So I’m scrolling along the Geocaching.com Google Map through the California Redwoods, and I see a cache, an easy regular (for the muggles, a regular is big enough to have stuff in it). There aren’t a lot of caches out in the Redwoods, so I had a look. It was called Turn Off to Jurassic Park, so I’m immediately interested since it might even vaguely involve dinosaurs. It turns out that the cache is in the location where they filmed some of Lost World, the second Jurassic Park movie. I checked it out at IMDB and confirmed that they did film part of the movie in the Redwoods and also Humboldt County. So, now we are going to try to route this cache into our 2012 Road Trip.
Geocaching is great fun, but even if for some bizarre reason, you don’t enjoy geocaching, you can still use the web site to help plan your road trip.
First, you have to appreciate obsessive compulsive road trip planning. That means once you’ve found some area that you think you might like to visit (the Redwoods for example), and you’re thinking you might want to do some camping in the tall trees, and you’ve Googled “camping in the redwoods” and found some campgrounds, then what you need to do is to load up that area in Google Maps and go to satellite and scroll around, looking, for about an hour. An hour at at time.
As you’re scrolling around, you might run across something interesting, something odd looking, something that makes you go, what the hell is that? Can you Google that? “Weird barren area at end of dirt road in northerly Prairie Creek Redwood State Park? Well, maybe you can; I didn’t actually try. Instead, I hopped on over to geocaching.com and put Klamath, CA in the search. Sure enough, there was a cache within a few feet of the weird barren area, an Earthcache in fact called Fractured Coastline. Turns out there’s not only an incredible view from that spot, but it’s also a great place to look at the tectonic plates that are tearing California apart. Neat, huh? That weird barren area is now obviously a parking area so you can check out the view.
We driven around most of the United States almost every summer for the last 20 years. We’ve stayed in all kinds of motels and hotels. There was the antique hotel in Cripple Creek. There was the bedbuggy motel in Houston; we didn’t stay there. We got our money back on that one as soon as we pulled back the sheets. The manager actually tried to just move us to another room. Like there wouldn’t be bedbugs there. That was a bad planning experience. I didn’t think about how all of Galveston might be booked up on a Saturday night. The worst room we stayed in was in Tucumcari, New Mexico. There was grass growing up through the carpet between the beds and in a corner of the bathroom. A hole the size of a softball was rusted out of the middle of the shower tub. This was a really cheap motel though, about $12 or $15. And this was at least a decade ago. Motel rooms have skyrocketed in price in the last 20 years, more than gasoline, I think. You can’t find a $15 room anymore.
So, after staying at many different motels and hotels and motel chains all across the United States, I’ve found the most reliable in cleanliness, wifi, and a decent room with the lowest prices and sometimes a pool is Motel 6. I suppose some people consider the room a big part of the trip. They want something glamorous with newer bathroom fixtures and better little soaps and shampoos, room service, fancy curtains, better artwork on the walls. If you’re a budget road tripper, you have a choice, nice hotel rooms or driving farther, going to more places, getting more from the gift shops. I always go for the adventure over the room. Anyway, nice hotels are not a part of Extreme Road Tripping. The room is a place to shower, log in on the laptop, copy over the latest photos, watch a little TV, and sleep. So, that just requires a bathroom, wifi, a television, and a bed. You do have to pay a couple of dollars for the wifi at Motel 6.
I also like a microwave and fridge, and most Motel 6 rooms have these. I can never finish my dinner so I always have a doggy bag, and I always like a second dinner in the motel room. So much better than room service. If you really need some food brought to you, order a pizza delivery.
The Motel 6 web site has a Trip Planner that will show you motels all along your route. They also finally have an iPhone app. I complained all last trip about their lack of one. I plan to try it out this summer.
The only times we don’t stay at Motel 6 are when they’re all full or if there’s just none around or when we’re in Las Vegas. In Vegas, you stay at the casino. If you have kids, stay at Circus Circus. You can get the nicest, most beautiful rooms at Vegas casinos for really cheap, and the locations are great, right on the strip.