The Plan

So now it’s been eight years since our last Big Trip. We no longer have a two-year old; we have a ten-year old and an almost-six-year old. We’ve taken driving trips to Canada, Oregon, and California more than once and flown up and down the west coast, out to the east coast, and even to Europe without difficulty. Even Kathy’s scars from the first few days of the 2003 trip have healed. It’s time!

Unlike our first two Big Trips, this one will be during prime tourist season: August. Combine that with a boy who hates sudden changes of plan and we practically had no choice but to plan things out a bit more this time. In fact, we went all-in with the planning, scheduling all our driving and accommodations in advance. We have reservations for the whole trip (though we’ve traveled enough not to expect everything to stay as planned; all the reservations can be cancelled).

None of our past cross-country trips have gone much further south than Interstate 70, so our initial plans were very ambitious: we would start with a drive down the West Coast into California before heading east across the southern US towards Florida. We would hit Carlsbad Caverns, New Orleans, Gainesville (Kathy’s birthplace!), Orlando, and Cape Canaveral—and points in between—before driving up the East Coast. Of course, it didn’t take long for us to realize that a start like that wouldn’t leave us time for much else. Besides, is August really the best time to visit the South? Instead, we decided not to stray too far from our past trips:

Route Map of the Big Trip 2011

We plan to see and do some different things this time around, but the route is pretty similar. We’ve planned it so that most of our driving days are long driving days, which should give us plenty of days with only local driving to face. We’ve also scheduled no more than two of those big driving days in a row, with multi-night stays in between. The longest driving days are the first two out of Seattle and the last two home.

So what’s on the schedule?

  • The Black Hills of South Dakota
  • Chicago
  • Dearborn, Michigan (The Henry Ford Museum)
  • Niagara Falls & Buffalo
  • Rochester
  • Cooperstown, New York (Baseball Hall of Fame!)
  • Troy, New York (RPI)
  • Chelmsford, Mass.
  • Gaithersburg
  • Louisville
  • St. Louis
  • Moab

We will try to post updates here occasionally. Daily if we can, but more likely every few days. Watch out, USA, here we come!