April 11, 2005

Summer driving.

Next month, I'm going to finally take my newish Audi TT Coupe for a long drive, going from Madison to Ithaca to pick up my son. I've already done that trip (with a touch of photoblogging here), but would like to drive through some photographable places on the way. The most conspicuous place is Niagara Falls, but I'm into more ordinary places that exemplify the local culture. Plus I'm interested in twisty, scenic highways. Any suggestions? Use the comments.

Later in the summer I want to drive out west. I'm interested in landscapes but also in being able to stop at night in the comfort of very high quality lodging. Twisty, scenic highways and photographable little towns are what I'm looking for.

30 comments:

JK said...

You could take the S.S. Badger car ferry across lake Michigan and go that way. It is a bit longer and the ferry ride is 4 hrs and around $50. But you would get some scenic driving and lake crossing!

Mark Kaplan said...

I would suggest driving through Canada either on the way or on the way back.

Jim Holmes said...

Check out the Finger Lakes region. There are lots of pretty roads around those lakes, and a few good spots to stop and eat, too.

PMM said...

Take I-90 west (starting right from your doorstep!) to Wyoming, but then when you get to eastern Wyoming, take a detour up towards Little Big Horn. Then cruise west through southern Montana and northern Wyoming: my dad, brother, and I did this about 15 years ago and the views of mountains, plains, and valleys define the American West for me even today.

Nickelcity said...

The best view of the falls is from the Canadian side. The U.S. side is a sad assortment of t-shirt shops.

You may want to visit some wineries around the finger lakes.

SteveR said...

You have mentioned Santa Fe, which would be nice for lodging (along with Taos) but there is plenty of twisty winding roads in between. Find Cundiyo on NM map, got to Chimayo, go see where Georgia O'Keefe found inspiration.

Ann Althouse said...

jk: I'm considering the ferry, but it is $50 and I'd have to get to Milwaukee by 8 a.m. Is it scenic on the Michigan side? Because the drive to Milwaukee is a very familiar one for me. It would be a way to avoid Chicago and the boring stretch of 90 that goes under Michigan.

Mark: Canada is another way to avoid Chicago, but is no kind of shortcut. I've never even driven all the way north in Wisconsin, though I know it's beautiful up there.

Jim & nickelcity: Yes, I have a nice guidebook for the Finger Lakes.

pmm: sounds great.

0L Law Prof said...

How hard is it to become a law prof out of UW Law School? Impossible? Valedictorian of your class? Number 2? Law teaching seems very conscious of prestige. Would I be out of place if I were not so concerned about this? I mainly like the hours and the idea of writing all the time (and teaching, of course)

stoqboy said...

Avoid the drive through Canada, its one of the most boring drives I've ever taken (that goes for the NYS Thruway, too). Definitely take route 89 along Cayuga Lake. I would suggest taking in some of the parks right around Ithaca. Buttermilk Falls is beautiful. Taughannock Falls State Park, and Robert Treman State Park are also very nice. Look for the bumper stickers that say "Ithaca is Gorges."

JK said...

AA: I've never actually taken the ferry, but from what I've heard (and I'm sure this is easily verified) the actual boat ride might not be all that exciting, but the Wisconsin coast and Michigan coast of lake Michigan are very different and possibly worth the trip. I have no idea about the drive through Michigan. However, the ferry website says the ferry leaves from Manitowoc. This would allow you to take Hwy 151 from Madison to Manitowoc, which is not a bad drive. Good luck!

Pancho said...

Here's an example of what you might attempt. Being a photographer I'm enthralled by The Mile Marker Project. Rig a camera in sync with your odometer to take a picture a mile.

Beachcomber said...

If your trip out west includes Oregon, try at least some of the Oregon Coast Highway, U.S. 101. The stretch between Lincoln City and Florence is the most scenic, but it's all good. The Columbia River gorge is beautiful, too - The Dalles to Portland.

WINEMAN said...

Oregon, don't forget the Willamette valley. Specifically, McMinnville and all the great wineries and vineyards.

Airlifter said...

US-101 is nice but, for twisty roads and beautiful scenery, you have to try "California 1" from Rockport south to Jenner. Dcheck out http://www.mcn.org/1/mendoparks/Index.htm for a look at some of what you'd see.

nina said...

I have driven to the East Coast every possible way too many times, back and forth, endlessly and it is all very tedious -- at least through the Michigan, Indiana, Canada, Ohio stretches. Pennsylvania is never-ending as well. Getting off the Interstate is essential but it doubles (at least) the driving time. If I were you, I'd skip the ferry (too early and when the waters are rough, they are ROUGH), and then either zip through Michigan-Detroit-Canada to Buffalo (it's a tiny bit more interesting than Illinois-Indiana-Ohio, but also a little longer) and then really get off and start having fun in New York around the Figer Lakes region (as has been suggested).

Head of Royal Intelligence said...

I second the commenter who says that the drive through Canada is boring. I've done it; it's flat plains with the occasional giant factory (and the fumes from the giant factories seem to cover that entire stretch of Ontario). I swear, driving by the Sour Patch Kids factory is the highlight of that drive--and it's just a big factory building with a Sour Patch Kids sign on the outside. (And even that's probably only exciting if you have kids in the car.)

On the other hand, depending on how far out of your way you're willing to go to avoid the $50 ferry and the boring Chicago/Ohio stretch of I-90, the drive through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and over the Mackinac bridge is absolutely beautiful--Route 2 hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline and goes through a couple state and national forests. Once you're into the Lower Peninsula I-75 is a straight, fast, but fairly boring shot down to Port Huron or to I-90; US-23 along the Lake Huron shoreline is considerably longer but supposedly gorgeous (I've never actually driven that stretch myself).

Of course, the trade-off for taking this route is that then you almost have to do that boring cross-Ontario stretch to get to New York from there....

mw said...

I think the only way to make the trip from Madison to Ithaca really scenic is to go north. The north west dune country of Michigan is beautiful. Take the ferry to Ludington and then M-22 from Maninstee through the Sleeping Bear Dunes:

http://www.fototime.com/BEA8B35FFA26C4A/standard.jpg

And then across the Leelenau to Traverse City and then 31 up from Traverse through Charlevoix and Harbor Springs. Dunes, beaches, orchards, bays, little towns--very nice. And then up across the bride at Mackinac and on to Sault Ste Marie. From there along the north shore of Lake Huron which also very beautiful:

http://www.fototime.com/FA312FBB95E92A2/standard.jpg

Two possibilities from there--either to Little Current across Manitoulin Island and across on the ferry to Tobermory and down the Bruce Pennisula. Or continue around the north shore with maybe a side trip down to Kilarney Provincial Park:

http://www.fototime.com/F84EE896D02487C/standard.jpg

and the little town of Kilarney:

http://www.fototime.com/6FC030AC978A5C8/standard.jpg

Have fish & chips at Mr Perch:

http://www.fototime.com/96B60CBB934B633/standard.jpg

We've spent a lot of time sailing in all these places--some of our favorite spots on the globe.

lindsey said...

You should check out Paria Canyon in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area in Arizona. This has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Another picture.

mw said...
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lindsey said...

Here are some photos of Antelope Canyon.

Bert said...

Drive from Canon City in southeast Colorado through Durango. it is incrediablly beautiful. that is through Silverton and on to Cedar City, Utal.

Poosley's Dad said...

If you want scenic out west, nothing beats driving the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, MT into the NE entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Cooke City. Beware that this road is open only after Memorial Day, and likely will have significant snow at the higher elevations.

Then, drive out the east entrance of the park into Wyoming and through the Big Horns and make your way back to Wisconsin via the Badlands of SD.

Poosley's Dad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. It looks like a couple people had trouble with accidentally double posting. I deleted one double post myself. I'm not censoring anything in this case, just fixing a double post situation.

Dean said...

I didn't see anyone mention Amish country in Ohio. I've not visited the Amish sections of WI or IN (yet), but the Ohio country has some moderately twisty roads and perhaps some nice photo ops.

Off the Interstate is essential to finding any nice country to look at.

Steve_Jobs said...

Driving out west is a bit vague unless you're asking for specific places to go.

"being able to stop at night in the comfort of very high quality lodging" These tend to be minimal except in the ski areas of CO; Jackson, Wyoming; and Salt Lake City. I''ve visited all of the western states (areas mentioned) along with Montana and Idaho. The most breathtaking scenery I've seen is in Utah and Idaho. Even the national parks in Utah don't seem to be overrun in the summer. Jackson, WY is close enough to the Tetons, but allows you to stay away from the maddening crowds. There are many old mining roads in the west in virtually every state. They present some of the most interesting byways off the beaten path, but don't forget to take your gun for rattlesnakes. ;)

Knemon said...

I grew up in Ithaca. It is the most beautiful place in the world. This is undeniable.

Definitely take the northern route.

And be sure to eat at the Moosewood - great food at low prices.

Judith said...

Summer isn't the best time for this trip, but you should make it sometime (March is best for amazing wildflowers, Xmas break is also good, since it's in the 60s-70s by day and 30s at night):

Start in Austin, spend a few days sightseeing. Head west on 290 through small Texas Hill Country towns. Stop at Pedernales Falls, stop at Enchanted Rock. Utopia.

Head south to meet Route 90. Keep heading west. Del Rio, walk across to Mexico for the afternoon. Langtry, see the Judge Roy Bean museum and the cactus garden. The Amistead Reservoir.

Keep heading west. Marfa. Marathon. Stay at the Gage Hotel. Go south to Big Bend for a week, do some hiking and camping, then out through the other end of the park down the Presidio Road, maybe all the way to El Paso.

Or head north to Ft. Davis and the McDonald Observatory and the Scenic Loop. Keep heading north to the Guadaloupe Mountains and then west to Carlesbad, NM.

I guarantee you will be gaping out the window at scenery all the way.

Dean said...

As far as the drive out west, Colorado Springs has the Air Force Academy chapel, Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak. The old city in Alberquerque was interesting when we visited there.

Old Patriot said...

Ann,
Two things: the double posting seems to be a Blogger problem. If you decide to come west to Colorado,I'll sit down for a couple of hours and write about all the interesting things to see, which are out of the way, and what's the best route to where. I've driven from central Wyoming to El Paso, and from the Mississippi to western Nevada. There are interesting places to see everywhere. I've been to both the "must-see" attractions to some of the offbeat and quaint places, and I know of many of the tourist traps.

One of the greatest places to visit with a camera is Grand Lake, Colorado, on the southwestern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park - and it's best in mid- to late-May. After that, the tourists move in, and the wildlife moves out! If you take the Million Dollar Highway from Montrose, Colorado, over to Durango, you'll see plenty of deer and elk in May, almost none after mid-June.

One thing to consider: the Great Plains are a bear to cross in the summer. Air conditioning is essential - be sure to get it checked before you leave. Ours went out on us at the very beginning of a rushed trip from Colorado Springs to Houston. Crossing northern Texas in 110 degree heat without air conditioning is MISERABLE. Looking forward to hearing more about your plans.