Road Travel in the US

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Douglas Harrison
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Road Travel in the US

Postby Douglas Harrison » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:25 pm

When I finally escape from my present thralldom, in what I hope is the not-too-distant future, I intend to travel around the continent a bit. I've driven down the West Coast, but I know next to nothing about the East Coast and that's where I intend to begin my travels, driving from the Maritimes south to Florida.

What I'd like to know is:

What are the best scenic routes?
Should I even try driving into New York City, or Boston, for that matter?
Where are the good eats along the way?
What hotel chains are clean and reasonably priced?
What cities must I see, and which must I avoid?

Any comments are appreciated.

D.

DVG
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Postby DVG » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:55 pm

I say this as one who hates any form of travel, but this sounds like a rather pointless project, I'm afraid. "Scenic routes" on the Coast itself are more or less non-existant, as much of the coastline has been gobbled up by rampant sprawl. Route 1, the most famous, is well-nigh unmitigated ugliness from Florida to Maine. There are destination cities, but driving between them alternates between boring beyond belief and heavily trafficked/difficult to navigate. East Coast tourist sites are overcrowded, overhyped and overpriced.

Boston, New York and Miami all have a lot to offer. So does DC, although I personally can't stand the place. Philadelphia is good for about a day and is, as a city, probably of no interest at all to non-Americans. Can't imagine why anyone would want to see Charleston or Savannah, and no other East Coast city suggests itself as of particular interest to a visitor passing through. (Would anyone travel thousands of miles to experience suburban Baltimore or the soul-killing vulgarity of Atlanta?)

I'd save up for a prolonged stay in one of the cities cited above, myself. You can always take day trips to nearby natural parks or other sites.

Conversely you can stay home and crack open a good book, congratulating yourself on having conserved precious natural resources to the tune of X amount of gallons of gas.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:02 pm

Doug - Sounds like a great trip! We're taking off this weekend for a road trip to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Palm Springs, etc.

The area you're traveling in has a huge number of possibilities, I'd be more conscious of your time, intentions and budget. Here are my suggestions if time and money are sufficient (asterisks mean "extra special":

What are the best scenic routes? (The following also give you a lot of history as well.) You may have problems crossing the international border with a rental car (the ferry I mention below can solve this problem).

In Canada, visit Prince Edward Island* and drive down to Halifax. Take the ferry to Bar Harbor*.


I'd drive west through Maine, visiting the towns of Boothbay Harbor and Kennebunkport*.

From there head south through a slip of New Hampshire and into Boston proper -- visiting both Salem* and Swampscott (trust me, the name is inappropriate). Spend time in Boston*.

South from there through Plymouth and see The Rock (well, half of it, anyway). From there continue southwest into Newport, Rhode Island*.

From there, cross the Newport Bay Bridge onto Jamestown and continue over the Jamestown bridge, and eventually into Connecticutt. Head west on the turnpike, stopping for some time in Mystic*.

The next logical stage after Mystic is New York City**. If you've never been there, you have to stay a day or so (at least). One of my favorite places. Lots of really good restaurants with all kinds of budgets, and some amazing things to go see -- like the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Museum. (We'll be there in January for a music conference. I can't wait.)

From New York, travel a couple of hours down the Jersey Turnpikeand visit Liberty Square* in Philly (and grab a cheesesteak while you're there).

From Philly, head south to Annapolis*, Maryland, and then into Washington DC*. Spend a day or more in DC.

Go south from DC on I95 passing Richmond and head east to Williamsburg*. Plan for some wine tasting along the route, some really good stuff coming out of Virginia.

(Okay, here my knowledge ends. I'll let someone else take you from Williamsburg to Orlando.)

Orlando. Kind of fun, but I'd actually veer east and visit Kennedy Space Center*. Take the tour.

The next stop should be the Florida Everglades*, about four hours down the peninsula. Take a fanboat ride (you can pick up brochures along the turnpike and call ahead).

Take the extra two days and visit the Florida Keys, especially Key West*.

Drive back up to Miami Beach and stay your final night or two on Ocean Drive (I can recommend several hotels NOT to stay at).

As much as it pains me, leave via MIA to go back home.
__________________________________________________

Should I even try driving into New York City, or Boston, for that matter? Yes, without a doubt visit both. Plan extra time in NYC. If you're so oriented, take in a play on Broadway. It's kind of pricey, but worth the memory.

Where are the good eats along the way? They're all over, really. I'd avoid the chains and use the internet to find some fun and "local" type places at which to feast. Both the Travel Channel and Food Network sites can probably help. Also, Tripadvisor*.

What hotel chains are clean and reasonably priced? Two ways to approach this. The chains are okay, we usually use Best Western locations and haven't been badly disappointed yet. The other option is to find smaller, more localized inns and B&Bs along the way. Places like Kennebunkport, Newport, Mystic, etc, are much more fun with some local taste and hospitality.

What cities must I see, and which must I avoid? I've given you a fairly full list above, but in short, see New York and DC for certain. I'd avoid Baltimore and just drive straight through northern NJ. In Florida, unless you've got kids, you don't need to see Orlando unless YOU want to go to the parks.

Email me with more specifics. We've traveled these areas extensively and can probably help with some ideas.

Steve B
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:05 pm

LOL.

I got done with my post and noticed DVG's. Talk about differing opinions!!!

I agree that you'll either love it or hate it -- though some of the drives are anything but boring. IMHO.

SB
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:11 pm

DVG, why do you hate America?

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Postby Jan » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:15 pm

I'm European, but I've been to the US many times. It seems to me that if you have some time on your hands the most exciting way to travel the US is by going east to west (or vice versa). How much coastline can you take? You want some rivers, mountains, and valleys, too.

I always wanted to do that but life demanded other things.

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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:17 pm

America has so much beauty is is sick. Just avoid the non eventful cities and all will be well.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:21 pm

Jan wrote:I'm European, but I've been to the US many times. It seems to me that if you have some time on your hands the most exciting way to travel the US is by going east to west (or vice versa). How much coastline can you take? You want some rivers, mountains, and valleys, too.


Not necessarily, though. The drive I've described isn't solely along the coast (though IS near a lot of water). The drive can be both ugly (as DVG suggests) if you go the wrong route, or quite beautiful at times. Pennsylvania and Virginia are both spectacularly beautiful. The Everglades are as well, but in a stark fashion.

I've done the drive cross-country five or six times. It IS great, but the plains and deserts can be as "boring" as the coastline...!
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:28 pm

When you get to Atlanta, stop and I'll take you to one of the best restaurants you've ever eaten at.

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Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:44 pm

Some years ago, I went to Baltimore for a conference. The harbor was lovely, but if that's all I'd gone there for, it woulda been disappointing. Truth to tell, I was more enchanted by downtown Chicago

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Postby Moderator » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:47 pm

Anthony Ravenscroft wrote:Some years ago, I went to Baltimore for a conference. The harbor was lovely, but if that's all I'd gone there for, it woulda been disappointing. Truth to tell, I was more enchanted by downtown Chicago



Yes but ... (consults his Thomas Guide) ... that's a wee bit west of where Doug's heading.


Actually, and it pains me to admit it, Chicago is a glaring omission in my travels. Been through the airport many times, but never to the city. My bad. My very, very bad.
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:51 pm

Anthony Ravenscroft wrote:Some years ago, I went to Baltimore for a conference. The harbor was lovely, but if that's all I'd gone there for, it woulda been disappointing.



As an aficionado of aquariums, I have to say the one in Baltimore is one of the best.

I'm also very fond of Boston, even though I spent several of the unhappiest years of my life there.

And I've heard terrific things about Savannah, from my parents among the reporters, though I haven't been anywhere south of Virginia or east of Louisiana besides Jacksonville and Daytona.
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Postby DVG » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:19 pm

I suppose some people might quite like Savannah. It's a very walkable city with some charming gardens. I can't stand the climate and don't care for "colonial" atmosphere personally.

There are plenty of places to see on the East Coast, but our nation's roadways are rapidly effecting a transformation into little more than a single commerical strip. I see this as a world-wide problem, by the way.

Newport, RI, is a place I am profoundly ambiguous about, but might be impressive enough to visit, assuming you ignore a. the locals and b. the non-locals.

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Postby sjarrett » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:31 pm

Doug,

If you plan to pass through North Carolina, by all means contact me at sjarrett@aol.com and we'll arrange to meet somewhere and catch up. After DragonCon I expected that it would be a long, long time before there would be another chance to visit with you in person across a table, so let's not let this opportunity get away from us if we can help it.

Steve J.

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Postby Douglas Harrison » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:57 pm

Thanks very much, guys, for the responses so far. I'm at work but will respond properly later.

Rick & Steve, I'm certain to take you up on the invitations. Merci.

D.


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