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  1. #1

    Default North Carolina to California early November 2007

    Gents and ladies-
    What a pleasure to find this forum. I've done some reading of older threads and it appears this is the place to post this particular set of questions. First, some background:

    My 20 year-old son is a US Navy Seabee presently deployed to Guam. He returns to his base at Port Hueneme, CA, in October and will then come home to NC on leave. The return trip will be the road trip, as he'll want to retrieve his beloved 4WD pickup truck for use on weekends in California over the next several months in homeport. He has agreed to take me along to share the driving and to spend more time together on this leave. For a variety of reasons, he'll be wanting to keep the pace stepped up, but he will plan for there to be some "wiggle room" schedule-wise in order to assure he gets back to base within the prescribed time allotment. With all of that, he wants to plan to arrive one full day before the last day of leave (ie: two days before he reports back to work) and he wants to plan to take one full day longer than the quickest practical time frame. He's a 20 year-old military man, 10' tall and immortal, and I'm a 52 year-old former geologist with many cross-country trips under my belt, so we've collectively got some ability to both push it and enjoy a bit of scenery along the way. So, the questions:

    Leaving from Raleigh, NC, we plan to take I-40 all the way to Barstow, CA. I wonder if there are major construction projects featuring multi-mile lane closings along the way. My experience with various state's DOT websites as to "current construction projects" has been miserable, having tried to become aware of just this kind of info, only to find the sites woefully out of date. I keep detailed maps and GPS aboard and like to bushwhack around traffic problems whenever I can, and it helps to have a notion of where they'll be.

    We'll need to get the majority of the trip behind us before starting to consume some of the "wiggle room" and sightsee. Neither he nor I have been to the Grand Canyon, and I see it's only about 60 mi north of the I-40 corridor. I don't figure on repeating the scene from the "Vacation" movie, where Clark Griswold stops there for mere seconds, but I do wonder if it would be enjoyable to literally "stop by" for a couple or three hours. Thoughts?

    Ditto the Hoover Dam a little farther on from the Grand Canyon. We have no interest in Las Vegas, but it appears US 93 runs fairly flat and straight from I-40 to the dam. Having done that, it seems that heading on to Vegas to pick up the I-15 belt routes around to I-15 South back down to Barstow is the logical route. Does that bring me too close to major traffic issues at Las Vegas?

    Once south of Barstow and approaching the Los Angeles basin, we'll be headed for Port Hueneme, near Oxnard, well northwest of LA. Various routing services say to enter the LA basin and take CA 210/ I-210 across the northern part of the basin, through Pasadena, thence CA 134 to US 101 through Thousand Oaks and on to Oxnard, where the base is located at Port Hueneme. But, I am always suspicious of "directions" from the likes of Mapquest (no offense) and have looked favorably at leaving I-15 at Victorville, thence CA 18 towards Palmdale, thence CA 14 to I-5 a little south of Santa Clarita. From there, it'd be CA 118 through Simi Valley, then Moorpark and Camarillo and Port Hueneme itself. The goal would be to avoid urban/suburban congestion on the LA Basin freeways, but if bushwhacking from Victorville to Palmdale or the Palmdale to Santa Clarita represents too many towns, stoplights, and lousy roads, it might be just as well to bite the bullet and stick to the freeways. So, some inside knowledge of Southern California and comments on the above would be very useful.

    So, sorry to be long-winded, but comments, observations, and critique of the notions expressed here would be greatly appreciated.

    Foy

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

    Default A California Alternative

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    No need to apologize for your lack of trust in online map programs. They've got their nice features, but they have their limitations as well.

    One other idea worth considering in the LA area, instead of going all the way down to victorville. Try taking CA-58 at Barstow, past Edwards AFB, to Mohave, and then down CA-14 through Palmdale and into Santa Clarita. That route will be pretty much all 4-lane expressway. I'm not sure if it will be a better option than I-210 or the other one you talked about, but its an idea worth looking at.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Four Days Minimum

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    He's a 20 year-old military man, 10' tall and immortal, and I'm a 52 year-old former geologist with many cross-country trips under my belt, so we've collectively got some ability to both push it...
    Immortal or not, the shortest possible distance between these two points is 2600 miles, which can not be safely traveled any faster than four days. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! If you factor in some short, but still quality stops at the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, you need to allow five days transit time -- I am afraid I couldn't follow the timeline (above) to see if you are allowing five days....
    Leaving from Raleigh, NC, we plan to take I-40 all the way to Barstow, CA. I wonder if there are major construction projects featuring multi-mile lane closings along the way. My experience with various state's DOT websites as to "current construction projects" has been miserable, having tried to become aware of just this kind of info, only to find the sites woefully out of date.
    This problem has not been my experience, and I use them frequently. The 511 (telephone) system doesn't work that well in all states, but I find the online reporting systems to be quite accurate.
    but I do wonder if it would be enjoyable to literally "stop by" for a couple or three hours. Thoughts?
    It can be done -- although you will not be able to travel highway speeds -- the speed limits are lower inside the park boundaries.
    Ditto the Hoover Dam a little farther on from the Grand Canyon. We have no interest in Las Vegas, but it appears US 93 runs fairly flat and straight from I-40 to the dam.
    Better take another look at your topo maps.... US-93 does run up the Detrital Valley but sooner or later it has to cross the Black Mountains and descend into the gorge at Black Canyon. It is an awesome view to enter Nevada from Arizona, but due to the construction of the new bridge (another awesome thing to see) the traffic delays can sometimes be 1-2 hours. Normally we recommend one spend 3-5 hours at the Dam -- great tour et al. But I doubt you will have enough time for that.
    Having done that, it seems that heading on to Vegas to pick up the I-15 belt routes around to I-15 South back down to Barstow is the logical route.
    Um no, the route you will want to follow is US-93 to I-215 to Pecos/St. Rose Parkway and then west on St. Rose Parkway to I-15 south. It is a shame you don't want to see Las Vegas -- there is plenty to see and do herein.
    Does that bring me too close to major traffic issues at Las Vegas?
    Compared to Los Angeles -- there is NO traffic in Las Vegas.... (it gets busy here -- but nothing like the LA basin).
    Once south of Barstow and approaching the Los Angeles basin, we'll be headed for Port Hueneme, near Oxnard, well northwest of LA. Various routing services say to enter the LA basin and take CA 210/ I-210 across the northern part of the basin, through Pasadena, thence CA 134 to US 101 through Thousand Oaks and on to Oxnard, where the base is located at Port Hueneme.
    Even with the normal traffic flows, The I-210 route is both faster and shorter than going on CA-118. if it were me, and I needed to make speed -- I would do the I-210 route. I drive to California fairly often -- and wouldn't recommend those other routes, unless you really, really don't like LA freeway driving.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Comment or Two

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    To answer at least some of your questions, I've found that the AAA TripTik web site has pretty up-to-date info. The problem with it, however, is that you have to be pretty zoomed in, say at the city level, before it starts overlaying that data on the maps. Another good source of info are the highway Welcome Centers as you enter each state, but that leaves getting the info to the last minute. If you have a proprietary mapping routine such as MS Streets & Trips, they update there construction data base every month or two. Otherwise, you get to be surprised just like the rest of us.

    The nice thing about heading west on I-40 is that you can take US-89 north out of Flagstaff and then take AZ-64 along the length of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, stopping at a number of overlooks (all on 'your' side of the road) and then depart the park south on US-180/AZ-64 to Williams to rejoin I-40 with minimum of fuss for a maximum of exposure to the Canyon. One thing you'll want to do though, because the main ranger station will be at the end of your drive along the Canyon is to go on-line and print out the brochure and any other geologic information before you go.

    If you go over the Hoover Dam, your major traffic issue will be the dam itself, approached by a narrow two-lane road with lots of truck traffic and subject to security checks, rather than with Las Vegas traffic.

    I've driven I-210/US-101 a number of times. At the right time of day, it can be passable. At the wrong time of day, it is a parking lot. I share your willingness to 'bushwhack' and think that your proposed routing on CA-18/CA-14/CA-126 would be a much less stressful alternative to the freeways. Most of those routes are four-lane divided, if not controlled access. The only town of note on your alternative should be Santa Clarita. It may not save you much time, but it will certainly be more pleasant.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Parent - Child...

    ...cross-country trips can be a lot of fun. Too bad you have to do it in a hurry, but the time spent chatting along the way may be the best part of the experience anyway.

    The Grand Canyon can be "seen" in few hours, really "enjoyed" in a day and "experienced" over two or more days.

    If your time is limited, take Hwy 89 north from Flagstaff (swinging through the Sunset Crater/Wapatki National Monument loop) and enter the park via the east gate. Drive through stopping at the pull-offs and hiking down below the rim at any place that is particularly attractive to you (there may be many). If you have time, try to stay for sunset and/or sunrise and spend the night in the park or nearby in Tusayan, just south of the park. That may use up all of your wiggle room, but you won't be sorry.

    The Hoover Dam is a drive across experience with scenic pullouts on the north side that are worth stopping for. It is an awsome engineering feat to see.

    I'll defer to our Editor regarding traffic in Las Vegas, but I doubt that you'll have much of a delay by taking I-15 through town.

    Finally, I'm afraid that you'll have to check with the state DOT websites for the closest thing to "up to date" construction delays. There may be a nationwide clearing house for that info, but I haven't found it.

    Have a great trip with your son.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default I wouldn't recommend it!

    Quote Originally Posted by RedCorral View Post
    I'll defer to our Editor regarding traffic in Las Vegas, but I doubt that you'll have much of a delay by taking I-15 through town.
    US-93 to I-15 is the historical approach and it does afford a bird's eye view of downtown Las Vegas and the strip (you will go north along the eastern edge of downtown and then south along the western edge of the strip) but the relatively short distance (~30 miles longer than using St. Rose Parkway) can easily add 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to the trip, depending upon what time of day you are attempting to do this circumvention.

    Mark

  7. #7

    Default Neglected to spec 5 days

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Immortal or not, the shortest possible distance between these two points is 2600 miles, which can not be safely traveled any faster than four days.
    Yes, I have determined overall distance at 2,600 mi and "no frills" time of at least 4 days. I've recommended we start with 5 to 5.5 and take in a few sights once we're out that way, time permitting. Now that it's mentioned, I recall reading about security requirements causing big delays at the dam, so that may need to wait for another time. Swinging around to the east GCNP entrance sounds good. It was not apparent at first blush that so much could be seen from that end of AZ 64 so that's valuable info. I certainly respect the experience and recommendation concerning CA 210/I-210/Ventura Freeway (US 101), but I REALLY loathe urban freeway driving. I've driven to/through Washington DC/Baltimore and up to upstate NY 5 times since Memorial Day, and every time it's multi-lane @ 85mph, down to 30 mph, back to 85, then stopped dead in the water, and I'm thinking "I have no idea how people live with this every day". I suppose one gets used to it, I suppose..........

    Many thanks for the considered responses. Any further comments welcomed. Soon I'll be pondering an interval of the Pacific Coast Hwy, and once my preliminary thoughts are organized, I'll post about that. In the meantime, I'll be checking in from time to time and would be happy to pass along observances concerning NC, SC, GA, VA, and East TN highway travel.

    Foy
    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-24-2007 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Fixed Quote Format

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default What a great way to spend time together!

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    Swinging around to the east GCNP entrance sounds good. It was not apparent at first blush that so much could be seen from that end of AZ 64 so that's valuable info.
    You will see some tremendous views. There are numerous scenic overlooks along this route and they all have just a tad different perspective. One of the first ones you'll come to has the Watchtower. It's worth getting out and going inside. Tusayen Ruins is also worth a stop. You won't regret this. I think it will be one of the highlights of your trip even if you just stop for a few minutes at each viewpoint.

    Many thanks for the considered responses. Any further comments welcomed. Soon I'll be pondering an interval of the Pacific Coast Hwy, and once my preliminary thoughts are organized, I'll post about that.
    We'll be glad to help.

    In the meantime, I'll be checking in from time to time and would be happy to pass along observances concerning NC, SC, GA, VA, and East TN highway travel.
    We could use another expert from that part of the country. Cool!

    And please report back about your trip once you've returned. Also, please give your son my thanks for his service.

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