It may seem daunting to try and plot out a roughly 10,000-mile trip, and I suppose it was, but there’s really nothing earth-shattering about what I did. I estimated how long it would take us to drive between cities in which we were staying with friends/family, and once the dates in those cities were hammered down, I planned the routes between them.
It turns out I was not great at estimating; I had to insert an extra day in the Chicago-to-Seattle and San Diego-to-Austin itineraries because I wanted to see everything between those pairs of cities, and for some reason, the major landmarks are not arranged along a straight line between them. I decided that averaging any more than 7.5-8 hours a day may provoke a mutiny attempt from the passenger’s seat, so I used that constraint to decide where to stay each night along a predetermined route. This is how we ended up planning stays in the burgeoning metropolises (correct plural? I don’t know.) of Custer, SD; Livingston, MT; and Artesia, NM.
I regrettably had to leave out certain landmarks/parks/fun roads, for the sake of time. That includes the Grand Canyon, among other places. I know, this is where everybody is screaming at their computer/tablet/phone, “WHAAAAT?!? YOU CAN’T GO ON A ROAD TRIP WITHOUT THE GRAND CANYON!! THAT’S THE ONLY PLACE PEOPLE ACTUALLY GO ON ROAD TRIPS!” I know, it seemed weird to me, too. It turns out it’s just not on the way to anywhere (it’s basically an out-and-back from Flagstaff), so I axed it. We’ll take another vacation one of these days to see all the holes in the ground out there.
Now being two days into the trip, I must admit there are times when I wonder what we were thinking. I love driving, but it really is a lot of driving. Fortunately, I tricked somebody into riding shotgun with me for the rest of eternity, so I think it’ll be ok.