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Old 06-03-2013, 02:09 PM   #1
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Any recommendations for our cross country trip this summer?

Hi everyone!

We are planning to take a cross country trip from Phoenix to visit family in Ohio. We have a planned stopover for about a week in Kansas City, MO for our daughter's gymnastic competition. So our route will go North from PHX to Colorado Springs over to Kansas City - we've been told the route north is more interesting than through NM. Then from Kansas City we'll head to Cincinnati and Cleveland OH to see family. On our way home, since we're already on the road, my husband thought, why not? let's go see his brother in Duluth MN. Sooooo, on our way home, we are looking to head on over to Chicago then on to Duluth. Visit a few days and then head back to PHX by going through Bismark and stopping at Yellowstone for a few days, then I think Salt Lake? and then down to PHX. Crazy trip, I know especially since we have 4 kids with us. But really, the only way we as a family will ever get to see anything or travel would be to drive. And what better way, than with our silver twinkie! Ok, so this is my question, regarding the roads along the routes, are there any that we should avoid? I know in Chicago, we are going to go around the city rather than through it. My husband and I have enough gray hair than to deal with the traffic and crazy drivers in downtown Chicago. I'm most concerned with going up and down the steep roads in the Colorado/ Salt Lake areas. Also, if you know of any RV parks that would be great for us to visit, I'd love to look into them too. It'll be my husband and I and our 4 kids (11,9,6, and 3) plus 3 parakeets. We'll be gone about 6 weeks - mostly avoiding the desert heat. Any thoughts you all may have would be a great help! Cheers!
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Old 06-03-2013, 02:29 PM   #2
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We have used a more scenic and much less traveled route. Head north through Michigan, cross the Mackinac Bridge to upper Michigan, then west on Hwy 2 to Duluth. Very pleasant summer weather as well.

A great side trip from Duluth would be north along the Lake Superior shore to near the Canadian border if you have the time. Beautiful scenery and camping.

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Old 06-03-2013, 02:50 PM   #3
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Thanks Doug! I'll have to look at that one. I didn't even think about going through Michigan.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:10 PM   #4
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A few ideas:
1. If you're going north through Ohio, consider stopping in at Jackson Center and watch some Airstreams being built on the factory tour and/or have any needed repairs / maintenance done by the factory staff. They're good, and if you are there to have work done, you can stay will full hookups free at the Terraport. Here's a link to a blog about the experience: The Silver Snail :: JACKSON CENTER :: The Ultimate American Road Trip :: a location-independent, solo woman's full-time RV life in an aluminum Airstream trailer
2. If Duluth and you need a place to park there, an odd but interesting place right on the water is at the marina. Go here: Welcome to Lakehead Boat Basin Duluth Minnesota Lake Superior
3. If you do decide go north through Michigan, do re-post and we'll give you LOTS of good ideas about nice places to stay!

Have fun. Nice trip.
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:22 PM   #5
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Cincinnati - Well um. You're about 2 hours away from Jackson Center Ohio - the Mothership! Stay at the TerraPort - it's inexpensive, stay out of the company store, its NOT inexpensive, see Airstreams made. And pretty much right on the way especially if you want to avoid the Columbus beltway which is ALWAYS under construction.

The kids would probably enjoy the bicycle museum nearby, too.

There are a LOT of Airstreamers in Ohio and quite a few offer courtesy parking. Expect some invitations. How close to downtown Cleveland are you going? There are lots of small towns and townships that have kind of melded into Cleveland, but are not "city". There is the Rock and Roll hall of Fame to visit there. Oh, and if you're considering "White Tail RV Park" - do be aware that it is a clothing optional venue.

State park between Ravenna and Warren is really nice - Berlin Reservoir but come in from route 14, the old Route 5 entrance takes you over a humpbacked wooden railroad crossing bridge that was probably built during the Civil War! Scary!.

Have a great trip, Paula
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:12 PM   #6
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If you are going to Duluth head a little farther up the north shore to Grand Marias MN.It is a beautiful upbeat little treasure of a town.Great food,atmosphere,scenery galore and the Municipal campground is wonderful but it fills up fast so call for reservations
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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I would 2nd (or 3rd) other recommendations to travel up through Michigan, over the bridge and enjoy the UP (Upper Peninsula). We visited the UP last year for the first time as our son is going to school in Houghton, and we couldn't believe how beautiful the UP is.

There are so many beautiful places to see; congratulations to you guys for making the trip. Take plenty of pictures, and try to stay off the highways and enjoy the back roads when you can. Safe travels!
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:26 PM   #8
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Take advantage of courtesy parking. You'll get to meet some new friends, stay for free, & possibly dump tanks and take on fresh water. We used them for the almost 2 years when we fulltimed. While offering, we had 1 visitor. Don't feel like you're using them. If they didn't want you there, they wouldn't offer it.
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Old 06-04-2013, 11:49 AM   #9
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Wow! You all are fantastic! I definitely want to see the Jackson Center. Everyone I've talked to said its worth the trip if we're close by. Being AS newbies, it would be helpful for us to learn more about our Twinkie and I know the kids would be fascinated to see how they are made. Thanks for the tip on the gift shop! also, I'm glad for the mention of the RV park at the marina in Duluth. My brother in law lives less than 2 miles from there so I was going to check it out. We're excited to take to the road this summer and a little nervous to be gone so long with the kids. The kids always groan at the thought of being on the road, but I know they secretly love it. For every trip we have taken, the kids have vivid memories that the bring up all the time. We've not done the courtesy parking yet. We'd be nervous about being an imposition on someone... So we'll see. Thanks for the reminder that they wouldn't offer if they didn't want us there

Any thoughts about the roads through Colorado or any thoughts about Yellowstone? We've not been yet. The kids think watching Yogi bear would be great research. Lol

Thanks again. Cheers! -Corinna
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Old 06-04-2013, 03:20 PM   #10
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PHX to Colorado Springs via Durango is fine (hot, boring and desolate thru much of that leg) provided you stop at Mesa Verde National Park...very worthwhile. I'd be careful about the really scenic route on north thru Silverton and Ouray....it's called the Million Dollar Highway because of the views but pulling a 31 foot AS thru there requires an experienced driver and "calm" passengers. You could;however, make a great day trip from Durango north and resume a more easterly route afterwards. If winding roads sans guardrails and 12K foot passes don't phase you then there is lots to explore going North thru Colorado. Yellowstone and the Teutons are amazing but of course they take considerable time to properly explore and will take you pretty far west before turning back toward PHX. That far north and west would make Glacier a tempting stop as well but perhaps those big National Parks deserve a dedicated trip if you're going to be pressed for time at that point.

Sounds like a great family trip...and Jackson Center is highly recommended as well!
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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Hey BooBoo... What's not to love about Yellowstone? And the Grand Tetons. Best not to feed the bears.

We loved visiting Great Sand Dunes NP in Colorado (amongst other places).

But the journey itself, hopefully not too planned, is the best. I remember on one trip, with kids, we pulled into our ad hoc "campground" for the night. Our kids asked us, what are we doing here at Wal-Mart? We said, this is our campground for the night. Before we could breath, they were both texting their friends to complain about their red neck deadbeat parents were doing to them and what torture they were being subjected to.

This past Sunday, our daughter (about to turn 24) stopped by to take our (new to us) B190 for a text drive for possible camping use. There is hope!
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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Try Theodore Roosevelt NP

If you do go through Bismarck, ND try and stop at Theodore Roosevelt NP in western ND! The Bad Lands there make the bad lands of SD pale in comparison! Stop at the rest area/visitor center right on I-94 and it will take your breath away! Plus it is a virtually unknown treasure! Teh park entrance is right off of I-94 between mm 27 and 24! There is a small historic town right at the entrance called Medora that is worth a stop too. Has an outdoor musical that many enjoy and several gift shops. Good place to eat is the Cowboy Cafe. Medora Campground is so-so, NP campground is rustic but beautiful and quiet. Another in town RV park is Red Trail, not real fancy but nice.

Stop in the Made in USA store and ask for the guy with the Avion (if we are still here)! Our Avion is in the Medora Camp Ground.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:05 PM   #13
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An alternate route that will keep you away from St. Louis (which I find to be 2nd after Atlanta in traffic snarls and frustation) is to take I-35 north from KC to
Hwy 36 East. In MO it runs basically St.Joseph to Hannibal. This is a great 4-lane road with a whole lot less traffic than I-70. At Hannibal, MO you can cross the Mississippi east into IL on I-72. Hannibal has Mark Twain as an attraction if you have time or are interested. We have stayed at the Mark Twain Cave CG. It was nice with easy access. Continuing mostly straight east puts you thru Indianapolis and then I-74 from Indy to Cincy. I think this was 20-30 mi. farther than the I-70 route. If you dislike St. Louis traffic as much as me it's a great route!
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:39 PM   #14
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Ok Nilesrob, you made me chuckle... We're just getting to the kids ages where we are starting to embarrass them. My husband relishes it I like the thought of less traveled roads. I'm not worried about us driving the trailer, it's more or less we're worried about all the other drivers around us! We took a trip to Anaheim and I thought for sure we'd wreck, between the horrid road conditions and cars weaving in front and behind. Ugh! So around St. Louis might be a good plan and ill look into the roads thru Colorado. I personally don't care for steep drop offs outside my window, but hubs will drive so we'll see. The Theodore R NP is right on our path, so it'll probably be a good stop to take a break and enjoy some sights. I'm trying not to plan too much... A little difficult for a type A person, but we've got 6 weeks so things can be flexible! Thanks again for all your input! I'm sure ill be referring back to this thread while we're on the road! Cheers!
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