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  1. Default Heading west for winter- afore we go

    As late-blooming ski bums who should probably know better, we're taking our first road trip west.
    Leaving Dec 27, we're driving from Toronto, Ontario to Vernon BC by way of the US. The navigation seems reasonably straightforward - keep driving towards the bright thing in the sky then turn right.
    We're planning on Interstating it most of the way - through Detroit to Chicago then I-94 through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota (Sioux Falls) then Billings, Bute, Missoula, Couer D'alene to Spokane.
    Then we're planning on going north back across the border through Osooyos (Canada's only desert) up the Okenagan Valley to Vernon.

    If this is utterly certifiably mad, would someone be so good as to tell us? I've mapped out the route on Google's Gmap-Pedometer (brilliant tool, good for cycle rides too) and looked at the satellite pics but it's no substitute for hard-won advice. If anyone can tell us where this route gets problematic, we'd be grateful indeed. Equally if anyone can suggest an alternative, that'd be useful too.

    We're in no great hurry and we'll probably stop in at Yellowstone. Is it as mad busy in the winter as the summer? Is there a good time to go?

    We're driving a Saab 92X (which is really a Subaru) kitted out with snow tires and skibox so I have some confidence in our car. We're also planning on using Super 8 motels wherever we can mostly because they offer free wireless internet connections so we can keep in touch. Again, any alternatives or comments about Super 8's would be great.

    Sorry to pull a newbie brain suck, but this seems to be the best place to ask. I have little experience driving in the US (I'm a transplanted Scot) but I've driven across and around France, around Italy in a Fiat 500, Austria in the summer and Australia in March. Used to motorcycle too until the bones got broken. So my wife and I are keen to go and any information you can share will be gratefully accepted.

    Thanks and happy trails,

    Mike and Freda

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Two steps ahead already

    Quote Originally Posted by standrew59 View Post
    As late-blooming ski bums who should probably know better, we're taking our first road trip west.
    Self-realization is a handy tool when roadtripping! Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    Leaving Dec 27, we're driving from Toronto, Ontario to Vernon BC by way of the US. The navigation seems reasonably straightforward - keep driving towards the bright thing in the sky then turn right.
    Best routing description I have ever read...
    If this is utterly certifiably mad, would someone be so good as to tell us?
    You could hit some rough weather, or maybe you will just bring that nice Toronto weather with you. Today is the 20th of December and nary a snow flake has fallen yet (in Toronto) so who knows. However there have already been some messy storms in the Dakotas and points to the west.
    We're in no great hurry and we'll probably stop in at Yellowstone. Is it as mad busy in the winter as the summer? Is there a good time to go?
    Most of the roads are closed, due to snow, in Yellowstone, so it is a very nice time to visit. It is pretty tough to get anywhere in a conventional car however.
    We're driving a Saab 92X (which is really a Subaru) kitted out with snow tires and skibox so I have some confidence in our car.
    Carry chains, even with the winter tires or be able and willing to hole up in case the roads are closed.
    We're also planning on using Super 8 motels wherever we can mostly because they offer free wireless internet connections so we can keep in touch. Again, any alternatives or comments about Super 8's would be great.
    Some of the Super 8s are great -- I like the one in Havre, Montana. For me, I prefer Holiday Inn Expresses because while wireless and wireline options are free, the cost includes a great breakfast. Here is a field report from South Dakota (it was prepared from a summertime visit, but it has some great insights).
    Sorry to pull a newbie brain suck, but this seems to be the best place to ask.
    We aim to please, as we can.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-21-2006 at 10:21 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Welcome

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!
    If this is utterly certifiably mad, would someone be so good as to tell us?
    There's nothing about your route that seems "mad" to me. A couple of things, You will want I-90 after Chicago if you are planning on heading through South Dakota. I-90 and I-94 are joined for awhile in Chicago, and again in Wisconsin, but I-94 will take you through Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and North Dakota. I-90 is the more direct route, and will take you within a few miles of the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore, as you make your way into Western SD.

    You might also consider by passing Detroit by crossing the border at Sarnia. The 402 freeway will take you right to the border, where the 401 will take you to Windsor, but you have to use city streets to get from the highway to either of the 2 border crossings.
    We're in no great hurry and we'll probably stop in at Yellowstone. Is it as mad busy in the winter as the summer? Is there a good time to go?
    Yellowstone is much quieter during the winter, however, much of the park in inaccessable by car this time of year. I believe only one road into the park is open year round, so you will want to check into that before deciding if you want to add that detour to your trip.
    Again, any alternatives or comments about Super 8's would be great.
    I don't stay at Super 8's much because I think they tend to be a little expensive for what you get. However, I also don't use wireless internet and tend to go the "no frills" route for most of my lodging. I also think internet access is becoming more common at the chain hotels, so you might not have to lock yourself into Super 8's if that's the only reason you picked them. I will say one nice thing about Super 8's is that the individual locations seem to be a bit more independant than some of the real cookie cutter chains that are out there. Its all a matter of personal taste really, so I think you'll have to decide that one once you get on the road!

  4. Default Super 8

    Some of the Super 8s (built in the early to mid-90s particularly) of one particular design* were built without much/enough insulation. So when kids of all ages gallop up and down stairs and hallways, everyone knows. (This is not an uncommon occurence in other chains as well.)

    I'd carry earplugs or something similar as an aid toward quietness.

    * These are usually single buildings, wood frames, stucco outside usually, with two or three floors. Bob

  5. Default

    My thanks to Michael and Bob for your comments. There's nothing like a bit of inside knowledge especially when it's about the inside of your accommodation. I must confess I didn't think about earplugs for motels with paper walls and acoustically resonant corridors.
    We've tweaked our route a bit based on your advice too - you mean we'll run into snow? That's it then, skis overboard, we're heading south to the warm bits instead:)
    Thanks again gents, I'll do what I can to return the favour after our drive.

    Mike and Freda

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Report back!

    A great way to do that would be to do a roadtrip report when you get back. We love to hear how people's trips went and to travel vicariously through you.

    Hope you have a great time!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Snow all the way to Mexico!

    Quote Originally Posted by standrew59 View Post
    you mean we'll run into snow? That's it then, skis overboard, we're heading south to the warm bits instead:)
    Mike and Freda, You need to expect snow and rain for parts of the entire route. It is snowing a few miles north of Mexico this week and it certainly could the week you travel too. You can't go far enough south to avoid it, so prepare and enjoy!

    Mark

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