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  1. #1
    cooltiger Guest

    Default Cross Country : VA to CA

    Wondering if you can help us out in finding the best route to reach Oakland, CA from Reston, VA. We, me + my wife + one friend, planning to leave next friday, 26th of May, 2006. I already have booked my return ticket of 30th May, Tuesday Night from Oakland Airport.
    Would it be possible for you to guide us how to reach CA in 3 days.? I know it really sounds crazy but there is no other option available. We do not have any plan to visit particuar places as time do not permit us to do so. But atleast one place in Arizona somewhere, we are planning to have mountain vision.
    Guide us if possible.
    Thanking you,

    Trushant
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-21-2006 at 12:39 AM. Reason: Personal ID is not used on this Forum

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default What is a mountain vision?

    Quote Originally Posted by cooltiger
    Would it be possible for you to guide us how to reach CA in 3 days.?
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Such a road trip is possible, but not very wise. It is 2804 miles by the shortest possible distance. I would suggest using I-80 straight across. It will take you you about 51 hours to cover this distance. Which means you need to drive at least 17 hours per day. But really you need to expect to drive 20 hours for each of the first two days to enable sufficient time to make your flight out of Oakland. It will cost you about $534 in fuel. Be sure to read our tips about taking Speed Runs and drive safe!

    For a detailed map and routing suggestions, I suggest you use this link generated by Google Maps.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-21-2006 at 01:19 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Ditto on the moutain vision?

    And, you're doing this trip, why?

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    It will take you you about 51 hours to cover this distance. Which means you need to drive at least 17 hours per day.
    Mark
    Mark:
    I'm planning a move from Arlington, VA to Daly City, CA, so roughly the same trip as cooltiger's (actually, a little further, since Arlington is east of Reston and Daly City west of Oakland, but the same metro areas). Most mapping services I've used suggest that the I-80 route from DC to SF is 38-41 hours of driving time; how did you come up with the 51-hour estimate? I was planning to take 4 days to do the trip with a partner, thinking we'd drive 10-hour days, but if it's really more like 51 hours, that changes things, particularly in terms of where we would overnight.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Experience trumps software everytime.

    Mark's time estimate comes from his many years of living and working on the road where he has logged tens of thousands of miles doing roadtrips. Add to that, many of us here are also experienced roadtrippers.

    I use MS Streets & Trips to plan my roadtrips and I do look at the time estimator. I sometimes plug into Mapquest and the other routing websites to see what they say as well. But I only use these as a very rough guide. They're certainly not gospel!

    For example, all these routing options tell me that a drive from my home to Safeco Field in Seattle takes me about 2 hours. And I know that, more often than not, this is BS. I know that there are certain times of day, and certain days of the week, that I can make it in 1.5 hours because traffic is thin and the general flow of traffic is going to be about 10-12 miles OVER the speed limit. So, unless I want to drive slower than the flow and cause a traffic flow problem, I know I'm going to fly all the way there. Yet, I also know that traffic on certain days and at certain times is going to be gross and I can count on the same trip taking, at minimum 3 hours, and maybe more.

    The software packages do not take into account traffic conditions, weather, road construction, slowdowns for accidents, and other situations that may effect your driving time.

    Add to that, they also don't figure in the stops you will need to make for gas, bathrooms, stretching, etc. Even if you just make the minimum number of stops and make them as quick as possible, you are usually looking at about 1-2 hours over a long day's drive to do these things, at minimum.

    So, over many long years, most of us agree that figuring somewhere around 55mph over the course of a day allows for those times when you can zip along at 70-75mph, and those times when conditions cause you to slow to 40mph for awhile. And 55mph allows for a few quick stops for fuel, etc. along the way.

    I don't really recommend this but, a few years back, I was doing a speed run on the way home from a car show with a group of cars in which I was the only car without radar detectors. It was a weekday, the roads were fairly clear of other cars, and the roads were smooth, and the weather was clear and dry. So, we drove about 650 miles that day, we had stretches where we went about 110mph but, most of the time, we were traveling between 80-90mph. Of course, we had times when we had to slow down to the speed limit due to traffic, or because we were driving on interstates going through cities and didn't want to risk a ticket there when there was more state patrol presence, and there were a few times when we had to slow to 30-40mph to get through some small towns that the freeway went through. Our pit stops were fairly minimal but we did make a few bathroom breaks, gas breaks, and a few times when we make a quick stop for a scenic view. And, because we wanted to burn miles, these stops were really fast. REALLY fast! Well, by the end of the day, it took us about 10.5 hours to cover that 650 miles for an average speed of about 62mph.

    So, even though we had stretches of 100+mph, and many more stretches of 80-90mph, we still covered that day's drive at an average speed of about 62mph. Go figure. I hope this helps you understand why you really can't depend on the time estimates given by these software programs.

    I'm confident that Mark's estimates are usually going to be pretty close.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Online mapping issues

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The general rule for travel time we use around here is 53 mph on eastern freeways, and 57 mph out west. Those times include only quick stops for food, fuel, and restrooms, and relect the fastest times you can generally cover a given distance. I'm sure that's how Mark came up with the 51 hour estimates, and it is what I'd recommend using for planning out your trip.

    Online mapping programs are great for providing distances, but the time estimates make assumptions that you'll be able to maintain a constant speed of 65+ mph, you drive a car with a perpetually full gas tank, and that you can stay in a car for infinite amounts of time without needing to change drivers, eat, or rest.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default 2816 miles

    Quote Originally Posted by thom
    Mark:
    Most mapping services I've used suggest that the I-80 route from DC to SF is 38-41 hours of driving time
    It is 2816 miles. To do this in 38 hours, you would have to drive a steady speed of 75mph with no slowdowns, nor stops, nor traffic delays, nada. Top speeds through the states varies and you will find posted speed limits anywhere from 55mph to 70mph (at least that's the usual range I see). So, do you really think you can drive that much over the speed limit across the country? And do you think you will really not encounter any traffic delays of some sort?

    Even at 41 hours, this means an average speed of about 69mph. Just not realistic.

    Sorry, it doesn't seem the least bit reasonable to me.

  8. Default

    I'll echo this -- the computerized maps and directions services give you stricty "drive time". That is, time behind the wheel moving at the posted speed limit or thereabouts. They don't include traffic slow downs from rush hours, construction, accident delays, construction detours, etc. They also don't include stopping the car to get gas, use the bathroom, stretch, eat a meal, or sightsee.

    That 41 hours might be achieveable as "drive time" -- but you'll want to add a half hour every couple of hours to get out of the car, stretch, get some gas, use the bathroom, have a sandwich, etc. That immediately turns it from a trip average of 2815miles/ 41 hours = 69 mph into an average speed of 2 1/2 hours to go 138 miles, or 138/2.5 = 55 mph.

    For you to make that distance in 3 days, you'll have to plan on driving in shifts and probably driving through at least one night. If you're going to do this for more than one night, I'd recommend 3 drivers. I've done 24-28 hour driving marathons with friends, but we rotated off drivers every gas/ bathroom stop at night (about every 2-3 hours, since a big cup of coffee makes you start looking for a rest area after a couple of hours). We also tried to have a second person awake in the wee hours to keep the driver company and awake.

  9. Default

    I actually wasn't trying to impugn Mark's statement; I did in fact assume he had the experience to make a more reasoned estimate. I was just asking in order to find out why the driving time estimates would be off by a factor of as much as one-third, and because I really do want to plan appropriately (not to make hotel reservations that are too far ahead, for example, and to ensure that I leave enough time to get out there to start my new job). A friend drove the same route last year in the same model car as mine (a Prius) and did it in four days solo, with rest stops, food stops and overnight hotel stays. With two people sharing the driving, I thought we might do it in four days as well, but 51 hours of driving time (since I'm not willing to sit in the car for more than ten hours a day) actually means five full days of driving I need to budget for the trip. I appreciate knowing that, but just wanted to get a sense of why; sorry that some may have thought I was insulting Mark, when that was far from my intention.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default None observed, none taken

    Quote Originally Posted by thom
    I was just asking in order to find out why the driving time estimates would be off by a factor of as much as one-third,
    It actually is even more complicated than that. Just about all of these programs use alogorithms that do, in fact, factor in construction, traffic etc, but they are still a little to optimistic. Don't worry about "insulting" me -- I always travel faster than the posted (upper) limit -- I also always strictly follow those pesky 25 mph signs in rural towns. It has been my experience, tested in ways similiar to Judy's methodology, that to actually drive an average speed of 75 mph over a 10-hour driving day, I had to be well over triple digits for long stretches of roadway. Which is why we adopted those "rules of thumb" -- it is possible to beat those standards -- but it is rare in incidence.

    I drove from LA to Washington DC in just a tad over 65 hours one time. You can do the math. Not wise!

    Mark

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