What is available in hotels/motels depends on every single one you go to. Chains do not always have the same features at each location. You will have to call ahead or check out their website.
Most tap water is safe in the US, but that also depends on the location. Perhaps you can stock up on some large jugs/gallon containers near your starting point to sip from as needed in the car. At hotels & restaurants, tap is generally safe. I have not done a fair amount of travelling in the Western states, however. Most have chlorine and fluoride however. I think most establishments would not know about their filtration system. If you can find out in advance where you could get some nice well water, maybe you could get a large jug to keep some fresh water in for your trip/refill re-usable bottles.
Make sure you look at potential routes ahead of time! There are some very hilly areas in the West, due to the mountains! The roads can be very windy, very narrow, and treacherous, depending on weather. Make sure you keep up to date on the local forecast! Other areas are very flat and very boring, or so I've been told.
I am a very visual learner so I would suggest picking up a good atlas. Rand McNally is supposed to be a good brand. It will show you the major and local highways that can get you across each state, at the very least.
also, very important: surrender all notions of human dignity or self-respect, and any assumption that people around you might feel that way about themselves. In most places in america that I have been, the people are like twilight-zone level, "german-looking" (when you look over your shoulder before saying something controversial) sheepish, timid, dead-eyed cowardly sputtering jowel-shakers. I suggest that you brush up on your 1984 Appendix concerning Duckspeak otherwise nothing that my countrymen say will make sense to you.
NLW thanx - I might have to get the atlas and waterjug when we get to Seattle. I cannot find a decent map of America over here. The ones that I have found are too small !
Mr Perfidy Sir - I am assuming that you are suggesting that I learn to speak without involving my higher brain centres ????? I do that already - so no practice necessary :)
no just dull any appetite you might have for learning or hearing anything interesting or unique or any impulse toward insight rather than superficiality- if you say anything about anything that isn't sports, the weather, or traffic where I live, people just look at their feet and sigh and act weird for the most part. It's because anyone who is interesting is guilty of some kind of crime, as many harmless but fun behaviors are criminalized, and we consume thousands of hours of 4th reich police tv, so, the go-to thought on the street among strangers is, "what if he/she is a cop?" Seriously its dystopian and nightmarish- way realer than shit people wrote about 60 years ago and present and actually reality.
Mr. Perfidy, your view of American interactions seems very jaded! Maybe it's because you live in New Jersey ;). No, but seriously, not everyone is like that, geez.
Arrive, and buy state-by-state atlases at a local bookstore. Many gas stations will also have good maps. If you are renting a car, the rental place might also have the atlases that you are looking for.
I love atlases. We have a North Island one, and Ds and I spend a lot of time looking at it.
Pretty colours, and what great tension you have! How many colours do you plan to incorporate? So about 140 cm a side (that's 55" a side for the American's here), right? Would make a great snuggle blanket. Would you crochet the border, too?
[QUOTE=zoebird;1085019]Arrive, and buy state-by-state atlases at a local bookstore. Many gas stations will also have good maps. If you are renting a car, the rental place might also have the atlases that you are looking for.
I love atlases. We have a North Island one, and Ds and I spend a lot of time looking at it.[/QUOTE]
I half-disagree. Bookstores, yes. Gas stations, not anymore at all. I love paper maps, and kind of have a personal thing against GPS, and always try to buy a paper map whenever I go someplace new to me. It has been getting well nigh unto impossible for the last couple of years to get one from gas stations, and the last one I did score had print that was exceedingly difficult to read. They all say the same thing - maps discontinued there because everybody uses GPS. I haven't tried the major truck stop stations like Travel America or Flying J lately.
Which, Gwamma, brings me to a good point. There are travel stops that are fully equipped to handle our big rigs (cars are of course there in large numbers, too), open 24 hours/365 days, gas pumps naturally, with Internet rooms, showers, eateries that are open late, good emergency shopping... These are usually chains spread across regions of the US. Out here in Ohio to New Jersey, TA, Pilot, Kwik Fill, Love's, and the Flying J are examples. I personally usually gravitate to the Flying J. Ever have a young child blow poop out her pants in the middle of a 500-mile travel day (she has sensitive plumbing)? Well, the Flying J can handle that, with clean, bright bathrooms, nice people, and Pepto Bismol AND bed-wetting diapers on the shelves.
If you google "truck stops I-80" (replace the I-80 with whatever interstate number you need) you will get lists. I know you want back roads, but this is good to know if you are on the interstate and need some place this equipped.
I do think the last time I saw some were at the big truck stops. . . so, yeah.
Here in NZ, the gas stations do have htem, as do the iSites, but bookstores may not. Weird, right?
What helped me traveling to Wyoming from California was a big road atlas book. It has a whole state on each page. Something like this: [url=http://www.randmcnally.com/products/road-atlas/index.jsp]2013 Road Atlas[/url] I put a sticky note on each state I was going through so I could turn to the page quickly.
One thing a lot of foreigners have trouble with is the vast size of the US. It's probably about as far to drive across the US as it is to drive the length of NZ, both islands, 3 times. It took me 2 days to drive from Southern California to north-west Wyoming, stopping overnight.
When I was about 14, my mom, my sister and I with our dog and cat drove across country from Southern California to northern Minnesota. We stopped at national parks along the way. We took two weeks. That's only halfway across the country. To drive home, my dad joined us and it took us something like 3 days of round-the-clock driving, no stopping, to get home. When I was 18 I did the trip again with my two girlfriends and it took us 5 days with nightly stops.
You can stay pretty cheaply in the US by staying in campgrounds. National parks and national forests will have campgrounds. The national parks will be relatively expensive. It also costs money to enter a national park. National forest campgrounds are usually between $0 and $20 depending on how great a place it is. There are also these KOA campgrounds (Kamgrounds of America). They are basically parking lots with a shower and maybe a pool. If you have camping gear and are okay with camping, it's definitely an option. Be prepared for a wide variety of weather. It can be freezing in Wyoming and South Dakota, hotter than hell in Nevada or Nebraska.
My favorite thing on a road trip is to go to some little breakfast place, not a chain restaurant like Denny's or Ihop. You can meet some really interesting characters and often the food is really good. You sometimes have to drive away from the Interstate to find these places.