Wow thanks ever so much and thanks for confirming my guess on the trip from Texas to Chicago.
I get the feeling I'm nuts going to Chicago from what's been posted above (which implies the Washington equivalents are better) but I really want to go to 2 Chicago museums I remember from 40 years ago and show my kids. Yeah I know the museums will have changed and probably lost their charm (maybe the shrunken heads have been taken off display) but I want to show the kids:
Out of idle curiousity if I'd gone from New Mexico to Chicago via Montana instead of Texas would there of been appreciably better stuff to see to justify the longer route? You see Texas is winning due to the much shorter more conventional route and the Dinosaur footprints at Glenn Rose which beats out the Montana Badlands and Yellowstone.
PS my wife just walked in and thanked you all for the help you've given.
The Shed aquarium and the Art Institute are both good stops. I would actually consider going over to Arkansas and head through the Ozarks. They should be very pretty for late spring/early summer. If there has been decent rain and snow there will be some nice streams and waterfalls.
I would say Montana and Colorado will be much more interesting. Driving through Colorado will be a challenge if anyone in your tribe gets car sick. The mountain passes even on the interstates can be steep and curvy.
That way would be far more interesting visually. You could always check out Dinosaur National Monument instead, it's in the right part of Colorado and Utah to make your long trip longer.
Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
When I was there interior photography was permitted, as long as you didn't use flash. With a D800 you shouldn't have any problem getting decent indoor photos. I did alright with a Canon S2-IS, which has a max ISO of 400.
Originally Posted by kgosden
You can easily spend weeks looking around New York. In Manhattan alone I can recommend going to the top of the Empire State building (great views in all directions), visiting the Chrysler building, window shopping along 5th Avenue (including toy store FAO Schwarz for the kids), clothes store Century 21 (amazing prices on designer clothing), Central Park, Statue of Liberty, etc., etc. I'm sure RichNY knows a lot more interesting places, especially outside Manhattan. Oh, and don't forget to take in a Broadway show -- discount tickets are available in Times Square.
The California, Utah, & Arizona part of the trip should take about 3 weeks.
Since your kids are a little older, one day in Disneyland/California Adventure and one in Universal is probably enough. Les is right about Hearst Castle, but maybe just take one of the three tours. A stop in Big Sur is interesting, as it will be your first exposure to the Coastal Redwoods. This is a good place to overnight. Points of interest are Pfeiffer State Park and Pfeiffer Beach. I lived there for about a year, when I was younger. fun, but a bit remote for me now. About 15 miles north the road narrows to 1 lane due to a major landslide last year, so be prepared for a delay.
If your primary interest is to visit the national parks, via San Francisco, then skip the Monterey Peninisula area (although I could offer the cooks tour) It's very touristy, and will cost you most of a day to catch the highlites (Carmel, Pebble Beach, Point Pinos, Fishemans Wharf).
A great place to live, but not The Golden Gate, Half Dome, or Grand Canyon. If you do plan an overnight here then make sure it's not on a weekend, as it gets pretty crowded. That especially applies to Big Sur as well.
If you spend a few days at Yosemite, Bryce/Zion, and The Grand Canyon, it will be time better spent IMHO. The attractions in Chicago are alive and well along Shorline, so worth a re-visit. Going via the Rockies (Denver) is a pretty spectacular drive, especially if you go I40 to Albequerque then North on I25 via Sante Fe to Denver, I70 East to Indianapolis, and I65 North to Chicago. That will allow a stop at the Meteor Crater near Winslow and a drive-by of the Petrified Forest. Once you are out of the Rockies, its pretty boring, but there is Kansas City and Saint Louis to break the monotony. Except for the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River niether city is a real stopping place. If you are a racing fan Indy is a good stop. The Motor Speedway Museum is very cool. I spent a lot of time in this town (and in the mid-west). Be aware that the Indy 500 is May 26, and race week is pretty crazy, and crowded.
Once past Chicago I80 will take you to NYC via some of the older industrial towns and cities, but also through some scenic areas. South Bend Indiana (Notre Dame university) is the end of my domestic travels so the East Coast guys, can guide you from there.
Note: If you can, take the Grand Canyon Railroad to The Canyon, and the mules to the canyon floor while you are there. If you are feeling pretty healthy you can also hike down (and back up). Not for the faint of heart.
The mules are pretty good. I have ridden them down and hiked down to Phantom Ranch. Personally I preferred the hike. Mules were a lot of work on the abs and you cannot stop whenever you want a photo. That said, they were fun and different. You need to book them well in advance or get on the wait list. Early and late in the season the wait list is a good bet. There is a 200lbs. weight limit for the mules fully clothed.
Wow I fail the weight limit, obesity is clearly over rated.
I must pull my finger out and get a preparation photo posted as I am conscious this is a tog forum. I especially can't wait to post the daily's on the journey. Once again, thanks ever so much for having taken the time to help shape this grand tour.
I think we are all a bit jealous, and at the same time looking forward to the trip by proxy. An ambitious vacation. The key word is vacation. don't let the quest to "do it all" spoil the trip. Once I re-retire (hopefully next year) I am hoping to get back to Japan and possibly Australia on the pacific side, and Turkey and Europe on the Atlantic side.
A trip preview. A typical shot from the Carmel Highlands (Coast Hwy 1) looking Northwest (about 30 minutes South of here). Sorry about the fence, but it's part of the scene.
I'd say go for a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. It's one of the best things I've ever done. Far better than a theme park ride. We didn't land on the floor of the Canyon as it was more expensive but if I was doing it again I would book a flight that did.