I'm new to the forums so hopefully this is posted in the correct place :)
My boyfriend and I have decided to move to the Humboldt County area of Northern California. We are currently living in south-eastern TN, though we're both from MA originally. At the moment our plan is to drive ourselves, as much stuff as we can, and the puppy all the way out to CA, stopping to visit friends and a couple of attractions along the way (I've never been west of the Mississippi).
The last month of our lease here is April, and is technically already paid for. I have to fly home to MA sometime in mid-late May for about ten days to participate in a friend's wedding, so our current plan is to leave in earlier April with the hopes of arriving in Humboldt with enough time to find a house before I need to leave to MA, and we run out of money by not looking for jobs ;) The current thought being we aim to get to Humboldt 5-7 days May 1st for best chances of finding the right place, but our leave/arrival dates are fairly flexible.
While I have a fair amount of experience driving long distances this will certainly be the farthest, and although we drove from MA to TN we did not do so in one single trip with all of our belongings and the dog (who has since gained a good 15lbs and grown several inches taller). We're looking for advice on everything from best routes to take and ones to avoid, when the best time to go might be- if there's a certain pass that opens a week later but would make a better trip we can adjust for that, gear suggestions, and any sage wisdom anyone cares to share. We're a younger couple on a budget and with fairly limited space- no strangers to "roughing it", and plan on camping rather than staying in hotels- we have a new tent and air mattress and we're hoping that the time we're traveling through will be warm enough to be plenty comfortable.
A quick breakdown of our very roughly planned route:
We might be crazy for this- but there is NOTHING before Colorado we want to spend anytime doing/seeing, and so much after- so we're going to take turns napping/driving in the car, and drive straight through to Stop #1, Colorado Springs. Google Maps, for what it's worth, claims this is a 19 hour drive add in gas/bathroom/leg stretching breaks a couple meals etc and we're hoping we can do it in 24 hours. I know it sounds ridiculous but I have a few solo 800-900 mile single shot trips recently under my belt and am pretty confident that we can each handle 12 hours of driving interspersed with 12 of simply being trapped in the car ;) But again- advice on the fastest route possible here would be lovely!
After CO Springs I'd love to see the Four Corners, even just briefly would be fine, the Grand Canyon I would like to experience somewhat fully, and we have family to visit in Flagstaff, AZ. Certainly doesn't have to be in that order. I'm thinking we'll probably stop and spend a night near the Four Corners- about 7 hours from CO Springs, instead of pushing to fit the last 4 hours from Four Corners to Flagstaff. Head to Flagstaff for a few days, then head to the Grand Canyon and probably spend a night or two camping there as well- both so that we get to experience the area, and to break up the driving a bit more.
Once again very little between that area and San Francisco that we want to check out- I'm perfectly fine bypassing Las Vegas, and certainly have no desire to see LA. According to Google Maps again (insert grain of salt) it's about 10-12 hours to SF from that area, which is a pretty easy single shot trip for us. With all the attractions in SF as well as more family we'll probably spend a few days before heading up to Eureka where the house search begins!
Again- advice on routes would be greatly appreciate!
My other main concern is how to pack most efficiently, and modify the car so as to maximize space. It's a Pontiac Vibe, a mid-sized hatchback w roofracks, and we're considering options such as roof-top carriers and hitch cargo carriers, or even possibly a small flat bed UHaul type thing- taking into consideration ease of travel/driving and gas mileage. Because we'll be living out of the car for a time accessibility is also somewhat important- we're pretty good at making do with the minimum and are planning to fit all of our clothes/shoes/toiletries for the trip in a smaller shared duffel, but will need to store the tent/air mattress somewhere we can get it without too much hassle on the occasions we'll need it, and also bearing in mind the 28" tall, 80+ lb dog, his food/water and respective bowls (we do plan on using tupperware containers for the trip). We'll be selling the vast majority of our furniture- our kitchen table's legs come off and the top divides into three sections and we're hoping we might be able to strap it to the roof of the car with a few C bags of "stuff" ratchet strapped on top, but otherwise we'll just be trying to fit as much of our clothes, books, bathroom stuff, bedding things, kitchen things, etc as we can- this last time we moved with very very little in terms of kitchen utensils/plates, bedding, etc and would love to avoid not having some basics when we get to our new home.
Sorry this was so long and rambling! For those of you who braved through it I applaud you! Looking forward to any advice or suggestions you all might have. Thanks so much!