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  1. Default Thoughts on this Northern route?

    Hi all,

    I'm considering a month-long road trip, and am wondering if this route might prove too cold (read: snowy) to take in my FWD sports coupe. I ask because I've never been in certain parts of the country in October, and despite a bit of weather research, have no clue what to expect. My route is:

    Day 1: Philly to Chicago (long haul, I know, but I've done longer)
    Day 2: Chicago to Milwaukee
    Day 3: Milwaukee to Minneapolis
    Day 4:Minneapolis to Fargo
    Day 5: Fargo to Rapid City
    Day 6: Rapid City to Missoula, MT
    Day 7: Missoula to Seattle
    (A week in Seattle, then south/Midwest back to Philly).

    What should I expect weather-wise? I'll bring clothes that'll fit that kind of weather, but I ask because my tires are straddling the line between "decent tread" and "worn." Likely I'll change them before I leave anyway, but it'd be nice to know what October's like for those aforementioned parts of the country.

    Thanks much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Much

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Frankly, there are so many problems with your trip, that your concerns about the weather pale into insignificance. First of all, any RoadTrip 'plan' that includes two 750 mile days simply can't be taken seriously. You may "have done longer" but that does not make such drive safe or sane. Custer had the same attitude going into the Little Bighorn. Secondly, if your tires are worn enough to cause you concern then there should be no question as to what you should do before setting off on a high speed, long distance trip. That you have to ask means that you're considering 'chancing it' on your current set. Until you're willing to seriously deal with the safety issues you are presenting to yourself and everyone else who will be innocently sharing the dangers you're willing to inflict on them, I'm afraid we can't help you.


  3. Default

    Interesting answer. Given your response, I count two problems (not what I would consider "so many problems"), and also I take exception to me being "willing to inflict [danger]" on people. I'm assuming you meant that in a way that was less malignant, so I'll not take offense.

    I should have mentioned my tires are rated for 60,000 miles, and are almost halfway there (I go through one set a year). Thus my concern about the likelihood of inclement weather. Likely I'll change them before I leave anyway, as I'm familiar with how my car handles in the snow. As for the mileage for those two days, I've decided to break up the SD/Montana stretch and the Montana/Seattle stretch (thanks to, thus the longest day would be Philly to Chicago (If you cringe at 750 miles, then I can't imagine what you'd say about some of the days I did last year on my 15,000 mile roadtrip...) I'm in no rush to get to Chicago, but I simply despise Western PA and Ohio and wanted to cruise--going the speed limit of course--straight through, as I've no reason nor desire to stop and see anything.

    What would the upward limit of a day's driving be, in your opinion? Keep in mind I'm not driving an RV or anything, but an Acura RSX.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Just You

    If you read through enough of the questions posed on these forums, you'll see that there is a recurring theme from a number of posters. They (unlike everyone else) have no trouble doing 700, 800, even a thousand miles a day. Or Google Maps has told them that they can drive 750 miles in 10 hours so why should they believe us. I used to try to patiently explain the difference between doing something (such as Russian Roulette) once and doing it on a regular basis, or the difference between virtual reality and real reality. After the thirtyeth time, though, it gets old. But that's my problem and you deserve a better answer.

    I will say that what triggered me in your case was your worrying about a secondary issue over which you have no control and no one can predict (the weather), while assuming that the things over which you did have control and which one could easily foresee jeopardizing the safety of your drive (miles per day and condition of you tires) could be dismissed. Being a safe driver entails many things including advance planning and minimizing the threat one poses to others. Clearly I was jumping the gun a bit in your case, as your reasoned response indicates, and I thank you for not taking offense.

    There is no hard and fast rule for what constitutes an upper limit to a safe distance. Legal limits applicable to commercial drivers roughly equate to about 600 miles, and that's about where I reach my mental (not physical) limits. After that, I'm simply not alert enough to be pushing a ton or two of metal down the road at 75 mph or more. As I've said around here before, every one of the regular contributors to these discussions has driven a thousand mile day at some point. None of us recommend it or would ever consider doing it again. Our general recommendation is for about 500-550 miles a day. That leaves time for a couple of sanity breaks where you can turn your mind off for a bit and get a little exercise as well.

    And back to your original question. October is just about my favorite time for a RoadTrip. Days will still be long enough and warm enough to really enjoy being on the road. And the road and the attractions along it will be much less crowded than during the summer. You might see some snow crossing the northern Rockies, but a full up blizzard is highly unlikely and everyone's salt/plow budgets will still be in good shape. The Interstates are the economic arteries of this country and they are kept open.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Out of curiosity, is there something in particular that's drawing you to Fargo? Its certainly a big detour on a trip from Minneapolis to Rapid City, and its not exactly a tourist hotspot.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'm going to throw my 2 cents in here on the daily mileage issue. Yes, in my younger days I have done 1000 mile days. Looking back on those days, I was quite foolish. I also enjoyed driving through the night in those days - another foolish thing.

    Now that I'm a lot older - actually, I'm retired, which allows me to take road trips whenever I want (Yay!) - I have a considerably different outlook. I no longer like driving after dark, which is simply a byproduct of old eyes. You also miss all the scenery at night! I also consider driving after dark unsafe out in the West where there's open range - it's VERY difficult to see BLACK cows standing out in the road at night.........

    What I do these days is try to get on the road somewhere between 7 and 8 am, and try to get off the road before dark. If I'm just trying to get from point A to point B, I can usually knock off 600 miles a day this way. I normally set my cruise control to 4 mph over the limit, verified by GPS. I find that doing it this way removes a lot of stress. I can get off the road, get checked into a hotel, go have a nice dinner, and still have some time to take care of my email and watch some TV before bed. If I'm in bed by 10, it's easy to get up at 6, have my coffee, hit the hotel's breakfast, and get on the road nice and early. This routine approximates a "normal" workday without busting my chops.

    Will I push it and go farther? Yes, occasionally, if I need to. However, I will not do it 2 days in a row. Among other trips, I go from Joplin to San Diego and back at least once a year. I try to take different routes each time to see different things and normally am not under "deadlines". However, occasionally I do need to make a "speed run" out of it, but will NOT attempt to do it in only 2 days. Looking at mapping software, it DOES appear possible to do so - one stop in Albuquerque - but I just won't do it. On the way out a few years ago in May (plenty of daylight) I did go to Dallas the first day (6 hours), spent some time with a friend, and got on the road early the next morning. I drove 800 miles that day - to Lordsburg NM. I *was* planning on stopping in El Paso or Las Cruces, but I still felt good and decided to push it because I knew the next day would be considerably shorter. I also knew that if I started fading, I could stop in Deming. I only had to drive the last 45 minutes after dark. The 80 mph speed limit in West Texas helped me pack on more miles than normal that day.

    Last February, I had to head back. The weather was not being very cooperative, so I waited for a clear forecast window and got one, but I had to be quick about it. I still took 3 days - stops in Flagstaff and Amarillo.

  7. Default

    All fine points. Given some further reading on several other threads, I can understand your mileage concerns, AZBuck. Given the fact I'm not on a deadline, I've begun revising a route that would afford a safer pace, and am considering abandoning the interstate system thanks to glimpsing a few "road trip routes" featured on this site's homepage. Following that, since the days are getting shorter, and roadtrips seem pointless if you can't see what you're driving by, my driving will end around soon after sunset. This shouldn't be an issue, considering my stops for the night will be mostly state parks and the homes of hospitable members of (I know...that's the second time I've referenced that site, but I swear by it). So far I'm looking at 10 days to get to Seattle, and then an equal amount of time back with a week to spare for spur-of-the-moment excursions and unforeseen stops. I'll post a revised itinerary once I consider a few more routes and stops.

    As for Fargo, I'm entirely unfamiliar with the place. Mainly I just wanted to spend the night there after a day of exploring Minneapolis. Also, I've never been to North Dakota, and will head directly west after Fargo for about 100 miles and then South to Rapid City.

    Thanks all for the insight, and my next post should be the final outline of this trip (approximately 7,000 miles).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    am considering abandoning the interstate system
    If you do that, it would be prudent to limit your mileage plans to about 400 miles a day, possibly 500 if you will be traveling out in the middle of nowhere. The speed limits are almost universally lower - depending on state you will see mostly 55, 60, or 65 with Montana and Nevada (and select roads in Texas) allowing 70 - and every town you go through kills your average. Montana and Texas night limits are 65 or lower.

    roadtrips seem pointless if you can't see what you're driving by
    My feelings exactly!

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