Americans come to Europe to admire the ruins of the past, in search of an ephemeral beauty that fits common aesthetic canons. Personally, I am much more interested now in what will be the ruins of the future and I’m ready to accept ugliness, discomfort, and decadence in the name of true exploration.
That is why I organized a US coast to coast trip that will touch seventeen cities, from Boston to Seattle, and as many states. A month and a half of traveling – mostly by land – to get an overall idea of what the North American continent has to offer. Although not comparable to the historic journey of the nineteenth-century pioneers, it is still a full westward adventure.
Nowadays, the greatest added value of traveling consists in the expectations that are created. Hence the need to share it before it actually takes place. So, here we go. Preparing for a US coast to coast trip begins by drawing a line on the map.
Trip Planning Notes
In order to shape the initial idea, I used our trip planning series. Rome2Rio, in particular, proved to be essential to connect the dots and find the best means of transport. In the end, a fair mix of trains, buses, and internal flights should help me cover the distance in time without entirely losing contact with the ground.
Once the itinerary was set, I started looking for accommodation but the search turned out to be more complex than expected. In fact, with the exception of the 5/6 largest and most visited cities, the offer is extremely limited and the United States remains super expensive for a European traveler, despite the low dollar. A private room on Airbnb is almost always the only way to spend less than $90 per night and avoid hostel dorms or rundown hotels. I’m far too old for that.
The great gentrifier made the trip viable as well as giving me the opportunity to meet local people and numerous pets, including five dogs, a guinea pig, and an elderly 16-year-old cat fondly called “Hopeless” (I’m sure we’ll get along).
Finally, OneNote is another amazing tool to put things together and make them usable. Creating a notebook with a folder for each destination city allows you to collect and organize articles, maps, routes, events, and other key documents.
One of the problems with a US coast to coast trip is that it has to be planned well in advance, leaving much room for imagination and a possible rude awakening. What follows is a pre-trip recap full of naïve expectations and stereotypes.
Here the lush forests have become golf courses over the years and I suspect that nothing greater than the lake is left. About themselves, they say: “We have got world-class experiences without the world-class ego.” Let’s see who’s right… Want to go/do/see: Hope Memorial Bridge, Cultural Gardens, The Arcade, Lake View
Almost completely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1906, San Francisco managed to overcome even the dot-com bubble burst. Its veiled beauty never ceases to attract artists, rebels, and innovators from all over the world. Want to go/do/see: Coastal Trail, North Beach, Buena Vista, SFMOMA, Jump on a Bike