We are in the middle, more or less, of our latest cross-country trip from Southern New Hampshire to the California coast near Monterey. As usual, we are in a hurry to get to see the grandchildren so the trip out there is as fast as practical. Typically, we get there on the fourth evening.
This trip had the added challenge of getting out of the northeast before a major storm hit. Fortunately, there are a couple of invaluable tools available. First is weather radar. Second is reasonably new. Weather.com has something called "Interstate Forecast" where you can get a forecast for select cities along an interstate.
The weather radar on Thursday evening showed the storm covering a large part of the southern plains states expecting to move into New England by Saturday afternoon. My guess was that if we left on Friday morning and stayed in northern Ohio Friday night, we would skirt the northern edge of the storm on Saturday driving through Iowa and into Nebraska. That is just what happened. We had a clear and bright drive to just east of Toledo on Friday and mostly cloudy with some light snow showers on Saturday. Indeed, it was not until we hit sunny California that we had any real weather.
Friday, 750 miles along I90 to I80 to Milan, Ohio. It was an easy drive; I kept the spedometer at 75 mph most of the way.
Saturday, 800 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska. Although we had some snow showers, the driving was easy; 80 mph most of the way. We did see, however, the leftovers from the previous week's massive ice storm. We counted over 50 cars that were still left off the sides and in the median awaiting the tow trucks.
Sunday, 850 miles to Park City, Utah. Again, 80 mph all the way - a clear and boring drive.
Monday, 800 miles to the coast. Drive was OK until we started to go over the passes around Truckee. Caltrans had I-80 shut down to all but those with chains; 4 wheel drives with snow tires carrying chains were OK. I have
an Acura MDX (aWD) with "suv" tires, not "snow" tires and a set of cable chains I bought for this trip. The Caltrans officer let me pass when I said it was 4 wheel drive. She did not even ask if I had chains; perhaps she guessed someone from NH would know how to drive in snow. At first, we did not understand why the "chains and 30 mph max" restrictions. The road had been treated with some sort of sand and salt solution leaving a slushy mix, but no ice; we noted that folks in NH would maybe slow down to 50 mph in that sort of stuff. It took only a few minutes to understand the precautions. Pickups and SUVs (with California plates) were passing us, merrily fishtailing along the way. We even saw cars with chains on their front wheels that had run off the road. These folks are clueless as to how to drive in light snow and are a danger to others. I can only guess how interesting it must be when there is ice or a few inches of snow there. If there had been no restrictions, I80 would have been littered with skid-offs.
In summary, 12 hours / 800 miles a day is about all we can handle and still maintain civility. Along I80 and I90, if you run less than 10 mph over the speed limit you get ignored by the local police unless you are driving aggressively. Trucks pretty much floated along at 70-75, and we drove at 75-80.
Weather patterns will dictate our return route. Most likely, the southern route (down to Oceanside for a couple of days, San Antonio a couple of days and Houston (NASA) for a day or so.