Backpackers, scenery, bars and more!

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    May 22, 2009 12:24 PM GMT
    A group of mates and myself are organizing a tiki tour of sorts around the U.S either later this year or early next year. The others have pretty much decided on where they'd like to go (big cities, big parties etc) and while this is nice and all. A couple of us would like to break off for a couple of weeks and do some adventure/hiking/biking etc kind of stuff. So I have a few questions.

    I'd ask the tour guides, but they're all money grubbing whores, so I figure I'd ask people who actually live there.

    First the bar situation; In the major places, NYC, Cali etc etc; What are some of the smaller, quirky bars? I'm not really keen on clubs at all and would like to broaden my bar experience for my own eventual move into bar owning/management.

    For the scenery situation, what are some of the different places off the track that not many tourists would go to, for the adventure side of things? Doesn't really matter where, we're prepared to travel extensively (Aiming for a month around the U.S).

    For accommodation, are backpackers fairly cheap? Are they worth it? Should we aim for decent hotels? Or should we just camp when we're not in the major cities?

    Oh and travel... Is it worth flying round everywhere? Or would hiring a car be not ridiculously expensive (I'd rather drive around to be honest).

    Cheers in advance. I look forward to tainting your cities forever with my friends.


  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    May 22, 2009 12:39 PM GMT
    Driving from site to site is a good way to see out of the way things, but depending on where you want to go it could mean some long road trips.

    I can't help out with bars, but if you're looking for some nice hiking with good scenery I'd check out Sedona, AZ and the Adirondacks in upstate NY.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 22, 2009 3:23 PM GMT
    I'm very glad you're doing this! I backpack all over the world and have friends all over the world because of it but none of them seem very interested in coming to the U.S. I always have to go visit them. Not complaining because I love it but it would be fun for them to come to the States so I could show them around. I'll consider you a substitute. Feel free to ask me any travel advice you'd like. Also, if you're going through Atlanta or Miami let me know and I can personally show you around.

    Anyway, hostels here are cheap but not plentiful like they are any other parts of the world. You can find cheap hotels for not much more and, if you don't mind sharing beds, you can share the cost of a hotel room between four people and it would be about the same as a hostel. With more privacy. Same concept as Europe or Australia. Although I think it's harder to find a hostel and easier to find a cheap hotel here in the U.S. When I say "cheap" hotel, that doesn't mean they're dirty. Not luxurious, but decent. Camping is good but can be a bit dodgy. It really depends on the area. I wouldn't camp just anywhere.

    I could help you out more if I knew a general itinerary. I would definitely recommend renting a car. Sharing the cost with friends, it would be a lot cheaper than flying around and the U.S. is a country meant to be seen by car. Just like Europe is meant to be seen by train. The problem is that you only have a month. Remember that the U.S. is a gigantic country with a lot to be seen. Are you planning on going coast to coast?

    Let me know your general itinerary and I can help you out a lot more. Feel free to email me so I'll be sure to see your response.
  • NYCguy74

    Posts: 311

    May 22, 2009 3:31 PM GMT
    one suggestion for cheap lodging, plus to find out about the "local scene" check out couch surfing.

    list of people who open their homes up for people to stay with them. known a couple people who have tried this, and had pretty good luck. Plus since you're staying with a local, they know the good spots in the area.



    http://www.couchsurfing.org/
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    May 22, 2009 3:37 PM GMT
    There is camping all over the US, so that won't be a big issue. When you are in big cities I definitely agree with muscles4muscles about the cheap hotels. Anywhere else....CAMP! There is tons of it (esp if you are on the west coast), moreso than anywhere I have seen in the world.

    The US is BIG, so I would probably pick a general area (eg west coast or NE) and gravitate around there, as a month is a very small amount of time when considering how big the US is. Driving takes 2-3 days just to get across the US, so unless you are flying between cities you'll spend a lot of time driving (which isn't bad....I've driven across the US more times than I can count).

    hope that helps......I've been to 48/50 states, so anything you want to ask fire away/
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    May 22, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
    blunt_ saidA group of mates and myself are organizing a tiki tour of sorts around the U.S either later this year or early next year.

    Some questions:

    - Do you know how many will be in your group, and would you consider staying in private homes?
    - Would you be interested in gay guest houses, resorts and bed & breakfasts?
    - Do you have a high-end for the cost of nightly lodging?
    - When will you know the exact months? Hiking & camping implies more moderate weather (of course at opposite seasons to your own), but here in the States it's possible to have a range from too hot to freezing cold at the same time, depending on the locale. Plus specific events worth recommending to you will naturally depend on the dates.
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    May 22, 2009 6:35 PM GMT
    For outdoor adventuring, there isn't much you can find here that you can't find at home. We have no Great Barrier Reef, and you have no Grand Canyon, so I suggest you visit the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is less touristy than the South Rim.

    Up on the Rim the weather will be cool or cold if you visit during our winter months, but the canyon floor should be mild that time of year.
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    May 22, 2009 7:11 PM GMT
    For outdoor adventures, backpacking on the Appalachian Trail is a good idea. It stretches from Georgia to Maine on the East coast
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    May 22, 2009 8:10 PM GMT
    If you end up in the southeast check out Asheville NC. There is lots of music, hippies and funky people on the street. Super cool pubs, two American Chateaus all surrounded by the world's oldest mountains and the highest peaks in Eastern US,( which only reach about 2000 meters). Most of the small towns near Asheville have an artzy chic feel. I know some great waterfalls you can hike to, great whitewater rafting and kayaking places, some amazing rock faces to climb and killer mountain biking trails. There are even virgin rain forests in the area.

    Here is the gay page for Asheville:

    http://www.romanticasheville.com/gayandlesbian.html

    Drop me a line if you want some help planning the trip. It is about a 4 to 5 hour drive from Atlanta I believe.

    If you are in NYC check out New England. From there you can head up to Montreal or over to Boston. There are lots of gay and gay friendly towns in New England and it is amazing in there in the summertime.
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    May 22, 2009 8:54 PM GMT
    TheIStrat saidFor outdoor adventures, backpacking on the Appalachian Trail is a good idea. It stretches from Georgia to Maine on the East coast


    Yeah, but it takes several months to get up (or down), roughly four. Although you could do sections of the trail.

    As for quirky. Baltimore is quirk central. Strong local culture, and a decent assortment of local food, music, museums and bars.

    As for driving from place to place, if you are planning to spend some time between Washington and Boston, its very drivable.

    Washington to Baltimore: 1 hour
    Baltimore to Philadelphia: 2 hours
    Philly to New York: 2 hours
    New York to Harford: 2 hours
    Harford to Boston: 2 hours

    This works if you do the cities in this order, or the reverse. (Note: Harford could be swapped with Providence or Mystic). Other than that you may want to fly, though there are other cities that are close to one another, so check first. (ie Atlanta-Charleston-Savannah, Los Angeles-San Diego, Portland,OR-Seattle-Vancouver).
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    May 22, 2009 9:17 PM GMT
    wyrln saidFor outdoor adventuring, there isn't much you can find here that you can't find at home. We have no Great Barrier Reef, and you have no Grand Canyon, so I suggest you visit the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is less touristy than the South Rim.

    Up on the Rim the weather will be cool or cold if you visit during our winter months, but the canyon floor should be mild that time of year.


    I have been to the Grand Canyon twice in my lifetime. Believe me, it is SUPERB!
    On both occasions I have hiked the Bright Angel Trail which begins at the Village and descends to the Colorado River. The trail then continues as River Trail just a few metres above the surface. Eventually you cross at Silver Bridge to Phantom Ranch, where you spend the night. At the Ranch, you can sleep in one of the beds at the small dorm hut - but booking in advance is essentual. Alternatively, Phantom Campground is nearby, but you will require a Camper's Pass before you will be allowed to set up tent.
    Dayhikes are also possible, no booking is necessary. One good spot to hike down to is Plateau Point, which you can see way down below you from the South Rim Village. The trail, which crosses the tongue-shaped precipice known as Tonto Plateau, branches off Bright Angel Trail at Indian Gardens. From the trail, the whole of the Grand Canyon really does take on a different landscape scene!

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    May 23, 2009 12:19 AM GMT
    muscles4musclesI could help you out more if I knew a general itinerary. I would definitely recommend renting a car. Sharing the cost with friends, it would be a lot cheaper than flying around and the U.S. is a country meant to be seen by car. Just like Europe is meant to be seen by train. The problem is that you only have a month. Remember that the U.S. is a gigantic country with a lot to be seen. Are you planning on going coast to coast?


    We were planning on doing a coast to coast, but maybe, as vindog said, it might be a better idea to sort of gravitate around a certain section of The States this year and leave the rest for future years, or see if we can book for two months. And as I have a lot of friends I made on the naval/airforce bases in Japan, I think I'm going to suggest starting out at Washington and make our way down the west coast to Texas, where a majority of them live, then up to Tennessee.

    Red_Vespa said
    blunt_ saidA group of mates and myself are organizing a tiki tour of sorts around the U.S either later this year or early next year.

    Some questions:

    - Do you know how many will be in your group, and would you consider staying in private homes?
    - Would you be interested in gay guest houses, resorts and bed & breakfasts?
    - Do you have a high-end for the cost of nightly lodging?
    - When will you know the exact months? Hiking & camping implies more moderate weather (of course at opposite seasons to your own), but here in the States it's possible to have a range from too hot to freezing cold at the same time, depending on the locale. Plus specific events worth recommending to you will naturally depend on the dates.


    Exact numbers will depend on who actually gets their saving shoes on between now and November, at the moment we have about 12, but I say the real number would dwindle down to about 7 or so. Private homes would be fine I guess, splitting the cost wouldn't damage us too much as we earn a decent wage.

    Gay guest houses etc would be ok, but I'm the only gay one in the group (Yes they know), so I'd rather avoid them for their sake if possible.

    I'll know the exact months sometime around September/October, as to whether it will be in November, or March/April next year, I think warmer weather would actually probably be better, as most of us aren't exactly used to the cold.

    The gay friendly side of things doesn't really bother me (or my friends) either way, but I'd rather keep that side to a minimum for my friends, they do enough gay activities with me here, so I'd more prefer make the holiday much more appealing to them.


    Cheers for the tips, if you have any more about the Washington-Texas-Tennessee crawl, lemme know! I have a few really good things to think about! Can't even believe I forgot about the Grand Canyon.


    Edit: And I would really love to check out the Appalachians and NYC, so that might have to be a flight after the main driving stretch.

    Edit 2: Did a quick budget. If I don't somehow manage to completely fuck up my savings, I should have roughly $12k cash and $10k credit cards for emergency. For a month/probably two would this be enough for a decent adventure? Or should I tighten the savings belt? I spent a loooooooooot of money last time I vacationed to Japan, so not sure if I should bring more or less.
  • Viaggiatore

    Posts: 5

    May 23, 2009 1:06 AM GMT
    QUOTE BluntExact numbers will depend on who actually gets their saving shoes on between now and November, at the moment we have about 12, but I say the real number would dwindle down to about 7 or so.


    I'd say pool your money and buy a big ole van off of Craigslist. Looking at Seattle, there are plenty of options around 2 grand. With 7 people, at $200+ per flight, you're looking at almost that much money per leg of your tip.

    Having your own transportation is vital a lot of places in America, and it will also afford you the ability to travel at night and save some lodging costs in addition to easier alterations to your itinerary.

    All you'd have to do is slap an Australian Flag on the bumper and you'd be good to go.
    ___________

    I'd recommend starting in the Pacific Northwest and going down the west coast to LA or San Diego. From there you can cut inland and Las Vegas is only a couple of hours away. Yellowstone National Park is 12 hours from Vegas, and the drive is beautiful. You'll pass a number of other parks along the way, as well as Salt Lake City.

    Denver is about 8 hours from Yellowstone, and on your way to Texas (12 hours to Dallas)if you then cut to the south, or Chicago (15 hours) if you head due east. After that you can head anywhere!

    Good luck, and have a great time!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 23, 2009 2:59 AM GMT
    I took the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to Los Angeles and , in my opinion, it's the prettiest drive in the States. You could then cut over to Las Vegas and then the Grand Canyon on your way to Texas. If you have the time, try to catch Colorado. I think it's the prettiest state and has some of the best camping in the world. I lived in Texas and Tennessee so I could help to with both. Best places FOR TOURISTS in those two states are San Antonio and Memphis. That would probably take you up to a month which is a shame because there are lots of great places on the east coast. Try to fly out of New York City so you can at least get to see it for a few days. Also, if you can go through New Orleans on your way from Texas to Tennessee, that would be ideal. Though it's a little out of the way.
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    May 23, 2009 3:33 AM GMT
    Japan is much more expensive than the US, but always the more money you have, the better (even if you 'must' spend it once you get home).
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    May 23, 2009 7:18 AM GMT
    I have never do backpacking in America and Europe(but I will be someday). But I have a vast of experience backpacking in Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Phillippines, Indonesia and a little bit of northern Australia.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 23, 2009 9:37 AM GMT
    Quick question. Is it possible to hire motorbikes?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 23, 2009 1:44 PM GMT
    blunt_ saidQuick question. Is it possible to hire motorbikes?

    Yes, there are companies that rent, and I believe they can arrange appropriate licensing, but it wouldn't be cheap. I know a few are associated with the American Motorcyclist Association to which I belong, I'll contact the AMA and find out for you.

    BTW, I once camped with about 20 bikers from Scotland during the August rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. Wild & crazy bunch, they had shipped their Harleys to the States in a container (yes, they have Harleys over there), then proceeded to ride all over the US for 6 weeks.

    But the months you propose really limit you to the southern states, way too cold up north for long bike rides, and mountain passes will still see snow. And you'll need large motorcycles for the great distances in the US and highway speeds, unless you're using them for local urban transportation after flying to different cities.
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    May 23, 2009 1:49 PM GMT
    peterstrong saidyes, u can rent motorcycles in the united states - another spectacular trip would be to start in South Dakota - the Badlands national park, then drive that whole area - Wounded Knee, Mt. Rushmore, & Wind Cave, etc.
    then on to Devil's Tower, Wyoming - then Yellowstone, and then up to Glacier national park in Montana.

    I've ridden motorcycles in every one of those places (I have a funny story about Glacier Park and Australians I met there), but he mentioned November, and also March-April. I wouldn't trust the weather, could get an early or late snow, and can be quite cold for motorcycling. Plus much of the scenery is brown & bleak, except for mountain evergreens.