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  1. Default Leaving in 36 hours, and I'm SCARED!

    I'm taking my wife and 5 kids in our 2004 Honda Odyssey from Los Angeles to Memphis, and then up to New York (followed by a return to L.A. a couple of weeks later). I've prepared everything I could think of taking for an emergency -first aid kit, AAA car emergency kit, Battery booster and air compressor, GPS, extra coolant. I also got my oil changed and new tires.
    But, I'm still scared! I'm afraid of my car overheating in the deserts or mountains, and my family is petrified of windy, mountain roads.
    Can anybody tell me what the roads on the I-40 are really like? Or across the desert between Palm Springs, CA and Phoenix, Or up the appalachian mountains to New York? Please, I'm getting cold feet!

  2. Default Driving across Arizona

    You shouldn't have any problem driving Palm Springs to Phoenix if your car is in good shape. It is HOT here, but the roads are good. Some people turn off their air conditioners when climbing a mountain so as not to overheat, but I've never had problems with that.
    One warning though, we're entering the monsoon season, so be aware strong winds can kick up and cause dust storms and strong thunderstorms -- but they are not forecast until later this week. If you find yourself in a duststorm with limited visibility, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off the lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated.
    If you can't pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
    NEVER stop on the traveled portion of the roadway and NEVER pull off the road and leave your lights or brake lights on -- other cars may follow your lights thinking you are traveling on the road.
    Duststorms do not last long, and you probably won't even encounter one -- but just in case. The same rules would apply for a really heavy thunderstorm.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Take It Easy

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You've taken care of everything you possibly can, and I-40 is not that bad a road. It has perhaps the gentlest grades of any of the major transcontinental highways. I am always taken by the fact that the sign marking where you cross the continental divide is in the middle of a large plain, not in the mountains at all. Cars today are so much better mechanically, that even a loaded mini-van running the air conditioner full blast is in little danger of overheating. There are service stations every 25-30 miles even in the most desolate stretches of the desert southwest, so just keep an eye on the engine temperature and take a break if needed. AZwoman's advice on how to deal with a dust storm is spot on, an typically you can see them coming and have time to get off the road. Finally, just remember that while these roads may be new and unfamiliar to you, they are somebody else's local streets and are driven every day by people just like you. Similarly, the Appalachians are not that bad. I-40 will get you across them on relatively gentle grades and deliver you to I-81 which follows the Shenandoah Valley rather than the mountains northward.


  4. #4

    Default Common sense

    Welcome to the forum, AZwoman, and thank you for the good advice. I guess the basis of that advice is essentially to use common sense at all times. That you have planned the trip well enough to put together a good 'emergency kit' suggests to me that you have common sense.

    Don't panic if an unexpected situation arises and do what you need to do. It may be a good idea to run through several scenarios in your head and think how you would react should you encounter them. You'll be amazed at how easily most situations can be overcome with a little bit of thought.

    You might like to carry some additional drinking water in the car in the very unlikely event that you break down in the desert. Also a 5 litre jerry can for petrol might be wise. Otherwise I think you'll be fine - good luck and come back and let us know how the trip went!

    You may like to have a read of these two threads:

    Desert travel tips
    Driving in the heat

  5. #5

    Default LA to Phoenix via I-10

    You are well prepared for a desert trek. Be sure to carry lots of drinking water (and some food). Although hot, you don't escape urban living until east of Indigo. I'd leave LA before its rush hour (5:00am?) and that way you won't be driving through the desert during the hotest part of the day. There's always traffic on I-10; therefore, I don't think you should be worried about being stranded in the CA/AZ deserts.

    It is difficult to drive when you have passengers that don't like mountain roads, but take it slow and stop from time-to-time to let them feel the ground.

    I understand your nervousness, but you are prepared and you should expect a safe, fun roadtrip.

  6. Default A couple of extra suggestions?

    It sounds like you're pretty well prepared. But, I'll add a couple of simple suggestions...

    1) Take a cell phone. I-40 will have cell phone coverage like 99% of the time, as you'll find on pretty much all the US interstates. Bring the charger too -- you can charge it in a hotel room, or if you have a car charger that would be useful.

    2) Good maps and tour books. It's always useful to have this to answer the "Are we there yet?" questions, as well as find out how far to the next rest area, or next town. Plus, with the tour book (I always take the AAA ones), you can call ahead to book hotel rooms if needed, check to see what the next town has for services (usually), or what that upcoming national monument is about. Also helps to keep the car occupied to designate someone as navigator and someone as helper.

    3) Bring an ice chest (cooler) with cold drinks and ice in it. Also extra water. This helps keep the folks in the back quieted down, and always is there for emergencies. If you put 20 lbs of ice in it, just remember that's also 20 pints of water available for emergencies. I also usually throw in an extra flat of water bottles, just in case, and that gets cycled into the ice chest as what's in the ice chest gets used up. Also gives you somewhere to put healthy snacks and treats as needed.

    4) Throw a roll of duct tape in the car, and a small tool kit if there isn't one in the car. Seriously -- I've seen duct tape used for everything from fixing ripped backpacks and suitcases to being used to emergency wrap a leaking radiator hose to even turned into an emergency fan belt. Similarly with the small tool kit, containing a swiss army knife. I've only ever used the tool kit once (to tighten a loose battery cable), but the swiss army knife has been used for everything from opening bottle tops to canned foods to cutting loose threads.

    5) I haul Boy Scouts to campouts sometimes, which can be 3+ hours each way. We've evolved to a policy that every boy gets to bring a small daypack/ bookbag in the car with them. What's in the bag is *theirs*. If they want to use the bag as a pillow that's find, or they can put in books, or toys, or a gameboy or an ipod or the like. No one else can get into the bag without their permission, and if someone wants to use someone else's stuff, they have to ask permission. If you're carrying 5 kids, you might think about something like this. It might cut down on the clutter in the back as well, since if they want to bring something into the car, it has to fit in their day pack. (We do also reserve the policy of letting the driver have the last say on food in the car-- no food or drinks in the car without the driver's permission.)

    6) Don't forget sun protection, including sunglasses for in the car during the day for the driver and navigator, and sunscreen and hats for everyone.

    Not as something to put in the car, but I'd suggest frequent stops with 'run arounds'. That is, plan to stop about every 2 hours (I do -- just to get out and stretch my legs and take a "bio break"). We do on long Scout trips -- get everyone out of the car to stretch their legs, use the bathroom etc. Really cuts down on the fidgets and arguing we've found. And if you get them out doing some type of exercise, even if its just walking around for 5 minutes, really improves their disposition.

    Lastly, we've found that our biggest health problem on any outing is dehydration, including with the adults. Make sure everyone is drinking water, and enough of it. The first symptoms are a headache, then nausea. It's very common for kids to forget to drink water. When we're in the desert and its warm outside (even if its cool in the car) we encourage the boys to put down at least a 1/2 liter bottle of water an hour. And if we have to stop every 90 minutes -- so be it.

  7. #7


    Some very good suggestions there (and the old duct tape thing again I'm pleased to see :))

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