The Dream Road Trip

For the first time in a long time it’s nice out today. No rain. No wind. It’s beautiful in San Francisco. It feels like summer for the first time this year. People are graduating, school is out. Unlike many people, when the weather gets nice, I want to leave.

Where would I go, you ask? On an adventure.

A road trip!

The perfect summer vacation for me is not sitting on a beach. It’s not a pool somewhere. It’s not even a cold drink. It’s the open road. It may have something to do with the way I was raised. My father was a travelling salesman, selling golf bags throughout the Rocky Mountain region. He had a high top van that was a mobile salesroom, carrying golf bags, apparel and accessories. From the time I was born until I had to be in school I travelled with him (and my mom too). By the time I was five I’d see more states than many Americans ever do. That time, though a distant memory, I think instilled in me a wanderlust. But a specific type, the need to hit the highway.

I have been on my fair share of road trips since. Hell, in college I was on the road as soon as classes were over most weekends. I was often headed to Ellensburg, WA, to hang out with my fellow writers here at Third and 7. Shorter than many, but still a road trip. There have been some other notable road trips too: one to Denver to see Aerosmith, which included backstage passes (insane for an 18-year-old) and a few trips from Los Angeles to Spokane or Seattle, moving.

For years I have dreamed of an epic road trip. One unlike any other. The route often changes, but there are a few parameters:

  • As many states as possible
  • Another country
  • Swimming in both oceans
  • As few highways as possible/staying on one road as long as possible
  • One way in the north, the other direction in the south
  • Music – live music in as many cities as possible
  • At least one other person to share the driving, stories, sights – someone to hold the map and the camera, someone to argue music with, someone to mock as they sleep in the passenger seat and someone to suggest stopping to see some silly over priced attraction

So here’s my idea of a near perfect road trip. It’s a beast. Nearly 8,000 miles in 23 days. Nearly 129 total driving hours at an average of 60 mph. Check out the route below, along with some commentary. I fully intend to take this, or a similar trip some day.


Day

Route

Miles

Time

Route

1

Seattle > Missoula

476

7:36

This is a great way to start an epic road trip – three states in one day. It’s a pretty easy drive, lots of different scenery.

2

Missoula > Cody, WY

411

7:06

Day two is scheduled for 7 hours of drive time, but it’s actually a longer day. There is a lot to see in Yellowstone, and often slow going due to American Bison and tourists. Up early for this one, maybe to see the sun rise over the Grand Tetons.

3

Cody > Reliance, SD

581

9:17

Some pretty passes here, but lots of Badlands.

4

Reliance > Chicago

720

11:54

Crossing the first major river on day 4, the Missouri, as well as all of Minnesota. This is the longest day on the drive. I think each road trip needs one day that is grueling, one to test you. This is that day.

5

Chicago > Toronto

521

9:01

Next up, a reasonable day, but exciting as we cross into Canada.

6

Toronto > New York City

476

8:23

Past Niagra Falls, I’m sure with a stop, and on to New York City. Couple days here to explore and relax after six days, two coasts and 3,185 miles.

9

New York City > Raleigh

490

8:52

Heading south to Raleigh, pretty simple day. Likely a quick stop in DC to see some monument or another, maybe a drive down the National Mall past the White House.

10

Raleigh > Nashville

543

8:34

Over the Appalachians (near the Cumberland Gap) and on to the musical portion of the trip, Nashville.

12

Nashville > Memphis

212

3:29

Two nights in Nashville then the shortest day of the trip as we head to Memphis.

14

Memphis > New Orleans

406

6:46

After two nights in Memphis its on to New Orleans. It’s a pretty quick day, but covers three states, including all of Mississippi.

16

New Orleans > Austin

509

8:27

Couple nights in New Orleans, then on to Austin. Quite a lot of flat today, but the promise of bar-b-que and live tunes are enough to carry us through. Timing for my dream road trip would probably be built out in either direction from these days, based on who was playing. Seriously. www.Pollstar.com is consulted for all trips.

18

Austin > Amarillo, TX

507

8:44

Today’s stretch includes at least one bit of road that is perfectly straight… for 30 miles. It’s also almost totally state highway.

19

Amarillo > Albuquerque

288

4:33

More of the same today. We can probably tie the wheel to the door and take a nap. These two days of driving are all about the roadside attraction.

20

Albuquerque > Grand Junction, CO

383

7:11

Some serious mountains today. A pretty drive.

21

Grand Junction > West Wendover,

NV

405

6:41

North through the mountains, across Utah and past the great Salt Lake. There will be a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats to admire, then a quick drive into Wendover. They filmed Con Air here, but more importantly this is where the Enola Gay took off from, loaded with one of two nuclear weapons to be used in war.

22

West Wendover > Pendelton, OR

521

8:42

At this point in the trip it’s all boring and just a mission to get home.

23

Pendelton > Seattle

283

4:33

Shorter day, but the home stretch.

23 Days

Totals

7,732

129h 49m

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