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  1. Default Advise on long trip please. Tacoma to Atlanta via L.A.

    Hi everybody,
    I did my first trip ever camping along the way from Atlanta to the Grand Canyon and it was a nice experience and a learning opportunity. Thanks to everyone who gave me advise

    Now I am planning yet another trip. A longer expedition for sure. I want to fly to Seattle/Tacoma, visit my sons there and drive back my old Miata (which my son is giving back to me) to Atlanta. I also plan to camp along the way.
    Since the time is close to winter, I thought it would be a safer bet weather wise to drive down I-5 to L.A. and turn left and drive through AZ, pick up I-10 and drive through TX, LA, MS and AL back home.

    It's a 3500 mile drive, but I think I'm up for it. However, I'm totally new to driving and camping along the Pacific coast and I would appreciate any and all advise as to what I might expect weather wise and in all other aspects. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    9,270

    Default

    I can give you some advice to get around the bulk of the L.A. traffic - get over to Bakersfield and take CA-58 to US-395 to I-15 to I-215 to I-10.

    You are adding about 800 miles to your trip by going south. If time is not an issue, you may want to take US-101 south along the coast instead of I-5 through the Siskiyous. You could even take the PCH (CA-1) for some great sightseeing, and it would be a blast in a Miata. You can pick that up in Leggett and take it all the way to SF, cross the Golden Gate, and then take it south to Cambria. CA-46 will get you from there to Bakersfield.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default the big myth

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbit View Post
    Since the time is close to winter, I thought it would be a safer bet weather wise to drive down I-5 to L.A. and turn left and drive through AZ, pick up I-10 and drive through TX, LA, MS and AL back home.
    It really should be noted that it is simply a myth that it would be "a safer bet" to take I-5/I-10 for a winter trip. In fact, in many ways it actually would significantly increase your risk of running into bad weather.

    The biggest reason simply comes down to time: That route adds about 800 miles which means you need at least 2 more days on the road. That's 2 more days where you could see a storm, since nearly that entire route is still subject to winter weather.

    I-5 crosses several mountain passes all the way down into Southern California that can and do see serious snowstorms, I-10 across AZ and NM typically sees some snow during winter, and Ice Storms in West Texas can be fierce. And as you likely know from last year in Atlanta, snow and ice are also possible all along the southern states and when those areas see winter weather, traffic pretty much comes to a halt.

    From a pure get there as safely and easily as possible in winter, your best bet is to take a more direct path, taking I-90 into Montana, and then working down towards St. Louis, and across to Atlanta. If you do see bad weather, you could take the 2 days you'd save by not driving all the way down to LA, and simply wait for conditions to improve.

    Having said that, if time is not an issue and you simply want to go on that more southernly route, that is certainly fine, but do it because that's what you want to do, not because you think you'll be safer by doing so.

  4. Default Bad weather is a sure thing in Montana, Idaho, etc.

    Perhaps it is a myth, but a reality check reveals full winter weather (i.e. Snow, ice, cold) already taking place in Coeur D'Alene, Butte, Spearfish, SD, and other places along I-90. The conditions crossing W to E from OR are equally challenging. To follow your suggestion would put me squarely in the middle of winter driving conditions for hundreds of miles.

    I actually took you seriously and researched the route. It is not a good option at all. Particularly since I plan to camp along the way. The weather forecast for the PCH is nothing like the weather crossing over the Rocky Mountains. The worst I can expect is cold rain. The weather in South AZ and South TX is still *hot* (in Yuma, 70's and 80's in the day, 50's at night).

    I am not taking your advise exactly for the reasons of avoiding bad weather. I agree that anything can happen weather wise anywhere in the US, but the possibilities of winter weather like snow and ice, are remote at best with the route I will take, and 100% sure if I try to do as you say. Bad advise, please do not tell other folks to try such risky routes in the future. They might just follow your advise and end up in real trouble, perhaps even risk their very lives.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-03-2011 at 02:23 AM. Reason: Removed quote from in line response.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I can give you some advice to get around the bulk of the L.A. traffic - get over to Bakersfield and take CA-58 to US-395 to I-15 to I-215 to I-10.

    You are adding about 800 miles to your trip by going south. If time is not an issue, you may want to take US-101 south along the coast instead of I-5 through the Siskiyous. You could even take the PCH (CA-1) for some great sightseeing, and it would be a blast in a Miata. You can pick that up in Leggett and take it all the way to SF, cross the Golden Gate, and then take it south to Cambria. CA-46 will get you from there to Bakersfield.

    Good idea. I had pretty well decided to take the PCH from OR to SF. I can take the extra day or two and enjoy the sightseeing (as long as the weather cooperates). I even found campgrounds near Florence, OR (the first night's stop) where they have yurts and tepees available should it be raining... Would be super nice to camp in inclement weather without getting my tent all wet :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default a very bad extrapolation

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbit View Post
    I am not taking your advise exactly for the reasons of avoiding bad weather. I agree that anything can happen weather wise anywhere in the US, but the possibilities of winter weather like snow and ice, are remote at best with the route I will take, and 100% sure if I try to do as you say. Bad advise, please do not tell other folks to try such risky routes in the future. They might just follow your advise and end up in real trouble, perhaps even risk their very lives.
    I'm sorry you so badly misread and misinterpreted my advice.

    First of all, you only have a 100% chance of good weather because that's what the conditions are right now. The mountains along the Pacific Coast - including the several passes that are along I-5 - can and do see lots of winter weather, and it is certainly not uncommon for such winter weather events to take place even this early in the year. To say that your route has only a remote chance of seeing bad weather is only true for this specific moment in time, a few days from now, its entirely possible that I-5 would be the "dangerous" route, while I-90 would be beautiful.

    As was also mentioned, if you take the 2 extra days you'll need for this trip, all of the weather that happens to be falling along I-90 right now would be completely cleared up. And if you had happened to run into that same weather along I-5, you wouldn't have all of that extra time.

    The route that was suggested was not at all risky - unless someone decided to completely ignore weather forecasts and common sense, ignore a large piece of the advice about waiting for conditions to improve, and ignores the fact that when there is winter weather on an Interstate in the north, it is a relatively minor issue that is quickly resolved, while in areas farther south when you get a storm, traveling can be practically impossible for days as crews essentially wait for the snow and ice to melt. The weather is always about what is happening at a specific time, and that can change at any moment, which is why monitoring the specific forecast is always far more important than making the generic assumption that going south will magically make for a safer driver. Frankly, the only dangerous advice here comes from your title (bad weather in MT, ID is a "sure thing") and extrapolating the idea that since there is good weather along one route right now, and there is bad weather in another, that the route that is clear right now is the route that is always, or even often, safer.

    Edit to add: I will also mention that looking at forecast for the next couple of days proves my point: Snow is expected along I-5 around the Grants Pass area of southern oregon over the next couple of days, while the forecasts show good travel conditions across Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas over that same time period.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-02-2011 at 06:51 PM.

  7. Default

    No, I did not misunderstand or misinterpret your advise. If you read my all of my response and the response to GLC , you'll see that I have changed my route from I-5 to the PCH and 101. There is an almost zero possibility of snow or ice on the PCH or on 101. I'm sure that there is always a remote possibility of snow in Southern California, but it is just that, remote.

    I've driven from Atlanta to Steamboat springs before in the winter and I had relatively little trouble, but I have also encountered winter driving conditions and they are no fun. If I should find forecast of snow or ice storms along the Southern route, I will stay put until conditions improve. In general, warmer climates are much less likely to experience severe winter conditions than the Rocky Mountains. Having said all that, I will check conditions before setting out, regardless of the route taken.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-03-2011 at 02:20 AM. Reason: No need for full inline quote.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    Michael's recommendation did NOT take into account your desire to camp, it was given simply as a way to get from point A to point B. As we used to say, please cut him some slack!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default No, clearly you did

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbit View Post
    No, I did not misunderstand or misinterpret your advise. If you read my all of my response and the response to GLC , you'll see that I have changed my route from I-5 to the PCH and 101. There is an almost zero possibility of snow or ice on the PCH or on 101.
    I'm sorry, but the only way you could make the statement that "Bad weather is a sure thing in Montana, Idaho, etc." and also conclude that taking a direct route is bad advices that I-90 is a "risky route" that could put peoples lives in danger is by grossly misunderstanding and misinterpreting my original post. Your continued statements that warmer climates are "much less likely to experience severe winter conditions" really isn't accurate either and shows that you still are completely missing the points of my original post.

    Frankly, I don't even care if you don't want to understand what I originally posted, my concern is that others might read your response and take it on its face, and get themselves in a whole lot of trouble. Your statements about I-90 being dangerous are as absurd as saying that no one should ever drive I-5 in winter because there is a chance of some snow on that route this week.

    As far as taking the PCH, you are right that there is almost no chance of seeing bad weather on that specific route down the coast. However, that is also a route that takes about twice as long as following I-5, so now, you've actually doubled the amount of travel time you need to get back to Atlanta. As I said in my original post, if you've got the time, there is nothing wrong with that at all. The beauty of a roadtrip is being able to take the route that you want to take (and that statement includes the possibility that you'd want to add some extra time for camping).

    However, going back to a pure safety perspective which was the subject of my original post, you haven't done anything to make your trip any safer. If you took all of that extra time you are using on a more direct route, you could easily pull off the road any time you even saw a single snowflake and still make it back to Atlanta faster. Also, unrelated to weather, taking any 2 lane highway like the PCH (with at grade crossings and sharper more frequent curves) is by its very nature more dangerous because there are many more opportunities to be involved in a crash. It doesn't mean its dangerous or unwise, but when it comes right down to it, you will be at a slightly higher risk of being involved in a crash because of the route you've taken. Thankfully, no matter what route you take, the odds of a problem are very low to begin with, and I doubt that you will have any problems. Have a good trip.

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