View Full Version : 2011 American Road trip: 9000 miles, 32 days. Boy are my feet tired.

05-26-11, 11:33 PM
I left home on April 15th and finally got home May 16th.


Things I saw:
Crater Lake!
Walter P Chrysler's childhood home
A creek so blue and clear that I drank from it
Highway 1 up the California coast, absolute stunning
The Golden Gate Bridge
Gay people in San Francisco (lol)
Redwood forest
Beautiful, stunning Utah
Rocky Mountains
Hoover Dam
Computer History Museum in Palo Alto
Airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert

Things I did:
First time in Las Vegas, saw a show
Attended Carlisle Style and Performance in PA
NICO meet!
A whole lot of drinking
Wound through the mountains of Pennsylvania on the Lincoln Highway
Took the Yeungling brewery tour
Met Andy, a real Australian who gave me a real kangaroo scrotum
Ate outstanding Seattle seafood
Drove down Lombard Street in SF
Went to the worst dive bar west of the Mississippi and... liked it
Took a hammer to a hot tub and destroyed it
Ran from a tornado in tornado alley (actually a funnel cloud that later touched down)

Vehicles I drove (reviews and videos will be posted later):
Ian's 2007 Cadillac Escalade
Ian's 2000 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer
Christine's 1996 Mazda Miata R-Package
Gary's 1964 Chevrolet Impala
Bo's 1981 Yamaha 3-Wheel ATV


Distance: 9000 miles
Mileage at start: 123,000
Mileage at finish: 132,000
Average fuel economy: 23.6 mpg, Northstar V8
Casualties: One tire, one bent wheel, scratched rear bumper, sent my Panasonic camera in for warranty service (dirt inside lens), lost a new shirt somewhere between Las Vegas and San Francisco (only wore it once!)

Travel Time: 32 days (including two weeks in Spokane)
States: Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania

Fuel cost: $1600
Lodging cost: $500
Food/entertainment: $1200
Las Vegas gambling losses: $20

I split the trip into two dozen articles because of all the pictures:

--> PART 1: 9000 miles, 32 days - Main Index (This Page)

--> PART 2: 2011 American Road Trip St Louis to Las Vegas

--> PART 3: Las Vegas

--> PART 4: Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Mojave Airplane Graveyard

--> PART 5: Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley, Apple HQ

--> PART 6: San Francisco, Castro, Golden Gate, and Berkeley

--> PART 7: Napa Valley, Highway 1, Highway 101

--> PART 7.1: Bodega Bay, Highway 1, Highway 101

--> PART 7.2: Mendocino, Highway 1, Highway 101

--> PART 8: Crescent City CA, Crater Lake National Park, US 199

--> PART 9: Crater Lake OR to Corvallis OR

--> PART 10: Corvallis OR to Seattle WA to Spokane WA

--> PART 11: First week in Spokane WA http://jesda.com/2011/05/24/part-11-2011-american-road-trip-first-week-in-spokane-wa/

--> PART 12: Second week in Spokane WA http://jesda.com/2011/05/24/part-12-2011-american-road-trip-second-week-in-spokane-wa/

--> PART 13: Spokane WA to Dillon MT http://jesda.com/2011/05/24/part-13-2011-american-road-trip-spokane-wa-to-dillon-mt/

--> PART 14: Tornado in Colorado, Dillon MT to St Louis

--> PART 15: St Louis, Yeungling Brewery, Carlisle PA

--> PART 16: Carlisle PA

--> PART 17: Carlisle PA

--> PART 18: Gettysburg PA, National Cemetery

--> PART 19: Conclusions, Gettysburg PA to St Louis

05-26-11, 11:59 PM

I am completely impressed with the fifth-generation Cadillac Seville. Despite its reputation for poor reliability, it didn’t let me down. The bent wheel and damaged tire were the fault of Spokane’s poorly maintained roads. The fuel and temp gauge going out was a bit unnerving, but it turned out to be a minor electrical glitch that corrected itself with a restart. Fuel economy was impressive for a 300hp V8 at 23.6 mpg overall, and comfort was exceptional. I never felt a hint of physical fatigue.

I’ll even give some praise to the Bose 4.0 sound system which, despite all my criticisms, had more than sufficient power and punch to keep me entertained. The weather band feature proved its usefulness as I traveled through tornadic weather, thunderstorms, fog, and blizzards.

It did consume oil as most Northstars from that era do, somewhat by design [http://www.cadillacforums.com/cadillac-tech.html#noil], using a quart every 1000 to 2000 miles. It was unpredictable as to whether it used more on the highway or in the city.

I have to give my friend Ian credit for doing a lot of driving, but he didn’t pay for gas, lodging, entertainment, fees, tolls, or most of the food so we’re even. He, a South Texan, was ready to wuss out at the sight of snow and bad weather but I insisted that he keep driving.

As for Newton, he’s a fantastic road dog. He’s quiet and behaves reasonably well in strange hotel rooms. He didn’t freak out or destroy anything and his compact size made him easy to travel with. While I was with him, he didn't whine.

Of the places I saw and things I did, its Highway 1 in California that I recall most fondly. It looked as beautiful as it did in photos and people seemed to drive with a reasonable level of care and diligence. The scenic viewpoints were an aesthetic overload -- taking pictures of my Cadillac on the rocky coastline, watching the sun set on the coast, and enjoying the beautiful weather. The serenity and calm of Crater Lake was stunning.

And despite my whining and complaining about Spokane, great friends and a lot of alcohol made my time quite enjoyable.

I was skeptical of Las Vegas but came to appreciate its forwardness. The city's artificial, factory-built, adult-Disney personality was off-putting at first, but it doesn't pretend to be appropriate, deep, or anything it isn't. The beauty of a culture that embraces legal and open gambling and prostitution is that you get to see people and institutions for exactly what they are. No bullshit.

And thank goodness for Motel 6. They're flexible, cheap, comfortable, available everywhere, and generally consistent. However, if I didn't bring my dog, I'd use Priceline. A Motel 6 room is anywhere from $35 to $60 (plus tax). Luxury hotels through Priceline typically range from $40 to $60. I've also had tremendous luck with Travelocity's Secret Hotels. See the article I wrote [http://jesda.com/2011/02/10/priceline-and-travelocity-how-to-use-them-for-road-trips/] for a comparison.

I also drove my first real classic car, Gary's 1964 Chevy Impala. I expected it to wander around and float like a barge. Instead, it was powerful, comfortable, and easy to drive with exceptionally good build quality and just enough maneuverability for daily driving. The Impala's timeless beauty is a given, and its true what they say: they don't make them like they used to.

After hanging out with Christine and driving her Miata, I have the itch again. I've wanted an MX-5 since I was a kid, so I'm overdue.

After getting some rest, I feel energized from the trip. Traveling reminds us that the world is larger than the walls of our home and the streets of our subdivision. It has the ability to disconnect us from the social norms, false assumptions, bad habits, and self-imposed limitations that drag us down and prevent us from becoming better people. Like an institutional education, its a source of enlightenment that expands one's scope and understanding of the world. This sounds like hippie bullshit, but you'll have to take my word for it. Find the time, find the money, and go somewhere -- with an open mind.

05-27-11, 12:07 AM
Videos in no particular order:














05-27-11, 12:41 AM
It did consume oil as most Northstars from that era do, somewhat by design [http://www.cadillacforums.com/cadillac-tech.html#noil], using a quart every 1000 to 2000 miles. It was unpredictable as to whether it used more on the highway or in the city.

Good lord...that's a thirsty one.

05-27-11, 12:42 AM
Jesda, I envy you, and am proud to call you a friend. Now take me with you next time.

05-27-11, 12:44 AM
As for Newton, he’s a fantastic road dog.


05-27-11, 12:44 AM
This is something that I'd seriously consider doing very soon....

05-27-11, 12:47 AM
Loved that tornado video! My heart would be pounding out of my chest in that situation! I got about 2 miles south of a funnel cloud on I-90 once in south Minnesota. The funnel was rain wrapped, so I couldn't see it, but I've never driven through heavier rain in my life!

05-27-11, 12:36 PM
I cried.

My last big trip was '04 and it was about 9800 miles. My mom is from Oakland and growing up we went out every year, alternating flying and driving from year to year. In '04, it was me, my brother and his wife. In '00, it was just me and my brother. I would gladly put up with all the crap of living in Cali if I could drive those roads everyday. Within a 5 mile radius of my grandma's old house were roads that would put New England's best to shame.

In part 7.1 you were between Bodega Bay and Sea Ranch. In Sea Ranch, I believe is Stewart's Point which ends the "gray road" which spectacularly takes you from Lake Sonoma, over the mountains, to Rte 1 on the coast. Stewart's Point, I believe, is where they have a beach you need to take stairs to as it's closed off by cliffs. Gorgeous, but windy. The Sandpiper Restaurant in Bodega Bay is a quaint little spot right on the water.

Your trips always get me wanting to do a big road trip but my brother wants to do one with just his wife. None of my other friends will do long road trips. I'm thinking if I hop from place to place visiting different forum members from here and the SHO guys, I don't need a partner. Heck, I drive at least 80k miles a year on my own anyway...

05-27-11, 01:07 PM
Reading through all of that makes me want to get in my car and just start driving.

05-27-11, 01:32 PM
I wish I had the vacation time to take more road trips; I love them. Had a great time driving to Chicago and back in 2009. Jesda's right; the Seville is a superb long-distance car. I drove back to Oregon from Chicago in 3 1/2 days, three of which were 600+ miles each. And I never felt fatigued. I'd look down at the trip meter, see I'd driven 300+ miles and think, "sure doesn't feel like I've driven that far."

Hoover is also a great road trip companion; I love taking him with me, and he has such good hotel manners. I usually do Motel 6 as well for the same reasons. Since I usually arrive late and leave early, all I need is a clean room and a comfortable bed. Other than the thin pillows and sometimes coarse towels, I have no complaints.

05-27-11, 01:35 PM
I also drove my first real classic car, Gary's 1964 Chevy Impala. I expected it to wander around and float like a barge. Instead, it was powerful, comfortable, and easy to drive with exceptionally good build quality and just enough maneuverability for daily driving. The Impala's timeless beauty is a given, and its true what they say: they don't make them like they used to.Thanks for the great review! You got video, too, didn't you?

One of my favorite things about Betty is how nice she is to drive. One of my best friends (who had a 3-Series at the time; now he has an A4) was also impressed; he couldn't believe how well she handled my roller coaster road.

05-27-11, 01:44 PM
im jealous man, a month long road trip.

05-27-11, 07:54 PM
im jealous man, a month long road trip.
The '04 trip I took was 3 1/2 weeks and was amazing. My V was brand new and even though I put on 9800 miles, I got home happy and refreshed...

05-27-11, 07:56 PM
i bet! a month in a brand new car you love seeing sights and doing pretty much whatever the f you want (im sure you had an itinerary but nothin like not having to be at work at x hour)

05-27-11, 08:05 PM
One thing I've always been good at was planning an itinerary. We left on a Friday night from MA and needed to make the USS Badger on Lake Michigan by 7:30AM for an 8AM departure to Wisconsin. We got there at 7:20AM. Except for taking too much time at Devil's Tower that got us to Billings at 1AM, everything we planned was on time with plenty of time...

05-27-11, 10:25 PM
This is going to be a long thread. Jesda you son of a bitch! I envy you. I want to do this but.............. without the kids. Not doable. Son of a bitch! :thumbsup: