Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Ultimate Road Trip

With my son in California for three weeks, it left us with a quandary about what to do with our summer vacation. While the thought of taking off on our own without him was tempting, it didn’t seem fair to him if we went someplace he should see. That’s when my wife got the idea to drive out to California to get him. Since I can’t take more than two weeks at a time, we first had to check the logistics. We had to be in Palo Alto by Friday morning when the session finished. After some triage on places to see we finally ended up with this itinerary:

Saturday:Drive as far west as possible. Get at least past Indianapolis.
Sunday: Tour the Arch in St. Louis. End the day in Kansas City.
Monday: Drive across Kansas. Reach Denver.
Tuesday: Cross the Continental Divide from Denver to Salt Lake City
Wednesday: Go from Denver to Reno.
Thursday: Get an oil change. Press on to Palo Alto and visit an old high school friend in San Jose.
Friday: Pick-up my son and drive to Las Vegas via Pasadena.
Saturday: Go to the Grand Canyon via the Hoover Dam.
Sunday: Tour the Grand Canyon.
Monday: Drive to El Paso.
Tuesday: Drive to San Antonio.
Wednesday: Tour the Alamo. Drive to Dallas.
Thursday: Drive to Memphis.
Friday: Visit Graceland.
Saturday: Arrive home.
Fifteen days and over 7000 miles. An epic road trip that I’m not sure whether or not I’m crazy for trying. I guess if you have to ask, you already know the answer. We are taking all our electronic toys with us, so this should be the best documented trip we have ever been on. I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing, but at the very least I will try to post some updates and a picture or two. We intend to get an WiFi account so that we can check e-mail and such along the way.

The trip should be a good test of family harmony. I will come back with or without a kid and either still married or looking for a good attorney.

Blatant Trip Advice Soliciting™: Given our very brisk pace, is there anything along the way that I shouldn’t miss? I'm particularly interested in good places to eat, especially barbeque, chili, or other local variations.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

If you have time, make sure you watch the movie (first) about how they built the arch in St. Louis. Going up to the top is cool but the movie completes the history.

Anonymous said...

Palo Alto to Vegas by way of Pasadena is quite a detour. (Let me guess, you want to visit Cal Tech.) Heading east over the Donner Pass and Tahoe would be a lot shorter. TBH, I can't think of any reasonable schedule that won't dump you in the massive east-bound parking lot known as Friday afternoon rush hour.

There's lots of nice restaurants in Pasadena, but if you're looking to go not too expensive, there are three different burger chains that define SoCal: In-n-Out Burger ( seriously, that isn't porn spam or anything), for my taste a little overspiced, but the shakes are excellent, several restaurants are visible from the 210; Fattburger (can't find a website), the name refers to both size and content; and Tommy's ( with fantastic chili burgers, chili fries, etc.

Anonymous said...

- The best BBQ in town is M&Ds (2004 E 28th Ave Denver, CO 80205)
- The best Denver taqueria is El Taco de Mexico (714 Santa Fe Dr Denver, CO 80204)
- Best late night dining choices are Racines (650 Sherman Street, Denver CO 80203) for not-so-late dining (like 11pm) and Jerusalem (1890 E Evans Ave Denver, CO 80210).
- Devil's Food Bakery is a pretty good breakfast place (1024 S. Gaylord St.
Denver, CO) as is Zaidy's (121 Adams St. Denver, CO)

Also, the local free rag ( has a particularly awesome food critic.

yellojkt said...

DemetriosX: Bingo on the CalTech side trip. We never made it to Pasadena when we were in the LA area three years ago. I'm wanting to do the desert section of the ride as late in the day as possible, but rush hour is a fear. In-N-Out is on the must-do list. The California-only mystique has us suckered in.

adouble: The Washington Post did a hit-and-run dining article on Denver Sunday and recommended Snooze for breakfast. Both it and your idea sound good. I will have to check which is closer. We are staying very close to The Tattered Cover so I can buy a tee-shirt there.

Anonymous said...

When near KC, check out Jess and Jim's
and while in Dallas, try The Buther Shop
(this is assuming that you like meat)

Anonymous said...

Yello, you don't seem to have a heck of a lot of time for touristy stuff or dining! Methinks there will be lots of road food and "whatever's open" at daily destination.

At the Grand Canyon, in summer it might be too much to go down and back in one day even if everyone is pretty fit. The trail down Bright Angel to Plateau Point is do-able (it only took me about four hours round trip incl lunch, but that was in Dec and I was very fit at the time).

Depending on your NM route, historic Santa Fe is nice. Los Alamos is neat, but a little out of the way even if you're going to Santa Fe.

In San Antonio, stay downtown if you can. The River Walk has a lot of great dining spots. Take the little cruise.

In Dallas, the Texas Book Depository (called the Sixth Floor Museum IIRC) has a neat JFK museum that doesn't take long.

Have you considered Houston and Space Center Houston instead of the Dallas route?

Poor Oklahoma and Kentucky. They look so lonely on your map.

Pixel said...

When doing a similar trek, I stopped to see the Carlsbad Caverns. I'm pretty sure they're not too far from El Paso (distances being relative where there's such a huge stretch of NOTHING.)

I personally thought they were fabulous and totally worth the detour. YMMV.


yellojkt said...

SoC: We will be near the Riverwalk. I'm dying to see that. It looks so nice in pictures. The choices were Houston - New Orleans or Dallas - Memphis. Since we've been to New Orleans, I pulled rank and voted for Graceland.

pixel: I would love to see Carlsbad Caverns. The Grand Canyon - El Paso leg is our longest driving day and it may just be out of reach, but I hope maybe.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you're in Pasadena and a book lover, you can either drop down to South Pas to visit Book 'em (if you like mysteries) or jump up to Colorado Blvd. and cruise west. Not only is this where the (in)famous little old lady did her drag racing /which is why there is now a stoplight on every corner), but there are (or were) a couple of decent tiny used bookstores and Vroman's which is the oldest independent bookstore in SoCal. Not Powell's, but nice enough and they still have the weight to pull in book signings that send lines around the block.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the trip looks a little nuts to me, but hope you'll have fun! KC is famous for barbequed ribs - it's been too long since I've been there to recommend a specific spot. I was in Wichita last year - had great barbeque there (can't remember the name - but I bet almost anywhere in Kansas is good). Vegas - The Bellagio - I wouldn't go out of my way for - Hoover Dam is impressive. I've been to SA's Riverwalk - was a bit put off by how easy it is to fall *in* the river when it's crowded. The Alamo was underwhelming to me too, but interesting history. Personally, I'd avoid Texas and go through OK!


Your Mother said...

The only real advice I have is to make sure you check the local weather/news along the way. Only recently was the road going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (via Hoover) opened due to a wild fire. Tis the season and I know that we still have a few burning.

trusty getto said...

For a real taste of Denver, stop at the Wynkoop Brewery in LoDo. You can also get a book on the next block at the Tattered Cover Book Store, a Denver must-visit.

Anonymous said...

Just a few miles west of Salina, Kansas, six or so, there is the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure (see website), which is really quite exceptional.

Anonymous said...

In Kansas City, my favorite is Danny Edwards Famous BBQ, a real dump with great food. 1227 Grand Avenue, downtown. Gates is also good with several locations around town. In Austin, the County Line has good bbq and even better homemade bread or the Salt Lick for atmosphere and pretty good food. No air conditioning there so go on a mild day and it is located outside of Austin proper, can't remember the name of the town. River Walk in San Antonio is great, be careful after dark though. Oh, almost forgot, you might consider staying in a hotel near the Plaza in KC, an outdoor shopping area on Brush Creek. Have a great trip.

J.Po said...

Yikes! Quite the itinerary - will you even have time to eat?

Can't offer much in the way of suggestions, just offer good luck and best wishes, and look forward to updates!

Anonymous said...

A couple more In-n-Out items. First, be prepared to sit in your car for a while. There's usually quite a line, though they go more quickly than you might think.

Second, if you're really hungry or since you're going to have a teenage boy in the backseat, you can try asking for a 4X4. I don't know if they still do this, but this is basically a double Double-Double (i.e. 4 patties and 4 slices of cheese). It isn't on the menu, but insiders know.

Anonymous said...

One more thing. When we went through El Paso we also arrived fairly late. There is a scenic drive (oh boy, more driving) that doesn't take long where you get a very good view of El Paso and Juarez across the river.

I know you've done some long driving but if you haven't tried one of those seat covers with the beads, give it a try. Good for the long days.

Elizabeth said...

If you get tired, pull over! Do drive drowsy!
Safe travels!

Elizabeth said...

Ooops, that was supose to be DON'T drive drowsy!!

Mooselet said...

Having just got back from my own not-nearly-as-long vacation, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy it! It's now I realize how much I miss American highways to allow you to travel so far in so short a time.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to stop and tour your birth place when you go through West Texas - Big Spring. Your son will be impressed that you have become so urbane when your birth place is out in the sticks.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to the Star Trek exhibit at the Las Vegas Hilton? It's kind of cheesy, but fun. I went with a Star Trek fanatic who's a colleague of mine. She made us go on the rides - I survived both, but I was pretty nauseuous on one (the Klingon one, I think).

Good luck - I'm getting thirsty just thinking about this trip!