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  1. Default Jacksonville, FL to Whidbey Island, WA

    My family (Wife, 2 year old daughter and 2 dogs) and I are planning a move to Washington in March. I'll be pulling a boat with an Expedition and am planning the route so I have fewer mountain passes to go through. I'm trying to do 8-9 hours a day in driving on the front side of the trip and breaking it up into smaller parts when I get out west.

    The plan so far, I-10 West with stops in:

    Baton Rouge, LA (no reason other than it's about an 8 and a half hour stopping point)
    San Antonio, TX (the Alamo and because I can stay in military lodging)
    Las Cruces, NM (no reason other than it's the only city around that's not Juarez)
    Tucson, AZ (family)
    Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon)
    Las Vegas, NV (Hoover Dam on the way)
    Monterey, CA (friends and great views) through San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge and maybe Alcatraz Island)
    Eugene, OR (no reason, just a place to stop)
    Oak Harbor, WA (destination)

    This isn't a set plan and we won't be in a hurry so if there are other things that must be seen along the way or a way to detour that could take us to some cool sights, that would be awesome.

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

    Default

    Welcome!

    That looks quite well planned out, except I think you are underestimating the hours required to get from point to point. It looks like you are using computer-generated drive times which are pure fantasy, especially if you will be towing (NOTE that the speed limit when towing in CA is 55). You have more than one day over 600 miles there - when towing and considering the needs of a toddler and dogs that's at least 12 hours right there. The one day that is completely undoable is Monterey to Eugene including a trip to Alcatraz and going via the Golden Gate Bridge.

    You are showing 9 days - it would really be a lot more advisable to add at least 3 more days to that or you will all be beat to a frazzle when you get to Whidbey.

    Off topic - you have a private message.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I have to agree that your plans to drive 8-9 hours simply don't match up with the stopping points you've listed. In good conditions, 600 mile drives, like the ones you've listed take about 10 hours, but pulling a boat and traveling with a child and dogs is going to significantly increase your travel times. I would also suspect they will take you at least 12 hours.

    If you want to limit yourself to 8-9 hours, a good idea considering your situation, then I'd be looking at limiting your days to no more than 500 miles.
    Las Cruces, NM (no reason other than it's the only city around that's not Juarez)
    You are by no means the first to post something like this, but I always find it a bit funny. You do know that Juarez is in Mexico, and you will not go through it on your trip. In the US side of the border, there is El Paso, Texas, a city of more than half million people, that is one of the safest cities in the United States.

    I'll be pulling a boat with an Expedition and am planning the route so I have fewer mountain passes to go through
    I'm not sure you're succeeding by this choice of a route. I-10 is a relatively low crossing of the Rockies, but you'll then be going up to about 7,000 feet at the Grand Canyon. You'll also be doing several mountain passes traveling in California and Oregon.

    If you want to go this route, that's fine, but a direct route, heading up through Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, and then getting on I-90 at Sioux Falls, SD would actually involve less elevation change, and save you 500 hundred miles of wear and tear, not to mention, one full fewer days on the road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    you'll then be going up to about 7,000 feet at the Grand Canyon.
    As a matter of fact, I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff is regarded as one of the most difficult towing Interstates in the country. The grades are brutal.

  5. Default

    I know Juarez is in Mexico but based on what I've read, the area directly across from it on the border has some pretty high violent crime rates.

    I'm not opposed to other routes. I've lived in Florida almost my whole life so driving through high elevations, towing something where there will be ice and snow is a very foreign task to me. I was warned that some passes getting into Washington from the east to Whidbey Island require chains to get through. I wouldn't even know how to put them on my vehicle. I'm moreso trying to avoid snow and ice conditions.

    I figured the drive times were skewed and I know I'll have to stop way more frequently with the kids a critters in tow. I guess those were just cities I would like to make in a day. The trip between Monterey and Eugene or Portland definitely has some wiggle room as does the rest of my trip. Our purpose is to see the things on this paid move that we wouldn't normally be able to take the time to see on our own. If I have to take a couple of extra days, I'll happily accept it.

    I'm pretty much stuck on the length of trip between San Antonio and Las Cruces. There doesn't seem to be anything (except El Paso) between the two.

    Any other *must see* landmarks that I'm leaving out or could deviate some and see?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Avoiding Snow in the Fourth Dimension

    While most people try to avoid bad weather by staying south or at low elevation (using the three spatial dimensions) there is a fourth dimension that works as well or better - time. If, as you say, you have some wiggle room on this move, even to the point of taking a couple of extra days, then that's the dimension you should use to avoid weather. Pick your route to minimize grades and still see what you want to see. Then use your 'spare' time to simply sit out any weather that is beyond your capabilities. Typically, road crews take less than 24 hours from the start of a storm to get the roads cleared off an fully open to traffic again. And Interstates get first priority on resources.

    One route you might want to look at that still keeps you relatively south but gets you to the Grand Canyon without the long climbs on I-17 out of the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix) and the Verde River Valley would be to start heading northwest out of Mobile, using US-98 and US-49 to connect with I-20 at Jackson MS. Those roads are four-lane divided highways for the most part. Then head west on I-20 to Dallas/Fort Worth. Take another northwest slice on US-287 (again, mostly four-lane divided) to Amarillo and I-40.

    You are still going to see a couple of passes on I-5 headed north around Mount Shasta and south of Ashland Oregon, but nothing you shouldn't be able to handle with a bit of patience. Speaking of patience, you'll need some for the kids and pets as well, so plan on taking a few 'fun and games' breaks each day in addition to the major stops that you build your trip around.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I'm pretty much stuck on the length of trip between San Antonio and Las Cruces. There doesn't seem to be anything (except El Paso) between the two.
    Not true - there are several hotels in Van Horn, and they are very reasonably priced. Hotels.com lists 8 of them, 7 of them national chains and all starting under $100 a night, even the Hampton Inn.

    You could also check on staying a night at Fort Bliss.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dimlight85 View Post
    I know Juarez is in Mexico but based on what I've read, the area directly across from it on the border has some pretty high violent crime rates.
    As I mentioned, El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States. That's not to say there aren't places in the city that don't have significant crime - but that's true of every major city in the Country. El Paso might not be your best choice of a place to stop, but avoiding it because of rumors doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    Is this specifically a military move? Some other military families on this forum have indicated it is usually difficult to actually take advantage of on-base lodging if you are traveling for personal reasons.

  9. Default

    Yes, it's a military move. I'm not banking on staying on base but will if I can. I'm finding it difficult anyhow to find base lodging that allows pets.

    I looked into the Mobile, AL to Jackson, MS to Dallas, TX, Amarillo route and actually kind of like the idea. Not to mention, it takes me through Monroe, LA where I would most definitely stop at the Duck/Buck Commander warehouse to get some photos with the Robertson's! We also have some family just outside of Dallas that we could stop in a see.

    As far as the weather, I'm not going to put myself in a dangerous situation in that regard and hopefully won't run into much at the end of March across that part of the country.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    AZBuck's suggestion of how to get up to I-40 is an excellent one. I-17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff IS very much uphill and a slow-go if you are towing. You would then have a different stop somewhere. (We've stopped in Van Horn. It does have a few hotels, but not a whole lot of choice in places to eat -- at least, not near the Ramada Inn where we stayed.)

    We are also one of the families who has attempted to stay in military lodging while traveling. PCS orders have priority at all lodges, especially those who are either about to depart or just arriving. Those en route seem to be a 2nd priority, so you might have better luck than us. We are retired Navy and haven't been able to use lodges at all while on our own vacation.

    One experience we did have with a lodge: we were flying into Anchorage on PCS orders. A few weeks before, we had called and made reservations at the Elmendorf lodge, then confirmed it before we left and drove our car up to Kent, WA, to be shipped to Adak. We took an expensive taxi from the Anchorage Airport out to the base lodge, and they said, "no, somebody came in with a higher priority than you and you got bumped." (Hubby was E-6 at the time and on PCS orders.) We showed them his orders, and they shrugged. THey DID allow us to use their phone to find somewhere else to sleep for the night. It is NOT easy to find lodging in Anchorage in July, as it is the height of tourist season! Fortunately we found a spot with a cancellation, and had to take another expensive taxi ride to get there. When we finally checked in at Adak, the next day, they told my husband that this happens a LOT. Of course that was 20+ years ago, and hopefully somebody else is running the lodges these days.


    Donna

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