Skip to comments.Road Trip: California to Virginia - looking for suggestions
Posted on 04/12/2009 11:36:43 AM PDT by COBOL2Java
My daughter and son-in-law have moved back east from Escondido, CA to Northern Virginia (economy here's better).
They're living with us right now, but are planning to get their own place later this year. Their kids' furniture is in storage back in California, and round about December we're going to bring it here. I've always been a road trip lover, and we're thinking of getting a 12-foot U-Haul and driving the 2,700 miles ourselves, along with a small rental car (#1 grandson wants to join us).
I'm thinking of taking Interstate 40, which would give us a southerly route, then I-81 once we're in Virginia.
Assuming we do about 500 miles per day, we can make our stops in: Flagstaff, Amarillo, Little Rock, then hit 81 in Knoxville before heading home. That would give us 5 days for the whole trip.
Any Freepers ever try something like this? I've done many long-distance trips before, but usually in the 1,500 mile range. What about the idea of doing that route in December? Ideas / suggestions welcome!
Well from someone who now lives in northern virginia and visits iowa, so. dak. and wy. quite a bit....I’d say go the northern route, but not in Dec.
New Mexico shold have 3 to 5 feet of snow by December. Could be more than risky ~ try the word “impossible”.
I did the exact same route the opposite direction—Washington DC to Los Angeles. Make sure you take at least one side trip—my favorite close to the 40 is Petrified Forest National Park (http://www.nps.gov/pefo/) in Arizona. It is spectacular, you can drive through the park and see the petrified trees without even getting out of your car.
Would I-20 be better? We could pick it up down in Dallas...
Clark Griswold is that you?
40 is a great route, we’ve done it several times. Close to Carlsbad Caverns, Grand Canyon, ancient Anazasi site (I forgot the name), etc. Have FUN!
I drove out to Cali from MI in 1986. I-80 mostly.
5 days is a good pace.
6 might be a little easier to handle.
Why do you have to drive in December? Someone is bound to be ill then. The weather will suck. I’d do it in the early fall or even summer.
Cross the Mississippi at Alton, Illinois and stop at Fast Eddies for steak on a stick!
December? Be flexible and ready to jog South to avoid ice and snow storms.
LOL! Yep, that's me. Although I'm a little more flexible than Clark. :-)
If you go through Santa Fe, you should eat at Tomasita’s cafe.
In Albuquerque you could eat at El Pinto Restaurant.
That was where “W” declared he was running for president.
Garden of the God's (Colorado Springs) if you are going that way.
That's roughly when they forsee being ready to get their kids' stuff. I'd seriously doubt, given their economic situation, any earlier, but it certainly could be delayed until the Spring. I just thought a southerly route would help. Maybe I-20 would be better than 40 once we're beyond Texas...
I also might add that in planning road trips, I come up with several contingency plans - hence my post: looking for good suggestions!
You said — Any Freepers ever try something like this? I’ve done many long-distance trips before, but usually in the 1,500 mile range. What about the idea of doing that route in December? Ideas / suggestions welcome!
If you want to do some sight-seeing, you’re not going to be doing 500 miles a day, not unless you want to wear everyone out... (and drive from morning to late at night (while seeing certain things during the day).
It’s not a bad idea to do some sight-seeing, but you will need to take the time out of the day where you won’t be doing driving. And the problem with that, especially if you get a U-Haul truck, is that they’re going to give you a set amount of time to make the drive. I think it may end up being the normal driving time, plus two days (perhaps). After that you start getting charged extra.
As far as the kind of driving, well, I’ve driven anywhere from that distance you say, to 4,500 mile round trips to 11,000 mile round trips (in about 5 weeks...). But, in all those cases, I wasn’t hauling stuff to take back somewhere else (although I’ve done that, too, just specifically for that reason).
One thing that I know for sure, it always takes longer than you think to see certain sights, even if you think you’ve got it planned out. LOL...
There was one trip (and I’ve made a bunch of them, for sure), where I thought I was going to plan it all out, to the exact sights to see, on what day, and what motel to stay at and everything. I even had all the reservations made to hit each place on each certain day. Well..., I did that once and I’ll never do that again. I did make all the sights and stops and overnights, along the way, but there were times I was driving until midnight to make it... LOL...
Now, when I’m doing one leg of a 4,500 mile trip (2,250 on a leg) and I think it will take so many days, and I’ll see certain things along the way, I’ll figure out how much time it will take and what sights I might want to see and add two days to what I think... :-)
Again, that’s *if* you want to see certain things along the way (which I think one should always do, in any case, because you’re already passing by or pretty close, anyway...). If you were just “driving” and nothing else, then you could make better time. But once you start “stopping” along the way, then it’s “all over” for “making time”...
Taking the ‘southerly’ routes in December is a roll of the dice. I once took I-10 across southern AZ and thru El Paso to avoid the hell that is I-80 in Wyoming, only to skate on icy snow-packed interstate roads thru the Davis Mtns enroute back to the Iowa-Illinois Quad Cities. It wasn’t fun. Further, the West is best seen in sunny conditions. The contrasting light of morning and evening helps the landscape to stand-out in stark contrast. That’s also a wet blanket when the skies are cloudy in winter.
Depressed yet? Were it me, I’d put the furnishings in boxes and let ABF or some other freightline pick it up and deliver it while you took AMTRAK where you’d see much better scenery up close and without the worry of getting stuck until a storm blew-over.
I’ve made the trip both ways several times. I’ve taken the norther route (80) the middle (40) and the southern (10).
Given that your trip is planned for the December timeframe, I would take the southern route. You can catch the 10 north of Escondido and then take the 20 to Dallas once you get into Texas. This route will keep you in the more moderate Southwest weather regions. From Dallas, you can start heading north on the 30 and pick up the 40 in Little Rock.
No matter what way you go, stop and see the country. It’s awesome!
We are BIG road trip travelers but 5 days to cross the entire US? Possible, I guess, but not much fun. Your grandson is going to be bored to tears.
As a trucker, I40 is the best route to I81. If you have some time, plan on some side trips to 4 corners, Carlsbad Caverns, Lookout Mtn in Tenn, and others. Good luck.
Good ideas, thanks! Surprisingly, U-Haul’s giving me 11 days for the trip.
Take your time and take old Route 66.
In about 5 or 6 weeks, wifey and I are planning on prepaying a bunch of bills, climbing in the Camry and just heading across the U.S. with no timeline whatsoever. Now that the last parent is dead, we're no longer in lockdown, since we were the primary caregivers.
I’d suggest a more southern route, such as I-10 and I-20. (In the winter, I’ve been stranded on I-40 around Flagstaff and in the N.C. mountains before.)
That's way out of the way from Escondido. It would make more sense to take 8 to Tucson, and pick it up there.
Things to see, along the way (north or south of the I-40 line...)
Graceland - Memphis, TN
OK City Bombing - OK City, OK
Groom Cross - Groom, TX [huge cross on I-40, east of Amarillo]]
Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, TX [west of city, next to I-40]
Roswell - Roswell, NM [swing south and see UFO museum... :=) ...]
White Sands National Monument - White Sands Missile Range, NM [if you do swing south to Roswell]
Four Corners - NM, AZ, CO, UT all meet here [if you swing north...]
Monument Valley - AZ, UT [if you swing north; you’ve seen it in all the westerns...]
Winslow Crater - Winslow AZ [about 20 miles west of Winslow on I-40]
Grand Canyon - AZ
We did that trip (the section of I-40 you’re talking about) in December and spent three days in Holbrook AZ waiting for them to reopen an icy I-40. I would take I-10 out of LA or I-8 out of San Diego (depending on where you’re coming from) at least as far as Las Cruces. Then you can take I-25 north to Albuquerque and 40 east from there if you feel like you need to be on 40.
10-20-30 is a god way to go except for the sheer boredom of I-20 in West Texas. That’s only one day, and the reward is some beautiful farm and horse country in East Texas.
It is also a good way to go...
Last summer my daughter and I drove from LA to New Jersey in five days, following roughly I-40, then down through the Red River Valley of Texas (beautiful country) through Louisiana to Baton Rouge to visit relatives, across to Mobile, then back up through Montgomery, across Georgia to the Carolinas, then up the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland, across the Chesapeake Bridge to Delaware, then another ferry to Cape May and up the Jersey shore. Saw a lot of nice countryside and ate some good Southern food.
Returning solo, I went through PA, West Virginia, the Ozarks, Kansas, Colorado and Nevada to the Owens Valley and then down. Had a great time.
If you do trips like me, you’ll be zigging and zagging and never making a straight line... LOL...
But, I see someone mentioned Carlsbad Caverns. And yes, by all means, if you can do the zigging and zagging, do see that one, for sure.
Another thing to keep in mind about the “time of the year” — a lot of places will be closed during that time of the year. It would definitely be better to do it late Spring or early summer. Check the times for places to open up again, being that many will be closed for the winter.
And so, in light of that, if you can zig/zag up to Mesa Verde (in CO), do that one, too... :-)
Another very important thing to consider - your U-Haul is a very attractive treat for thieves while parked at a motel.
I’m not sure what’s the best way to protect the kids’ stuff, other than parking in front under plenty of light and perhaps rigging an alarm...
December = I-10. Unless you’re feeling adventurous :)
Oh, you have to come through Kentucky. It’s beautiful in the spring.(Summer, and fall too!)
I-10 east of Benson, AZ - you absolutely have to stop in the Stuckey’s and see The Thing! Man or myth, alien or freak of nature - who’s to say?!
I was born in Arlington and raised in Falls Church back when it was still mostly country, my wife is from San Bernadino and we live in Texas and Arkansas so I know I40 and I81 real well. You've the Chesapeake close to hand with shrimp and crabs and the Blue Ridge with hiking and camping plus the C&O canal. Plus all sorts of history. Enjoy it with the kids.
Shift your perspective a little north, and start your trip East on US 50, from Sacramento. It climbs up over the Sierras, descends into Nevada from Lake Tahoe (well worth it for this alone, in my opinion), then east across Nevada and Utah, until connecting with I-70 for a ways through the Red Rock country of Utah. Leave I-70 in Colorado and make a spectacular trip up over the Rockies (warning - MUCH slower than I-70, which you may be tempted to take). Near Pueblo, come down off the Rockies and cross Kansas, joining I-35 near Emporia, cut around Kansas City, and pick up I-70 across Missouri, around St Louis, and pick up I-64, rejoining US 50 near O’Fallon. Southern Illinois is a straight shot all the way to Vincennes, Indiana, then a zig-zag across southern Indiana to banks of the Ohio River as you cross into Ohio and the south skirts of Cincinnati, then another zig-zag course to Parkersburg, West Virginia. Be prepared, roads in West Virginia are challenging, but once you descend into Winchester, Virginia, off the east slope of the Allegheny Mountains, then it is a straight shot into DC.
US 50 proceeds beyond Washington into Maryland, over Chesapeake Bay (LONG high bridge) to the East Shore, ending up at Ocean City, where there is a sign, “3,052 miles to Sacramento, California”.
It is a good slice of the “heartland”. And sufficently slow, it will take all of a week to make it.
That’s why I was talking about zig-zagging your way across. It’s up and then down, and then up... and so on...
SO..., if you zig/zag down south, why not stop at Tombstone, AZ, while you’re at it and see Boot Hill... :-)
One epitaph on a headstone said...
Here lies Lester Moore
Shot by a .44
No Les, no more...
In October 1994, we drove from Seattle to Memphis- the more Northern route (through Oregon, Idahao, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and then to Tennessee. Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, and Arkansas were pretty.
On the way home, we took the LONGER way home and had a blast. We went down through Mississippi to New Orleans (interesting drive and New Orleans was memorable and the food good, and we had a small child, so we skipped the nightlife). We drove through Texas to San Antonio (River Walk and the Alamo- AWESOME) and were supposed to stay the night in El Paso. 10 minutes out of town, I decided that was NOT going to happen, so we stayed in Las Cruces, New Mexico instead. Very cute town and good food!
Then through New Mexico and to Arizona. We detoured in Tombstone. It’s a bit off the road but worth a visit. We stayed the night near friends in Phoenix before heading to Las Vegas (passing Sedona and the Grand Canyon- both WORTH a visit— as well as the Hoover Dam) to stay a week with my then father-in-law. From Las Vegas, we made a daytrip to Zion (one of my favorite places EVER.) It was a long trip, but I have never regretted it. I will never forget getting out to pee by the car in Texas and hearing a rattler or a seeing a Texas rainstorm rolling in from the car. It can easily be done in reverse.
PS- December might be hairy. We ran into some snow in late October. We used to also do California to N. Tennessee at Christmas time and hit snow a few times in Texas.
Side trip idea on the way back, when you’re not pulling the U-Haul...Carlsbad Caverns north to Artesia NM, then west up and over Cloudcroft ski resort - the jewel of the drive - over the mountain pass and down into Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument; then back up over a small pass (White Sands Missile Range) and down into Las Cruces. A very full day’s drive but well worth the scenery and there are a couple of space-related museums.
The 10 year old will be bored out of his mind stuck in the back of a car for 8 to 10 hours a day. What seems easy for you as an adult will be sheer torture for him and he will hate you for it. Ship the furniture and take your time driving back and stop often and actually have some fun.
Check into professional shipping; travel out to make sure everything gets loaded; take the train back. :’)
Actually he’s done these cross-country trips before. He’s perfectly happy with his DS...
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