellation. This was for one: to save time spent looking for a place to sleep everyday and two: because if you want to stay close to the parks in what is still holiday season this is more or less necessary. From Rapid City on, we used the priceline and Hotel tonight apps on our phones to book the rooms. It gives you lots of flexibility as we were always able to get a good deal on a good hotel and you can just book on the gom when you feel your done for the day around 7pm to 8pm. Also tripadvisor app lets you check the reviews at the same time, so we not once in the whole month had to sleep in a dump or were disappointed with the hotel.
We mostly kept to the better chains (HI Express, Sleep Inn, Hampton Inn etc) because the included breakfast mostly makes up for the difference in price to a cheap Motel and you get nicer rooms, too. With all the priceline deals we were able to score some really good deals on some nicer Hotels (Westin St. Louis Downtown) as well. IMO these 3 apps are a must have on a trip.

Our itinerary with a couple pics thrown in:

We started the trip in L.A. spent some time there and in Orange County





then drove up the coast on the PCH.



After that we went inland to Yosemite. Hiked to the top of Sentinel Dome which has one hell of a view. We also really got lucky with the wildfires as the park closed a couple days later. We already drove through the smoke on the western part of Tioga Pass and could see the fire raging in the distance...



From there we went south along the Sierra and through Death Valley, where we spent the night in one of the cabins in the valley. With only around 110°F it was supposedly a relatively cool day for the Valley.




on to Vegas, doing all the usual Vegas stuff, also went to the Heart Attack Grille



down to the Grand Canyon, where we had some bad luck in terms of weather... lots of rain and t-storms and you couldn't see much of the canyon at all. We altered our plans to go back later, including a huge detour, so my friend could see the GC in the sun as it was his first time there. Also hit an old stretch of Route 66 in AZ with some nostalgic small towns left from the bygone era.



We went to Monument Valley, as well as the Goosenecks State Park and a really cool place called Muley Point where you can drive right up a cliff overlooking Monument valley. The drive up the cliff is a seriously steep climb with lots of switchbacks, all gravel though.



then on to Lake Powell





Bryce Canyon where we did a couple hikes, then north on UT Hwy 12 through Capitol Reef NP to Moab.




This was our base for touring Arches and Canyonlands NP. From there we climbed over the Rockies via Independence Pass and headed to Denver. That's where my brother had to head back home for work again.


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Old 12-16-2013, 10:34 AM
NoMercy346 NoMercy346 is offline
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On what would be one of the longer days, we started to make some time and headed north through Rocky Mountains NP across the Trail Ridge Rd all the way to Riverton, WY. Encountered a huge storm in the middle of nowhere in WY. The sheer endless empty space in WY was mindblowing. This was also one day before the rain and floodings started in CO and it was terrifying to see the places we saw a couple days ago sunny weather now flooded with torrential rain.





Further north to the Grand Tetons and up to Yellowstone.



Spent a couple days there to explore the park, hiking around the geysers etc. We stayed in a cabin in Mammoth Hot Springs.




Next up was Beartooth Pass, down to Cody and east to Buffalo. US14 offers some really good views as you come down the east side of the mountains west of Sheridan and you get your first glimpse of the Great Plains as the big skies open up in front of you.



We went to the usual attractions, Devils Tower and Mt Rushmore. Unfortunately we missed out on the evening show on Mt Rushmore because the whole Black Hills were right in the clouds and the visibility was less than 100 ft which meant you couldn't see any of the presidents from the terrace. This was a real let down and we spent time watching the movies in the visitor center instead. We went back the following morning so we could at least see the monument and were rewarded with some fine weather.



Heading further east on I-80 we stopped at Wall Drug, went to Badlands NP and the Minutemen Missile Facility which is an awesome museum to see some very recent history. You can see the actual Launch facility where the nuclear missiles would have been launched from as well as some silos with the missiles in them. The tour gives some cool info about the life and work of the stationed personel as well as the way this defense system would have worked and works today.




From there on we crossed the plains driving east on I-80 to Sioux Falls, then south on I-29 to Topeka and east to St. Louis. Always leaving the Interstate for some time to get some more miles on two lane country roads and see some of the small towns along the way.



Went up on Gateway Arch and then on to Nashville, again, leaving the Interstate from time to time. Checked out Nashvilles bars an music scene as well as the new Johnny Cash museum and the country hall of fame.



We then headed through rural TN towards the Smokey Mountains, stopping at the Jack Daniels distillery along the way.



Drove across the Smokeys to Charleston and then down to Savannah, cruising down parts of the A1A and ending the trip in Ft Lauderdale / Miami... mostly sightseeing around the cities as well as spending some time at the beaches.






many more pics on my flickr page: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjP3uU5b
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Old 12-23-2013, 12:26 PM
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1985mb 1985mb is offline
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cool photos!
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Old 12-23-2013, 01:01 PM
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Wow, nice! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12-23-2013, 07:19 PM
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What a great trip, and great pics! You've seen more of our country than most Americans ever will.

Next trip you have to start in Alaska or Hawaii.
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