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  1. Default Washington DC metro area to Nothern California

    Hello guys - My husband and I are moving to Northern CA end of September and needed some help planning out our trip. We did the southern route last year and we would now like to try out some other route. We will have 7 days to cover this trip. I understand that we wouldn't have time to visit around much but I'd like to add in some and I would love to go through South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore but not sure if it is possible with the options that I have come up with. I need suggestions on what we can visit (if anything) on each of these stopovers and which one is the preferred route in your opinion. My goal is to be able to get to West coast within 7 days understanding that we will be crazy tired at the end of the trip and most of the days we would just get to the hotel and pass out. But at the same time, I'd like to be able to enjoy and get the best out of it as much as possible (probably the last cross-country drive that we will ever do!) and potentially be able to visit some small portions of the cities that we stop-over in. We love exploring food, so any restaurant suggestions are very welcome.

    Here are the 2 routes we have come up with. The breakdown is by where we'd like to sleep over.
    ROUTE 1 (Through SD):
    1. Washington Metro area (can't start from here until 4:30pm)
    2. Charleston, WV - 5.5 hours
    3. St Louis, MO (stopover at Louisville, KY) - SPLIT of 3 hours 40min and 3 hours 50min
    4. Sioux Falls, SD (stopover at Kansas City, MO) - SPLIT of 3 hours 41min and 5 hours 17min
    5. Douglas, WY (Stopover at Rapid falls, SD) - SPLIT of 4 hours 36 min and 3 hours and 14min
    6. Salt Lake City, UT - 6 hours 55min
    7. Lovelock, NV - 6 hours
    8. Northern CA - 4 hours


    ROUTE 2 (Through NE)
    1. Washington Metro area (can't start from here until 4:30pm)
    2. Charleston, WV - 5.5 hours
    3. St Louis, MO (stopover at Louisville, KY) - SPLIT of 3 hours 40min and 3 hours 50min
    4. Kearney, NE (stopover at Kansas City, MO) - SPLIT of 3 hours 41min and 4 hours 49min
    5. Laramie, WY - 5 hours 17min
    6. Salt Lake City, UT - 5 hours 42min
    7. Lovelock, NV - 6 hours
    8. Northern California - 4 hours

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Things You (and I) Need to Know

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First you need to realize that if you can't leave the DC area until 4:30 in the (very) late afternoon, you don't have seven days for this trip, you have six. While getting a few hours down the road will help - a bit - it really doesn't count as a 'day' which typically means eight full hours actually behind the wheel during a ten hour driving day.

    Still, you can have an enjoyable and fairly relaxed drive out to California. I'm assuming you're going to Sacramento, so if your destination is different, you will either have to tell us more exactly than 'northern California' or make adjustments as needed on your own. But you will have to make a choice between making your stops in Louisville and Kansas City OR going through Rapid City and seeing Mount Rushmore. Trying to do both is really starting to push it, taking this from an enjoyable cross-country RoadTrip to a marathon slog.

    Also, and this is very important, you are obviously getting your estimated driving times from a software-based mapping program. Those numbers are a fantasy; software doesn't understand reality. It assumes that you can drive at or above the speed limit for every second of every minute of every hour that you're on the road; that you will never need to slow down for traffic or construction; that you will never need to stop for gas, or for food, or to use the bathroom; that you will never even get tired or just need to take a break and stretch your legs. As a fairly simple rule of thumb, add 20-25% to the times you get from your software to get a more realistic sense of how long it will actually take you.

    So before I can offer you any specific recommendations I'd need to know your choice of stops as mentioned above, your destination, what your driving style and endurance is like, and what general types of things you might find interesting.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default A word from experience...

    You say you can't leave until 4:30. But the reality is, chances are, you won't get out until 6 pm, or maybe even later. The other reality is, if you've had a full day of work or from packing up, driving for "5.5 hours" also isn't likely. You're going to be tired. If you are tired, try to drive too long, you are going to exhibit the same type of behavior as folks do who drive drunk. Not a very safe way to start your move to a new place. My brother and his wife tried to get away at that hour and had initial plans to drive till 10 pm. They didn't get out till 6, and they drove for 2-1/2 hours and got a motel. They said it was the right thing to do. Like you, they had to get up and drive the next day a long way, so they needed rest.

    If this were my trip, I'd pick one or two things that I wanted to see along the way, and make the rest of the trip about moving. You won't regret it. That is what my husband and I did when we were first married and moving from the midwest out to Arizona: we chose one thing, and the rest of the drive was about driving. Our one thing was White Sands National Monument in NM.



    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Limit sightseeing.

    Like Donna, the several times I have driven cross country, relocating vehicles, I had 7 - 9 days each time. I chose one or two points of interest I wanted to see along the route I chose, and for the rest it was just driving, roughly equal distances each day.

    Probably the most important thing is that you leave sufficient time to have good nourishing meals, and a solid night's rest.

    Lifey

  5. Default

    Thanks for your replies!

    @AZBuck - Yes, while I understand the driving times are not going to be exact and could vary, I needed some numbers to come up with a plan but thanks for your advice - I'll add 20-25% to the those times.
    Also, we love seeing historical sites and eating good food. Destination is around the Yuba City area.
    To give you an idea about our endurance: Last year when we did the Southern route, we did about 10-11.5 hours of driving first 3 days and 6-7 hours, the last 2 days. At the end of the trip, we were exhausted but switching every 2 hours and entertainment along the way helped a lot with keeping us going without feeling sleepy while driving.

    @All - Agreed, we talked about it and we think we can add another day to our trip and start early in the morning instead of late in the afternoon.
    Listening to everyone's advice - We'll limit our sight seeing but do you guys have any suggestions on the route? I am kind of leaning towards Route 2 because its shorter but not sure where to stop over! What places do you suggest along this route? Do the stopovers make sense?
    Also, Is end of September safe to drive though these routes?

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

    Default Plan a marathon.

    Quote Originally Posted by nuance View Post
    To give you an idea about our endurance: Last year when we did the Southern route, we did about 10-11.5 hours of driving first 3 days and 6-7 hours, the last 2 days. At the end of the trip, we were exhausted
    I am not surprised that you were exhausted. A trip such as this needs to be planned in the same manner a marathon runner plans a race. Doing 11 hours those first three days exhausted you, and you did not have time to recover properly.

    Be sure when you plan this trip that you plan equal driving portions on each day. Don't take a sprint on any day. No marathon runner ever would, if he were planning to complete the race. So plan even days, work in your sightseeing into those days, and make sure you have your meals and your bed time at around the same time each day.

    That should have you arriving with a bit left in the tank to unpack and set up your new home.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Routing and Pacing

    First, I think you've made the better choice by not trying to include Mount Rushmore in this RoadTrip. Anytime you are planning a major effort on limited resources, your first job is to allocate those resources. That is particularly true of time which you can't just arbitrarily get more of. Since you've only got six and a half days available to you and five days of solid driving to get to your destination, you've only got a day and a half to spread among your various stops. Assuming you spend a half day each in both Louisville and Kansas City, that only leaves you a half day to spend at one other major stop. So that pretty much means that your route and timing are largely decided for you.

    That's especially true for the first half of your journey. By all means try to get a bit of a head start out of the DC area on your first night, but don't rush your departure or plan to get too far down the road before stopping to get a good night's sleep. Morgantown WV would be my target if I were doing this. That would set you up to be able to get to Louisville on the afternoon of the second day and spend whatever time you need to, as well as the night, there. Then a decent start in the morning would let you get to Kansas City that evening. Spend time with whomever you want to see there the next morning and get on the road just after lunch and you could be in, say, Grand Island or Kearney NE for your fourth night.

    That leaves you three days to finish up your drive to Yuba City, a drive that can be comfortably done in two and a half days. So where would you like to spend that 'spare' half day. Two possibilities stand out to me given your stated interest in history. The first would be to make several stops throughout western Nebraska along the old route of the Oregon Trail, spend the night at Cheyenne WY, and then cruise into Yuba City with one final overnight in Salt Lake City. The other possibility would be to just enjoy the views of the Oregon Trail country as you drive steadily to get to west central Wyoming, around Rock Springs or Green River. Do the same the next day, pulling up in Winnemucca NV. And then spend some quality time in and around Virginia City before finally finishing up in Yuba City that evening.

    However you finally decide to allocate your time, you will have to make shorter stops for R&R breaks, and you'll have the time to do so. These needn't be (and really can't be) long, but there's no reason that they can't be enjoyable. Just to give you an idea of the sorts of places you can stop here are a few along and near the Interstate System.

    AZBuck

  8. Default

    The Black Hills and Mount Rushmore itself is amazing. You can see Crazy Horse and the Devil's Tower right near there as well. Whether stopping forces you to drive an extra hour each day, do it. It's worth it. Road trips don't need to be meticulously planned out. Where's the fun in that? Just drive. Stop when you want, but give yourself time limits at each place. Trust me, it'll be way more exciting when it's spontaneous.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default My preferred way.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Grteat American Roadtrop Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Worldtraveler1001 View Post
    Road trips don't need to be meticulously planned out. Where's the fun in that? Just drive. Stop when you want, but give yourself time limits at each place. Trust me, it'll be way more exciting when it's spontaneous.
    Couldn't agree more. I far prefer to be surprised by things along the way, of which I knew nothing, than to have a list of things I 'must see'.

    Lifey

  10. Default

    Thank you so much AZBuck - very nice suggestions and advice! You have been a great help and I feel like this is quite a reasonable and do-able plan compared to what I had before!
    Thanks again for taking the time to reply back and I will definitely incorporate your suggestions within my planning.

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