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Hints and tips for a once in a lifetime US roadtrip


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<p>Have you considered renting a motor home for the trip? I can't imagine cramming 7 people in a Trailblazer for that long. With the motor home you could stay in campgrounds some nights and motels other nights. Southern Utah has amazing scenery. By altering your route slightly, you could see Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and some incredibly beautiful land in between. I agree with the others; don't try to cover so much that it's exhausting and not as fun as it should be. (And carry lots of water in the desert!)</p>
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<p >ouuuf !</p>

<p >I certainly did not expect this quantity and quality of advice!</p>

<p >THANK YOU ALL - GREAT INFORMATION!</p>

<p >I'll be taking some time to digest all this and adjust some of the plans accordingly. One thing is for sure, I didn't make it very clear in the original post, but I will NOT be taking a gun. Am barely able to use my camera properly without offence, can't imagine what a gun would do.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3671344">Sinh Nhut Nguyen</a> - my initial draft was nearer 7k miles, including San Francisco, but trimmed it down. In view of the sterling advice above, seems I need to trim further.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=194894">Michael Liczbanski</a> - I am certainly warming to the idea of flying to Denver and doing a circular trip from there. Need to do some research and Maths. re Death Valley - I've never been to a desert and saw there were some nice looking sand dunes near there. We'd be in that region around the end of June. I "imagined" we'd drive through in half a day or so, but I guess I don't want to endanger my family. My parents are mid 60's, my daughter's 8 and I've 2 boys, 15&16</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=826173">B G</a> - if I fly and hire, then you're right a bigger vehicle would be better</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=18876">Hector Javkin</a> - They told me at work Yosemite was "better" than Yellowstone. i guess if I fly/drive there more chance of getting there in the time allowed. Good advice also on the external DVD writer.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=977570">Luis G</a> - Wow - thanks for all the great info. What do I shoot? - well pretty much anything, but I love shooting people, incognito. Landscapes are something I never really grasped, but am looking forward to practising. Here are some of my pictures: </p>

<p ><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/22979365@N02/show">http://www.flickr.com/photos/22979365@N02/show</a> </p>

<p >Some of the earlier people pictures are better in my opinion than the Chicago building sets.</p>

<p >I will look up the restaurants you recommend. Great advice also about checking out the sites on flickr in advance. I'd not thought of that. </p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3671344">Sinh Nhut Nguyen</a> - noted thanks.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3926720">Bob Howdeshell</a> - great book recommendation. Will be ordered this weekend. Big ball of string is intriguing. California dreaming will be for another time, I agree with you, could spend just a month in that one state alone.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=884211">Robert Budding</a> - CD books are a good idea. Also I bought my wife a portable satellite radio when we moved here, that can be used in a car, so she can listen to the BBC world service (which I had mistakenly always understood was a free worldwide broadcast). Plenty of talk and entertainment shows on there we can listen to.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=321130">Wayne Campbell</a> - well I could have gone in a Porsche to complete the myth...</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=2181741">Jay F</a> - noted. thanks - seems to be the theme.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=2223958">Robert Wyatt</a> - I looked at the Arches. They appear spectacular. I also note your point about increased prices. We'll be looking for 3 rooms per night - Grandparents - Parents - Kids. I budgeted on $100 per room per night. Some may go above, but I reckoned most would be in the $50-100 range. Basic motels (without bed bugs hopefully). I would say we're fairly tolerant unpretentious English-folk, with not huge expectations, just basic cleanliness in a motel will be fine. Certainly not expecting five star hotels at that rate. My concern is booking ahead. Do you think we need to. Advantage - security of booking - disadvantage - tied to a fixed agenda? Thoughts?</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=18876">Hector Javkin</a> - One week - did you get lost? (joke) Compared to living in America, going from London to Hebrides and back, is just like a trip to the next big town over here :-)</p>

<p >When I was young I went on a cruise round the outer Hebrides. Very cold, but a great trip.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=1562370">Stephen Lewis</a> - yes. Could also be a huge nightmare. But hopefully nothing a bottle of red won't resolve every night.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=348138">J. W. Wall</a> - our initial plan was to do this in an RV, but I reckoned cost wise was as expensive as motel/hotel, and we'd drive slower, be more stressful driving a bigger vehicle, and we never be from under each others feet. Going the motel route gives us at least sleeping time to breathe away from each other, and stretch in our own space.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3544351">Ronald biggar</a> - great suggestion, but my parent are just flying over for this trip. I have a sort of trial run coming up. Will be driving down from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Springfield Missouri, with three work colleagues in early April. Will give me a small taste of life on the open road...</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=20739">Ken Schwarz</a> - great pictures. I dream of taking those. Love the galaxy shot, the guy on the edge taking a picture, the lone cowboy was inspirational. Where were those (what looked like) orange underground caves, carved or worn out by a river I guess - looks fantastic..Also good advice on the bags.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=4534962">DS Meador</a> - am still undecided, but warming to the idea of flying into Denver or somewhere more central. All the advice so far is spend more time at fewer places, which seems sound advice.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=1841065">JDM von Weinberg</a> – my wife watched it a few weeks ago and keeps bugging me to watch it again ( I saw it a few years ago). Another favourite of mine was Planes, Trains and Automobiles with John Candy and Steve Martin. Great fun.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3728023">Sarah Fox</a> - sounds wonderful. Bats coming out the bridge sounds like a challenge to capture. I grew up in the 80’s with Sue Ellen and JR, and Bobby and Lucy, and the rest of the Euwings which was one of my mothers staple soaps. Would be good to actually take her there.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=4458927">Thomas Watt</a> – Yes, whilst geography wasn’t my favourite subject at school, the US does appear marginally wider than the UK now I’ve arrived here. I always knew it was a small island somewhere off the west coast of Ireland. But you’re right. I have trimmed my initial (fantasy) agenda to this unrealistic one. A bit more trimming till it becomes a realistic possibility.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=3899089">Galen Anderson</a> – camera insurance is also a good idea. I need to check up on what’s actually covered on my household insurance.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=16706">Craig Gillette</a> – I know it would be cramped in our car, which is why I was considering buying a roof box. Owned one in Europe and they’re great for storing all the suitcases and bags, freeing up the internal compartment to breathe. But I think if we fly/drive, we’ll rent a bigger car (or SUV)</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=4143220">Hal Edmonds</a> – noted, as many other have, thanks.</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=4521422">Brian Wolfe</a> – I can’t wait for Yellowstone, looks and sounds amazing. I think if I (we) encountered a bear though I’d be torn between changing lenses, and composing, vs running like hell…</p>

<p >@<a href="../photodb/user?user_id=425339">Indraneel Majumdar</a> – I live in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Trust me Dallas sounds infinitely more appealing. Having said that, I’ve taken some great shots in Fond du Lac, in my garden, in a holiday inn hotel room, in a blizzard, in a microwave, in a toilet, in the rain, of dog poo, of rubbish, or all manner of other seemingly innate and boring paces or things. There’s a good photo buried in virtually everything we see around us. The skill is to try and find it and release it. It’s a bit like carving. Buried inside ever piece of wood or stone is a masterpiece just waiting to be freed,. But finding and freeing it is what concerns us all here…</p>

<p > </p>

<p >ONCE AGAIN, THANKS TO YOU ALL FOR YOUR ADVICE. </p>

<p >I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED ON PROGRESS</p>

<p >KIND REGARDS</p>

<p >JAMES</p>

<p > </p>

<p > </p>

 

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<p>Taking on board much of the great advice already given, the following seems more manageable. Flying to Salt Lake City would put us central, and allow a trip to San Fransico. Always fancied seeing Alcatraz, although I understand you have to get there early. Also believe its difficult to get good shots of the GGBridge. Hire car and flights would add another few $k, but this is not the kind of trip we'd do every year, or probably ever again. Brings the mileage down to less than 3k and would allow more time at each key spot. We may even skip Vegas as we'll have had a dose of city life in SF. (although the neon sign graveyard sounds cool)<br>

thanks<br>

james</p><div>00Smy4-117161584.jpg.59afc9e66ad2dab1a50492d896effad0.jpg</div>

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<p><em>Hector: did you get lost? (joke) Compared to living in America, going from London to Hebrides and back, is just like a trip to the next big town over here :-</em></p>

<p>I know, I know, and I'm not even counting the additional days spent in Edinburgh, as I attended an academic conference there, so I think the total was ten days. But we wanted to see things, really enjoy that beautiful country, particularly as we had an English friend on the trip as a guide. Of course, not being local, and accustomed to abiding by rather strict U.S. laws, any time we found a lovely place for a pint or more meant that we had to spend the night and continue driving the following day. But we enjoyed it, and that's what we want you to do with your trip.</p>

<p>Oh yes, if it were me, I'd much rather visit Yosemite (for perhaps my sixth time) than Yellowstone (for my second) but I don't know what Yosemite's current access rules are. That's why I suggested Yosemite as optional -- I dont know if you'll have a choice.</p>

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<p>As for safety, buy some bear spray. It fends off much more than bears! I did a trip last fall for 2 1/2 months after losing my job - from my home in Portland, Oregon all the way to the NE US (Vermont, NY, PA...). I caught a boatload of fall colors, great off season prices and low crowds. S</p>

<p>topped through Yellowstone for 2 days, definitely needed more time, but I was on my way home at that point. I see you have Craters of the Moon in Idaho as a destination. Smart move, very overlooked area, it's a very surreal chunk of land. </p>

<p>If you are going to see 'The Wave' in Utah/Arizona you will need permits well in advance.</p>

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<p>I really just wanted to cover the issue of taking a gun with you since I have never travelled where you are planning to go, but do have a lot of experience travelling with guns of various types. I would also strongly advise against it.<br>

I never travel by car without at least one gun, but I was born in the rural South, so I've been using them as long as I've been able to hold one. If you have never used a gun before, leave it at home and spend some time on a range before you consider carrying one, even if it is just in a car. At least some formal training would be a good thing. At the very least I need to stress to someone who admits that they have never used a gun to never point it at something you are not planning/willing to KILL. There is no such thing as being too safe. As a teenager I lost a friend to a hunting accident and another was nearly killed due to an accidental discharge. Luckily I wasn't involved in either of those, but I came within inches of a young cousing taking my head off with a shotgun while hunting. Again, there is no such thing as being too safe.<br>

I agree with someone who said the various laws can be complex, and I always check to see what the laws are in the states I will be visiting. Few states have gun laws as liberal as Florida where I live, but you have to do the research. Even then, you can't always rely on law enforcement knowing exactly what you can and can't do as many laws are vaguely written and open to some interpretation. Even with the recent Supreme Court decision I wouldn't take one to Washington D.C. for example, even if it were completely secured in my car. National parks and such throw more confusion on the issue as well since guns are banned in many parks, at least those that have wildlife refuges.<br>

Finally, even though there is a large percentage of Americans who feel better having a gun "for protection" the chances of needing it are remote. The ability to use one safely and effectively will depend on training and practice as well as the right mindset. Leave it at home if you are inexperienced.<br>

I hope you have a good trip, but I'm not so sure with seven people in a Trailblazer. The last time I was in one it was with two other people and only about 200 miles round trip. I thought my knees were going to explode, and I'm only 5'9". If I haven't said it enough, leave the gun at home.</p>

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<p>You're now down to about 150 miles/day of travel. That's still an average of 3 hours/day in a crowded car with kids. I'd be inclined to fly to Las Vegas and make an even smaller loop. You'll still see some amazing scenery and you might even be able to have a non-travel day or two.</p>

<p>It's a big country - you'll need more than one trip of a lifetime to see it all!</p>

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<p>James - The caves you ask about are in Antelope Canyon, near Page, AZ. These sites belong to the Navajo, not the U.S. Park Service, so you have to pay the tour guides to see them. There are lots of tour companies vying for your business, and they all try to bring people into the canyon just when the sun is overhead because that's when you get to see those famous "shafts of light" come down from the ceiling. Aside from the cost (which adds up but at least is justified by the truck ride to the site) my main complaint was the extreme crowding of tours all coming at the same time. Also, I warned you about "rip-off" photo tours. These are not really oriented towards pros--you are part of a group--but at least your fellow photographers are more courteous about taking turns taking shots from advantageous angles and not getting in eachothers' way. Still, even in the "photo tour" there was so much crowding and collision with the regular tours that you didn't have much opportunity to get that great shot. Furthermore, the tour guides (not just yours) throw sand in the air in order to make the "shaft of light" appear. So, this will dust-test your camera for sure. If you go, bring one body, an ultra-wide zoom with a protective filter, and one small bag to hold it. You will need a tripod, too. I used HDR to get shadow and highlight detail. Don't change lenses on site. You will need to vacuum everything when you get back to the hotel and use a damp towel to remove residual dust from the camera and lens exteriors as well as the tripod. (The tripod and ball head took the longest to clean up...what a pain.) In general, I treat the inside of my bag as a "dust-free zone" so that lens storage and changing can be done with confidence whereever I went. That worked throughout the trip.</p>
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<p>Very busy at the moment but will reply properly later.<br>

But just wanted to say (also being English and having spent a good amount of time in the USA, about half a year in all) that I have done some of the exact route you've picked out there. Could give you some inside knowledge on great places along the way (though South Dakota's slogan of Great Faces, Great Places is true, give or take the many miles beween anywhere.)<br>

Will reply properly later!</p>

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<p>I am an old man who has done much of the US full time in a motor home of some size. 200 miles a day is quite manageable in a 22000 lb. MH towing a 3500 lb car. Some of the best photos I have taken were in the Big Cypress swamp and Everglades while parking in the swamps for a month or two. I found it hard to do much good with a camera while we were on the move. Two hundred miles was four hours. The advantage in a motor home is there is a bathroom on board. Mine was 38 feet long and had three slide outs which made a living room and kitchen of about 11x16. Quite spacious. We used to take a tent and kick my grandson outdoors in warm weather. We even hooked up a TV in the tent so we could have some privacy. However, if you have seen RV with Robin Williams inexperience can lead to problems. Parking can be a problem. But we have been through many of the areas you were talking about. Santa Fe is interesting. Used to ski at Taos. Good place to stop. I once lived in Albequerque and was there again in 2007. Not much to photographs in my mind in that general area compared to Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon etc. I always wanted to go to Bosque del Apache in season to photograph the cranes. Got there when there were no birds. With the economy the way it is I bet there are a lot of RV dealers who would rent you one. Eighteen days is not much time. Better to do a few quality places with a three day stop than to try and cover too much ground. Too much time devoted to logistics like packing, unpacking, finding a restaurant, finding a place to shoot pictures. The nice thing about the MH was I had my cameras, comptuter, printer all with me. </p>
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<p>James, we may have crossed paths, from looking at your Chicago photos. </p>

<p>One can apply street photography experience very well to landscapes on a trip like yours, since you'll have to work fast a lot of the time. Unless you're already a trail runner, you can get yourself in form by running up stairs. I'd also consider taking less lenses than you mentioned, or reconfiguring your backpack as you go. Otherwise, that's going to be one hefty backpack to always be dragging everything along. The 17-40 and 24-105 will be your mainstays.</p>

<p> Another radical-sounding recommendation: Looking at your new route, I'd like to suggest something I've done several times to reduce the total mileage: The open jaws trip. It adds a little $ to the budget, but I'll show you how to get that back.</p>

<p>Fly into Frisco, do your southern route, and end up at Salt Lake City. Saves 800+ miles (and 2 days) from doing a loop. Or fly into Salt Lake City and out of San Francisco. Check with the car rental people, because it is almost always more agreeable for them in one direction than the other.</p>

<p> Lots of spectacular scenery on your route. Yosemite is ga-ga gorgeous, but Yellowstone is unique. In places, it's like going to another planet -- with traffic jams! See both. BTW, at Yellowstone I found Old Faithful to be ...how to put this kindly....best viewed from the restaurant behind the bleachers, by the big picture window (deploy some of your team to save seats) while munching on their savory buffalo burgers. :-)</p>

<p> On saving money....most american hotels will give you one free room if you take 6-7. But unless they're full, and you can see that as you pull in, they're going to give you a discount (15-25%+) for three. They know you can just drive down the road to the next motel, and if not full, they'll drool at the thought of filling three in one shot.</p>

<p>At risk of sounding like William Shatner, negotiate. Do not make reservations ahead of time (except in the National Parks, and you should make those ASAP, as they fill up quickly) there's loads of motels along the way. In your price range, I've had consistently good luck with the generic/corporate Best Western and Holiday Inn Express, but there are loads of Mom & Pops in between. Many times I've grabbed the first motel at the end of a long day, when 20 miles further would have been far better. *Always* ask to see the room before taking it.</p>

<p> I prefer to get up very early, do breakfast (and most of the free breakfasts at motels really suck). and get the miles in earlier in the day. As opposed to getting up late and arriving at night. If there's any problems along the route, they're best dealt with in the light of day.</p>

<p>You should use your daughter's computer skills and laptop to help navigate & find lodging. It is good to assign different tasks to each family member. It makes things easier, and people don't get in each others' way as much. Have iPods for the kids, and maybe a DVD player and some movies to keep them hypnotized along the way.</p>

<p>In San Francisco, I have enjoyed staying at the Francisco Inn (basic, cheap for what it is, but well-located):</p>

<p>http://www.sftravel.com/hotels/htlmarina/franciscobayinn.html</p>

<p>and more expensive, but utterly charming, quiet and quite romantic, the Marina Motel, same location. You can get one family room for 4, and an extra (since that will be early on your trip, no one will have frayed nerves yet!).</p>

<p>http://www.marinamotel.com/html/san-francisco-lodging-accommodation.asp</p>

<p> Driving/parking in SF is a pain. Besides Alcatraz, Drive down Lombard Street. A great view of Golden Gate is Ft. Point, an 1861 brick fortification located under the bridge's toll plaza and vista point. You can stop by Warming Hut Cafe there and pack a lunch. If you want to earn points with the spousal unit, go to the Mark Hopkins Hotel/Top of the Mark lounge for a Martini (check the menu, there's like a hundred variations). Fabulous view of the city at night. Take a cable car, visit the Tin-How Buddhist Temple off Grant. No pictures, tiny, but a wonderful experience of the sacred.</p>

<p>BTW, Frommer's puts out a great small book:</p>

<p>http://www.amazon.ca/Frommers-Great-Walks-San-Francisco/dp/0470453699</p>

<p>It is well worth the price. I loved the walk showing the writer's abodes. Beautiful, strenuous (it may be too much for your parents or kids steep hill climbing) and invigorating. There was a small park (one of many along the route) and at dawn, there were people silently praticing Tai-Chi, like a secret ballet in these beautiful hidden nooks. Just north of the City is the Point Reyes National Seashore (gorgeous) and there's the Tule Elk reserve on the N end of it. About the same distance south, is Monterey, Carmel, and Point Lobos, Weston's stomping grounds. Both give a great sampling of the West Coast.</p>

<p>Get the Stern's road trip food book. This will go a long way to enhance the experience. A tip: when traveling, a cop car in front of a restaurant means 99% of the time it's good and cheap. The other 1% have beautiful waitresses!</p>

<p>http://www.amazon.com/Roadfood-Revised-Jane-Stern/dp/0767922646</p>

<p> Laundry is a time-suck when traveling. I recommend technical clothing for the team, things that can be washed in the sink with Woolite, and hung up to air-dry with your traveler's clothesline or on hangers while you sleep. It may look ghetto, but is a real time saver. Undies, t-shirts and socks of something like Coolmax, and Supplex shorts/pants dry extraordinarily fast. That also lightens the baggage load considerably.</p>

<p> </p>

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<p>I skimmed some of the other posts, and agree that your vehicle is too small. Irregardless of what vehicle you take, it's best to have a system whereby each person in the car gets the same amount of storage space, ie those plastic bins, and a plywood "shelf" system in back to hold it all, I've seen it done in a Suburban for a family of 6 that did a 2-months journey around usa, plus they had a Thule roof box. Hopefully your kids are out of diapers, or that is another can of worms lol. Keep it simple bring a minimum amount of clothing and supplies - it's easier to stop at Walmart (they are everywhere lol) and get supplies than to store junk you dont need.</p>

<p>My biggest recommendation is to LEAVE YOUR PARENTS OUT OF THE TRIP. Seriously man, you're either going to end the trip with your parents, and the wife will have filed for divorce and left with the kids, or you'll end up killing the parents on Route 66 somewhere (watch Vacation as the others mentioned). Leave the parents at home and rent a minivan, easy access, sliding doors, decent gas mileage.</p>

<p>On the photography side, you're overly ambitious, nothing worse if you're not a photographer having to stop and go for the photographer in the group. Actually I did a week backpacking trip with another photographer and it was a royal pita. The best compliment as a photographer to me on this type of trip is "I didnt see you take this one or that one" , just blend in and dont make people pose for you or slow them down. You won't get many unique shots in the nat parks if you're not hiking away from the main viewpoints, and expect throngs of people at those. I have a 5d and all the fancy lenses etc but for this trip I'd take my g9 and a digital video cam.</p>

<p>Firearm? You've got to be kidding. If you're an Alien, I don't think you can (legally) purchase a gun. Especially if you've never used one, laughable. Just stay off of inner city streets named after.......uh..welll...watch Vacation lol. With a name like James Dean, I expect you to have some b*lls, don't be offering your camera gear to anybody. Sorry to be kind of a pessimist.</p>

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<p>James Dean. I grew up in the SF area. It was some time ago but there is a park on the west side of the North or Marin County side of the bridge where you can get some nice pictures of the bridge and the city. BTW I don't think calling San Francisco by that other short name is well accepted there. The accent is on the second syllable "cis". </p>
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<p>One last thing I learned in the MH is that you can over plan. Some of the best places we visited were side trips that were not on our agenda. You can be flexible and in the evenings you have time to replan your trip. It is a shame to leave a place you like to get to a place that you might not like. </p>
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<p>Some good thoughts. No gun.Not permited in Federal National Parks and Forests and if you are caught you in trouble you don't need. Stay away from bears all kinds not just grizzlies. Budget time for serendipity side trips. Buy "Golden Eagle" passport to enter parks if you qualify and I believe you do. Big savings. Don't kill yourself trying to get it all in in one day. I don't care for a roof top carrier idea and would prefer to have a good small box trailer,frankly, for clothing and light gear. And keep goodies in there, like snacks and maybe a small 12 volt operated fridge. Food is the toughest thing to locate while making time in a car. Read about others' experience and get latest map and GPS updates. Carry own music of course, portable DVD player is not a bad thing to take along. And welcome to the West, where the deer and buffalo still roam. Bring a guitar, think Woody Guthrie...enjoy. it will be fun except for the highway slogs and the bathroom stops. But there are some great freeway rest places. Thank Eisenhower for the Interstates. Check out the old historical trails, the remnants of US 66 that we once used...it is history.</p>
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<p>Make sure that you skip sit down eatery breakfast except on Sunday. Too much time is wasted waiting for coffee refills. McDonald and/your carry you locally bought rolls and a toaster even. Local fresh fruit and bananas but I<strong> may</strong> be talking down to you and don't <strong>mean</strong> to if you know the ropes on that part.... My wife naturally sits and relaxes when we eat at a real table with a waitprson, it is normal to do so, and we have had a tough time to get on the road once we are staring at eggs and hashed browns, fresh muffins and strawberry preserves. Unless you like chatting with the local folk, then it can be great fun. Ask a lot of questions of the merchants. Then let them talk and tell how they got there and how long they have been at their job and what they boast about in the area. Then ask for their photo and maybe show them one and take their address. I have made some great friends that way. I spent Summer in Yellowstone and one could easily spend the whole trip in the states of Coloroda and Wyoming and fell satisfied. Zion and Utah is quite awesome , georgeous. Give time for guide tours. Order free or cheap stuff now from the Department of the Interior with maps of all the parks enroute, godspeed and aloha, gs</p>
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<p>Check out the last report on motels reported by Consumer Reports in the library. They show the cleanest and nicest in price categories. It is a crapshoot but you can avoid the shoddier places.Holiday Inns are too poorly maintained to win my seal of approval. Usually. I still think Consumer Reports is better than the photoshopped photos on web sites...if you know what I mean. And sometimes it is fine to just 'stumble on' a place if you are willing to chance it. My last thought but important to sleep well.</p>
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<p >Hi James. May I suggest changing your starting point in Salt Lake City It’s a pretty boring drive through Utah and Nevada with not much to see. I would suggest you begin your journey in Reno Nevada or Sacramento California which would allow you to see Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. Then on to Yosemite and from there to San Francisco. You may want to end your journey in Las Vegas where airfare should be cheaper. You also may want to drive by where the other James Dean perished as it could be incorporated into your route. Look at highway 101 from the San Francisco area to highway 46. That would Allow you to see possibly Monterey and the Salinas Valley if you’re a Steinbeck fan. From there you can catch Interstate 5 to Los Angeles (God help you). You could do Yellowstone on another trip directly from Wisconsin. You could hit Zion before departing from Las Vegas. A gun is not necessary except maybe in L.A. as most people are friendly and happy to help. A GPS device will be essential. Stay out of the bad neighborhoods. Highway 1 from Monterey to Santa Barbara is spectacular but not for large vehicles. You could spend months in California alone and not see it all and so much of it photo worthy. From Alcatraz you can get an unusual shot of the GG bridge or maybe one of the tour boats. I believe Delta Airlines just started a new direct Flight from Minneapolis to Reno. I could go on forever with suggestions hope this helps. </p>
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<p>Wow, what a trip! Wow, what a collection of suggestions! I will add that while Yellowstone National Park is very interesting, the amount of people there make it unappetizing anymore. Far more interesting is Glacier National Park, a bit more to the north. Combine that with the Flathead Lake area and the National Bison Range, both in Montana, and it makes a great loop with or without Yellowstone. However, at this point in my life, I find Glacier National Park far more interesting and inviting than Yellowstone.<br>

I think you will miss your 100-400mm lens tremendously on this trip. Due to all the wildlife along the route – any of the routes above – you will need a long lens (400mm+). Image Stabilization is also helpful because a tripod is usually not while chasing critters.<br>

Have a fantastic trip – I’m jealous!<br>

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<p > </p>

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<p>I hope all you Americans realise what a stupendously beautiful country you have. I would give my left testicle to spend a year driving from one photographic nirvana to another. You have it all...arid desert landscapes, ice capped mountain ramparts, limitless open plains, craggy coastlines, endless forests, stunning world cities...the lot. You also have four distinct seasons making each category of the above ever changing throughout the year. Maybe one day I could afford to spend enough time there to see it all.<br>

BTW, James, you are doing the right thing by driving. The US has ridiculously cheap gas, so take advantage. It's a country made for road trips. And one other thing...you are almost exactly repeating a trip my late mother made at the and of WW2, but she went by bus. Yes, there was a book: "In the Lap of the Yanks". But no movie....Maybe "The Long Long Trailer", starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez comes close?</p>

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