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Keep the Show on the Road!

Miami To Olympia... U S 1 To U S 101 In A Convertible

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My trip to the four corners and the Motor Boys Monumental Highway refuses to jell. No need to recount the reason (hint: it barks), but in the process of planning I have been discovering road trip goodies on the web. I can rent a convertible in Florida and drive it one way anywhere in the US for $17 a day plus a bunch of taxes and surcharges…for a total rental cost of $300 for two weeks. If I wanted an economy car it would be $5 a day!!!! Of course you have to get to Florida, but I found fares as low as $100 one way from Seattle!

 

So I have reserved a car with Avis in Miami….the only place I found with convertibles still available….lots of other cars are still available in other major Florida cities. For me the convertible is a major factor.

 

A look at any USA map shows that I would be doing a complete diagonal trans-continental (DTC). In fact, I’m thinking I might go a day or two early and do a trip to Key West so I can claim the undisputed two lane DTC prize!

 

So now I need help. This is the context. I must make it to Olympia in 14 days, according to the Avis rules. It is 3400 miles on the route calculated for me on my Delorme Street Atlas USA. Of course that is freeway, probably all the way. But Delorme has a wonderful feature called AVOID. You can AVOID a certain kind of road…bye bye freeway. Using that marvelous capacity, Delorme calculated a 3545 mile trip, which has the added advantage of bypassing most large cities.

 

I would like to do the complete DTC on two lane roads. I have looked at the Delorme routing, and it looks feasible. But only human beings can tell me about the special roads that are the gems. American Road has described many of them…so any advice? . I have my American Road hat and blue American Road shirt…gotta show the flag…so to speak! The car is booked (April 15 to April 29), but the flight is not ….yet. I reserve the right to change my mind…who knows what other deals are out there!

 

I also need a name for this adventure…”Fat Old Man in Rented Convertible Goes Diagonal”…doesn’t do it for me. :P Sheila suggested Diagonal Alley…related to Harry Potter….but I haven’t read or seen a Harry Potter production.

 

And I need advice on which roads to take…the little gems that I must drive. I have driven almost every road in the western states, so don’t worry too much about routes west of the Rockies…I can figure that out, depending on where I cross the divide. I need help east of the Rockies.

 

The Delorme two lane route looks like the picture below. What might I change to improve on it?

 

On another set of issues…technology…I have a laptop and a Delorme GPS that links to the laptop. Denny (or anyone), I think you or Jennifer mentioned software that will link my photo files to the Delorme log. On this trip I will certainly forget where some movies or still shots were taken, unless I can link them to a GPS location. Advice please!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

ARDTC.jpg

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US-19 along the west side of Florida is a nice drive.

 

Looks like your path would take you through Dothan, Alabama. We went through there this past summer and saw their

 

World's smallest city block: tn_gallery_3329_27_40609.jpg and Peanut statue: tn_gallery_3329_27_121752.jpg

 

The western part of the Nebraska segment is nice, I've been on that one before. Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff are great, and maybe you can swing up by Carhenge in Alliance if you haven't been there.

 

Chris

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US-19 along the west side of Florida is a nice drive.

 

Looks like your path would take you through Dothan, Alabama. We went through there this past summer and saw their

 

World's smallest city block: tn_gallery_3329_27_40609.jpg and Peanut statue: tn_gallery_3329_27_121752.jpg

 

The western part of the Nebraska segment is nice, I've been on that one before. Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff are great, and maybe you can swing up by Carhenge in Alliance if you haven't been there.

 

Chris

 

 

Chris,

 

Terrific advice! I have no idea about Florida, so I'll look at your suggestion. I like the Scottsbluff suggestions since I am an old Oregon Trail fan, and I'm thinking of heading through the Rockies via the Grand Tetons, which fits well.

 

Keep em coming!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Chris,

 

I have arranged to arrive in West Palm Beach late on the 15th and will not leave on my trip from Miami until the morning of the 17th. I rented a car in West Palm Beach so I could take at least part of the Overseas Highway. I have been to Key West by air, so I’m OK with not going all the way there…and to do so makes for a long day. If I go part way and return, how far would you recommend?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Wow. Where to start? First off, I love the idea. It's certainly ambitious but that's part of its attraction. I know that the route you show is just a preliminary. You'll soon pick a few "must sees" in the middle of the country and the route will morph around those anchors. That sort of bending is necessary to keep the drive from being a boring marathon but it will not shorten the distance. I'm guessing that you will need to target about 300 miles a day. Quite doable but, as I said, ambitious.

 

While it would add more than a day to your agenda, I'll encourage you to make the drive to Key West. Remember, this is a drive that includes something called the Seven Mile Bridge. It often feels like you're driving across the ocean and Key West is a very interesting place all by itself. My one visit there was during the comparatively modest "Fat Old Man in Rented Convertible Drives the Keys" adventure.

 

The route you show goes pretty close to Montgomery, AL, of which I have fresh memories from my Christmas trip. I think you'd enjoy looking over a little civil rights history and seeing where Hank's resting. You might even want to drive Seven Bridges Road just to say you did.

 

I believe that route crosses the Mississippi at Helena where you can get a little blues history splashed on you. Plus Clarksdale is only about 20 miles away and Memphis isn't all that far either. Of course, any deviation adds miles but a few miles beside the Mississippi is good for the soul.

 

As drawn, the route doesn't quite enter Oklahoma but you'll be crossing Route 66 somewhere near where OK, MO, & KS come together and you could take in a few Sixty-Six related attractions. Maybe the Coleman Theater in Miami or a bit of the 9 foot "sidewalk" highway nearby. You can drive the entire length of the Kansas portion of Sixty-Six and only add 13 miles.

 

Beyond that, I've got nothing. As far as I know, dragons inhabit much of the area north west of St Louis.

 

As for geotagging (say it three times and the word is yours forever) as long as the computer and GPS are on, you can record a track of your travels and tag your still photos with it using free software. I don't know about movies. Details available as required.

 

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Denny,

 

If you think its a good idea, I am really pleased! As I head for the 7th decade, I figure I either go for the gusto, or the gusto goes without me!

 

I will study your suggestions in the morning...and thanks for the encouragement!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

PS. You may recognize that he who barks also nixed the Hawaii trip.

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I hadn't seen your Ocean Highway & Key West comments before I made mine. Just getting to Key Largo from West Palm Beach is about a 5 hour drive (so says DeLorme) with Key West a mere 2 1/2 hours beyond. Subtract 45 minutes if you turn around after the Seven Mile Bridge. You've got a tough decision here and I withdraw my encouragement of the previous post. I suspect that, if you spend 10 hours going to and from the beginning of the Overseas Highway, you'll curse yourself for not seeing more of it AND for spending 5 hours going the wrong direction. The Highway is definitely cool but you'll have to decide if it fits this trip or not.

 

If, as Chris suggested, you drive US-19 and you pick it up soon enough, you'll be able to cross Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway. Perhaps a four mile bridge could make up for some of the water watching you'll miss if you decide to forgo the keys drive.

 

I had noted the absence of the Hawaii trip. Yesterday morning, I was plotting a Seattle to San Francisco route (a left turn at the Columbia River is required) for possible use in August. (I'll have plenty of questions under another topic if that materializes.) As I was doing that I recalled that you were going to be well off shore in April (the original idea for the S->SF trip) and wondered at the switch to the four corners. Then, before the day was out, the corners of a few states were replaced by a couple of corners of the whole country. Super size that, sir?

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Denny, Mobilene, and all,

 

When you can’t get one pair of shoes to fit, you try on another!

 

I have committed myself to see at least some of the Overseas Highway, so at least as far as Key Largo is a must do. And then I can also claim I started at the far southern tip of land in the US (discounting islands!).

 

I have kind of noted that the highway system was laid out north and south, east and west, and on the northeast – southwest diagonal, but not the northwest - southeast diagonal. Think about it. So I am either going against the grain…or pioneering a new transcontinental route. :rolleyes: I prefer the latter interpretation!

 

I want to roll my wheels on the Dixie…but for how far remains a question. I need to look at my maps! It also occurs to me that I should cross every coast to coast and border to border auto trail and major US numbered highway. Is there an approved ceremony at the intersections?

 

This is not my normal kind of road trip. I would normally meander and savor the road. This is more like taking a drink from a fire hose. But I either do this in two weeks or stay home. I am not going to be able to follow old alignments much, nor will I be able to visit many roadside attractions. But as everyone knows, the art of life is to enjoy to the fullest what you can do, and not to regret what you can’t. Two weeks on America’s two lane roads is certain to be enjoyable.

 

And doing it off the freeway allows me to see America up close…but admittedly not too personal.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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When you can’t get one pair of shoes to fit, you try on another!

Good move. I know I'd hate to drive all that way in ill-fitting shoes.

 

So a bit of Overseas Highway it is, then. You should be able to follow the Dixie from West Palm Beach to Miami and that will probably be enough of the overbuilt east coast to satisfy you. Once you've hit Key Largo (checkout the African Queen if it's still there) and as far beyond as desired, you might consider heading to the east coast on the Tamiami Trail (US-41). You can follow it all the way to Tampa (past the spot where my g-g-parents spent Christmas Eve in 1920) or cross the bay on the spectacular Sunshine Skyway. The Tamiami was somehow part of the Dixie Highway network for awhile but I'm not sure of details. I do recall that American Road once had a Michael Wallis article on the Tamiami. You might touch the Dixie again near Tallahassee depending on how hard you try.

 

I believe it was from Baby Boomer Bob that I first heard the phrase "cross grain highways". There are a few biggies that angle toward the south west (e.g., 66 & 62) but, as you noted, darned few that angle the other way. Around these parts, US-35 does it but it really crosses only two states. You will no doubt follow a variety of numbers as you head towards home. As for crossing major US highways, I believe the ceremony is to put your clothes on backwards and crawl on your belly through garbage. I know that's the ceremony for crossing something and even if it's not highways, I'm sure you could use it for that.

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If, as Chris suggested, you drive US-19 and you pick it up soon enough, you'll be able to cross Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway. Perhaps a four mile bridge could make up for some of the water watching you'll miss if you decide to forgo the keys drive.

The probem with US-19 from St. Petersburg up past Clearwater, etc., is that it is a very heavily traveled road and is part heavy 4-lane with stoplights, and part interchanges. It is jam packed with strip malls, etc.

 

If you don't cut diagonally across Florida (US-27), I do think the Tamiami Trail (US-41) from Miami, through the Everglades and up the west coast to St. Pete is probably a good choice. Once to St. Petersburg, I would recomment Alternate US-19 and heading more toward the Gulf and enjoying the older coastal communities and let that lead you up to US-19. The only problem with any option including the Skyway Bridge is that you would have a lot of stop-and-go any way you try to travel north from there (avoiding the Interstate, of course).

 

Overall, for quicker time on the Florida leg, I would recommend US-27 north from Miami, west on Florida 60 and then catch US-98 to take you northwest over to US-19.

 

Chris

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OK Mobilene, I have plotted some miles on the old western branch of the Dixie Highway. And found an old one lane bridge (see below). And Denny, I think I will go all the way…to Key West. And Chris, I am taking your advice.

 

I have had to make some hard choices, and it pains me no end that I will miss some of the places I read about in American Road….but I will see others. I just can’t zig zag and stop to play too much. I’m figuring 10 hour days, with 7 rolling, and 3 on shanks mare (that is a really old term referring to getting around on foot, the shank being the lower part of your leg. No need to thank me for the little phrase lesson!).

 

Just for the use of others who may be planning road trips in unfamiliar states, I will list the materials I have consulted so far.

 

American Road Magazine back issues. A gold mine of ideas and trips. They even offer free travel guides!

 

The National Scenic Byways (www.byways.org) which lists and describes scenic byways both federal and state.

 

The department of transportation web site in each state. Once past the technical and official material, there is almost always a treasure house of state specific travel links. For example, I found in Florida not only the byways, but those roads up for consideration, which was helpful. I found a great road along the Panhandle I would have missed otherwise.

 

My Automobile Blue Books, TIB’s, etc. I have several of all regions from the teens and 20’s, but I recommend you look for those around 1924 if you are only going to buy one for each region. They describe road conditions (not just directions) and the 1925 alignments have some chance of still existing (whereas say, 1913, alignments in “original” condition are very rare because they were dirt “cow trails” and were replaced ASAP and returned to the land)

 

The great American Guide or WPA series published in the 1930’s and 40’s. Nothing compares for descriptions of pre TV and pre freeway America. And all contain road trip descriptions!

 

Mobilene, I was following the Dixie via Delorme and Google Earth. Going northeast from FT Meyers to Bartow there are several old segments. I also looked at Robert V. Droz’s www.us-highways.com/dixiehwyw.htm. He noted a “one lane bridge” at what I identified as 27.707762, -81.816093 Take a look via Google Earth. A definite planned photo op for me!

 

Back to trip planning...I'm still planning for the trip segment in Florida and at this rate I will never get beyond Mississippi! Oh, BTW, the exit out of Florida will probably be Pensacola, up through Mississippi, over into Arkanasas, into and across Kansas and Nebraska (via Chris's suggestion) through Wyomimg, probably via Grand Teton and then home. LOTS more to plan!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

 

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Mobilene, I was following the Dixie via Delorme and Google Earth. Going northeast from FT Meyers to Bartow there are several old segments. I also looked at Robert V. Droz’s www.us-highways.com/dixiehwyw.htm. He noted a “one lane bridge” at what I identified as 27.707762, -81.816093 Take a look via Google Earth. A definite planned photo op for me!

 

This is too cool! Believe me, Dave, I wish I could go along on this trip with you. Just to drive across the country and take it in as it flies by. Wow!

 

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This is too cool! Believe me, Dave, I wish I could go along on this trip with you. Just to drive across the country and take it in as it flies by. Wow!

 

Jim,

 

Its kind of tough to take the full Hypotenuse Trail in only 14 days, but considering the alternative, …..someone has to do it! You will get your turn!

 

The rule is no interstates, and shunpiking (shunning the pikes…or today, avoiding the busy thoroughfares) whenever possible.

 

I picked up a bigger memory chip for the camera so I can do a few more windshield videos…...back to route planning.

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Its kind of tough to take the full Hypotenuse Trail in only 14 days...

"Hypotenuse Trail", I love it! You seemed to have picked the "right angle" when naming this route!

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"Hypotenuse Trail", I love it! You seemed to have picked the "right angle" when naming this route!

 

Chris,

 

I like it! The Hypotenuse Trail.....it’s the right angle for you! The shortest, fastest, most scenic named trail between the Puget Sound and Key West.

 

And you know our slogan "Go All the Way on the Hypotenuse!" B)

 

Hyp.jpg

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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Check the weather reports before you get up around Arkasas, Oklahoma - and watch the news. There's some heavy flooding and roads washed out all thru that area at the moment. And you know the old roads will be the last to be fixed.

Here in the Memphis area the feeder streams, like the Wolf and Loosahatchee, are starting to back up - I went over the Wolf yesterday (21st) on my way home and it's way above normal. I think they said the Mississippi is about 3 feet above normal here at the moment, something like that. So that's going to translate downstream for a while.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

Edited by Alex Burr - hester_nec

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