The Travel Junkie is at it again…

In less than two weeks, I’ll be embarking on a drive across the United States. I’ll be driving mostly along Highway 40, which is a pretty straight-shot across the nation, however I’m not gonna cannonball it—I’m going to take my time (at least five days, about 8 or 9 hours driving per day), and have some specific stops in mind to give my photographic trigger-finger a bit of a workout.

As I talk to people about the trip, I keep getting suggestions of other stops I should make, of places to see and shoot, and of course of unmissable cafés, diners, and other points of roadside food that I just can’t drive right past without stopping. I have friends along the way as well, and will be calling on them for an all-too-rare visit. So, it’ll be a week… or two. We’ll see.

The Journey

This is my planned route. Each point is an intended overnight. As you can see, I’ve already drawn in a red-line from Phoenix, AZ (where I’ll be visiting friends) to Santa Fe, NM (where I’ll be eating chiles… any suggested spots?) as an alternate route, because my friend (and epic commercial and fine art photographer) Parish Kohanim just recommended that I stop in White Sands, NM if I can. Which makes that segment 11h30m instead of 8h15m, so perhaps I’ll split it in two and spend the night in White Sands. 

View Travel Junkie’s Cross Country Drive in a larger map

So, where do YOU think I should stop? That map above is completely editable by anyone. Go ahead and add in your favorite vistas, and by all means link to your flickr galleries or blogs, add photos directly, whatever you like! I’d love to see this map fill up with recommendations from all of you. I’d love to meet some of you along the way as well; if you’re on this route (or reasonably close to it), get in touch and let me know!

So far I’m planning to stop in Phoenix, AZ because I have friends there. Maybe I go through White Sands, NM, then I’ll drive through Albuquerque, NM (“I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque!”) and spend the night in Santa Fe, NM because I hear they have wicked good chile dishes, and I’ve never been—plus it’s supposed to be a really artsy town, and I like that. Amarillo, TX for lunch then Oklahoma City, OK for the night because, well… they’re on the way and I’ve never been before. Little Rock, AR for lunch perhaps, and to see the birthplace of SocksClinton (no, not really), then Memphis, TN for the night ‘cause that’s Elvis-town, and that’s just gotta be cool. Birmingham, AL sounds worthy of a stop, and I’ll also stop in Atlanta, GA at least for coffee with Parish, but that’s just two hours from my destination so no overnight planned there. And? What else? You tell me!!

By the way, this strip is partially inspired by my friends Chris and Beth Fenwick, who recently returned from a month-long drive down Route 66. Of course I’m not driving 66 nor am I spending a month doing it, but the fact that I’m driving cross-country instead of flying is largely their fault. Read up (and watch video) about that trip on their blog, and listen to their interview on This Week in Photo.

The Gear

I’m a big fan of geo-tagging, and so I’ll be logging every second of this trip and marrying GSP coordinates to pictures in Aperture as I go. The logger that I currently have is a bit rubbish, so it’s time to get a new one. I’ve been doing some digging and I’m really liking the QStarz BT-Q1000XT at the moment. Fast startup, very long battery life (42h if you believe the specs), supposedly quite accurate. The only downer on it is that according to the company, it doesn’t mount as a USB drive on the Mac, meaning I have to use 3rd party software to access the data on it. I’m not thrilled with that prospect, so if anyone out there can recommend something better, I’m listening.

I have a little Ricoh Caplio GX100 camera that has a built-in intervalometer, so I plan on shooting a time-lapse of my entire drive. Why not, right? I’ll mount the camera on the inside of my windshield using a Panavise 809 Camera Window Suction Cup Mount (again unless someone has a better suggestion… all this stuff gets ordered next week). Could be interesting. Could also be dead boring. Only one way to find out though ;-)

Other than that, it’ll be my standard regimen of camera gear along for the ride.

The Result

Oh who knows… a video of the time-lapse, and with any creative luck, it’ll be something mildly clever, involving some of the larger photos I’ll take along the way. Of course I’ll be writing about the drive and posting photos on here as I go, and if it turns into anything special I’ll put it into a nice little Aperture book.

So pile on your advice, tips, and recommendations. Leave comments here, or add points of interest directly to the google map above!

Come long on this journey with me… it’ll be fun!