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  1. Default Moving From OR To WI, Advice Needed

    I am sorry for my first post being a plea for help, but I really do need it. ^_^;;

    I have to move (leaving on the 15th) from Portland, Oregon, to Madison, Wisconsin. I do not have a lot of experience driving in snow (though I'm a pro in rain), and need to make it there as quickly as possible. I'll be driving in a 12' truck, and the idea that certain passes or roads might require snow chains is terrifying simply because I have no idea how to utilize them.

    I don't know anything about driving through the North in winter, and I really, truly need to get there in less than five days. This isn't a sightseeing trip, sadly. (Despite the fact I've always wanted to see Glacier National Park... <_<)

    If you guys might be willing to help, I need travel route recommendations (from basic maps I-90 looks like the shortest way, but... snow? Ice? Random grizzly bears that think I would make a cute snack?), where the least amount of snow might be, what's blocked up... everything. Just... the shortest possible safe route.

    Thank you all very much in advance.

    ZoŽ

    P.S. Please don't write something like "I-80/I-84/I-90/I-674,592", as I am very much not used to road trips. ^_^;;

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default Relax

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First of all, relax, your trip won't be nearly as stressful as you think. In fact, the actual driving part could be the easiest part of your move.

    I would agree that I-90 looks like the best route, and at a distance of 2000 miles, it shouldn't be that difficult to get there in 5 days. I have some even better news for you, The 6-10 day forecast is showing a normal to below normal chance of precipitation along I-90, although it is predicting well below normal temps for the entire western half of the US, so bundle up!. Of course, keep watching the forecast in the days before you leave, and if it changes and Montana and the Dakotas are scheduled to get hit with a snowstrom, you could always work down to Salt Lake City and take I-80 across.

    As far as driving in the snow, if the weather does get bad, simply pull off the road and wait for conditions to improve. Even if you lose a day to the weather, you should still be able to make it to Madison in 5 days, and either way, driving an unfamiliar vehicle in conditions you aren't used to dealing with, chains or not, just isn't worth the risk. I'd like to tell you that living in Madison will force you to learn how to drive in snow, but a good old fashion snowstorm is becoming a more rare event around here. This winter, we could have the first year in recorded history where the area lakes don't freeze over even for a single day!

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

    Default Be prepared in case you have to pull over!

    If you do have to pull over and wait for roads to be cleared, you will want to be prepared.

    We often talk about eating out of our coolers in order to save money while traveling. Have a cooler with basic foods on-hand like protein bars, granola/granola bars, fruit, cheese, crackers, yada yada. Also pack plenty of liquids. Getting dehydrated is more likely to be a problem than getting overly hungry so always pack some water. You'll eat healthier on your trip, will need to stop less, and will have something to chew on/drink just in case you are stopped for awhile.

    Other things you should have on hand: blankets, good flashlight/extra batteries, emergency triangle or flares, reading material if you're sitting for awhile, heavy coat/hat/gloves/boots handy.

    In the winter, many people carry kitty-litter or bags of sand and a shovel just in case you pull over and then find yourself on a sheet of ice. These will give you traction to get started.

    If you might need chains, you should see if the rental agency provides them. I've never rented a u-haul so I don't know if they do but it seems they should. And practice putting them on before you leave so you're not doing it in the falling snow and/or dark.

    You should be fine. Any major highway is cleared relatively quickly because of all the truckers on the road.

    You have about 2000 to drive. If you take I-90, you might want to have these locations as targets to get to for the night: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Bozeman or Big Timber, MT; Dickinson or Gladstone, ND; St. Cloud, MN; then arriving in Madison, WI. You don't have to stay in these towns but it will certainly give you an idea of where you will want to be at the end of each day to be on-track. Of course, if the weather is clear and you're wide awake, you can drive a bit farther to ease up driving the next day or two.

    If you end up take I-80 due to weather, you're looking at another 125 miles for 2125 total. And your suggested overnight stops would be Boise, ID; Lyman, WY; Chappell or Big Springs, NE; and Des Moines, IA.

    Have a great move! Even though you won't have time to stop and sightsee, you're going to see lots of cool stuff along the way. Enjoy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default I-90, not I-94

    If you take I-90, you might want to have these locations as targets to get to for the night: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Bozeman or Big Timber, MT; Dickinson or Gladstone, ND; St. Cloud, MN; then arriving in Madison, WI.
    One small correction to Judy's overnight suggestions, I-90 won't take you through North Dakota or St. Cloud. That would be I-94, and while it would be an option if I-90 in South Dakota is seeing bad weather, it does add some extra miles to your trip.

    Some possible overnight stops on I-90 would be Rapid City, SD, and then probably Worthington or Albert Lea, MN.

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

    Default Oops...didn't notice the change in Interstate

    Thanks for catching that, Michael. However, the route I recommended going I-90 then I-94 is the fastest route per MS Streets & Trips so it might be worth considering if the weather is good that far north.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default Virtual vs. Reality

    I-94 is actually shorter by about 30 miles (something I didn't realise until just now), but I can say with a pretty strong degree of confidence that I-90 will be the significantly faster route.

    I-90 has a higher speed limit (75 through WY & SD vs. 70 in ND and MN, 65 in WI)

    I-90 also has almost no chance of seeing delays due to heavy traffic. Sioux Falls is the largest city on the route, and even there I-90 just skirts the north edge of the city. I-94 on the other hand goes right through the Twin Cities, and even if you use I-694 to bypass downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, there is still a pretty decent chance of having traffic slowdowns.

    Unless there was a weather problem along I-90 that could be avoided by going North, that would always be the route I would use to get from Billings to Tomah when speed is the primary factor.

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