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charlie, computer cat

April 2019



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charlie, computer cat

So, some of you will already have seen oxfordhacker 's entry on the subject, but here's mine. We've managed to cobble together a rough itinerary for the trip to the states in May that looks like it'll work and also doesn't cost a fortune. It goes as follows:

14th May: Fly into Washington/Baltimore
17th May: Drive to Toronto/Hamilton
20th May: Drive to Chicago
22nd May: Plane to Vegas
29th May: Drive to San Fransisco (possibly stopping with sunday_silence on the way)
3rd June: Fly to London

We have managed to find this for not too crazy prices so the question is, are we crazy? The driving looks long but do-able and like it would be through some really nice areas. Will we, as non-Americans, have trouble driving across the Canadian border?

The Roadtrip: Are we crazy?

No, you'll be fine
You may want to make a tiny alteration, which I will suggest below

I could hook up with you...

In Washington/Baltimore
In Toronto/Hamilton
In Chicago
In Vegas
In San Fransisco
If you made a tiny alteration to your plans which I will explain below


On terminology

Before answering question two, you may wish to read tinyjo's answer to burr86's poll...

Re: On terminology

Which I can't see...

Re: On terminology

Ah, where Abe asks "Does hooking up mean a) kissing, b) sex or c) other"! I always thought it just meant getting together casually :)

Re: On terminology

I think it may have senses b) and c) for Americans, especially young Americans. See Tom Wolfe's essay on the subject.

Re: On terminology

I don't have an NY Times login so can't see that but I'm sure you're right.

Re: On terminology


The article is pretty frothing-at-the-mouth, and i'm skeptical about how much Mr Wolfe knows of the actual sexual habits of teenagers, but it is quite entertaining, precisely because of those facts.

-- tom
Have driven the Vegas-SF route. Make sure you take and drink plenty of water with you for that bit because it's extremely dehydrating terrain throughout, and people (you, or more worryingly, other drivers) can lose a lot of mental and physical acuity when water-stressed. Otherwise it should be a breeze.

You'll have no trouble at the Canadian border, it's a Commonwealth country.

have a lovely time.
As a Canadian, I can answer one of the questions. No, you shouldn't have any issue at the Canadian border as long as:
- You have a passport
- You don't have a gun, or open booze
- You have no *visible* bombs strapped to your person
- You don't laugh at the border guard's funny accent.



Edited at 2008-01-22 12:29 pm (UTC)
Awesome - I think I can manage that :)
Sounds doable to me, though I can't drive and thus am not the best one to ask whether you guys are crazy or not. XD

As for the "tiny alteration" that would be required in order to meet up with me, you would have to be able to drive all the way from San Francisco (or Las Vegas) to Portland, OR. That's certainly doable, but it could require a drive of a day or two. Plus, you'd either have to drive back to SF in order to maintain your flight plans, or change them to fly back to London out of PDX (note that PDX doesn't have any direct flights to London, so it would definitely require transfers).

Of course, since part of the time you would be staying there would be over the weekend, I could also possibly take the train to head down there for a day or two. ;)
We're about 40 minutes NW of Hamilton or 40 minutes W of Toronto — we're also directly on a straight line between Toronto and Chicago, so. :)
Maybe we'll stop for a cup of tea on our way to Chicago then :)
I was hoping I could check off Chicago, Vegas, *and* SF, but alas, I don't think I'll be in Chicago around that time. ;P

BWI to Toronto in 3 days?

Since you are giving yourself no time for jetlag recovery befgore you hit the road...a few things you should know:

- The Pennsylvania Turnpike (if you use that route to cut through those eastern hills optimistically called 'mountains') is astonishingly boring to drive. Make sure you keep eachother awake and alert.

... additionally, Pennsylvanians have an annoying habit of stopping completely in the acceleration lane to check for oncoming traffic before attempting to merge. It's their law, and it's madness.

- Ohio: oh dear god why does that place even exist? ;-)


lastly, it would be a shame to leave Baltimore before going to the indoor seafood market down by the port area. It's awesome! :-)


Road trips rule!

Caught a Greyhound bus from Atlanta to Chicago (overnight and part of the next day) and then Chicago to somewhere I am confused about but will dig out my album (Norfolk I think) and the scenery was very dull for an awful lot of the middle of it. Didn't manage to go on a route that went on the tunnel-bridge which looks rather cool... Did a bus from Montreal to NY and that was a bit better but also rather long (and rather overshadowed by having a minor issue with no food or water from Niagara Falls on down).

Washington and Baltimore are great - you must wander round the centre bit of Washington and sit on the grass and you can spend days in the museums, I loved the aquarium in Baltimore, never been to Toronto. Lots of nice scenery by the coast going from Baltimore. Chicago is also really great - when we were there we were cheapskate students and managed to go to most of the places on the right days of the week for it to be free too but Tristam refused to let me try to get tickets for Jerry Springer :-) San Francisco is fab.

We hired a car out of Las Vegas on our last big US trip and had a fantastic time driving round there going to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon (poster of the bizarreness in the loo under the stairs!), Zion Canyon etc and our only regret was that we wanted a few more days to do Monument valley and things. Also, Yosemite (nearish to SF) is gorgeous (we went there on a bus from SF but driving would have been better). Oh and the coast by SF is lovely and you must see some Redwoods. I could easily spend a fortnight between and around SF and Vegas alone (and that's not including the cities!).

Driving round the US is loads of fun and it is really geared up for that kind of trip (greyhounding wasn't as good). Motels are quite cheap and generally easy to find out of the centres of the big cities. If you find a scenic bit then just driving about is fun but there are some big plain flat bits to maybe not drive. There are various official scenic/historic highways which you can drive which go through nice scenery and stop at interesting places which I've done in quite a few states and which are worth going more slowly for (they have lower speed limits so you don't get anywhere fast on them) - maybe have a look to see if there are any on your routes.

Your timings seem doable but my only reservation is that it is fun on that sort of a trip to have the opportunity to be flexible and go to the random things that take your fancy along the way or just have a day in a hotel room not going anywhere. I've been to the US quite a few times now on quite a few long trips and I'm nowhere near seeing all the bits I want to yet :-)

Jealous now :-)

I'm not sure where I will be around then, but it seems likely that I would be nearly at some point or other during your trip, and if that's the case, I'd be happy to meet you guys!
Roadtrip is fine. The boything and I did about 13K miles in three weeks once, and the rental car agency gave us the stink-eye when we took the car back, but it was fun.

Driving on the wrong side of the road is fun, so long as you mostly remember to stay on the right (wrong) side.

(PS Vegas to SF is totally doable in one day. Easily. ;)
You could pass through the NY tri-state/metro area on your way to Toronto! It's an 8-9 hour drive from this area.
I suspect you'll have more trouble coming back across into the US than going into Canada.

-- tom
Going to the east coast isn't much out of your way, right? ;)
Well, I'm relying on you natives - I'm sure if you say so it can't be far :P
Very good. Have a wonderful time here! You'll even be going somewhere I have never been (Vegas), and SF is maybe my favorite American city.