Traveling for the Holidays

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Lars

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Advocate II

2,093
Wyldwood, TX
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0654

My wife and I live just outside Austin, TX and are going to be heading back to both Indianapolis, IN and Milwaukee, WI to visit our families between Christmas and New Years.

How would y'all go about planning an overland trek home? How do you go about finding those "off the asphalt" dirt roads through beautiful back country? I'm not sure we'll want to do it at the end of December with Winter rolling in, and us no longer properly outfitted for life in proper cold weather, but we get back to the midwest about twice a year, so there will be more opportunities.

I think this time we're going to head mostly east and roll through New Orleans before turning north, which will be new for us. It adds 4 or 5 hours to the trip in drive time alone but seems like it'll be a fun detour.

Thanks in advance for advice and guidance.
 
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TreXTerra

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Advocate II

2,779
Salt Lake City, Utah
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I tend to head south for any winter wheeling. Around here snow storms leave people stranded fairly regularly and I don't want an overland trip to turn into a survival situation. In the winter we keep an eye on the weather and will bail out to well-traveled and maintained roads if there is a storm coming in. We also tend to travel with more than one vehicle, even on tame trails we've had to recover people who drove into hidden ditches under the snow or who hit a slick spot and stuffed their rig nose-first into a snowbank.
 
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Overland-Indiana

Overland Bound - Midwest Regional Ambassador
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Influencer II

3,316
Kokomo
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0750

@Lars I am in Kokomo, IN just 45min or so North of Indy, down near Bloomington (I assume your coming up from the south) there is the Hoosier National Forest, it would be a nice day drive through there, it is gorgeous when there is snow on the ground. When your on Facebook look for my group "Indiana Overlanders" join us and then the guys that are on there could lend you some better advice than me on what spots to visit, I know these 2 members: Nathan Farley and Dan Frasier visit there often!
 

Lifestyle Overland

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We will also be traveling from New Mexico to East Tennessee around that time. I'm not sure how many scenic routes I could take with a 2yo on a 21 hour (interstate) drive... but I'd like to hit a few landmarks. If nothing else, just to stretch our legs and let the little one release some energy!
 

Overland-Indiana

Overland Bound - Midwest Regional Ambassador
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3,316
Kokomo
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0750

We will also be traveling from New Mexico to East Tennessee around that time. I'm not sure how many scenic routes I could take with a 2yo on a 21 hour (interstate) drive... but I'd like to hit a few landmarks. If nothing else, just to stretch our legs and let the little one release some energy!

We LOVE Tennessee..my wife and I got married in Gatlinburg and go to that area at least twice a year (It is a 6hr drive for us, so not too bad) I did find some decent back roads on our last trip, don't remember how to get to them though. My wife wouldn't let me explore very much because we used my Father-In-Laws Hummer, I thought it would have been awesome to return it too him with a couple hundred pounds of mud caked in it...
 

Lifestyle Overland

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@jordanbrooks Yeah, you can't beat Tennessee! My wife and I are both from the Knoxville area. Spent lots of time in the Smokies. One day we will return, but for now we're nomads.

We usually fly but now that the little one requires her own plane ticket... driving is the better option. Totally planning a couple day trips while we're there for Christmas, I'll keep you posted.

P.S. I know a TON of people that got married in Gatlinburg! It's an awesome place.
 
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hardtrailz

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Advocate II

1,663
Indiana
You should look into Parke County and its backroads full of Covered Bridges. West of Indianapolis and lots of State Parks/Recreation Areas around to camp.

On the South end of Indiana near Madison if you cross the river there are some gravel roads and creek crossings in those counties that make for some fun light adventuring. Also a ferry across the river somewhere down there and i always wanted to go give it a try.

Going from Indy to WI will take you past Bdlands offroad park and it has camping and everything from mild to fairly tough trails. Good way to get some dirty tires one day.
 
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Steve

lost again...
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4,312
Lorain County, OH, USA
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Steve
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@Lars Our recent travels across the country focused on finding out of the way places to visit. Not necessarily on unpaved roads, but off the beaten path. In fact, we were only off pavement about 40 miles out of 7700+. Our only interstate driving, though, was from here in Ohio directly to Seattle (took our daughter to college), a hundred miles or so in Oregon, and the last three days coming back (with several side trips tossed in to get off the superslab.) So, 7-1/2 days out of 43.

We used RoadsideAmerica.com to search for interesting and weird places to visit. We had the AAA tour guide for each state we were driving through. And we used a couple of phone/tablet apps to help. (Roadtroopers, PocketRanger. Roadside) The AllTrails app lists hiking/walking trails near you, and I'm sure there are a ton of other similar apps.

But the most interesting sights, restaurants, etc. that we found were word of mouth. Everyplace we went, we'd ask waiters, bartenders, restaurant serving staff, store sales people, etc. where they liked to eat that wasn't a chain restaurant, where they went for recreation, sight seeing, day hikes. Where they'd recommend going if they could only be there one day. We enjoyed these places almost more than the ones everyone knows about or goes to. We'd never have stumbled on some of our favorite dining experiences or sights without these recommendations.

People are generally friendly, and love to tell you about their favorite places. All ya gotta do is ask.
 
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Murphy Slaw

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Member II

2,741
Southern Illinois
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0838

I went to visit an OLD friend (he's not that old, I just hadn't seen him in over 15 years) last week around Clarksville Va., and decided to cut across Southern Virginia on 58 just North of Bristol. Man, what beautiful Country, part of the road on the Lovers Leap Mountain had fallen off and there was a flagman for single traffic, but the views made the delay worth while. The Blue Ridge Parkway goes through that area as well.

I'm going back up there to explore more someday.