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Road Trip Across America – (Part 1: The Plan)

iLHP is doing a photography road trip across America. The plan is to drive from Boston to Los Angeles via a southerly route,  across 15 states, two mountain ranges, three time zones, 3790 miles (6100KM), and about $500 in gas (if I’m lucky). Since it’s such a rare opportunity to do a massive drive like this, I want to make the most of it. So, my time table is pretty loose and I’m planning for making the journey in two weeks.

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Ideally, I’d like to say this trip has been in the works for some time, and that I’ve gone through painstaking planning. Honestly, I planned this trip in one night, first by researching what I wanted to explore in America and then working out the route itself on www.roadtrippers.com. Let’s see how I did.

The Route

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I will start from Boston, Massachusetts, head south through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and make my first stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home of the 76ers, the Liberty Bell, and the cheesesteaks.

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Following Philly, I’ll be heading south by southwest, past Maryland, Washington D.C., and make camp in the Appalachian Mountains and a “ribbon of perfection” called the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina.

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The beeline for the west really begins after North Carolina. From the Appalachians, I’ll blast through Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas, stopping along the way in each state of course.

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Next, I will climb up to the mile-high-city, past Denver, Colorado, through the Rockies and another ribbon called the Trail Ridge Road. At its highest point, it reaches 12,300ft (3700m) above sea level!

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Finally, I especially look forward to the last leg of the journey, which will take me through some spectacular mountains, canyons, and scenery in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

The Steed

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My trusty pony will be a 2006 BMW 325i, naturally aspirated 3.0L, nickel-magnesium alloy inline 6 cylinder, 6-speed manual, 215hp sports sedan. For an 8 year old car, it only has 53,000 miles (85,300KM) so it’ll be nice to stretch its legs a bit on this trip and enjoy some of the best driving roads in America.

As for vehicle preparation, all the maintenance is up to date. The car runs on extreme performance Dunlop Direzza ZII summer tires, which I have overpressurized by 2PSI on each corner to improve fuel milage a little bit. Since these cars don’t carry a spare tire, I bought two cans of tire sealant, just in case I get a flat in the middle of nowhere. A quart of Mobile 5W-30, a jug of coolant, a jug of washer fluid, a tool kit, camping supplies, and she is ready to go.

Key Destinations

There will be two major themes to this road trip. One is to feature the amazing natural wonders throughout America. Landscapes, flora, and fauna. Second is to enjoy America’s most amazing driving roads. I’ll be going out of my way to find those mountain twisties and canyon carvers to do a little spirited driving. It’s a pretty good mix.

#1) Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia, North Carolina)

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Blue Ridge Parkway is a nearly 500 mile ribbon of tarmac stretching from Virginia, southwest into North Carolina. It is well known as one of America’s most scenic roads and even the boys on Top Gear has paid a visit.

#3) Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

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Mammoth Cave National Park is the worlds largest known cave system at 400 miles. And of course, when in Kentucky, I’d have to pay my respects at the original KFC.

#3) Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (Kansas)

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This will mean little to those living outside of the US. But to Americans, Brown v. Board of Education was a pivotal Supreme Court decision that impacted the national policy on racial segregation in schools. It was an important part of recent American history. As a law nerd, this makes an abstract and verbose opinion “real.”

#4 Trail Ridge Road (Colorado)

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This will be a challenge. Weather permitting, I will take this winding road up to The Stanley Hotel, which inspired the novel The Shining by Steven King and subsequently the film The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. Here’s Johnny!

#5) Antelope Canyon (Arizona)

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I’ve been starring at the Antelope Canyon every day since it’s my default wall paper on my mac. I hope to really exercise my camera within these rock formations. Maybe I’ll even try to schedule a model shoot here!

#6) Las Vegas (Nevada)

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My last stop before reaching LA is Las Vegas. Although I’ve visited a few times, it’ll be a nice way to cap off the long journey with some pampered rest and relaxation. Don’t bet on me winning at blackjack though! The house always wins.


Here are all four parts of my travels: Part 2 (Philly Cheesesteaks and Blue Ride Parkway; Part 3 (Mammoth Cave, a Sherman Tank, and the Original KFC); Part 4 (Highest Road in America; Arches National Park; and Antelope Canyon).

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