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 Visiting the USA mid 2009 - Ideas?

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callum
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

My wife and I (currently free of rug rat infestations) are planning to visit the US for a holiday in June. So far the plan is;
- Los Angeles 8 nights
- New York (by plane) for 4 or 5 nights

Then using Amtrak to get back to LA by rail via;
- Chicago (via Lakes Ontario and Erie) which is 18 hours overnight
- San Francisco (via Denver and Salt Lake), 52 hours
- Down the coast to LA which is a 12 hour daytime journey

Then jumping on white mans big bird and heading home.

Q - Should we spend any time in Chicago?
Q - Apart from the bridge, prison island and cable cars, is there a good reason to spend any time in San Fran.?

We would only have a day or two to spend in each.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:19 am Reply with quoteBack to top

About San Francisco: Food and wine if you're into that sort of thing. Plus you'd be close to Napa Valley, lots of wineries there for some good times.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:02 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Q - Should we spend any time in Chicago?


Depends what you like...Summer weather can be nice. Chicago has a nice skyline and pretty lakefront, plus reasonably priced hotels (compared to the west or east coast). and if you want to drive out less than 40 miles out of town, you can check out the cornfields Very Happy

At the moment exchange rate is very reasonable, and if you are into the great sport of shopping there are many malls and outlet malls where you can spend to your heart's content and find some nice bargains.

Feel free to PM me if you want any more info about this neck of the woods.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:21 am Reply with quoteBack to top

San Francisco has an active Chinatown, museums, and a baseball team. I like the Exploratorium. http://www.exploratorium.edu/
and Pier 39 http://www.pier39.com/
I like to get up early and jog in the Marina District if I have not cruised the Tenderloin at night and been arrested trying to pick up an underage goat . That was really baaaad. I didn't know it was a kid.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:39 am Reply with quoteBack to top

callum wrote:

Q - Apart from the bridge, prison island and cable cars, is there a good reason to spend any time in San Fran.?


San Franicisco is a great city for wining and dining and others have said, down the road from wine country......plus it's just down the road from me, so I do expect a visit!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:48 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The lakefront is nice, and Chicago has some nice summer activities also, depending on when you are arriving. It is also generally nowhere near as expensive as either of the coasts. If you are into music and are in at the right time, it's just a short trip up to Milwaukee (just past those cornfields, actually) and Summerfest, which generally has a pretty extensive musical lineup.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:51 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The rail system here is notoriously slow and always way behind schedule. Might want to keep that in mind.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:42 am Reply with quoteBack to top

San Francisco is a beautiful city, and going to the top of one of its hills will give you a gorgeous view. But be prepared for fog and chilly weather.

Now, when you get to LA, let us know. There are a few of us here in the land of mice and movie stars. Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

callum wrote:

Q - Should we spend any time in Chicago?


If you are science inclined, then THIS would be right up your alley. The U-505 alone is worth the visit.

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Tastysnack
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:53 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Here are my thoughts.

1. Trains in the US are NOT trains in the EU. They are late, cramped, tend to roll over, or hit some idiot that wants to "beat the train".

2. Why not rent a car? Fuel costs have dropped and currently are around $2.00/gal. Between needing a cab in the bigger cities, and lack of transportation in the middle areas, a car would give you much greater freedom. You don't need the caddy, just a small Ford would be fine.

3. When you arrive if you decide to rent a car, buy the biggest cooler (ice box) that you can fit with your luggage. Fill with ice. Then put in beer, some soda, water, and lunch/breakfast supplies. Groceries in the US are very reasonable, and making sandwiches and simple breakfast makes the budget go a bit longer. Gives you freedom to stop in out of the way locactions for a nice view.

Then, treat yourself to a nice dinner for your evening meal.

4. Why so much time on the coasts? I couldn't spend 2 days in LA. New York maybe. Rather take a coast to coast driving tour.

This summer my family and I(wife and 3 daughters) drove 3,750 miles from Illinois, to the Badlands in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, then Yellowstone in Whyoming, The Grant Tetons, then we went to Jackson Hole, and lastly Breckenridge CO.

STAY OUT OF KANSAS!!! Seriously. They have tornados EVERY DAY. When we went through there were 20!!!!!

Total cost for fuel for the trip was $536 and at the time gas was $3.00/gal. We used our mini-van so we didn't have a rental charge.

5. Chicago is very nice. Big city entertainment without the expense of the coasts. Best to see a broadway show here. About 1/2 the cost of NY. I would spend no more than 2 days here either. I lived in/near Chicago for years. Get some Pizzeria Due. Best Pizza in the country! Anyone who disagrees is both a liar, and should not be trusted with any travel advise.

6. In summary, mid year is the best time to travel the US. Don't limit yourself to the typical tourist traps. Midwest/Western US has some of the most intersting unique landforms not seen anywhere else in the world. Check out Niagria falls in NY, and the Grand Canyon in AZ/CO. Do a day of white water rafting. Visit some winerys. Have fun! PM me if you want some other advise.

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JMRazor
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

callum wrote:
My wife and I (currently free of rug rat infestations) are planning to visit the US for a holiday in June. So far the plan is;
- Los Angeles 8 nights
- New York (by plane) for 4 or 5 nights

Then using Amtrak to get back to LA by rail via;
- Chicago (via Lakes Ontario and Erie) which is 18 hours overnight
- San Francisco (via Denver and Salt Lake), 52 hours
- Down the coast to LA which is a 12 hour daytime journey

Then jumping on white mans big bird and heading home.

Q - Should we spend any time in Chicago?
Q - Apart from the bridge, prison island and cable cars, is there a good reason to spend any time in San Fran.?

We would only have a day or two to spend in each.


Wow -- that is a long time in LA. You should have your fill of Botox by day 3, however.

I would re-reiterate the warning about Amtrak. It's prone to delays like you wouldn't believe. If you add in even slight delays along the thousands upon thousands of miles you'll be traveling, well...I'd give myself a good 24 hour cushion on the other side to catch my plane.

Now, it's your vacation, so we shouldn't plan it for you, but since you asked: I'd halve the time in LA and devote that time to the CA wine region. You can stay in a number of charming B&Bs or smaller hotels along the wine coast and really eat and drink fantastically well.

I don't know from Chicago (only visited once), so I'll abstain.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
STAY OUT OF KANSAS!!! Seriously. They have tornados EVERY DAY. When we went through there were 20!!!!!


Well, dem's fighting words. I guess you could skip my part of the country, but keep in mind that if you do you'll miss seeing the WORLD'S LARGEST BALL OF TWINE! That's right. Not the largest in the region, or the largest in the nation, but the largest ball of twine IN THE WORLD! Starting to wet your appetite, aren't I?

For the record, we do not have tornados every day. Last year alone we had six days that were completely and totally tornado free. So take that!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Try to catch a Baseball game while in the US - very much worth the experience!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:55 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Regarding all the advice to shorten your time in LA. What these people aren't thinking about is that LA is not just LA. There's all kinds of stuff to do while in SoCal. Santa Barbara is beautiful, and they maintain their Mission well and do great tours. San Diego is a treasure trove, especially Balboa Park, Old Town, Coronado Island, and the Waterfront. And the entire area in between has interesting places to explore, from the observatory on Mt. Palomar to the date farms in Indio - all just a day-trip from LA.

And that's just stuff to do in your own time and at your leisure. I'm not including theme parks and tourist traps, as you've said you will be without children to keep amused. Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:38 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ Yes, but does SoCal have the world's largest ball of twine?

I thought not.

Here's what you're missing out on if you decide not to visit Cawker City, Kansas:

edit - image crapped out

And here's a bit of the story:

The Twine Ball story began in 1953, when farmer Frank Stoeber, like thousands of his rural brethren, found it tidy and efficient to roll spare bits of sisal twine into a small ball in his barn. But over the years, instead of re-using or disposing of the twine, Frank kept rolling. By 1957, his twine ball weighed 2 1/2 tons and stood 8-ft. tall. By 1961, when he turned it over to the town, Stoeber had over 1,600,000 feet of twine rolled into a sphere 11 feet in diameter.

I'd say advantage Kansas on this one.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Jayhawk wrote:
^^^ Yes, but does SoCal have the world's largest ball of twine?

I thought not.

Here's what you're missing out on if you decide not to visit Cawker City, Kansas:

[And here's a bit of the story:

[I'd say advantage Kansas on this one.


The only reason KS has that much twine is so they can tie everything down during the DAILY afternoon tornado. Shocked

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

callum wrote:

Then using Amtrak to get back to LA by rail via;
- San Francisco (via Denver and Salt Lake), 52 hours
- Down the coast to LA which is a 12 hour daytime journey


I'd really consider renting a car for the SF to LA leg as the drive along the coast is really spectaculor.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I once lived in the SF Bay Area. The Chinese restaurants there are better than where I live now (which I won't identify), but make it a point to select those where the clientele are Chinese.

I've enjoyed Fisherman's Wharf in SF, as well as the Exploratorium (at the Palace of Fine Arts). And of course, Alcatraz.

If you want some good seafood, try the Pacific Cafe at 34th & Geary. Tourists don't know about this place, but the locals do. There's always a line to get in, but no worry....you'll be treated to complimentary wine while waiting, and you might have some interesting conversations with the other people that you're wating in line with. This would be your chance to spread the word about baiting.

The wineries in the wine country are awesome! Beautiful scenery too!

Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area are good too.

RE Chicago: I've been there only once. Try a Chicago style hot dog for lunch and Chicago style pizza for your evening meal.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:08 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@all - Well, I suppose I did ask... Laughing

LA is intended to be the base of operations for day trips, plus the other half wants to at least see Disney (are rolly eyes here worth the risk of geting caught?)

I was forgetting the wine regions around SF (really REALLY must need this holiday....)

Driving the coast would be spectacular and could also be 'invigorating' for other road users as I usually find the steering wheel in front of right hand seat. I did survive driving in Brasil though, so I'm guessing US of A will be manageable. Although it will require staying right all the time and not just when holes, preference of the traffic and phases of the moon allow.

Amtrak reliability or otherwise may be the ammo, oops, I mean sound reasoning I need to extend our travel a little Wink

As for gigantic balls of twine, I hope I never EVER get that bored with life... Whether that applies to making, viewing or bragging about I'm as yet undecided Laughing

Oh, did someone mention cheap shopping in Chicago? Coukld you please remove any reference to shop, mall, outlet etc from your posts. No need to tempt fate on that front... Shocked

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Midwest is awesome; I would do some daytrip-type stuff out of Chicago. Go to the farmer's markets in San Fran, if that's of any interest - they have awesome markets.
Amtrak . . . yeah. See above. My last trip on Amtrak moved at an average speed of 11 miles an hour. It took me a *very* long time to get across the state in question.
If you like the outdoors, there's plenty of gorgeous state parks. If it were me, I'd do some desert tromping. Chicago also has some pretty good microbreweries, and Wisconsin has the world's largest penny. And a set of giant concrete columns painted to look like a six pack of beer.
Take that, Kansas.
The Great Lakes are awesome, and I think there's a glass-bottomed boat that operates out of Chicago. Any of the food/beer/wine events are usually excellent.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Well, a giant penny is cool, but I still think it comes in below the worlds largest ball of twine.

Lawrence, Kansas is home to Allen Field House. This is a most holy place, where every year hundreds of thousands of college basketball fans make the pilgrimage to Allen to kneel down and pay homage.

Image

If you were going to Wisconsin you could always stay in the Gobbler Hotel. This place was a testament to bad taste, with rooms like this one:

Image

Sadly, the Gobbler is no more. Too bad really, as I would have loved to stay there.

Have fun on your trip, and whatever you do, avoid Branson Missouri!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

But does Kansas have an upside-down White House? Complete inside and out?

Image

I think not.

Also:
Quote:
And a ceiling leak isn't helping the situation -- the World's Largest Twine Ball is pungent with the smell of moist rot.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/8543. Nothing like pungent rot to go with your tornadoes. Very Happy

All regionalism aside, I think a good old-fashioned, environmentally unsound road trip might be very fun. Stop at all the weird sites, eat lots of burgers and frozen custard, stop at the historic museums and drop-offs, and see where you end up.

Edit: And no kidding, stay out of Branson, Missouri.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Jayhawk wrote:
whatever you do, avoid Branson Missouri!


I agree...what an awful, awful place.

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Jayhawk
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great news! You said that you were visiting in June, so you'll be just in time to stop by Ackley, Iowa and participate in the Saurkraut Day festivities!

http://www.ackleyiowa.net/Events.htm

Image

There's a pic of the 2007 Sauerkraut Queen in the parade, no doubt throwing Sauerkruat to the youngen's.

Seriously, while the big time things are fun, so are things like the world's largest ball of twine (it means alot to the city) and Sauerkraut Days. Many times these small things can be even more fun.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:38 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't know about that. On our trip west we stopped in Mitchell SD to visit the "Corn Palace". Also known as the "Worlds Largest Bird Feeder" to the locals.

They rely on unsuspecting tourists to drop on by. We shoulda just drove on by!

But at least it didn't smell moldy.

And I third the Branson MO avoidance commitee. For that matter, avoid DollyWorld as well.

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