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Road Trips Discussions about road trips you have made with your TDI.

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Old May 22nd, 2011, 15:16   #1
slickfast
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Default EPIC Cross Country Road Trip

Hey guys,
So this is my first posting ever on TDIClub, and I plan to make this thread my log of my road trip experience. If you want to check out a car history of how I got to this point, check this out if you get a chance.
Introduction
Since my girlfriend and I are both graduating from college (I already did and she is about to), I figured now is the time to go on the road trip of a lifetime before we both start work (and to use up whatever money we have left... more on that later). We're leaving from my house in CT and that's really all that is concrete at this point. That's not to say we don't have a plan though...
Where we're going (more or less):

This is always changing, but this is more or less it. Some key points:
-Washington DC
-Nashville, TN
-New Orleans, LA
-Dallas, TX
-Roswell, NM
-Santa Fe, NM
-The Four Corners
-Grand Canyon
-Las Vegas, NV
-As close to Area 51 as we can get
-Death Valley, CA
-Los Angeles, CA
-Yosemite National Park
-Sequoia National Park (maybe)
-San Francisco, CA
-Bonneville Salt Flats
-Salt Lake City, UT
-Yellowstone National Park
-Mt. Rushmore
-Badlands National Park
-Oshkosh, WI (if the airshow is going on)
-Niagara Falls
-HOME
Quite a list! If you have more that lay more or less along our route, please suggest them! We're always looking for fun spots to stop in.
What we're taking:
Right away we start off with a challenge: the car. I have a gas guzzling 1997 Subaru legacy (23 mpg tops),

and a 99 BMW M3 (27 mpg on the highway)

That means for our 8300 mile trip that means roughly $1500 in gas costs alone. Did I mention I don't have a lot of money? To free up some cash for this whole schpeel, the M3 and the Subie have to go (PM me if you're interested in buying one of them!).
In their place I'm planning on replacing them with the new-to-me efficiency of a TDI-powered VW. I'm planning on spending around 4 to 5 grand and hope to get a 1999.5-2005 Manual-transmissioned Jetta. Once I get whatever I get, I'm going to go through it and replace everything it needs and more, starting with the timing belt and water pump. Then I'll probably go into the suspension bushings, shocks, and possibly tires+wheels. I want something efficient that's still fun to drive. Since I obviously won't get that fun out of the power, I'm planning on getting it out of a tactile suspension setup.
And that's all we have planned at the moment! I'll be posting back here with updates. Feel free to tell me what you think, what car would be the best for the trip, etc.
I love this forum... it's possibly one of the most information-packed forums on the web, bar none.

Last edited by slickfast; May 22nd, 2011 at 15:29.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 15:27   #2
PeterV
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Your first part is how we went to the TDIfest last summer in Portland, Or great trip

Well we have an '00 forrester & as BMW too but it gets 51 mpg though....... R1200RT..
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 15:31   #3
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Your first part is how we went to the TDIfest last summer in Portland, Or great trip

Well we have an '00 forrester & as BMW too but it gets 51 mpg though....... R1200RT..
Yeah we originally planned to go up to Portland and Seattle, but it's just so many freaking miles man. We need a little more cargo space than that thing! Would be fun though...
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:03   #4
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My suggestion: Highway 99 is not the most scenic way to see California. I would take Highway 1 and enjoy a truly spectacular coastal drive, especially because you are missing out on the coastal driving in the Pacific Northwest. This would work best if you're travelling late enough in the summer that Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open - head from LA to SF via Highway 1, then from SF to Yosemite, and exit Yosemite out the east, taking the 395 northwards towards Reno.

Also, I'd advise thinking about what you want to do in Los Angeles before visiting. Although it has a lot to offer to those who live there, it is far less accessible as a quick tourist stop than, say, San Francisco or Washington DC.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:08   #5
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Originally Posted by Mike_V View Post
My suggestion: Highway 99 is not the most scenic way to see California. I would take Highway 1 and enjoy a truly spectacular coastal drive, especially because you are missing out on the coastal driving in the Pacific Northwest. This would work best if you're travelling late enough in the summer that Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open - head from LA to SF via Highway 1, then from SF to Yosemite, and exit Yosemite out the east, taking the 395 northwards towards Reno.

Also, I'd advise thinking about what you want to do in Los Angeles before visiting. Although it has a lot to offer to those who live there, it is far less accessible as a quick tourist stop than, say, San Francisco or Washington DC.
Thanks for the tips Mike! I'm actually heading to the LA area only because my brother lives there, and we'll be staying with him for a few days while hitting the san diego zoo. I've been to LA before and I agree, it's not very accessible.

I was reluctant to stay off of Highway 1 because I was afraid of it being filled with traffic lights, but if you say so we'll go for it. I would love to get more ocean views on the way...
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Past cars: 1985 VW Cabriolet Wolfsburg, 1995 Volvo 850 5 spd wagon, 1997 Audi A6 Avant, 1999 BMW M3, 1997 Subaru Legacy L Sedan, 1996 Subaru Impreza L 5 spd Coupe
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:28   #6
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It's mostly open highway - it's just slow driving, because much of it is extremely windy road teetering on the edge of an oceanside cliff, and even if that doesn't bother you it'll probably bother somebody ahead of you! Many find the drive south to north to be more comfortable since you're not quite as close to the precipice. I'd take the 101 up from Santa Barbara and connect onto the 1 by San Luis Obispo, the really spectacular part is from SLO up through Big Sur to Monterey (which has a world-class aquarium, if you like that kind of thing).

If you've been to LA before you know what you'll find there, just wanted to make sure!
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:31   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_V View Post
It's mostly open highway - it's just slow driving, because much of it is extremely windy road teetering on the edge of an oceanside cliff, and even if that doesn't bother you it'll probably bother somebody ahead of you! Many find the drive south to north to be more comfortable since you're not quite as close to the precipice. I'd take the 101 up from Santa Barbara and connect onto the 1 by San Luis Obispo, the really spectacular part is from SLO up through Big Sur to Monterey (which has a world-class aquarium, if you like that kind of thing).

If you've been to LA before you know what you'll find there, just wanted to make sure!
Ooooh very nice! I would LOVE to drive that close to the water. Can't wait. And my girlfriend is pre-vet so I'm sure she would love to see this aquarium!
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1999.5 Jetta 5 spd - DD and ROAD TRIP MACHINE!, 1999 Subaru 2.5RS Coupe - Rallycross and Fun car
Past cars: 1985 VW Cabriolet Wolfsburg, 1995 Volvo 850 5 spd wagon, 1997 Audi A6 Avant, 1999 BMW M3, 1997 Subaru Legacy L Sedan, 1996 Subaru Impreza L 5 spd Coupe
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:40   #8
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In that case don't miss it! Also, going back to your original post:

Quote:
I want something efficient that's still fun to drive. Since I obviously won't get that fun out of the power, I'm planning on getting it out of a tactile suspension setup.
You might want to take a look at the "TDI Power Enhancements" subforum. Some on the forum would disagree with that statement pretty strongly!
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 17:59   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_V View Post
In that case don't miss it! Also, going back to your original post:

You might want to take a look at the "TDI Power Enhancements" subforum. Some on the forum would disagree with that statement pretty strongly!
It's not that there isn't any power to be had, but I want to maximize my efficiency and therefore not touch the engine. I'm going to have all the fun I want with suspension parts, don't worry
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1999.5 Jetta 5 spd - DD and ROAD TRIP MACHINE!, 1999 Subaru 2.5RS Coupe - Rallycross and Fun car
Past cars: 1985 VW Cabriolet Wolfsburg, 1995 Volvo 850 5 spd wagon, 1997 Audi A6 Avant, 1999 BMW M3, 1997 Subaru Legacy L Sedan, 1996 Subaru Impreza L 5 spd Coupe
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 18:03   #10
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I did a very similar trip in 1997 in my old vw rabbit diesel. A true "coast to coast" trip. Started with back tires in the water in an NC boat ramp. Put front tires in the water at a pac coast boat ramp. Took a month. 8000 miles. Only failure was high beam switch. Stuck on high beam, ended up adjusting lights so highs were lows.

Rules for the trip: Never eat anywhere where you recognize the name (no chains). Secondary roads as much as possible. No hotels, camping only (a few exceptions). Eat local produce from stands.

Don't miss out on the Puget Sound area. It is worth the miles to spend a week or so poking around there.

Do not spill kim-chee under the passenger seat. Smells bad.

Middle easterners in hostels snore like crazy.

Only one tool and credit card needed. Screwdriver to take tag off dead car, credit card to buy another car in nearest town.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 18:07   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post
I did a very similar trip in 1997 in my old vw rabbit diesel. A true "coast to coast" trip. Started with back tires in the water in an NC boat ramp. Put front tires in the water at a pac coast boat ramp. Took a month. 8000 miles. Only failure was high beam switch. Stuck on high beam, ended up adjusting lights so highs were lows.

Rules for the trip: Never eat anywhere where you recognize the name (no chains). Secondary roads as much as possible. No hotels, camping only (a few exceptions). Eat local produce from stands.

Don't miss out on the Puget Sound area. It is worth the miles to spend a week or so poking around there.

Do not spill kim-chee under the passenger seat. Smells bad.

Middle easterners in hostels snore like crazy.

Only one tool and credit card needed. Screwdriver to take tag off dead car, credit card to buy another car in nearest town.
So much win here, I totally agree man. We're staying away from chain stores as much as possible. We've got 8300 miles totalled up right now... I'm sure it will be more though. Will take precautionary measures with the kim-chee.
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1999.5 Jetta 5 spd - DD and ROAD TRIP MACHINE!, 1999 Subaru 2.5RS Coupe - Rallycross and Fun car
Past cars: 1985 VW Cabriolet Wolfsburg, 1995 Volvo 850 5 spd wagon, 1997 Audi A6 Avant, 1999 BMW M3, 1997 Subaru Legacy L Sedan, 1996 Subaru Impreza L 5 spd Coupe
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 20:13   #12
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I see that part of your route takes you on I90 through Minnesota and South Dakota. Here's a few ideas for you to see along that route. In Wisconsin, you could take a day and stop at Wisconsin Dells. Lots of touristy stuff, but it might be a bit busy, depending on when you go through there. Close by in Barraboo, you've got the Circus World Museum. Some of the things they have is a large collection of restored circus wagons. Taking I90 into MN, you could stop at Austin, MN and see the Spam Museum close to the Hormel plant. You'll see billboards for it when you get close to it. Heading west into South Dakota, you could stop at Mitchell and see the Corn Palace. Somewhere in that area is also Wall Drug. You'll see billboards for that along the way, too.

Here's a driving tip for you if you take the highways through Illinois and Chicago, especially. Many of the highways in that part of the state are tollways. Most of the driving lanes at the tollbooths are for people with the elctronic transponders, but there are cash lanes on the far right side. Make sure you're in the correct lane if you don't want to eventually get a letter in the mail asking you for money.

Other than that, I'm kind of jealous. I wish I could go on that kind of road trip. I have some epic ones on my bucket list, but don't have the money right now to cross them off. I hope you enjoy the trip and make sure to take lots of pictures to remember it.
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Last edited by lovemybug; May 22nd, 2011 at 20:16. Reason: spelling errors
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 21:30   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slickfast View Post
It's not that there isn't any power to be had, but I want to maximize my efficiency and therefore not touch the engine.
Again, I encourage you to read up on TDI power mods. Many people report that chipping their engine improves fuel economy (I bought mine already chipped, so can't speak from experience). Unless you're getting really crazy, most other performance mods don't meaningfully hurt your fuel economy, provided you are able to maintain self-control over your right foot.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 08:16   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemybug View Post
I see that part of your route takes you on I90 through Minnesota and South Dakota. Here's a few ideas for you to see along that route. In Wisconsin, you could take a day and stop at Wisconsin Dells. Lots of touristy stuff, but it might be a bit busy, depending on when you go through there. Close by in Barraboo, you've got the Circus World Museum. Some of the things they have is a large collection of restored circus wagons. Taking I90 into MN, you could stop at Austin, MN and see the Spam Museum close to the Hormel plant. You'll see billboards for it when you get close to it. Heading west into South Dakota, you could stop at Mitchell and see the Corn Palace. Somewhere in that area is also Wall Drug. You'll see billboards for that along the way, too.

Here's a driving tip for you if you take the highways through Illinois and Chicago, especially. Many of the highways in that part of the state are tollways. Most of the driving lanes at the tollbooths are for people with the elctronic transponders, but there are cash lanes on the far right side. Make sure you're in the correct lane if you don't want to eventually get a letter in the mail asking you for money.

Other than that, I'm kind of jealous. I wish I could go on that kind of road trip. I have some epic ones on my bucket list, but don't have the money right now to cross them off. I hope you enjoy the trip and make sure to take lots of pictures to remember it.
Thanks for the tips! I'll be going through in late June to early July most likely... will it be too busy that time of year?

Will take note on the toll booths. I'm thinking we might get one of those easy passes, but I've never had one so I don't know if it's more expensive or not. Can anyone chime in on that?
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 08:18   #15
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Originally Posted by Mike_V View Post
Again, I encourage you to read up on TDI power mods. Many people report that chipping their engine improves fuel economy (I bought mine already chipped, so can't speak from experience). Unless you're getting really crazy, most other performance mods don't meaningfully hurt your fuel economy, provided you are able to maintain self-control over your right foot.
Hmmm... interesting! I will definitely check that out. As long as it doesn't affect the mileage I'd be game for a little more power. Coming from an M3 though I'm sure I'm going to be disappointed no matter what I do. I dunno, I've kind of had enough of fast... I enjoy precision handling a lot more than just a powerful engine.
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Past cars: 1985 VW Cabriolet Wolfsburg, 1995 Volvo 850 5 spd wagon, 1997 Audi A6 Avant, 1999 BMW M3, 1997 Subaru Legacy L Sedan, 1996 Subaru Impreza L 5 spd Coupe
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