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The_Ink_Goddess
06-12-2014, 03:20 PM
Hey, all! So I have a very specific question which might sound bizarre. I need a US state for my baby-idea. My MC has to live in one state and drive a long way - preferably through creepy/atmospheric places :tongue - to get to this other one, for reasons. She doesn't fly so it doesn't matter if planes go there or not, because she's afraid of it. I want her to originally live in a very noisy place and take a week-long road trip to her home in one specific state, preferably:

- a very creepy place - I mean, really really creepy
- a plantation mansion
- very rural
- in the Deep South

I want her to have to travel THROUGH a lot of different states on the way - is this possible? (This sounds totally absurd and implausible, but for story reasons, I need her to stop off in different states.)

Sorry if this is totally confusing! Reps and my eternal gratitude for any help. :D

snafu1056
06-12-2014, 03:33 PM
Well she could be travelling from New York to Florida, that would bring her through the deep south (especially if she's going to the Florida panhandle, which is pretty rural and borders Alabama). A trip like that would take you through a bunch of states-New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, etc. That would be a solid 20 hours of traveling (maybe longer or shorter depending on where in Florida youre going and how many stops you make).

Marlys
06-12-2014, 03:36 PM
Hey, all! So I have a very specific question which might sound bizarre. I need a US state for my baby-idea. My MC has to live in one state and drive a long way - preferably through creepy/atmospheric places :tongue - to get to this other one, for reasons. She doesn't fly so it doesn't matter if planes go there or not, because she's afraid of it. I want her to originally live in a very noisy place and take a week-long road trip to her home in one specific state, preferably:

- a very creepy place - I mean, really really creepy
- a plantation mansion
- very rural
- in the Deep South

I want her to have to travel THROUGH a lot of different states on the way - is this possible? (This sounds totally absurd and implausible, but for story reasons, I need her to stop off in different states.)

Sorry if this is totally confusing! Reps and my eternal gratitude for any help. :D

One possibility: have her start up in the Northwest, maybe Seattle or Portland, and drive deep into Georgia. I Google-Mapped Seattle, WA to Jesup, GA (a smallish dot picked at random), and the straightest drive-time is 43 hours. If she's driving alone, it's not unreasonable for her to stop after 6-8 hours each day (especially if, like me, she doesn't really like to drive). Or, she doesn't have to drive the most direct route--she could avoid certain highways or areas, or decide she wanted to go through others.

She would necessarily have to travel through a lot of states--go to Google Maps and play with different start/end points and see where you want her to go, then come up with her particular reasons for taking that route.

chompers
06-12-2014, 03:41 PM
My first thought when you said plantation was Louisiana (that's the state right next to Texas that looks like a boot). And it's rumored that many plantations are haunted. But I don't know if that's considered Deep South, or just the South. I think it's just the South. I don't know if they're in very rural locations though. It's not heavily populated, depending on where the plantations are, but they would most likely have tourists coming by (plantations aren't very common nowadays, except as a historic landmark). You can definitely have her travel a long distance (going across the entire US going from one side to the other is about a week long). They're all connected, except for Alaska and Hawaii, so you can just dawdle here and there at your selection.

jeffo
06-12-2014, 03:46 PM
If you want to stay in the deep south, you could start in Jacksonville, FL, which is not a tiny city, then drive west. If you're looking for a lot of states in a short time, mid-Alantic and northeast will work better, but you won't get the deep south aspect.

robjvargas
06-12-2014, 04:17 PM
A trip from Boston to New Orleans would (potentially) go through 11 or 12 states. The swamps of Louisiana can be massively creepy.

And there are so many types of terrain on the way. The mountainous regions of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia (depending on which path you travel). The foothills of Kentucky, Tennessee, maybe even Alabama and Mississippi.

Lauram6123
06-12-2014, 05:32 PM
I second that about ending up in Louisiana. I lived there for years, and I used to have to drive from New Orleans to any number of creepy out of the way bayou towns, and I can tell you...it feels like you've traveled back in time to get there.

Maze Runner
06-12-2014, 07:07 PM
Some very good suggestions. There is something about the deep south, including the Louisiana area. I might throw the desert SW into the hat. Been through a big chunk of it, it can be surreal to outright creepy. MC could be coming from Los Angeles, which is a lot of things but creepy is not one of them, and so the contrast would be striking.

ULTRAGOTHA
06-12-2014, 07:40 PM
I want her to have to travel THROUGH a lot of different states on the way - is this possible? (This sounds totally absurd and implausible, but for story reasons, I need her to stop off in different states.)

People from Britain trying to comprehend North American distances are adorable*.

This is so possible it’s more possible than possible.

To get to the deep south from anywhere in the USA other than the deep south requires driving through more than one state.

Eastern states are smaller than Western states ** so if you want to drive through lots of states your character could start in Portland, Maine and end up in Florida. From Maine, you’d be driving through ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE/MD (depending on which way you go and if you want to spend $10 crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel), VA, NC, SC, GA*** to Florida. That’s 13 or 14 states. That’s at least two days of solid driving but you could do it in a week, easy peasy, by stopping to look at cool things (Boston, New York, take the Cape May ferry to Delaware, Ocean City, Assateague Island, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Barrier Islands, Atlanta, etc.) There are a bunch of National Parks on that route, depending how you go. Or you could swing slightly West, avoid the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and go to Washington, DC.

I’ve driven all over this part of the country and lived in Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut. Actually, I’ve driven through almost every state in the Union (Louisiana, Alabama, North Dakota and Alaska excepted) and most of the Canadian provinces, also. Feel free to PM.

Ending up in Louisiana is a different route with even more states. Find a good map with all the highways (motorways) and state routes (sort of equivalent to A roads).

Be aware that travel times between distances in the US and Canada are very different than parts of the UK. I budgeted an hour to go 55 miles in Scotland. That was nowhere near enough time.



* Friends from Kent were visiting San Diego, California when I lived in Sacramento, California and asked if I wanted to have dinner with them. They were quite taken aback when I told them sure, I could no doubt take Friday off work, have dinner or any other meal on Saturday and drive home Sunday. We were in the same state! It had to be close! It’s at least an 8 hour drive, really. Almost two Britains could fit in California.

** I do remember my delight the first time we drove from Virginia to New Jersey. I grew up on the West Coast. It takes all day just to get out of your own state. In less than four hours we’d driven through VA, MD, DE and half of NJ.

*** For translations of these two-letter codes, look up US Postal Service state abbreviations. All states have a two-letter code. FL=Florida, for example. Don’t get confused by all the different ones for states that start with A or M. MA is not Maryland, frex, it’s Massachusetts. MD is Maryland.

ironmikezero
06-12-2014, 09:37 PM
As a Louisiana resident, I can tell you there are places in parts of this state that could pass for sets from the iconic Hammer films of the '60s & '70s. Haunted plantations? Ghost tours? Disheveled cemeteries? Voodoo cults? Chilling folklore rife with zombies, vamps, shape-shifters (gator-man, lugarou/rugarou,etc.)? Hell yeah, we got 'em!

Even the flora and fauna can contribute to the creep factor. Just check out the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest river swamp in the US (over a million acres). It looks like a slice of the Cretaceous untouched by time. There are plenty of predators. Other than the snakes and alligators, there are bears and panthers. What they don't always tell you is how many people go missing without a trace.

http://www.atchafalaya.org/page.php?name=Atchafalaya-Basin

http://www.lastwildernesstours.com/

Lil
06-12-2014, 09:40 PM
If she's traveling from Point A to Point B, it's easy to have her go through several different states. Just look at a map. Your problem will be the creepy part. If she actually wants or needs to arrive at her destination, she would be traveling on highways. These can be boring as all get out, but are not particularly creepy or atmospheric or anything else interesting. You're going to need to get her off the highway and onto back roads, where you can have swamps and bogs and haunted mansions and anything else your little heart desires. Just look at a map, pick out a more or less general route, and make up the rest.

Los Pollos Hermanos
06-13-2014, 12:21 AM
Limey perspective: America is bloody massive!!! My record drives in one day are:
* Las Vegas NV to South Lake Tahoe CA via Death Valley.
* Springdale UT to Tonopah NV via Scotty's Castle.
* San Antonio TX to Artesia NM via Carlsbad Caverns.
A lot less stressful than driving ~500 miles over here. ;)

Agreed about the back roads. If you've got time, keep off the Interstate (or similar) as you see much more and can stop to investigate anything especially interesting - or delicious.

The furthest "South" I've visited is Louisiana (Lafayette), but not for long. The region certainly had creepy potential, but I wasn't there long enough to visit creepy settings - although watching True Detective whetted the appetite for a second visit. I ate a delicious big plate of alligator though!

In addition to LA, I've visited all states west of and including TX and ND, apart from NE, and also NYC. If you want a visitor perspective from a fellow English bird feel free to ask. I prefer the SW states as I like lots of heat, but not humidity. Louisiana = swampy hot!

Dave.C.Robinson
06-13-2014, 12:59 AM
One possibility: have her start up in the Northwest, maybe Seattle or Portland, and drive deep into Georgia. I Google-Mapped Seattle, WA to Jesup, GA (a smallish dot picked at random), and the straightest drive-time is 43 hours. If she's driving alone, it's not unreasonable for her to stop after 6-8 hours each day (especially if, like me, she doesn't really like to drive). Or, she doesn't have to drive the most direct route--she could avoid certain highways or areas, or decide she wanted to go through others.

She would necessarily have to travel through a lot of states--go to Google Maps and play with different start/end points and see where you want her to go, then come up with her particular reasons for taking that route.

To put some personal perspective here. I once drove from Seattle WA, to Winchester VA, and it took me 63 hours all told, and I was just napping in my truck at rest areas. Google calls the route I took a 41 hour drive, and it's about 2800 miles.

Hope that helps.

Adamantine
06-13-2014, 01:27 AM
When I go on vacation, I drive. I have driven the US from coast to coast. Suggestions? Well, have your person start in San Francisco, go through the Rockies via Las Vegas and Denver. Shoot out on 76 through endless empty farm land, to St. Louis, then on down in Louisiana to Alabama or Georgia. Lots of swamps and such. The desert is... odd at times.

A friend of mine lived in Bullhead NV once, work up to see a reptilian figure standing over her daughter's crib. It was there one second, gone the next, and she is just not certain if she dreamed it or what!

If you want to go in NJ, northern NJ has some really haunted spots, especially Ringwood Manor in Bergen County. Harriman State Park, in Rockland/Orange county in NY is noted for hauntings.

Jim Riley
06-16-2014, 12:44 AM
The Atchafalaya Basin in south Louisiana is haunted by the mystical Rougarou. With one bite, it turns a man into a werewolf. The moss-laden oaks of the swamp and the misty dawns add to the atmosphere. We still have plenty of plantations, some of which have stayed in the families for generations. Some homes in the Atchafalaya Basin can only be reached by boat. As a young man, I remember seeing the school boat instead of a school bus between Grassy Lake and Lake Palourde. (South of Pierre Part)

J.Emerson
06-16-2014, 01:14 AM
I live in New Orleans and my parents are in Santa Fe, NM, with the rest of my family in Los Angeles. I drive back and forth from here to there several times a year. The drive to LA is 30 hours (if you were to drive straight through, four days at about 8 hours a day) and goes through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada (and depending on the roads you chose you may go through Oklahoma as well).

Though I'm partial to New Mexico (we lived there for a few years too, the northern part of the state is beautiful) more than its fair share of scary, middle-of-nowhere psychopath movies were based there. And driving through northern Louisiana (from the Dallas area passing the border by Shreveport then going down past Lafayette then Baton Rouge and down towards New Orleans) goes through quite remote places and while pretty during the day can be creepy at night. I drove a U-Haul from Santa Fe when we moved here and had some mechanical difficulties on the bridge across the Atchafalaya. I second the previous posters that the Atchafalaya basin has a lot of creep potential. I had to pull off at the first exit and there was nothing. I mean nothing. Pitch black and then the road ended and I had three point turn in the black with a U-Haul trailer - total heart in the throat moment. I was lucky I didn't back my ass into a canal, haha. People drown after driving off the road everyday in Louisiana (actually just happened to someone on the Atchafalaya I10 bridge this weekend).

Also, there are still plenty of working plantations in Louisiana, many of which also allow tourists in for a little extra money on the side. There are a half a dozen at least within forty-five minutes of New Orleans, they tend to be close to the river because back in the day that's how they made the goods portable.

And southeastern Louisiana is most definitely the deep South, though New Orleans is kind of an outlier, in a class of its own by Southern standards.

Jim Riley
06-16-2014, 01:38 AM
J. Emerson,

I agree. A lot of folks have disappeared in the swamps of the Atchafalya without ever being seen again. When I was a boy, we got lost while deer hunting and had to spend the night out there. We thought we would be on the list of "Never Seen Again" casualties, but managed to find a bayou the next morning.

jaksen
06-16-2014, 03:47 AM
And please don't forget, no matter what states you choose for your start and destination, that you must include border crossings with angry guards who demand to see your 'papers' and often require bribes for you to continue on...

Oh, wait, alternate history US here. :D

Jim Riley
06-17-2014, 02:17 AM
jaksen, that's only for the Louisiana/Mississippi border

robjvargas
06-17-2014, 02:20 AM
jaksen, that's only for the Louisiana/Mississippi border

Or pretty much the entire I-10 corridor if you've got out of state plates.

Siri Kirpal
06-17-2014, 03:31 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Or going into California. They have fruit checks. You may not bring fresh fruit into California without a license. I'm a little hazy on whether that applies to fresh veggies too.

Not to mention all the checkpoints inside Arizona to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Williebee
06-17-2014, 03:50 AM
You said she has to travel "a long way" -- how long? How many days do we need to keep her on the road? Is there a reason that would keep her off the interstates (the high speed, don't see anything except when you get off to get gas roads) and let you keep her on the state highways and backroads? That's where the fun stuff is.

Do you want to keep her in swamps and bayous (coastal) the whole way? Or can she start in hill country, mountain or desert?

If you put her in a car in Odessa, Texas, or anywhere just west of there, she could start in a city (Odessa) or village (Monahans or Kermit.) A day trip southwest and she's in the swamps. Two to four days of coastal travel and she's visited Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and rolled across the panhandle of Florida to wherever you want her to end up.

There are cities and touristy built up areas. But there are also swamps and bayous, plantations and ghost towns, tiny tin shack six building towns and long stretches of "where the hell am I?" and places with as much nothing as a body can stand.

btw? Google Maps and Street View isn't the same as actually making the drive, but it's very handy.

blacbird
06-17-2014, 06:13 AM
Hey, all! So I have a very specific question which might sound bizarre. I need a US state for my baby-idea. My MC has to live in one state and drive a long way . . .

I want her to have to travel THROUGH a lot of different states on the way - is this possible?

Do you possess familiarity with the concept of a geographic "Atlas"?

Start in Florida, and travel to Alaska (bonus: you get to drive through a couple of Canadian provinces and the Yukon Territory along the way).

caw

MDSchafer
06-17-2014, 07:07 AM
If she's going to be traveling from state to state she's going to have to have her paperwork in order. For most cross-state travel you need to have an entry permit signed, an original notarized version, not a photo copy. In addition to that some states require different things. Texas requires a passport, California requires a complete listing of all firearms owned by first-degree relatives and New Hampshire requires a blood test for TB before you can pass through the holding zone.

WriterTrek
06-17-2014, 07:24 AM
There are some plantations around the general area of New Orleans. New Orleans is also associated with Voodoo. Lots of ghost stories around the area too.

Seems like you could look around that general area and see if there's something suitably creepy for you. New Orleans itself is a proper city, but not too many miles outside of it you can find yourself in a more or less deserted area.

startraveller
06-17-2014, 10:06 AM
If you're looking for plantations you'll want to head for southern coastal states. Louisiana is famous for its plantations, but what you're wanting can be found as far north as Delaware, through Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. There are plantations farther inland, but I'd assume you want the Spanish Moss and ivy covered trees for the creep factor, which means swampland. Here's a list of US plantations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_plantations_in_the_United_States), if you'd like one to work off.

Deep South, typically, consists of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The cultural designation can leak into the Floridian panhandle and east Texas. That's seven possible states. Depending on where you want your character to be travelling from, and what the exact purpose of the travelling (specifically through/to southern states) is, your character can travel through 5-10 states from either coast before getting where she's going. It really depends on how many states you want her in and how long you want her travelling. Definitely take a gander at Google Maps and figure out where she begins and take it from there.


If she's going to be traveling from state to state she's going to have to have her paperwork in order. For most cross-state travel you need to have an entry permit signed, an original notarized version, not a photo copy. In addition to that some states require different things. Texas requires a passport, California requires a complete listing of all firearms owned by first-degree relatives and New Hampshire requires a blood test for TB before you can pass through the holding zone.

If the character is travelling as a tourist in her own country, all she would need is a photo ID (particularly a driver's license), and insurance information. As much as I've travelled the US by car, I've never been in need of a passport, entry permit, or a listing of firearms. I've never been stopped for TB testing, either. Those things may be important for entering those states from another country, but not for someone who is a US citizen already (unless they're travelling to/from Alaska or through Arizona maybe). Applying for residence in the states the character is travelling through may make a difference.

blacbird
06-17-2014, 10:30 AM
For clarification: the comments in this thread about "border guards" and "passports" and the like were pure sarcasm.

Anybody can travel freely from state to state in the U.S. with no restrictions at crossing state borders. You do need to have a valid driver's license, current vehicle registration and insurance validation, in case you get stopped for some potential driving violation, but that's a matter of state law everywhere.

95% or more of the interstate driving is done via the Interstate Highway System, purely as a matter of speed and convenience. But if your characters are trying to be a bit less noticed, they might want to take the "blue highways", so called because that's how they are drawn on road maps. These are either state highways or older federal highways not part of the Interstate system.

A national road atlas will be hugely helpful to you.

caw

Russell Secord
06-18-2014, 02:53 AM
Look at a map. The Interstate system is poorly represented in the South, particularly Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Draw lines from Jackson to Birmingham to Nashville to southwest Kentucky and back to Jackson. A couple of Interstates cut across the edges of that area, but otherwise the roads are four lanes at best.

Now look at South Carolina. Three and a half Interstates, with two and a half going through the center. Lots and lots of back roads.

I've set horror stories in both places. Just being so remote is scary in itself. No hospitals, no police, often no phones. Easy to get lost in those back woods....

Jim Riley
06-18-2014, 03:06 AM
WriterTrek,

Did you say deserted? All of the inhabitants take exception. Every alligator, water moccasin and even the mythical Rougarous voted in the last election. (Just kidding. Don't want the Mods booting me.)

We do hold the record for dead people voting in local elections though.

J.Emerson
06-18-2014, 03:25 AM
Haha, as much as a resident American might appreciate the humor about strict rules for traveling from state to state, someone not from here might not detect the irony.

You can pretty go anywhere you want to without being bothered unless you do something to bring attention to yourself. That's how so many criminals can go on the lam without being detected for decades :)

There are checkpoints in California on the I5, I8, and I15, all in the broad San Diego area, and the I10 from Arizona passing into California for immigration. Also on the I10 through Texas, by the Mexican border, and in the southernmost part of New Mexico, also I10 by Las Cruces. (There are more of course, but those are the ones I've been through in my travels between New Orleans and Los Angeles). California also has some agricultural checkpoints. You don't have to show ID in any of them so long as you don't do something suspicious (though admittedly I'm not Hispanic, I'm not certain if the immigration checkpoints might require additional ID if you are).

Cath
06-18-2014, 04:14 AM
Let's focus on the facts, folks. Thanks.

jennontheisland
06-18-2014, 06:02 AM
Creepy is a relative term. I know people who find driving through any forest of tall trees to be creepy. Me, I get freaked out going across the prairies, especially in winter. Anywhere can be creepy if you have the character and the perspective right.

C.bronco
06-18-2014, 06:11 AM
If you want to stay in the deep south, you could start in Jacksonville, FL, which is not a tiny city, then drive west. If you're looking for a lot of states in a short time, mid-Alantic and northeast will work better, but you won't get the deep south aspect.

She'd have to have a particular reason for getting off the interstate, which is no means an immerion in a new culture unless you count Waffle House.

Mary Thornell
06-21-2014, 12:07 AM
I second (third? forth?) the recommendation for any points in Louisiana if you want swampy creepiness, or anywhere in the South for just good old fashioned backwoods isolation. One thing Ive encountered with non-Americans is the perception that we ALL sound like they do in the television shows: Midwest bland. If your character stops off in each of the states they travel through and interact with the locals, be sure to be aware of the dialect used in the various places. Georgians do not sound like those from Louisiana, and Minnesotans do not have the same inflections that those from Nevada have. I can tell you within my own state of Texas, those of us in East Texas ARE distinctive from those who grew up in Midland-Odessa. If the passage through the states is just a mention or a short part of the story, then highlight the differences between your start and stop using the dialect of the regions.

Jim Riley
06-21-2014, 01:38 AM
Mary,

You are absolutely correct. We have a different dialect in north Louisiana (mostly Redneck), southwest Louisiana (primarily Cajun) and southeast Louisiana (they call it ninth Ward dialect). Very distinctive differences, but all three are good.