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  1. Default Washing State to North Carolina.. with two dogs, and my hubby. HELP! :(

    First of all.. thank you for reading this!

    Hubby and I are leaving WA state around the 10th of December, so super close.. and will be driving back home to NC. He's getting out of the Army and we'll be going to start a new life back in NC. We're leaving on the 10/11th to give us enough time to make it home for Christmas!!

    So here's the issue. We've never driven a 16'foot truck towing a car.. especially in the winter. It's already snowing here in WA and I'd hate to see some of the other places. My husband is SERIOUSLY afraid for the drive. Mainly driving in the snow with the truck rental. So we're trying to figure out the BEST route to take, safest.. etc. We don't care how long it takes, but would not like it to be 9483794328942 day thing. What's realistic, and whats the best route to take, is there any pictures that go along with it? My husband doesn't want to go ALL the way down to California because he's saying itll take 10+ days to get to NC. What's the best route to take?

    Also- with this route.. we wouldn't mind sight seeing. My husband has knee issues (why he's getting outta the Army) along with us having two little pugs, so we can't just spend HOURS at a place but being able to atleast stop for 30-45 min if its not OUT of the way.. would be awesome to take pictures, etc.

    Thank you guys so much in advance for anyone that helps us out. :)

  2. Default

    Oh also- if you guys have any tips or ideas on what things we should bring for the road.. that'd be awesome. Like I said, first time driving over 2-4 hour drive.. never drove a UHAUL truck before.. and we're pretty much screwed. Haha. So yeah, anything helps!

  3. #3

    Default Welcome home!

    Hi Brittany,

    Please relay my thanks to your hubby for his service, and my condolences concerning his knee problems. Those of us here in NC look forward to your safe return home.

    Even with the truck and towed car, the ONLY logical route is the most direct. I will assume you're leaving from Fort Lewis, so I-90 to eastern SD, I-29 to Kansas City, I-70 to the west side of St Louis, I-64 to I-57, I-57 to I-24, I-24 to I-40, and I-40 on into NC is the most direct route. Depending upon just where you're headed here in the Old North State, you may split off of I-40 in TN to go up I-81 into VA, then drop down into NC on I-77, entering near Winston-Salem.

    The thing you need to be aware of concerning snow is that time is your ally. All you need to do is be in position to wait it out for a few hours here and there, and let the best snow removal crews and equipment on Earth do their thing. I actually call them "The Cavalry", as they come riding up the passes and down the other side, 3 or 4 abreast, from guardrail-to-guardrail, clearing the highway. It would take an epic blizzard to close I-90's passes for more than a few hours at a time, and being at a truckstop on standby for a few hours is far less time than you'd spend going south.

    And going south is the biggest myth/mistake wintertime travelers make, as there is no crossing of the Rockies anywhere in the Lower 48 which guarantees snow-free travel in December. Me, I'd stick with the Northern Rockies, where the snow removal equipment and operators are the best anywhere.

    Do some looking at the WA, ID, MT, and WY DOT websites and spend some time today and tomorrow looking at their real-time webcams. I fully expect you'll see the roads cleared very quickly, even during the height of the current storm.

    Safe travels and welcome home!


  4. Default

    Better safe than sorry items that might come in handy yall can advise? Also- should we get like anything to help the rental truck be anymore safe or should we just go really really slow? Lol. Also- yall have any things to make the drive not as bad, idea wise like things to do..? Or what about traveling food? Any ideas?

    I can't wait to get to NC. So happy :) So much better than stupid ol' WA! :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    should we get like anything to help the rental truck be anymore safe
    Yes. Use a car trailer, not a dolly, and practice backing up till you get the hang of it before you hit the road. I personally would not exceed 55 mph.

  6. #6

    Default Winter cross-country travel by truck, towing


    I wholeheartedly agree with the trailer over a dolly. With some rental agencies you might need to upgrade to a larger truck, and that may very well be a good idea anyway. Larger would likely mean more powerful and a less laborious drive up the hills. In addition, you cannot back a dolly, so every stop along the way must involve a pull-through if you've got a dolly.

    My list for prep and supplies for my own cross country trip in Dec-Jan (well, 2/3 of the way across--from Raleigh to Park City, Utah and back) is as follows:

    Fill the windshield washer reservoir with anti-ice fluid. Not because of wanting to drive in snow, but to assist in keeping the windshield clean under very cold conditions when melted snow running across the highway in wet spots creates freezing spray. I'll be carrying 2 gallons of fluid.

    A couple of rolls of heavy-duty paper towels.

    A long-handled ice scraper w/ a snow brush on the other end (for clearing the windshield, hood, headlights and tail lights, and mirrors after a snowy overnight or a holdover while waiting it out)

    A long-handled squeegee. While western and midwestern auto-truck plazas are pretty reliable in terms of having squeegies and fluid, I hate to stop and not be able to get every window, headlight, and mirror clean while fueling. Salt spray builds up and really fouls your view, and you'll be going directly east and south into the sun the whole day, all day.

    A generic spray bottle with the anti icing fluid in it. This will let you touch up your door windows and the truck's wing mirrors when you follow on with the squeegee and/or the towels.

    A small patch of 200 grit sandpaper and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Touching up the wiper blades with the sandpaper--just a light rub up one side and down the other--and following that with the heavy paper towel wetted by the rubbing alcohol does wonders to restoring the clean sweep they provide under spray conditions.

    (Can you tell I'm a bit obsessed with keeping the view out the windshield and to the back of the truck clear? Well, it makes a difference on a long trip)

    Keep warm clothing, including footwear, hats, and gloves, in an easy to reach place. I suppose the cab will be a bit crowded with the two of you and the dogs, but loading your "ditch gear" in a bin at the tail of the truck should work.

    Make sure your cellphones are fully charged and hold one in reserve, turned off. While there are some areas in eastern WA and a very few in MT where cell signals probably aren't available, you should have nearly continuous cell signals along your entire route. Unless you're AT&T, in which case you're about to find out where the 3% of the US population they don't serve lives. Hint: all the way from just outside Seattle to about Omaha, NE.

    Carry at least one high-power flashlight and extra batteries for it. I'm taking two, plus a headlamp for pre-dawn or after-sunset tire changes or other repairs (allowing me to keep my hands free).

    I am much in favor of traveling with a CB radio.

    Keep a US highway atlas handy. The person not driving should keep close tabs on where you are, right down to what exact or approximate milepost you're at at any given time. Such is of great assistance to the driver and will expedite the dispatch of help in the even you need it.

    I never travel without a thermos of coffee and a nice insulated travel cup.

    I keep a small cooler aboard, too, with bottled water and soft drinks.

    For food I carry snack foods and non-messy fruit items like dried fruit trail mix, bananas, and sometimes apples. I also carry things like Pop-Tarts and breakfast bars. I like to bring nutritionally whole items like Ensure (don't laugh!) as a mid-day meal inasmuch as I tend to drive through lunchtime and substitute a couple or three shorter "walk-around" breaks at fuel and nature stops instead of a sit-down lunch, which inevitably makes me sleepy.

    So, are you folks headed for Fort Bragg or elsewhere back home? We need to know whether to keep a platter of Wilbur's chopped barbeque with hushpuppies and sweet tea or a big 'ol plate of Lexington-style sliced barbeque, two tubs of dip, red slaw, and a cold Cheerwine ready for you. Can't be both, of course.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I will 3rd the full trailer over the tow dolly suggestion. With a 16 foot truck, there shouldn't be any problems pulling either, but the full trailer will be a little more stable and easier to handle.

    As was mentioned, with a tow dolly you can't back up at all, but I'd try to avoid backing up with a full trailer as that is a little tricky if you aren't used to the procedure. The biggest thing is keep aware of where you are going. The last time I moved cross country - in a Uhaul pulling a full trailer - I turned into a motel parking lot after dark thinking it was a "U" shape. It wasn't until I turned the corner that I discovered it was actually an "L". I'll just say that the next morning I pulled off a turn-around that is still one of the most difficult driving manuveurs I've ever accomplished!

    Along those lines, I'd recommend trying to stick with the major truck stops for refueling, as they often have more space. I like the "Flying J" chain because many times they'll even have a special island for large vehicles like UHauls and RVs.

    Otherwise, relax. Your first few miles will be the most challenging as you get used to driving. Keep it slow, stay to the right, and as you get more comfortable and used to the combination, it shouldn't take long to get used to it. By the 2nd or 3rd day, you'll likely feel like and old pro!

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