Travel by car - seeing beautiful sights, earning/using miles, having fun

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by miles and smiles, Feb 25, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I've been on an airplane once in the last 17 months, but I travel out of town via car virtually every month, sometimes twice a month.
    I don't get around the world this way, but I do visit many, many beautiful and interesting places.
    I don't have to worry about the TSA, I can pretty much set my own schedule, and there are no fees for extra baggage! [​IMG]

    I use points for hotels, look for good hotel deals, get double points for gasoline spend, etc.

    Anyone else travel much by car? Please share your stories.

    I live near Asheville, NC, so there are many beautiful places for me to visit within easy driving range
    Last week I went to the beach - Folly Beach, SC and also visited Savannah, GA. My next trip will be to Knoxville, TN.
     
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  2. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    Last year, I made the decision that I wasn't going to put up with the TSA nonsense and was going to drive for my annual trip near Kansas City. Yes, it took 15-hours, but I had a friend that split the drive with me, and arrived much more refreshed without the unneeded stress that air-travel can often bring about. Got luck with 5x points for gas and the hotel (where I also collected Marriott points.)

    Due to illness, my wife doesn't want to fly, and can't really drive, so most of our vacations have been drive vacations... with me as the only driver. Last year was just a couple of trips between Albuquerque and Phoenix, but prior years included Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma (all in a single 2-week trip!)

    Our main travel is between our place in Albuquerque and home in Lakeside, AZ... swapping locations every 4-weeks.
     
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  3. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    before I started flying I went everywhere by car... but then I realized I could fly somewhere, rent a car and do a bunch of driving on the other side of the country... that worked out really great, my first visit to California was via Phoenix for example. Or first time in Wisconsin via Chicago (but that's only because JetBlue doesn't fly direct)

    I love driving places, even have a web site for my Road Trips...
     
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  4. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I drive frequently between Asheville, NC and Folly Beach, SC. I am blessed with a home in the mountains, and a second at the beach. [​IMG]

    Now I am making more and more one or two trips around the region. I used to focus on visiting beautiful natural sites. Now I am adding nearby cities and towns and that interest me.

    This summer I plan to combine plane and car travel with a flight to Seattle and drives around the Pacific NW.
     
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  5. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    I love to take trips by car as well. I also love to take a Fly & Drive trip.
    Stay off the interstate while driving and you can really learn the diversity that exist in America from state to state and even within states.
     
  6. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    Make sure you make the trip to Vancouver on that trip to SEA. The are great thing to see on both sides of the border.
     
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  7. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Two years ago I flew to Milwaukee then drove to three places in the region. Got to attend a wedding, visit a friend and visit family. Will probably do something similar this fall when a friend gets married in Wisc.
     
  8. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Yes, I have family in Vancouver and have visited there many times. I especially love Vancouver Island.
     
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  9. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    There are also some great drive in the North East. Two year ago I flew to Connecticut and drove up the coast with stop in Newport, Boston, Glouchester, Kennebunkport and then flew back home from Boston.
     
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  10. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    +1 I hop off of the interstate at the first available opportunity
     
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  11. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Yes, sometimes, we need to slow down and enjoy the sites.

    100_1072.JPG
     
  12. JasonH
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    JasonH Silver Member

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    I agree on leaving the interstate. We have taken several car trips. Our most recent was Denver to Cheyenne using the old state highway that parallels the Union Pacific line. We also drove a cross country trip when we were dating from Augusta, Georgia to Seattle via Denver, Portland, and Victoria then back via St Paul, Chicago, and Dayton. It was an amazing adventure.
     
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  13. TrueBlueFlyer
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    TrueBlueFlyer Silver Member

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    I once volunteered to help my friend bring a car he bought in Salem, Oregon down to Houston, Texas... boy was that a fun trip! Flew right after work to Portland, got some sleep on the plane, picked up the car and for the next three days drove straight 12 hours per day, across 10 states (I went out of the way for like 50 miles in each direction just to get a photo with the "Welcome to Nebraska" sign, lol.... and truly enjoyed the change of scenery and just how beautiful America is!


    More recently I drove from one hour east of Melbourne, Australia to one hour west of Sydney, Australia in the Blue Mountains... round trip in 22 hours, that was amazing fun, and luckily no close calls with Skippy's en-route.
     
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  14. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    <Sorry in advance for the length>
    OK, so the only thing better than a great road trip is a great road trip that is also a way of earning points/miles/status, right?

    We live about halfway between LAX & SFO. We were fairly late registrants to StarMegaDo2, and so we started looking around for airfares. Then, our son, who is a Grad Student in Chicago, told us he had to be in Pasadena for a week starting Oct. 24. We smelled a mattress run coming on, so we decided to check out what promos we could string together. We were somewhat desultorily working on USAirways' Grand Slam, and my husband had been targeted for Priority Club's Crack the Case promo, and had completed a few of the tasks, so we thought we could work on those. SPG was going to be involved due to the SMDo, so we checked them out, too. Hyatt is our primary affiliation, and we decided to fill in with them to take advantage of the Great 10K. So, we left home October 18, and began a driving odyssey which included:
    1 night Four Points Bakersfield, on the way to Mammoth Lakes (plus dine for Grand Slam for DH)
    4 nights at Westin Monache, Mammoth lakes (10,000 SPG points for resort stay and 2 dines for Grand Slam for DH)
    1 night Hyatt Irvine – closed club 2500 points and G-2 bonus 2000 points. Popped down to San Diego for dine with friends at USGrant for Grand Slam for DH)
    1 night Country Inn & Suites Ontario - 15,000 Goldpoints due to special promo
    5 nights at Sheraton Pasadena with our son (triple points due to more than 9 nights (SPG ENC)

    Then we drove with our son through terrain he'd never seen, including Bryce, Zion and Arches. We drove him as far as Denver. On the way, we stayed at 2 Priority Clubs and the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.
    Son departed DEN for MDW, and we stayed in Denver 2 days (2 Hyatt properties and 1 dine at Westin Westminster – great restaurant! -- for Grand Slam hits.) Parked car at Hyatt Place Denver Airport, where parking is a flat $10 added to the room rate, without purchasing a Park N Fly package.
    Flew to IAH. Rented car (Grand Slam hit):
    2 nights Sheraton IAH (SMDo2) (4,000 points for SPG Rewarding Returns – for 5 stays)
    1 night Westin SEA (SMDo2)

    Flew back to IAH on the MegaDo charter. Rented a car and headed West:
    1 night Summerfield Suites Austin and 2 nights Hyatt Wild Oak near SAT. Dines at Westin Riverwalk and Sheraton Gunter for Grand Slam hits for me.) Trip to Galveston, returned car and spent a Priority Club night at IAH.
    Flew back to Denver and began drive home in our own car, including Monument Valley, Hovenweep National Monument, Chaco Canyon, Santa Fe, Taos, Natural Bridges, Canyon de Chelly. 1 night HP Santa Fe, 2 Nights Hyatt Tamaya Resort and 4 Priority Club nights.
    Stopped to see monument in Searchlight, NV, where a P-3 from my husband's Navy squadron went down with all crew lost, and a night at Hyatt Valencia. Then, home, arriving November 18.
    So, we met our goal of 15 total Hyatt nights (30,000 points); triple points at SPG plus bonuses of 10,000 and 4,000; 15,000 Goldpoints; 36 total hits for each of us for 100,000 US Airways miles each; 5 free Priority Club nights due to 10 stays; Crack the Case for Priority Club for about 130,000 points. As if a fabulous one-month road trip were not enough!
     
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  15. 2soonold
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    2soonold Gold Member

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    Yes, interstates can be grisly[​IMG]; but it is possible to find spots or stretches that one can enjoy. I always look forward to the spot where I24 crosses Nickajack Lake in Tennessee.[​IMG]
    Sometimes you can enjoy the drive if you understand a little about the land. For me that would be I75 north of Knoxville to the state line. Or, I16 east from Macon, Ga. down to Savannah.[​IMG]
    And, other times it can be fun because the land is so different from what one is use to. I think of I40 west of Albuquerque[​IMG].
     
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  16. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Sorry, but being in the car makes me crazy, even when I have prearmed myself with a great audio book.

    Once a year we drive from Seattle to Whistler B.C., about 5 hours, much of which is breathtakingly beautiful, and I still hate it.

    Several times a year we go to Vancouver, B.C., and always fly, which I love even more now that they have the train that runs straight from the airport to BC Place.

    I guess I am just not a car kind of girl.
     
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  17. diver90
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    diver90 Gold Member

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    I live in ATL where traffic has two diametrically opposed modes:

    1) NASCAR sanctioned event
    2) Parking lot

    We give out road rage merit badges around here (GA 400 has had a few not so funny incidents). Almost any city of decent size is at least 2+ hours away, so I will usually only drive to Chattanooga, Birmingham, Augusta and possibly Charlotte.

    The diver90 family does like to go out on the weekends and just drive. The most fun is to take a paper map (remember those) and just go exploring the secondary and tertiary roads of north GA and the foothills of the mountains near TN and western SC. GPS is only to be used when hopelessly lost and usually it says there is no road there anyway.

    But get me out on the open road with my trusty Valentine One and you can color me gone. (Oooh got a thread idea!)
     
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  18. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Actually I still love paper maps (and atlases) and use them all the time. Sometimes I just look at a map and can feel where to go on that map. I have found some amazing sites that way.
     
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  19. diver90
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    diver90 Gold Member

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    Sites or Sights or Both?
     
  20. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    sites, sights, surprises, and more
     
  21. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    I bought a light-up globe on sale a couple of years ago, and I really love it. Seemed stupid at the time, what with Google Earth and all, but tracing out a route with your hand and feeling how really far (and yet near) things are is amazing.
     
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  22. chollie
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    chollie Silver Member

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    I went on my first ever (as an adult) road trip early last summer with my sister.

    Very unstructured itinerary, low budget (alternating camping with a night in a motel). We went from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula (Hurricane Ridge, hot springs, ocean beaches with low summer tides).
    Back across to Mt. St Helens for some terrific hiking.
    South to Hood River, Crater Lake, Klamath Wildlife Refuge, Lava Beds National Monument and Lassen Volcanic Park.
    Back up through Sacramento (pretty quick return).

    We had an almost non-existent itinerary, so we would see a sign or something on the map and think 'hey, we might never be this way again, why not?' Some extraordinary surprises along the way that we never would have found any other way.

    A night in Forks, WA. OK, no one thinks of Forks as a happening spot. But we got a fantastic vegetarian (she is, I'm not) meal with one of the best bands (and playlists!) I have heard in years right next door. On the other side of the restaurant, a couple doors down, there was a free bluegrass concert.

    Mind-boggling light-n-shadow and an enormous double-rainbow at sunset as we were coming alongside the Willamette River heading into evening. Breathtaking. We pulled over and stopped just to watch in amazement.

    Camped at a Paulina Lake State Park. This is more for fishermen. Stopped at the 'Giant Obsidian Flow', expecting nothing more than a big black band across a hillside. It was the most amazing field (massive) of pure obsidian! I have seen a lot of obsidan around the world, but nothing like this. Hiked across and up - the views over the flow and across to the mountains with nothing but obsidian all around and under foot - who knew? The park is all about the lake and the fishing, so if we hadn't happened to camp and if the main trail hadn't still been blocked by downed trees and snow, we would have never found this place.

    Too much snow to get through the northern entrance to Lassen, but because it was lunchtime and we had to replan anyway, we went five miles further up the road to a state park the ranger told us about. Three waterfalls (lower, middle, upper). We don't jump up and down for waterfalls, we've seen plenty, but everyone of these was different in character, fantastic, and the water plants - never seen anything like them. Another real gem!

    Lovely baby owls sitting on a branch overhead right outside a tiny, middle of nowhere wildlife refuge center. Free canoes to paddle through the waterways. The baby owls were too young to know that they should never sit far out on a branch (easier to spot). As they get older, they learn to stay closer to the tree trunk.

    I could go on and on. Surprises everywhere - a field of blue cornflowers in full bloom. Critters, big and small, every where we stopped.

    Now I am planning my next road trip. I should add, I am terrible at getting lost, and my poor vision doesn't help when I'm trying to drive and use a map. I got a GPS just before this trip and it has truly been a life-changer.
     
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  23. travelingmore
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    travelingmore Gold Member

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    Like maps, like trip planning, but not a car trip person. If I can fly there, then I can do short car trips around to visit places. And if we get caught in no freeways/small towns/lots of red lights/traffic....no-o-o-o-o...
     
  24. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Fantastic trip report chollie. Thanks for sharing. You've given me some new ideas for my summer trip to the Pacific NW, and Inspired me to write up some of my "finds".

    "I bought a light-up globe on sale a couple of years ago, and I really love it. Seemed stupid at the time, what with Google Earth and all, but tracing out a route with your hand and feeling how really far (and yet near) things are is amazing."

    I agree. Globes are wonderful for the big picture. I use everything from topo maps and detailed trail maps to globes.
     
  25. chollie
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    chollie Silver Member

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    I hope you do write up some of your 'finds'. Perhaps they will inspire me on my next road trip!
     
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