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America. What's good about it?

By neilb@uk ·
My old Mum is 81 (she'll be 82 by October). She's expressed a wish to visit the USA again "one more time" and I'm up for it if she can get some reasonably priced Travel Medical Insurance. She's OK for walks of a mile or so on the flat but hiking is out. Anything else goes. One site holiday, two sites or serious driving are all acceptable. I've driven in Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, Rome, SF, LA and New York and I still have nightmares about Delhi... 500 miles in a day doesn't worry me.

Now, we've done Florida (Disney, Venice, Sarasota, Cocoa Beach, Miami and Key West) so we'll probably not go there. Twenty years ago she and my Dad had a "retirement vacation", driving the West Coast and then inland to the Grand Canyon, etc and repeating some of that is an option (she'd like to see Death Valley).

But, my TR chums, where could we go instead? What is worth seeing? Any tips, gotchas, local knowledge?

I'm looking a three weeks in October after our big Summer project is completed. We don't want it too cold all of the time. Beach is OK but not every day.

Neil

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I have more

by OnTheRopes In reply to America. What's good abou ...

To qualify my response, as a former over-the-road semi-truck driver with just a bit less than 750K miles under my... air bag, I?ve been in all of the lower 48 states several times over.

I can say that all of the suggestions listed here are pretty good.

Texas is a great place to visit. I remember the Alamo! Wahoooo!
The San Antonio river-walk IS a great experience. I?m not too sure I?d wander too far in the wrong direction at night though, meaning anyplace EXCEPT the river-walk, even safely ensconced in a locked car. Try it and you?ll see what I mean.

The ?Stockyards? and the shopping on the boardwalk in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are a must see. Billybob?s Bar there is supposedly the largest bar in the world. It?s so big they have an indoor rodeo arena. Get the beef ribs and have a beer there for lunch. Buy some ridiculously expensive boots afterwards.

Take a ride along the beaches of Corpus Christi in your rental car. Just don?t chase the waves back into the ocean and get caught by them because it voids your insurance or so I understand. <cough>

BTW, has anyone ever met a Texan who didn?t tell you they were from Texas sometime within the first 15 minutes of your meeting them? Is that even possible?

Almost anywhere in the Tennessee Valley is awesome. There are some of the best roads throughout TN as any you?ll find in the USA. They know how to build beautiful roads and maintain the natural beauty in the Valley and north on I-75 on the way to Michigan.
The Lake Cumberland area in KY is about as laid back as you can find anywhere. They have strict development laws along the lake so that from the water, for the most part, you feel like you?re looking at undeveloped land. I?ve spent quite some time there, around Somerset, KY, as a guest in the lakeside log-home of a friend in my other incarnation as a Corporate Engineer. Houseboats are THE thing on the lake. A visit to the Lake should include at least one trip into the Daniel Boone National Park and Cumberland Falls to view the ?Moon Bow?, one of the very few places in the world where you can see a rainbow at night.
Be sure to visit the Dupont Lodge near the falls for a fantastic meal or buffet.

The state of Vermont and New Hampshire ARE America. Don?t Tread on Me!
You can get a clean, full-service hotel room (not a motel room) within just a couple of blocks from the Governors residence in Vermont for much less than $100.00/night. I paid $35.00 a couple of years ago. Walk around anywhere after they roll-up the sidewalks after 8:30PM and feel completely safe. The largest city in VT, Burlington, still has 9,000 people. Crowded huh?

You have to check-out the NH rest area?s/package liquor stores alongside the highways. Remember, don?t drink and drive there because of an as yet unconfirmed report that a citizen has actually seen a state trooper on the highway in VT or NH. You don?t need to the first to present the confirming evidence that VT/NH State-troopers do, in fact, exist.

NH is also the home of the world?s worst weather at Mt. Washington. For a small fee you can drive above the tree line to the weather station at the top of the mountain, if you go when the weather allows it.

I went during the summer, 85F degrees at the bottom and 52F at the top. The road is so narrow in places that you can look out of both sides of your rented car and not be able to see the road on either side. If you haven?t availed yourself of the NH roadside libations the drive up is actually pretty cool. You?ll have a bumper sticker on your rental car telling everybody where you?ve been, as a free souvenir, when you leave.

If you?re already in New England, you might as well drive over to Maine and have a fresh lobster dinner on the Atlantic Ocean beach for about $8.00 ea. If you?re in Maine it?s just a short drive north into the Atlantic time-zone to see the longest covered bridge and scenery in New Brunswick, Canada.

Canada has a lot to offer. You may want to consider a drive through it to Michigan.

Expect fantastic wilderness with readily available liters of gasoline, wonderful friendly people, beautiful stylish women, arts, museums, shopping, moderate traffic and did I mention, neilb, the beautiful stylish women?

You can get to Michigan easily from New Brunswick.

The Washington D.C area is okay if you like people, I mean a LOT of people. Amongst truck drivers, the 495 loop around D.C. is known as the suicide loop and other less flattering names. If you?re in no hurry and have your wits about you, you have a good chance of surviving. Enjoy the common experience of driving 35 miles from the top of the loop to the bottom at the leisurely pace of an average of 8mph for no special reason.

The northeastern states, I?m sure you must know, of CT, MA, RI, MD and (eastern) NY, NJ, West VA, VA and PA are the most populated, per square-mile. The whole I-95 trip south to Florida from the lower part of Maine guarantee?s, (I read it somewhere), that you won?t be more than just a few car or truck length?s from your lemming-like traveling companions.

Regarding New York City: I?ve been in every borough of NYC more times than I care to remember. I have a picture framed on my livingroom wall of the Towers that was taken on 9/10, the day before the s#!t hit it.

The people in NYC are pretty cool on the whole. I?ve never felt in danger there and I?ve walked several parts of Yonkers, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens after midnight. But of course, I may be either ignorant, crazy or stupid.
If you can afford to stay on Manhattan Island or in the Hamptons, go for it. The busy folks around Bedford-New Stuyvesant will cause you to check out housing prices, they?re so friendly. Really!

I think NYC might be too fast in comparison to London though. As they say on Saturday Night Live, (a local TV show) NYC is the most dangerous city in the world. It?s what they say.
London's sleepy or so has been my experience.

Colorado is okay. Wannabe Texans, with hills and snow, if you ask me. Colorado is a great place to be from. Of course, I?ve never been to JD Clyde?s Aunt?s B&B which I?m sure is a wonderful place.

From Seattle, WA to Portland, OR and driving south to the Pacific coast highway is an awesome trip. Many great places to stop. You can even stop to p!$$ on a Redwood if you want, on your way south.

Pay the good Japanese owners of Pebble Beach to take the golf-course tour thru some motion picture celebrity-gated multi-million dollar neighborhoods.

No matter what your orientation, San Francisco, CA and the SF Waterfront are not to be missed. (Los Angeles has all of the lawyers and San Francisco has all of the queers. You know why? San Francisco had first pick.)

You can get a week?s public transport pass in SF for just a few bucks that will let you ride everything, including the BART (google it) and the streetcars.

The Haight-Ashbury district is now the place to go, eat, shop and be seen.

I?ll promise you that you will see stuff in the SF Mission District that you won?t see anywhere else on Earth.
I?ve been to the city by the bay 3x now and? no I?m not.

SF is a great, safe, free-spirited place, kind of like Ann Arbor, Michigan, with some of the best coffee, eats and sour-dough bread you will ever find. Like Ann-Arbor, MI.

Trip out on Hwy 1 when you think you?ve seen a whale off-shore then realize it was just a rock AND when you get to Los Angeles, CA and watch a jumbo jet seemingly cross the highway on the ground in front of you.

LA at night, for me, was always a Latino-American thing with barbed-wire along the building roofs and street sides but my experience may not be typical.

It?s easy to pick up a $250.00 parking ticket there too.

If you drive in CA make sure you know your exit?s road name because they don?t use mile-markers because it would be too easy.

Las Vegas, NV! What can I say? I married my last wife there, with me sober as a judge, and I?m still married to her. She may need therapy but I love her anyway.
Driving or flying into Vegas at night, from any direction is pretty wild. Las Vegas is THE American tourist trap.

I especially like the ride to Las Vegas that goes over Hoover Dam. Look way far down while everybody?s gawking at the tourists and the view so nobody?s watching where they?re going, except for me. I went over the damn dam four times driving a big truck and never hit a thing. I could be your dam guide and show you all of the dam sights.

Hmmm?

I could tell you about a lot of other stuff but it?s getting late and I?m sure you?re bored by now.

If I could TELL you where to go for one last trip to the USA it would BE Michigan.

Traverse City, MI during the Fall season gets booked up fast because of the Fall color. I recommend the Grand Traverse Resort. Choose a Bayside room when they ask. It?s not cheap but life is too damn short after all. There is a 5-star restaurant there and many others close in the city.

There?s a fine music/antique museum just North up the road. You can drive around Traverse City bay, free, (no kidding) for some of the best color you?ll ever see. Go out towards the cherry farms nand lighthouses.

Downtown Traverse City has good theatre.

You?re close to Mackinaw Island and not far from the rugged UP.

The Hartwick Pines Park is the last stand of virgin forest in Michigan with some humongous trees. There are 1000?s of trees that are only knee high but are still over a hundred years old because the deer eat off the tops in the Winter. Say a prayer at the Chapel in the woods.

We have gambling, if you desire, in Mt. Pleasant, MI and as close as Windsor, ON.

Michigan has 1000?s of miles of shoreline to explore. Great Bear dunes, etc.

Travelers insurance can't be too bad, eh?
Life is too short.

My old Mum is 92 and I'd find a way to pay for her trip and insurance to Michigan if she wasn't fortunate enough to live here.

Me bedtime chum.

I have a little bit of local knowledge and can tell you about the other, many good places too if you'd like.

Edited for content and spelling, duh. Where is our spell-checker TR?

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Thanks very much for the effort you put into this

by neilb@uk In reply to I have more

I'll trawl through it and Google it all.

Mum's visiting here first week in May so I'll have a few ideas to kick around.

Neil

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San Francisco and San Diego

by JamesRL In reply to I have more

San Fran has Fishermans Wharf - great seafood, nice chinatown, Ghiradelli's chocolate factory, a very nice place. I stayed in a hotel right in the wharf area and walked most places. You can take a ferry across the bay and see small places like Tiburon, visit the redwood forests, or go to wine country.

San Diego has great weather, lots of things to do, and a nice walkable downtown. You can visit Tijuana easily from there, but thats a mixed bag.

James

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What a GREAT message

by maxwell edison In reply to I have more

I wanna' be a truck driver. Maybe in my next life.

By the way, Texans should stay out of Colorado! There's too danged many of them around here who act like they own the place.

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Try Colorado

by mjd420nova In reply to America. What's good abou ...

I have a favorite spot, located 3 hours drive
from Salt Lake City. It's Dinosaur National
Monument. The displays and wilderness will
astound you and the Fossils are not to be
believed. If you like desolate camping(very
few others around) the Echo Park campground
is my favorite. Just cars and vans for camping,
pickups with campers can't get into the canyon
and there are no RVs.

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Or strap on a 50 pound pack. . . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Try Colorado

....and hike 10-15 miles into the back country. I do that a couple of times a year. I'm sure Neil's mum would be up to it!

Neil, if you choose Colorado, I have dozens of ideas for you.

I even have a spot in mind where I'd buy you a yard of beer!

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For a while now

by mjwx In reply to America. What's good abou ...

I've wanted to bike it (harley) across the US. Probably best to go east to west (I'd lose most of my money in LV).

I probably wont have the money to do this for a year or two but then it's a choice between going to europe or the US.

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A couple of problems for me

by neilb@uk In reply to For a while now

My Mum is 82 so the pillion of a Harley wouldn't suit.

I hate Harleys! I hired one for a couple of days about ten years ago to do some of the Pacific Highway and nearly totalled it on the first real bend. After twenty years on British and Japanese bikes, I couldn't get used to the handling - it's so-o-o-o different.

I can still certainly recommend North to South down the left hand side, though, but across on what bits that are left of Route 66 is the other way to go. I've done some of that but only in a car.

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I've got a bit more experience on a harley,

by mjwx In reply to A couple of problems for ...

But the same is true in reverse

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Wow! I can't believe no one has suggested

by Old Guy In reply to America. What's good abou ...

coming to Memphis, Tennessee! We have Elvis' place here. This is the home of the only U.S. King! B-)

Seriously, though, the mountains in East Tennessee are fantastic. Hope where ever you guys go you have a wonderful time.

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