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USA trip: advice needed

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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Mar 07, 2013 3:48 am

neffo wrote:marto,

just replied on the front page, but hit us up if you want some specifics on the aussie perspective. :geek:

this was our route (starting in LA), join the dots.

Image


Join the dots? You were cavity searched at LAX.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Mar 07, 2013 3:55 am

P161911 wrote:For a true American experience get a full size pickup truck. Preferably a Chevy or Ford. If you get some sort of bed cover or camper top you can easily sleep in it. They even make tents and air mattresses custom fit to truck beds. Truck are generally reliable, easy/cheap to work on/get fixed and easy to sell at the end of your trip. Even a 2WD version will let you get a little more off the beaten path than a car, especially in the dessert or back country.

For things to do, go to a junkyard, look for a Pull-a-part yard, pay the $1 and go wander around for a while. For local eateries/watering holes, go watch the city specific episodes of Man V Food and Dave Attel's Up all Night to get some ideas. All the National Parks are great, especially Yellowstone. For a NASCAR race, look for one of the small local tracks, you are probably never more than 100 miles from one in the South, they usually race every Friday or Saturday night from spring to fall.


Thanks for the advice. This actually sounds a little bit like my plan once I get home. Buy a 'ute' - a diesel Hilux 5 seater - and do a few laps of the country offering lifts to other travellers as I go in exchange for fuel money. Bed in the back, feet hanging over the tailgate...

It is probably a little too ambitious for the the North America trip, plus I want to be light. The airlines get good mileage out of me, I only carry about 20 pounds of luggage total when I went through Vietnam and Europe.

As for the food thing, I'm going to ask locals. Perhaps the very people I meet at the local band gig I go to. :?

And here's another thing: until just now I didn't realise I have been thinking Yellowstone and Yosemite are the same thing all my life. :shock:

Thanks for the advice, and I'll look out for an oval wherever I am on a Friday or Saturday.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Mar 07, 2013 4:05 am

jibduh wrote:Logistically;

While I like the premise of coming to america, buying a running $500 car and driving it across the country and then selling it at the end of your trip, I think final cost would be far more than that initial investment (also, tying a title without an address and other logistical nightmares). Then again, I have a tendancy to pick exciting lemons and skip over the more dependable and dull. You might be able to find a cruiser though, and it seems that this route has been taken by ones on the main page more ambitious/competent than I.

A rental would be a little pricy, and you wouldn't be able to get away for less than a couple grand even in the most basic econobox.
Hitchhiking, I think has largely died out around here, at least, as far as I can see, though, I do like the thought of catching someone heading out on a roadtrip and sharing in the adventure. Maybe something to map out when who goes where to see if it's something that could work. That sounds really fun, actually, if just about impossible to coordinate.

To help keep costs down, these are two sites that I've kept in the back of my mind, since hostels don't seem terribly common around here. disclaimer: I like the premise, but I've not used either beyond the casual browsing. caveat emptor.
https://www.airbnb.com/
https://www.couchsurfing.org/


I would be very much so in favor of a SE MI Hooniverse meetup! You should try to make it for the dream cruise and check things out!


Yeah, I think the buy and drive is too much hassle. As for finding people already doing road trips, perhaps there'll be other travellers in hostels and so on. Hitchhiking is pretty much off the table - most Aussies won't even consider it since Ivan Milat. He is an Aussie serial killer who murdered 30 or so lone travellers on our east coast in the 80s and 90s. Then there was the Peter Falconio case on which the movie "Wolf Creek" was (loosely) based.

I am a long time member of Couchsurfing but have only hosted people. AirBNB is also definitely on my rader. I've also come across a network of farms that house and feed you for 2-4 hours work a day. Some of them just want you to get up at 5 to do the early chores then the rest of the day is yours. I can do that. This whole trip is really about spending time, rather than packing heaps of sights and adventures in. If you follow my drift.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Mar 07, 2013 4:16 am

danleym wrote:
Marto wrote:I am a sucker for nature and am not afraid to suffer for that love either. 10-mile hike - no worries. So, Colorado, which hadn't really figured in my imagination yet, is starting to look good on Google image search. Plus, Denver International Airport - what on earth is up with THAT?


Yeah, Denver International Airport looks pretty crazy, but it is a very nice airport on the inside. I've flown through that place more times than I'd like to count. Look into Rocky Mountain National Park- you'll find some great hiking and great views. And Colorado has something like 53 14ers, so plenty of mountains to summit. Some are easy (you can drive to the top of Pike's Peak), others a pretty technical.

You mentioned drinking the local drink- if you're in Colorado, New Belgium is a pretty good brewery, though you can find their stuff all over now. If you end up in St. Louis (where I live now), drink anything from Civil Life Brewery. I haven't had a bad beer yet from them. But don't go out of your way to go to St. Louis, there's not much of interest around here.

Good luck with all the planning- someday I'd like to take a few months and just ramble around the country.


I never thought an airport itself could be a tourist attraction! As for the Rocky Mountains, that is one thing mainland Australia does not have: tall mountains. Oh, bits get snow and there are craggy bits here and there, but nothing too dramatic. Even on our far southern islands and Antarctic Claim the mountains top out at about 11,000 feet. I am pretty fit but I'm not an experienced rough country trekker. I can cover a lot of ground in a day, but I like to be back in the hotel for dinner! ha ha However, a drive to the top of Pike's Peak is tempting for other reasons...

As for what to drink where, bartenders and whichever pretty local girl I strike up a conversation with will help there: "G'day how ya goin'? Name's Marto, and I'm not from around 'ere, just wondering if you could recommend a drink for a lone traveller..." Corny!

I hope you do get the chance to just wander one day or year. I'm hoping this'll be a real reset button on my life. :)
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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Mar 07, 2013 4:27 am

pj134 wrote:Pittsburgh isn't too bad, if you take the route into through Chicago and Detroit, its definitely worth a visit. There's probably... something to do in whatever part of Ohio you cross. About 6 hours east of there and you're into Philadelphia and after 90 minutes of driving while making fun of New Jersey you're into New York. Pittsburgh has a small town kind of feel while being a decent sized city and Philadelphia is a major city that still has it's blue collar roots and shuts down at night. Also, we have really, really good beer in Philly... and roast pork... roast pork, cheese steaks and beer.

Or, if you're so inclined, you could take the Pittsburgh, south to Washington, north to Philly and NYC route. You'd cover the current capital, the first capital/where the country was born, and the largest city in one fell swoop.

EDIT: If you're going to Louisiana in any summer month, my understanding is that you should prepare to sweat your balls off in a manner that is not to be believed. Like, nasty, pouring sweat covering you. It isn't that it is hotter than what you get in Australia, I just don't think you have to deal with year round 80% humidity. It's higher in the summer.


I know a girl in Philadelphia. Met her in Amsterdam - and she would not A: stop chewing gum, and B: talking about Philly cheese steak. She always said I should look her up if I was ever in her area. I am going to be in New York anyway...

Also, contrary to Australian stereotype I don't actually drink a lot of beer. My limit is about 3 pints before I get all bloated. No, when I go large it's on wine and whisky. So, true to Australian stereotype, I like drinking. And, despite being skinny, I can eat and eat and eat (though, 13 pieces of pizza in one sitting is a personal record I never intend to break).

As for Louisiana humidity, thanks for the warning. Summer in my part of Australia sounds similarly gross (winter is really nice though). So 90 degrees and 90% humidity is far from my favourite weather, but I reckon a bit of discomfort is worth it. :D
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostFri Mar 08, 2013 3:43 am

jeep_jeff wrote:
Marto wrote:I will be in the Bay Area around then. I am making my way south from Vancouver to LA visiting friends and San Francisco intrigues me: the hills, Mythbusters, a red bridge called gold, Bullitt, the social vibe of the place, Full House, Big Trouble in Little China, etc, etc. My mum and sister have both been and said I'd love it.

I'm a bit of a hiker and have done some climbing, so Yosemite is definitely on the list. Plus, I want to do some longer hikes into thinner air - nothing like summiting a good mountain.

Thing is, I don't think I will be doing much driving. I'm hoping buses and lifts can get me around.


Awesome. Hit me up if you need help getting out to Yosemite (or anywhere else in the Sierras). I know there are buses and tours that go out there, but they'll likely have fixed itineraries.

Marto wrote:I've never driven on the right side of the road and have no idea what it takes (in terms of what paperwork I need) to buy a car in the US. However, my Australian driver's licence is valid in your country - apparently. Anyway, I want to keep a lid on expenses, the less I spend the longer I can keep travelling. The US government says I can holiday in the States for 90 days total, but that starts as soon as I set foot in Northern America - Caribbean, Canada and Mexico included.


I'd be a little worried about driving on the left (the wrong side for me), too. I've only bought a car in California. The process here is the seller smogs the car, you give them the agreed on amount, write that and the mileage on the pink slip (title), and then you and the previous owner signs the title over to you. You take the car, the title and the smog certificate. You'll need to go into the DMV and pay a bit over 10% in taxes and show them the pink slip and smog ticket so they can update their databases. You'll also need $15,000 in liability insurance which would be in the low hundreds of dollars for 3 months. After that, it's gas and any maintenance needed. Which is where the real crap shoot is. 8-) The other caveat is, I'm a citizen, so I don't know what gets added on if you're a foreigner. It certainly doesn't reduce the paperwork... Also, most sellers don't know that they're supposed to smog the car before selling it (for private owner sales).

Amtrak and Greyhound will get you around all of the country for reasonably cheap (if not quickly). There are some limits for getting out to the boonies, but city-to-city, no problems. Getting a car and road tripping it may be more hassle than it's worth.

My Dad hitch-hiked across the Western US in 1971, but it's gotten a bad rap since then, and I don't know that I can suggest it. It's illegal in most places anymore. I can particularly anti-suggest it on Interstates (it's illegal and particularly dangerous on the Interstates, just because there aren't supposed to be pedestrians or cars stopped on the shoulders). There are a few places where it's still accepted, the big one I can think of: ski towns. If you find yourself around Lake Tahoe (or other areas with lots of ski resorts around) and need a lift to the next town, stick your thumb out. Also, virtual hitch hiking: check the local Craigslist rideshare section (or hell, even post a 'need a lift to' request). You may meet some interesting people.


Thanks for all the good advice. You know, from somewhere I got the idea that the USA didn't really do passenger rail. Freight trains sure, but - I dunno - you just never think of taking a train when you think of travelling in the USA. Train travel does have a charm that other forms just don't - well, at least it can have a charm. If it looks like an airliner inside, then it is just a really slow, low plane. So I figure Greyhound is the go for me. Surely there is some sort of country wide ticket where you pay one price and then can hop on and hop off all round certain common travel routes.
As for hitchhiking, unless I am desperate I wouldn't even consider it.
However, Craigslist sounds cool. You know, there's nothing remotely similar to Craigslist in Australia. The closest would be Gumtree - but no one really uses it.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostFri Mar 08, 2013 3:48 am

Greg wrote:This sounds like a road trip of epic proportions. I'll be looking forward to your updates from the road :D

If you happen to get bored driving through Ohio, head on over to Dayton and you'll find Wright-Patterson AFB (assuming you're into planes at all). They have one of the most impressive collections on earth with literally everything from a Sopwith Camel to an SR-71. They've even got FDR's Air Force One and the only remaining XB-70 Valkyrie in existence (http://www.aircraftinformation.info/Images/Valkyrie_06.jpg).

If you're going to spend a lot of time in the South East, you have to check out New Orleans. There are also some pretty/fun areas in Tennessee, but other than that, a NASCAR race is about all you can do down here :lol:


Hi there,
I hope this trip helps me reset my life a bit. I've been on the professional track since about 2002 and it's an empty life for me. So I am busting out of my "ruttine"! I want it to be EPIC!
As for your further points, as you might have read, I am not really into museums. But a museum with an SR-71 is a different story.
New Orleans is definitely on the list. I love food and cocktails - so fried shrimp, hot sauce and sazeracs all round.
I am not sure how I will handle updates on the road. I think I might just start a new thread on the forum and check in whenever I get the time and internet access.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostWed Mar 13, 2013 3:10 am

Batshitbox wrote:I've joined the thread a bit late, I'm afraid. But I was, at one time, a Mythbuster

Image

I'm the blurry one that's not Adam Savage. We're both a bit web-shy.

You expressed interest in that. I'm not in touch with those people much anymore but they won't kick me off the doorstep either. I am also a chronic museum employee (sometimes on the long roads of the States museums are all there is to stop for, they almost always have a car in them) and right now I'm at The Exploratorium in San Francisco. We're closed, but I can get you in for a behind the scenes afternoon if you like.

You mentioned couch surfing? My housemates work for couch surfing (daught) kom . . . we have a nine foot (2-3/4 meter) couch that folks from all over the world remember fondly. If you need to set up a profile on there and get some quick references we might be able to recommend you. (Though the last Aussie was a bit of a pain.)

Beer? I'm within two miles of Anchor Brewing and Speakeasy. Speakeasy is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 5 'till 9. Anchor costs a bunch and takes reservations. Smells nice, though... standing outside there.

You're really not driving? Take the train. The bus is for reprobates and teenage runaways. You may not make it back to Australia before the oceans rise and swallow the Cook Islands but you'll be able to tell all of us hoons a thing or two about the back alleys of our enormous land. The West Coast trains are among the most reliable. Bring first-aid and energy bars nonetheless.

Always know where your towel is, and have a good estimate of its nutritional value.


Hi, thanks for the awesome stuff. I'd love to get hands on with whatever the Exploratorium is. My main beef about museums is the passivity of it. You're just standing there going "ooooh" at the things. Plus, secret missions are always welcome. I'm in.

As for couch surfing this is my profile, I have hosted a few people but never surfed myself. http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=7NHT2C5

Hopefully, I can undo the bad work of my predecessing compatriot.

And, surely the buses can't be that bad... Plus I am a 30 year old runaway. Ha ha. Trains are nice though.

I plan to carry a few supplies in the backpack anyway. As for towels, I prefer sarongs: Sheet, tent, towel, scarf, easy to rip, emergency clothing (in beach settings) and dirt cheap, plus they pack down small. But, I have to concede they do not soak up as many nutrients in the corners. Nor would I loop one over a hovering robot and hang off it...
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Apr 04, 2013 9:14 pm

skitter wrote:This idea came up in another thread, and I'm just adding it here.

For a full Hooniverse style trip, you have to show up, get a car running, and drive it across the country.
In this case, it would be Jeff's Civic Si.
You'd arrive, fix the TPS check engine issue and contribute some towards his insurance while you're using it.
I do think that, especially in wide-open America, a car is freedom, and fairly essential to getting around.
Most places it has huge benefits and no drawbacks, and even in major cities the issues are minor in the short term.
At the end of your trip, you could either sell it on his behalf, drop it with another hoon who would do the same or arrange for Jeff or someone to return it.

I second or third whoever suggested the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Make sure you enter Pittsburgh through the tunnel, coming north on I-79.


Oh gees, I don't know if I am that wedded to the idea of being responsible for my ride. ha ha. I'd more prefer to have the variety of a range of vehicles. Anyway, the trip is now pretty much set to start in LA on May 19. With a couple of weeks in Japan before that.

Also, apologies for the lateness of this reply I've been overseas and quite sick of late. So thanks for waiting.
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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostThu Apr 04, 2013 9:18 pm

Maymar wrote:A Crown Victoria might be just the ticket for you - cheap (because except for a few nuts, no one really wants them), reliable, everyone can work on them, you could sleep in it (just, reactivate the rear door handles or take the cage out if you get an ex-cop car), and on the highway, the fuel economy isn't entirely hideous. Plus, semi-traditional American BOF land yacht.

Should you find yourself in the Toronto area though, we're sort of a dead zone of car enthusiasm. Although, we've got a pretty decent track in Bowmanville's Mosport (sorry, Canadian Tire Motorsports park), and and Bradford's Guild of Automotive Restorers frequently has some rare or interesting projects on the go. Both are within 45 minutes or so of the city. In the city, we've got a couple railway-themed breweries (Steamwhistle, in an old roundhouse beside the CN Tower with several old locomotives, and Junction, near an old stockyard), and one of our better breweries (Mill St) is in a neighbourhood built out of an old distillery (with reclaimed buildings).


I do love a land yatch. Something about cruising in 7 tons of softly sprung chrome and steel, doing 250 rpm with the windows down...
But, again, I'd rather ride along with people already doing a road trip than own the car myself. I'm travelling very light.

Once my USA visa runs out I'm going to cross into Canada and run out my visa there. Toronto is on the list because it looks generally interesting. And I like a drink - or six. Also, any Toronto food specialties I have to try?

Once again, sorry about the lateness of this reply. I've been both overseas and unwell of late.
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Devin

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostFri Apr 05, 2013 12:11 pm

If you're in Sask, say hi.

It's not the most exciting province, but it does contain me.
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Marto

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Re: USA trip: advice needed

PostFri Apr 05, 2013 9:33 pm

Devin wrote:If you're in Sask, say hi.

It's not the most exciting province, but it does contain me.



Hi Devin,

I don't known what Sask is. I'd guess Saskatchewan or Saskatoon - but neither place name really means anything to me. And anywhere you live will be exotic and interesting to a foreigner. After all, this is the landscape I am used to:

Image

BORING!

(Even thought the picture file name is 'outback farm' - that is just the countryside, there are very few fences in the outback)

Also, I am looking to travel slow and cheap. Do you know of any local places doing that "work 3 or 4 hours a day for free food and accommodation" deal?

Anyway, there's a chance I'll be seeing you in late June if you are around.

Cheers,

Marto
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