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  1. Default NYC to LA in a U-Haul... fast

    Hi all. I'm moving to LA at the start of the New Year, leaving NYC Jan 2 and need to be in LA by Jan 6. In a U-Haul. With my mom. Yeah, it's not ideal. But we're wondering about the best route to minimize our time-- and our exposure to bad winter weather. It looks like the most direct route takes us down to 40, then straight across. But how bad is the weather going to be across the midwest?

    anyway. if you've got suggestions, I'd love to hear. thanks!


  2. #2

    Default Tough assignment

    That's about as difficult a task of a road trip as one can undertake: A very long trip in a large, slow, and unwieldy vehicle you're not familiar with, with weather uncertainties, and very short daylight hours each day, with a completely unrealistic timetable.

    My son and I just recently completed a 2800 mile trip from NC to Ventura, CA, in 38 hours over 4 days. We were in a very lightly loaded fullsize American pickup truck, and we pushed it to the limit. We were blowing by U-Hauls like they were chained to a post. We started at 00:dark:30 each day and took a single 1 hour meal (breakfast), then only snack food at fuel stops until the end of the day, when we'd grab a sit-down supper. Weather, except for some headwinds, was never an issue. Sunny and dry all the way across I-40. Simple and often unreliable Mapquest numbers show just under 2800 miles and 41 driving hours requiring an average of just under 68 mph average. That's not much less than what my son and I averaged, and I did not include some of the downtime for meals in our trip, plus we moseyed along through the Grand Canyon during some of our averages. We ran 78-82 mph pretty much the whole way across when we were up and running. Depending on how heavily laden your UHaul is, you might do well to average 46-48 mph, fuel and eating stops included. Put it this way: Truckers figure around 45 mph average is doing well, and they'll run 80 down the hills and over long flat stretches. Short of driving a U-Haul nearly nonstop, I quite frankly don't see how you can do this.

    So, there are a number of lose-lose scenarios which must be chosen from:

    Drive the U-Haul well in excess of recommended speeds (if it will, in fact, do it).

    Drive 14-18 hour days with minimal stops--fuel + fast food, and short motel nights. Note that 3 to 7 of these hours will be in complete darkness.

    Drive hard through bad weather, if bad weather arises, and it certainly can.

    Some combination of any of the above.

    As to routing, there are a number of lousy ways to cut diagonally across the upper Midwest and work your way down to I-40. I don't know enough to comment expertly on any of them, excepting it seems to me you'd avoid the worst of the Appalachian Mountains by staying north until you get to Ohio rather than running down to the PA Turnpike (I-80). The PA Turnpike's overall design is straight out of the 1940s and it's a glorified goat trail, in my opinion. Then-current weather conditions would probably drive my routing choices. You may well be wanting to dodge large weather systems by running one overall route vs another.

    Man, I don't envy that trip. You really need to find some way to add at least one, better two, days to that trip.

    Best of luck.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-18-2007 at 11:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Not a good idea


    Your most direct route is Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tulsa, Albuquerque... almost 2,800 miles! That averages about 700 per day, at an average of 50 miles per hour or 14 hours per day, not counting food and fuels tops. Not a good idea.

    There are alternate routes, and the best one will depend on the weather at the time.

    My son and I did Atlanta to Denver in 4 days in April and had a ball, but the weather was good. Our 20' truck easily did 60-65 mph.

    The way things are looking right now, you could hit any kind of weather. If the highways are at all slippery, the side winds could blow you right off the road - don't push it! If you are lucky and the weather stays good you could make it on the 6th, but my guess is that it will take at least one more day.

    Take care, and be safe,

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

  4. Default thanks

    I really appreciate these honest responses. I freaked out and called my mom yesterday, wailing "THERE'S NO WAY WE CAN DO THIS" into the phone. She seems quite committed to the idea, though, and from the sound of her voice, she's almost excited. I honestly think her expectation is that one of us will drive for 8 hours while the other sleeps; then we'll switch off. More of the response I'd expect from a 22 year old meth-head than my mother, frankly, but hey, if she's down, I'm down. I'll report back when I get there. Fingers crossed.

  5. #5

    Default Hang in there

    Good luck, friend. That's a difficult task.

    The problem I have personally experienced is that I don't sleep well in a moving vehicle, especially in a quasi-sitting position. Yes, excitement and adrenaline keep you going the first 24 hours or so, then the effects of shortened sleep and poor quality sleep kick in.

    Take care and drink lots and lots of coffee!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Rest breaks, too!

    In addition to lots of coffee, please be diligent in assessing yourselves while at the wheel. I mean, sometimes a short 20-minute break from driving with your eyes closed, even if you're not actually napping, can make a huge difference in your ability to be alert and aware. Even if the two of you can nap when not driving, it's not likely to be a restful nap.

    And I really wouldn't plan on 8-hour driving shifts anyway. Under the conditions you will be driving, i.e. unknown/unwieldy vehicle, winter weather, etc., I would think 3-4 hours at a stretch per driver would be more reasonable.

    Another suggestion that might help you keep alert: fill a cooler with healthy snacks and so most of your eating out of the cooler, limiting any bigger meals for the end of the day. The last thing you need are any blood sugar swings, that even a healthy person experiences, if you load up on junk and/or fast food. You should be able to stay more alert if you eat small snacks spaced throughout the day instead of a couple of bigger meals. Again, keep these healthy and light. It's also good to stay hydrated so bring along a lot of bottled water as well and mix that in with your coffee-drinking. Coffee might be more appealing in the cold weather but it also dehydrates you. Drink lots of water, too, to stay hydrated.

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