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  1. #1

    Default TN to Northern CA Moving/Roadtrip- Plus the Pup

    Hey All,
    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!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default No, no. No, no, no. No!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by Downdale Farm View Post
    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!
    Before we even start with anything else, your plan has to come to a dead stop right here. This isn't crazy, that is homicidal. It's not about what you want to see or do, its about life or death. There is no other way to put it - you will be putting the lives of yourselves and everyone else on the road in harms way by doing something so extremely dangerous. First, driving 800-900 miles by yourself is very dangerous, and is far beyond what professional drivers are allowed to do for safety reasons. While you might have survived, it is simply a biological fact that your driving skills were not at their best for your entire drive, and they almost certainly resembled those of someone who had drank too much. You really need to ask yourself why you think you can safely do, what professionals can not.

    But even ignoring that, being in a car is not a case of 2 people can drive forever just by alternating sleeping. First, sitting in a moving car does not provide the real rest that someone needs to recharge and get behind the wheel. In reality, 2 people should be awake at all times when attempting a serious speed-run, which means a minimum of 3 drivers in a rotation to even consider attempting something like this.

    That doesn't even factor in the extra challenges of traveling with a dog, or the extra stress that comes with driving a car with stuff strapped to the roof/hitch!

    The reality is that the first step of your plan is likely to be the last step. It really is that dangerous. Even in the rather unlikely event you make it without killing/injuring yourselves or the thousands of others you'll be sharing the road with, it ends up being counter-productive anyway, as you will both be so exhausted, and your sleep cycles will be so screwed up, that you won't be in any condition to enjoy anything else on your trip.

    Scanning over the rest of your plan, I see several other potential concerns, but that first step is so extremely dangerous and puts so many other peoples lives in harms way, that nothing else is really worth discussing.

  3. #3

    Default

    Wow, thanks for such an informative and constructive response, I appreciate you taking the time to outline your suggested plan and improvements. The hint about mysterious other potential concerns without proving any further information will, I'm sure, help me to avoid making further mistakes.

    While I agree long-distance drives can certainly be dangerous I am fairly in tune with my body and realistic about my ability to recognize when I am physically or mentally incapable of driving. Perhaps it is my rather active lifestyle and lack of a desk job, or even simply that I'm still fairly young, but with proper preparation and sustenance I have very little difficulty pulling all-nighters, working extremely long double shifts, and in other ways pushing myself a bit further both physically and mentally than most people would be comfortable doing. I assure you my driving, even over long distances overnight on solo trips, has been far superior to that of an intoxicated person, and I rather resent the insinuation that I would be incapable of not only driving safely but furthermore that I would be incapable of recognizing my own dangerous driving, or be responsible enough to pull over if the situation warranted that. We have not set any kind of strict deadline for our arrival in CO and will absolutely pull over if we feel that neither of us are competent to drive at the moment. Knowing both of our own personal limits we are estimating we may need around an additional 5 hours of breaks, getting out of the car, and napping on top of the drive time, but if we don't feel fit to drive we certainly wont, and will take an appropriate amount of time to suit our personal needs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    You really didn't say the general area of SouthEast Tennessee that you are starting from, so I took Chattanooga to my map planner. Colorado Springs, by the fastest way, is 1275 miles. That is definitely NOT something to try in one long drive. As Michael said above, you'll be dangerous to yourselves as well as to others. Break it up with a stop about halfway, which my software figures to be Concordia, MO (along I-70). There are a few motels to choose from, and chances are one of them will be pet-friendly. You can relax, watch a little TV or read, and otherwise wind down from the road. We find that to be an absolute necessity in a "speed run".

    Grand Canyon to San Francisco is also almost 800 miles, and that's not a day's drive -- it's way more than professional drivers are allowed to do. (My husband is an ex-pro driver -- 600 miles, or 10 hours, whatever comes first.) You don't have to go near LA -- simply get on I-40 to Barstow, take CA-58 past Edwards AFB and over the Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield and into Buttonwillow. Buttonwillow has a lot of motels and places to eat, which is its claim to fame. It's also a little more than 500 miles, then you can do the other 300 miles (much of which will be in metropolitan area) the next day. Or stay in Bakersfield which gives you less miles the first day and a few more the next day.


    Donna

  5. #5

    Default

    While I don't particularly enjoy 800 mile hauls in one go, I have done several of these in the past few months, and all were completed successfully and well within my comfort zone.

    Perhaps we will stop in Missouri or therabouts, although we will stick w our original plan and camp- if anyone has any campsite suggestions around the halfway point not too far from the most direct route I would certainly be open to that.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Nothing????

    ... but there is NOTHING before Colorado....
    I am rather intrigued with this statement. Having driven this route many times, and others further north and south, I found this area of the midwest rich with history and geography. Signs of these, and musea to tell the stories are plentiful. One outstanding event, from which we can learn so much today, is the disaster of the 1930.... The Dustbowl. It might be worth brushing up on the rich history and large variety of attractions a route from TN to CO can afford.

    Depending on which route you plan to take through Missouri.... but there appeared to be lots of camp grounds in the Mark Twain Forest. If you check out any good paper map or road atlas, you will find that camp grounds (other than commercial ones) are marked by a small green tent. These are mostly in State Forests and Parks, as well as National Forests.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Not far off I-70, down MO-23 towards Warrensburg, MO, is Knob Noster State Park. Very pretty! Be sure to bring a good insect repellent, though -- MO in summer is usually full of mosquitoes.

    Knob Noster State Park


    Donna

  8. #8

    Default TN to Northern CA Moving/Roadtrip- Plus the Pup, in December

    Hey All!

    If all goes according to plan between now and then the boy, the puppy and myself will be driving from our current home in Tennessee to our new home in Humboldt County, Northern California. We are fairly experienced road-trippers, but a few things are going to be a bit different about this trip and we would love some advice.

    First of all we will be packing all of both of our belongings into our one car, and will still need to leave room for the 86lb dog (he's EXCELLENT in the car, and we would like to reward him with as much space/comfort as possible!). To be fair we don't have too much stuff- we're selling/donating the furniture and bulkier items and taking a minimal amount of dishes/glasses/etc. We're hoping to cut down on space by using dish and bath towels for packing things that need to be wrapped, and have already ordered some space bags. We have several large sea bags which I think we can fit all of our clothes/soft items in and tarp and strap to the roof. Any further advice in making the most of small space would be greatly appreciated! We'll be packing a Pontiac Vibe.

    This will also be our furthest trip to date- we've done several 1,000-1,200 mile trips, but this one will be upwards of 3,000 miles. We've had the oil changed, are buying new tires, and replaced a semi-questionable serpentine belt. The car is otherwise in great shape (knock on wood!) and is going to get a good thorough interior cleaning before it gets packed.

    Thirdly! This trip will stretched out over about a month- some driving, some staying with friends (with laundry!), and some camping, but NO UNPACKING! I'm not really sure what to do to prepare for this. We're planning on having a "day bag" packed with some clothes, toiletries, charging devices, and whatever else we feel we'll need during the month. Thoughts?!

    We would also love help on choosing routes, we have a few set destinations we want to stop in at along the way, but otherwise let's be realistic, we're going to be spending something like 50+ hours driving, unless it's the difference of a few minutes per hour, I'm over taking the "scenic" route.

    Here is our very roughly estimated plan:

    Leave Chattanooga, TN on December 1st and head for Colorado Springs, CO where we will be spending a few days with friends and taking day trips. Google tells us that this leg of the trip will take about 18 hours, we're estimating 20 with gas/food/bathroom breaks and would like to shoot for 12 hours car time and have a pre-determined cheap, near the highway motel picked out. We've both done solo 12++ hour drives before and feel very comfortable about splitting 12 between the two of us followed by ~8 hours on the second day. Google is sending us I-24/I-70 which appears to be straightforward and direct.

    From Colorado Springs we're heading to Flagstaff, AZ to visit some more friends and family. We are a little concerned about what route to take due to winter weather. I would love to see Four Corners but not sure if there's a safe, practical route that would take us through that area.

    From Flagstaff we're hoping to spend a few days camping at the Grand Canyon- neither of us have ever seen it before, and aren't really sure what are the must see/do's are, especially for this time of the year, bearing in mind we'll be driving from Flagstaff and heading for San Francisco when we leave. Google tells me I-5 and I-40, and about 12 hours, so we'll shoot to do this in one day. We would love any advice on Grand Canyon camping and activities.

    From the Grand Canyon we will be heading to the San Francisco Bay Area. We have a couple places to crash in the area, and are considering spending the holiday there before continuing up the coast the Humboldt County where hopefully we will find a place to live for the new year!

    Thanks!

    [Mod Edit: Moved this post to your original thread... Please keep all new posts about the same trip in a single thread]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Downdale Farm View Post
    Leave Chattanooga, TN on December 1st and head for Colorado Springs, CO where we will be spending a few days with friends and taking day trips. Google tells us that this leg of the trip will take about 18 hours, we're estimating 20 with gas/food/bathroom breaks
    In December, you think you can do this is 20 hours? Much more likely to be 23 hours actual driving to cover 1200 miles in winter. And while you might be comfortable with such a drive, as members of this roadtripping community we are not supportive of such driving marathons.

    Wish you well.

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default

    I was really hoping for more than strict criticism in replies to this topic- could you elaborate as to why you think this will take an additional five hours? I'm not incredibly familiar with the area, but I didn't think they were having blizzards regularly the first week in December? Even rounding up to 1300 miles and traveling at an average of 65mph (which I believe is below the posted limits for much of this route) that would still only be 20 hours total- which as I mentioned in my original post we intend to split up between 2 days and two drivers. Using several different online mapping sites the longest estimate I found for this leg of the journey was 19.5 hours.

    I am more than open to constructive criticism, but if you only wish to tell me that my admittedly very rough draft of a plan is simply piss-poor but do not wish to share any suggestions, or even quickly explain your reasoning I would respectfully ask that you not share your thoughts. I posted with the hopes of getting advice and potentially help with the planning of this trip because I will be traveling in new areas and am a firm believer that knowledge is something to be shared and think there are things I can learn from other's experience- but only if you are so kind as to share them with me.

    Could someone please outline the parameters for what is considered safe drive times, total car times, or mile limits? Thanks :)

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