On the road again...
I'm two months removed from my last trip and I am ready for another one. I'm at 35 states and am ready to get some more. Once again I am just looking to get into and out of the states just to make sure I get to all 50 at some point. It would be our third speed run and we love doing them. I already figured we could push it in 7 days again, but 8 or 9 would be better.
It may happen in mid-April or at the end of June depending on time off. I have two different destinations and 3 or 4 people going. I have to get to all the states so I'm just looking to see what may be best for April or June and maybe a little info on the roads and what the terrain is like.
Scenario 1: PA and Ohio and up to Michigan. From Michigan I would go through the U.P. and down to Green Bay to see Lambeau Field. I would then head west through Wisconsin and into Minnesota, hooking up with I-94 a some point and going west into North Dakota to a western terminus of Billings, Montana. I would head south from Billings on I-90 into Wyoming and across South Dakota back through Minnesota and Wisconsin before going on I-80 back home from the Chicago area. My new states would be Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota
Scenario 2: PA west into Ohio on I-70 to Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri before breaking southwest after St. Louis. We would head west on I-44 into Oklahoma. We would get 40 west starting at Oklahoma City and west to Albuquerque. We would head south on I-25 to I-10 and head east until we meet up with I-20 which would take us all the way across Texas to Dallas and into Arkansas on I-30. We would hit I-40 in Little Rock and take that through Tennessee where we could get I-81 near Knoxville and head north. I would hit new states of Oklahoma and New Mexico
Which one is best for April and June? What are the roads like? What would we see out the window? Thanks again.
Weather and the speed run
Seems to me the southern route would be preferred in April--not overwhelmingly hot then, but you might find a tornado or two (or dozens of storm chasers on the highways). Your subject to some late-season snow in ND and MT come April. Not that it would be expected to be a real problem, but it could slow you down. I would not enjoy visiting NM, TX, OK, etc in June, either, as it's gotten seriously hot by then. Running hard and running the A/C in your car hard can combine for a difficult trip for your wheels.
If it's June when you go, I'd go north. By June, ND, southeast MT, and northeast WY and all of SD are about as green as they're going to get. You'll have opportunities to see the Northern Lights on Michigan's UP, and it's VERY nice and remote all the way from the big bridge at Mackinac Straits to the WI line. Plus, the farther north you go, the longer the days as you approach the Summer Solstice in the 3rd week of June, perhaps an advantage on a speed run.
If a "touch and go" is all you need to bag a state, be aware that US 2 dips into WI at Florence just west of Iron Mountain, MI and of course you have part of WI to traverse at the western end of the UP, too, between Hurley and Superior, WI, so routing back into WI enroute to Chicago isn't necessary unless you just prefer to do so.
Have fun with the planning!
I agree with Foy - if it's April do the southern route, if it's June do the northern route.
Thanks guys. That's what I was figuring. North in June and south in April.
How are I-40 in Oklahoma and I-25 in southern New Mexico?
"How" in what respects?
I-40 between OKC and the NM state line is 70 mph, pretty much straight and relatively featureless. Between the NM line and ABQ it's 75 mph, and becomes more hilly. I-25 from ABQ to Las Cruces is 75 mph and somewhat hilly. None of it is a difficult drive unless you hit an ice or snow storm, which is highly unlikely in April. High winds are always possible, like anywhere else out that way.
Suggestion - if you are going to be in Amarillo around dinnertime, have a steak dinner at the Big Texan (the ribeye is outstanding) and consider spending the night in their motel. It's more expensive than the Motel 6 but it's all done up inside and out in an Old West decor. No wifi in the rooms but there's free wifi in the restaurant, you can usually connect sitting outside.
Tolls: I-44 between the MO line and Tulsa is $4 and between Tulsa and OKC is another $4, there will be manned booths. Your EZ-Pass does NOT work in OK. If you plan on taking the toll road bypasses around Tulsa and OKC, you may need exact change, bring a roll of quarters. The booths are not always manned, and the change machines at the booths frequently do not work. Unless there's construction and/or you hit at rush hour, there's usually no problem with taking the freeways right through both cities.
As of 3 years ago next week, I can tell you I-40 from west of OKC all the way to Barstow, CA is nothing less than a racetrack. Yes, you pick up some elevation from eastern NM into and through Albq, but my experience westbound in October 2007 and my son's on the return trip in June 2008 was that I-40 was lightly traveled, not overly truck-laden, and was good speed-run cruising territory.
Nice! This sounds like the perfect road. Your information is much appreciated and exactly what I was looking for regarding I-40. I'm very interested in terrain and what the countryside looks like and you hit that. Thanks again.