Taking the scenic road down south

By Charna Erlichman

Whether there’s just one, or there are five of you, it’s easy to go on an outdoorsy two week vacation for under $500. All you need is a car and a tent. Between most cities, there are stretches of national parks where camping is available without even reserving in advance, although it is recommended to reserve wherever possible so your campground isn’t booked up.

As long as you plan carefully based on what kind of camping site you aim for, you can make your road trip adventure as comfy or as rugged as you like.

Be wary of family campsites where the sites are very close together and generally packed with RV’s; these tend to quash any sort of feelings of having escaped the city.

Always overestimate how long it will take you to get to the next campground.  Driving at dangerously high speeds to cover hundreds of kilometres before the sun goes down, or the temperature drops can be avoided. Also, you don’t want to arrive and have a gate barring you from entering the campground.

Although, it might seem easy to sleep in your car, or to camp on the side of the road, laws prohibit it.  Sleeping in your car overnight is surprisingly cold and uncomfortable, so don’t feel like you’re missing out.

Our southern friends have a lot to offer if you’re looking for a truly other-worldly experience.

Check out Zion National Park in Utah. It has a Mars-esque landscape with fire-coloured rock formations.

On your way down, you can also see the world renowned Yellowstone National Park in Montana, and visit the famous Old Faithful geyser.

However, much more impressive than a giant orgasmic geyser is the hauntingly strange idea that you’re standing on a volcano.

Once that idea messes with your head long enough, get out of there and head to a fun city.

Las Vegas is only a few hours away, and you can wash your clothes at a local Laundromat once you get there.

You can take in the free shows at the hotels and catch a bite of something to eat before you get back in your car and follow the highway to San Francisco.  There’s still time to get your Halloween gear, so when you’re in San Francisco, check out the Haights at Ashbury and Japantown.

If you want to go to Japan, but lack the funds, consider Japantown a step in the right direction.  There is a mall that spans a few city blocks devoted to all things Japanese.

Finally, drive over to take a peek at the Oregon Coast which is a must-go-to place for photographers.

The waves crashing against rugged rocks, endless beaches and ever-blue skies make this a rather romantic section of your journey.  With many camp grounds along this area, there’s no need to pay for a hotel.

The Coast can be done in two days and you can hit Portland, an artsy city, on your way home.  Have fun!

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