Bay Area to Nashville and Back

Discussion in 'Americas' started by rodr, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    UPDATED: The route is mostly figured out. Nashville and the Natchez Trace will no longer be part of this trip, as my family wants to meet me in New Orleans instead. So if a mod wants to change this thread title to "Bay Area to New Orleans and Back" that would be fine with me!

    Tentative start date is May 31, the day after Memorial Day. Current approximate route plan is as follows:

    Eastbound

    Westbound

    Each destination point represents a nightly stop. Some stops, especially New Orleans, will be more than one night and so the trip will extend to about 20 days. I'm planning about 7 nights of camping and expect to sign up for Verizon Mobile Broadband to keep up with clients and other stuff while on the road.

    Routing over the mountains in California may change, depending on which passes are open. I'd really like to take Sonora Pass or Tioga Pass.

    Here's a tentative summary of the schedule:

    Tue May 31 Beatty, NV or maybe Texas Springs campground in Death Valley
    Wed Jun 1 Prescott, AZ (camping)
    Fri Jun 3 Silver City, NM
    Sat Jun 4 Ft. Davis, TX (camping)
    Sun Jun 5 Kerrville, TX
    Mon Jun 6 Houston, TX (visiting family)
    Tue Jun 7 Covington, LA (visiting a friend)
    Tue Jun 9 New Orleans, LA (family gathering in the French Quarter!)
    Sun Jun 12 Greenville, MS (more family)
    Mon Jun 13 Sardis Cove campground, OK (camping)
    Tue Jun 14 Lubbock, TX (visiting a cemetery)
    Wed Jun 15 Hyde Memorial State Park near Santa Fe, NM (camping)
    Thu Jun 16 Monument Valley, UT (camping)
    Fri Jun 17 Bryce Canyon National Park, UT (camping)
    Sat Jun 18 Bob Scott campground near Austin, NV (nothing special here, just a place to camp)
    Mon Jun 19 Home (Fairfield, CA)
    #1
  2. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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  3. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    On your ride up the Natchez Trace, a couple of suggestions.

    Rodney, MS
    Windsor Ruins

    I can get you coordinates if you need them, but a Google search should bring up whatever information you need. Neither site is on the Trace, but they're nearby.

    Quite a few people simply ride up the Natchez Trace in one day. Sure, it's possible, but you don't get to experience the Trace as it should be. As a road, I find it kind of boring. It's mostly flat. Not too curvy except for the northern section. Low speed limit.

    Unlike the similar but different Blue Ridge Parkway, which was created for the sole purpose of putting the driver in scenic locations, the Natchez Trace, almost by very definition, goes through the flattest and sometimes least interesting areas. It started as a hiking path, so necessarily the travelers took the route of least resistance.

    That's not a bad thing. The gem of the Natchez Trace is its history. Though you'll quickly get tired of stopping at every wayside attraction (there's a stop every couple miles or so, on average) you should do a bit of research and find those places in which you think you might be interested. Though probably almost nobody takes this long, I recommend a couple of days to fully appreciate the length of the Trace.

    Jamie
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  4. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu Long timer

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    Consider this route through the eastern side of Arizona and part of NM when heading to Houston. I did the same part this summer when I was heading westward.

    1) From Eagar, AZ, take highway 191 all the way down to Clifton. You'll go through Morenci, a massive open pit mine. great switchbacks. glorious road.

    2) a little south of Morenci, take Hwy 78 eastward, then hwy 180 southeast to Tyrone. Then Hwy 152 to Caballo State Park. Riding through the Gila National Forest was one of the few times I would have willingly rode bitch to admire the scenery.

    Once in Texas, Highway 90 from Alpine to Comstock is pretty scenic (for west texas scenery) and you can make great time too.
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  5. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    Thanks gents - it's really nice to get this excellent input from you seasoned travelers! I have updated the route in my original posting, and have split it into two maps to make it more manageable.
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  6. jeventures

    jeventures Been here awhile

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    If you have the time I highly recommended taking 4 or 5 days to ride the roads between Chattanooga, TN and Asheville, NC. If you want some suggested routes I'd be happy to make a quick googlemap of favorites. The road riding is excellent and the jeep trails are good as well.

    To get an idea google Tail of the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway, and Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Best,
    JE

    PS - As you get within 50 miles of Nashville watch out for lower speed limits and cops on the Natchez Trace Pkwy. Even on Tuesdays mornings I've found them out and about.
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  7. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    Ooooh, I'd love to just keep on going but I think another week on the road would be too much for this trip. Between my wife and clients, my head would be on a stick! :lol3

    But if you have any ideas for the return ride I'm all ears. :ear
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  8. EASTtoWEST

    EASTtoWEST n00b

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    Hey,
    A few suggestions since I just rode from Nashville to San Diego about a month ago:

    The Natchez Trace is a really nice road, but it can get a little boring. Also don't speed on it. The Speed limit is 50. I got a $100 "fine" from the Park Ranger. Talk to a couple of locals and they said the cops are pretty tough about the speed limit.

    On you trip if you can make it to Flagstaff, AZ and then down to 89A to Sedona, it is really worth it. You can also do more of the Tonto National Forest on AZ, it is a great ride.

    Also on your way up to Nashville is the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchberg, TN. It is a dry county, but the tour is cool and it is worth seeing.

    Have fun
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  9. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Agreed on the distillery, though if you can, avoid being on the last tour of the day. I've been through there several times. The one time I was on the last tour of the day, not only was the tour guide in a terrible rush, but most of the workers had gone home so you don't get to see any action. It's otherwise one of my favorite places, and it's free! Go mid-day.

    Jamie
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  10. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    I used to live in Arizona and have seen Sedona, Flagstaff, etc. Of course it would be fun to do that again, but I decided to route through Prescott/Pine/Strawberry instead just as a personal preference. Those are really pretty areas with not so much tourism.

    A tentative return leg has been added to the first post. So far its highlights are Santa Fe, a bit of Utah and the North rim of the Grand Canyon.
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  11. peterhively

    peterhively Been here awhile

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    I made it a few miles down the Natchez Trace Parkway one time, and nearly died of boredom. But compared to crossing TX on I-10 I guess it'll be a blast.
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  12. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    In that case I can boast of a death-defying ride! :lol3
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  13. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Keep in mind that the North Rim usually doesn't open until mid- or late May (the Park section, anyway).
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  14. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    Crud. I'll probably have to skip it then.
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  15. Disco Stu

    Disco Stu Long timer

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    I was through there mid may this summer. the roads were open, but there was 6ft of snow on the road sides. brrr. And don't stop off at the four corners monument, it's closed. I rode 200 miles out of the way to find out
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  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Depending on where you rode--a few miles is just a fraction of a percent of the total length--the Trace can be rather straight and flat. Parts of it offer perfect sweeping curves. In some ways, I too sometimes compare it to an interstate, as it is generally limited access, and it bypasses all the nearby towns

    But if you take the Trace for what it is, a historical road important in the settlement of the country and in the years since, then you can thoroughly enjoy the route. The Trace was important during the Civil War, a couple (few?) presidents have traveled the Trace, Meriweather Lewis traveled, died, and is buried along the route, and along the way there are quite a few beautiful modern bridges (which you necessarily can't see unless you turn off the Trace and have a look). You have to stop to appreciate the things it offers, not treat it like an interstate.

    They're moving it.

    Jamie
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  17. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Wait-- how could the Four Corners monument be moved?? :scratch It's defined by the geographic location.
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  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I'm making a bit of a joke, as the construction at the Four Corners monument coincides with some publicity last year that the monument was placed in the wrong spot. http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2009/04...ment-should-be-over-there/UPI-94631240352734/

    The U.S. National Geodetic Survey released a rebuttal shortly thereafter explaining why, even if it's not where it was intended to be, it's now considered the legal boundary. http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/INFO/fourcorners.shtml

    Regarding whether it's open or not, the official website says it's open. During construction, it was apparently only open a couple days a week. http://www.navajonationparks.org/htm/fourcorners.htm

    Jamie
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  19. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    The Jacob Lake Inn is open all year round! It's not right at the rim, but it's in the area:

    http://www.jacoblake.com/
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  20. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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