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  1. #1

    Default Relocation - Portland, OR to Chicago late 1/16

    Hi everyone! Found this website earlier today while doing research for my upcoming road trip and loved what I have read so far. I gained bits and pieces from various threads, but it left a few unanswered questions that I was hoping I could get some help on!

    I will be driving back to Chicago from Portland, OR later this month and plan on taking it slow, approximately 4 driving days (3 nights). I've done both the I-90/94 and I-90 routes, but neither during the winter months. Which one would you recommend? I've heard it both ways.

    I recently put all-season tires on my '14 Mazda 6 (less than 5k miles) however I do not currently own tire chains. Various places have suggested whether or not it is required. Being strictly a work-driven trip, I don't plan on deterring from the interstate system.

    Assuming that I am driving solo (am trying to get a friend to fly out and drive back with me), I planned accordingly to assure that I don't over-drive in possible bad conditions. Ideally it would be a Wed-Sat trip... Sunday can be used as a floater if needed. What places do you suggest staying in? This is somewhat driven by which route is the most preferred. Just looking ahead, seeing as how there isn't much after Billings for quite awhile, has anyone done a similar trip? The two times I've done this drive it has been with someone else in the summer so this is a bit of a different mind-set. Weather withstanding, I thought a PDX-Rapid City-Rochester-Chicago trip would be pretty evenly split up.

    Questions are welcome.
    Thanks!
    -Bryan

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

    Default And Now For Something Completely Different

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's actually too early to tell you which route to take because we simply don't know anything yet about the deciding factor - the weather. On a trip where nothing matters other than getting to the destination safely, safety is obviously your biggest concern. So, the best advice anyone can give you at this point is to wait until no more than a couple of days before your departure and then check the weather along your possible routes, and only then decide which way to go. The other thing to think about is this: If the weather is bad enough to require chains, do you really want to be out in it? Or would your time be better spent relaxing in a nice warm motel room and only getting back on the road when the crews have cleared the highway, the sun is back out, and you can safely travel at highway speeds rather than crawling along dodging slipping and sliding semis.

    One other thing. I-90 and I-94 are not your only, or even your best options. There is a third option that is roughly the same distance as the two you have driven before and that is I-84 down to the Salt Lake City area and I-80 east from there. I-80 across Wyoming can be subjected to some high winds, so that's something else you'll want to check in the weather reports besides just temperature and chance of precipitation, but it does offer a significant alternative if both I-90 and I-94 are looking questionable. Overnights on that route would be roughly Twin Falls ID, Laramie WY, and Omaha NE.

    AZBuck

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

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Sounds like you've put in some good research. At around 2200 no matter whether you take 90/94, 90, or swing down to 80, you're right to plan this in 4 days and have an extra day to spare to sit tight in case the weather blows in. If this were my trip, I'd start watching the weather forecasts about a week before your trip, and decide the day before you leave, which will work. The fact is, all three routes can see bad weather. Each of the three routes has its pros and its cons. But one may have much better weather forecasts than another.

    Have maps (paper ones) or an atlas with you in your vehicle. This will help you if you run into an unexpected weather front and you need to divert to another place, or just decide you've got to hole up in a motel earlier than you expected. (If you have to take 94, that could be dicey. There is an oil boom up there, and I believe it goes year-round. Workers often stay in hotels during the week, driving the prices up *and* making for less vacancies. (Nice for the hotel owners, bad for the motorist trying to get a room at the last minute.)

    Others will chime in, no doubt.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 01-03-2016 at 09:23 PM. Reason: 80, not 90, as third alternative

  4. #4

    Default

    Hmm, good points. Should I be waiting to book rooms until a few days before as well?

    With regards to your third route, I've read about how the northern-most routes are usually better because it is drier and there's less mountainous-road to travel (is that a word?). I will definitely look into it, if anything it might be a little warmer going that way?

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome to RTA!

    Sounds like you've put in some good research. At around 2200 no matter whether you take 90/94, 90, or swing down to 90, you're right to plan this in 4 days and have an extra day to spare to sit tight in case the weather blows in. If this were my trip, I'd start watching the weather forecasts about a week before your trip, and decide the day before you leave, which will work. The fact is, all three routes can see bad weather. Each of the three routes has its pros and its cons. But one may have much better weather forecasts than another.

    Have maps (paper ones) or an atlas with you in your vehicle. This will help you if you run into an unexpected weather front and you need to divert to another place, or just decide you've got to hole up in a motel earlier than you expected. (If you have to take 94, that could be dicey. There is an oil boom up there, and I believe it goes year-round. Workers often stay in hotels during the week, driving the prices up *and* making for less vacancies. (Nice for the hotel owners, bad for the motorist trying to get a room at the last minute.)

    Others will chime in, no doubt.


    Donna
    Oh yes, I didn't think about ND in the winter with the oil boom there. Good to know.... Thanks!

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

    Default All That Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by frescoelmo
    Hmm, good points. Should I be waiting to book rooms until a few days before as well?
    Whenever weather is going to play a deciding role in choice of route or timing of stops along a route, which is to say whenever weather is going to be considered, you are generally better off not making reservations. Instead, make miles when the sun is shining and relax off the road when the snow flies. Other than in western North Dakota, as Donna noted, there are more than enough roadside motels that you should be able to find a comfortable room easily. There is a tendency if you have a reservation to push on into worsening weather just because you've got a room up ahead.

    Quote Originally Posted by frescoelmo
    With regards to your third route, I've read about how the northern-most routes are usually better because it is drier and there's less mountainous-road to travel (is that a word?). I will definitely look into it, if anything it might be a little warmer going that way?
    "Usually" and "a little warmer" are meaningless. The only thing that matters is the weather along the specific routes at the time you are driving. If it's snowing along I-84 and sunny on I-94, then I wouldn't take I-84 just because it's 'usually' warmer, nor if the opposite weather conditions were in effect would I take I-94 because it's less mountainous.

    AZBuck

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Whenever weather is going to play a deciding role in choice of route or timing of stops along a route, which is to say whenever weather is going to be considered, you are generally better off not making reservations. Instead, make miles when the sun is shining and relax off the road when the snow flies. Other than in western North Dakota, as Donna noted, there are more than enough roadside motels that you should be able to find a comfortable room easily. There is a tendency if you have a reservation to push on into worsening weather just because you've got a room up ahead.



    "Usually" and "a little warmer" are meaningless. The only thing that matters is the weather along the specific routes at the time you are driving. If it's snowing along I-84 and sunny on I-94, then I wouldn't take I-84 just because it's 'usually' warmer, nor if the opposite weather conditions were in effect would I take I-94 because it's less mountainous.

    AZBuck
    Got it, thanks man!

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