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  1. Default Chicago to Seattle in January

    My husband and I, along with our 9 mo. old daughter, are taking the plunge and finally moving to the great Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the job opportunity that allows us to do so requires that we move the first week in January. While I'm moving from Chicago, I'm originally from Georgia and have only experienced one Chicago winter before this. Luckily, my man is a true Chicagoan and is unfazed by winter weather.

    All that said, any suggestions on routes? I'm thinking we'll hook up with I-90 and take that across, but alternates are important too. Any good stopovers on the way? Or places we should not miss. Or places we SHOULD miss.

    Has anyone made this trip in the winter? I keep thinking of all those weather channel reports of drivers stranded in the snow in the dakotas .... probaby because my mom keeps reminding me!

    Any good info would be helpful!! Thanks...

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

    Default Shortest is usually the best in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by movinwest View Post
    My husband and I, along with our 9 mo. old daughter, are taking the plunge and finally moving to the great Pacific Northwest.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    All that said, any suggestions on routes? I'm thinking we'll hook up with I-90 and take that across, but alternates are important too.
    Generally, on such a move, you want to take the shortest route, but keep an eye on the weather conditions, in case you need to alter a bit. I-90 is probably your best best although I would keep I-94 in mind too. One of the realities of January travel in the Dakotas is that sometimes it is too darned cold to snow (which is a good thing). The outlook at the moment is for a drier January than normal. There is alot of cool stuff to check out in South Dakota -- even in the winter here is a fun field report with some ideas.
    Has anyone made this trip in the winter?
    Thousands of folks travel these same route every winter. Be sure to read and think about our winter driving tips and keep make sure you pack of good "Go Kit".

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

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

    Default A few more items for your "go kit"

    Mark gave you good suggestions. I would just add a couple of things to your car, just in case:
    * Space blankets: for just a couple of bucks, you can pick up space blankets and at any store that sells camping gear. These can fit in a pocket and really hold your body heat in. In you did get stopped along the road for awhile, using them with blankets will really make a difference. Also, in a worst-case scenario, they can be taped to the roof of your car, or held down on the ground with rocks, and could make a good signal for searchers to find you. (Like I said, this is a worst-case scenario situation. If you stay on the main highways, this wont' be an issue).
    * Cheap Ponchos: again, these can be purchased at any camping store and can fit in a pocket. If you have to go outside in the snow, they just add another layer of waterproof protection. And they can be used as emergency signals like a space blanket.
    * Emergency triangle: If you have to pull over due to car trouble or a flat tire, it is easier to put up an emergency reflective triangle than it is to deal with flares. I would keep flares because they have other uses but carry a triangle for situations where they would work best as well. They fold up and take up very little space.
    * 24-hour candle: You can buy cheap little candles in metal tins that have multiple wicks. I always carry a couple of these. If you are stranded for awhile, they can help keep your car warm so you don't have to run the engine continuously and waste gas. And if you pack a small metal cup (I carry something called an Sierra Cup) you can hold it over the candle to heat up water for soup...carry Cuppa Soup packets....or cocoa. And, if you don't carry enough water, you can melt snow to drink this way.

    If you stay on main highways that will be cleared quickly in the event of a sudden storm, you probably won't need any of these items. But they take up little space and are good to carry, just in case. What you're doing is very safe as long as you don't go off the highway onto little-traveled roads. So we don't want you to be scared, just prepared.

    Oh, one stretch of your trip that might require chains is when you go over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 (just before Seattle). If there is much snow, they require chains even if you have good snow tires. Of course, you might find this situation other places along the way as well. So I would buy some now and practice putting them on. It's much harder to do in snow and wind so practicing when you're not under pressure is a good idea.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the info and the reality check. Reading what you responded, I realized, duh, of course people make this trip all the time. I'm one of many, which in this case is a good thing. I appreciate the "worst case scenarios" too. It's funny how paranoid you get when the life of a child is in your hands, as opposed to just your own life! This isn't my first long road trip (logged 25,000 miles one long lovely summer), but the first major one in winter.

    Now that I'm really looking at the itinerary, we're thinking about taking a detour to Yellowstone to ring in the New Year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Be sure to check road conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by movinwest View Post
    Now that I'm really looking at the itinerary, we're thinking about taking a detour to Yellowstone to ring in the New Year.
    Most of the roads in Yellowstone are already closed for the winter, so for your detour, make sure your route goes to one of the two open roads.

    Mark

  6. Default Well, maybe yellowstone's too ambitious

    I was hoping we could get to one of the hotels by car, but it doesn't look like it. Ah well, I could just see us relaxing by the great fireplace in the lodge, enjoying the New Year and celebrating our move while little Delaney crawled around, glad to be out of the car.

    Ah well, any other suggestions for a New Years stopover on I-90?

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