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  1. Default Jacksonville FL to Whidbey island WA advice

    hello, i am an active duty navy service member who will be driving from jax FL to whidbey island WA next weekend, i believe i have a good route picked but came across this site and figured i can never run short of advice. Some things to know i am on a bit of a time crunch thanks to the movers, but will have my GF with me as a second driver. We plan to start the 10th and absolutely need to be there by the morning of the 18th but much sooner is our goal. I myself have done a solo drive from jax FL to connecticut and back in the winter and 2 shared drives from jax to new york and back in the summer, all completed same day as departed, however that was east coast driving with frequent ability to stop for fuel and lighted roads i understand this will be much different. I currently have it laid out that our first leg is from Jax to dallas TX, stop for the night/day and take a full 12-18 hours to rest (i should mention given we are both navy we are quite used to a 12hr work shift and then only 12 hours to rest), Then take a easier drive the next few legs with day 2 being dallas to denver, stop for 12 hours or so then denver to boise ID, same stop and then finish it out last day to whidbey island. Google maps has this being a 14hr first leg, 2 12Hr legs, then a 9hr last leg but of course this is under best conditions/no traffic/no stops. The GF and i plan on trading off every 2-3 hours as she has never really distance drove before. My main concerns is fuel stops between the dallas to denver and denver to boise legs, it appears to go through some very flat/desert like areas and my car is a 14 GT mustang that at best on the highway will reach about 250 miles a tank. I should also mention we will have our cat with us which is why partly why we dont want to drag the trip out and would rather try to get it done quickly but safely. looking for advice and input on if there is a better way to get to WA, i would prefer to avoid the northern route that google throws at you right away and has you go through dakotas/montana for what seems like forever.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I've got to tell you, you need to seriously rethink your plan here. What you've proposed is very, very dangerous and includes some major mistakes.

    First, you appear to be falling victim to fantasy times offered by online mapping programs. The times google is giving you assume you'll never have to stop or slow down for any reason, be it gas, food, traffic, etc.

    Jacksonville to Dallas is nearly 1000 miles. In the real world, that's 18-20 hours on the road in good conditions, and way too far to go in a single day. Your "easier" legs of 800 miles a day are really not any better.

    Second, you seem to also be falling for a very dangerous myth that having 2 people driving significantly increases how far you can safely travel in one day. The fact is that the act of sitting in a car for hours upon hours is fatiguing. For professional drivers, an hour sitting in a passenger seat is treated the same as an hour sitting in the drivers seat.

    Following the safety rules that professional drivers are required to follow, you need to go back to the drawing board. At a little over 3000 miles, you need to plan for a minimum of 5 full days on the road. 600 miles per day is the maximum distance you should consider traveling each day - as it is, that will be a solid 10-12 hours on the road - and again, roughly within the safety guidelines that professional drivers are required to follow.

    While those guidelines will be very important for your safety, I'll also note, they'll also be important for your cats comfort. Most cats will kind of shut down while in the car for long periods of time - where they won't eat, drink, or use the litter box - until they get into a more comfortable situation, like a hotel room. Asking your cat to do that for more than 10-12 hours at a time really not a good idea for their health or comfort.

    Finally, the great thing about a roadtrip is that you can take any route that looks interesting to you, so going via Dallas and Denver is fine. However, that does add a couple hundred miles to the overall trip, including some fairly long sections of non-interstate highways, which does mean more time, on a trip where getting there ASAP seems to be the top priority. Finding gas should not be an issue anywhere on your trip -rarely will there be a gap of more than 50 miles - as long as you paying attention to you maps you shouldn't have any problems in that regard.

  3. #3
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    Welcome to RTA! Thank you for your service!

    MWMichael is right on in his comments about gasoline and mileage. This is a 6-1/2 day trip, not to be measured in hours but in days. It's around 3200 miles! You are correct in that you need to treat it like work, but think of this as a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your days fairly even, around 500 miles per day.

    That said, your first overnight would be around Hattiesburg (taking the route you wanted to take through Dallas and Denver), your second would be in Dallas (staying on the northwest side to avoid morning traffic), your third would be in Clayton, NM. Your fourth could either be in Denver, if you need to stop to see somebody, or in Laramie, WY. Assuming you are stopping in Laramie, the next overnight would be around Twin Falls, ID. You'll have to stop somewhere between Twin Falls and your new home of Whidbey, and if it were my husband and I, we'd take the interstate that follows the Columbia River Gorge and stay somewhere along there, such as Carson. That would be your final stop before the new place.


    Donna

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome to RTA! Thank you for your service!

    MWMichael is right on in his comments about gasoline and mileage. This is a 6-1/2 day trip, not to be measured in hours but in days. It's around 3200 miles! You are correct in that you need to treat it like work, but think of this as a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your days fairly even, around 500 miles per day.

    That said, your first overnight would be around Hattiesburg (taking the route you wanted to take through Dallas and Denver), your second would be in Dallas (staying on the northwest side to avoid morning traffic), your third would be in Clayton, NM. Your fourth could either be in Denver, if you need to stop to see somebody, or in Laramie, WY. Assuming you are stopping in Laramie, the next overnight would be around Twin Falls, ID. You'll have to stop somewhere between Twin Falls and your new home of Whidbey, and if it were my husband and I, we'd take the interstate that follows the Columbia River Gorge and stay somewhere along there, such as Carson. That would be your final stop before the new place.


    Donna

    i dont need to go to denver, when i rough planned it out i chose denver rather than heading to grand junction as i wanted to avoid long stretches of desert and potentially no gas areas. the mentioned route is seemingly better however is there a faster method of the sections that come after dallas? 8 hour 500 miles legs seems fine and doable with our time scale, i just want the shortest method to WA thats not the montana/dakota route. id appreciate scenery but cant really afford to drive to far out of the way to get it and cant really stop anywhere for long other than a hotel due to the cat.

  5. #5
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    If you want the shortest route that doesn't go through the Dakotas, then you shouldn't be going through Dallas or Denver.

    Instead, you should go up through Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, and Kansas City. From there go up I-29 and use the NE-2 shortcut to get to I-80, across Nebraska and Wyoming.

    That route isn't much different in distance than going through the Dakotas - although, I'm a bit curious as to why you are so opposed to the Dakotas and Wyoming.

  6. #6
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    When I was looking at your overnights, I used the route that included Dallas and Denver. At 3200 miles, it wasn't the shortest route, but it did use both US-49 (not particularly slow; we've used it) and US-287. The shortest route actually takes you through Atlanta....awful traffic. Basically, I-75/I-24/I-57/I-70/I-29/I-90. That would mean St Louis and Kansas City traffic as well.

    If you took that route, your first stop would be around Monteagle, TN (506 mi). Second would be around Columbia, MO (515 mi). Third would be Mitchell, SD (560 mi). Fourth would be Sheridan, WY (515 mi), St Regis MT (545 mi) and the last day into Whidbey Island, 490 mi. This puts your days all between 500 and 560 miles (10-11 hours), almost every bit of it is interstate (faster travel), but does not avoid Atlanta.

    From St Louis to Columbia is about 2-1/2 hours in good traffic. Plan your departure from Monteagle to be early enough in the morning to get into St Louis around 2 pm and you should be okay. Most of the decent lodging in Columbia is at exits 128 (US-63) and exit 124 (Stadium Blvd). Eateries abound in both areas, in all budgets. When we leave Columbia heading west, we leave around 6 am, then pull into Blue Springs and have breakfast at the IHOP, exit 17, while the traffic goes by. Your exit to take the belt loop, I-435 north, is another 8 miles down the road.

    An alternative to going through Kansas City would be to take US-63 (exit 128) north up to Macon, then take US-36 west to St Jo. It's pretty well freeway quality all the way. I-70 can have some very heavy trucking traffic.


    Donna

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    When I was looking at your overnights, I used the route that included Dallas and Denver. At 3200 miles, it wasn't the shortest route, but it did use both US-49 (not particularly slow; we've used it) and US-287. The shortest route actually takes you through Atlanta....awful traffic. Basically, I-75/I-24/I-57/I-70/I-29/I-90. That would mean St Louis and Kansas City traffic as well.

    If you took that route, your first stop would be around Monteagle, TN (506 mi). Second would be around Columbia, MO (515 mi). Third would be Mitchell, SD (560 mi). Fourth would be Sheridan, WY (515 mi), St Regis MT (545 mi) and the last day into Whidbey Island, 490 mi. This puts your days all between 500 and 560 miles (10-11 hours), almost every bit of it is interstate (faster travel), but does not avoid Atlanta.

    From St Louis to Columbia is about 2-1/2 hours in good traffic. Plan your departure from Monteagle to be early enough in the morning to get into St Louis around 2 pm and you should be okay. Most of the decent lodging in Columbia is at exits 128 (US-63) and exit 124 (Stadium Blvd). Eateries abound in both areas, in all budgets. When we leave Columbia heading west, we leave around 6 am, then pull into Blue Springs and have breakfast at the IHOP, exit 17, while the traffic goes by. Your exit to take the belt loop, I-435 north, is another 8 miles down the road.

    An alternative to going through Kansas City would be to take US-63 (exit 128) north up to Macon, then take US-36 west to St Jo. It's pretty well freeway quality all the way. I-70 can have some very heavy trucking traffic.


    Donna
    hmm going over both routes the first one seems a bit more ideal, it honestly doesnt seem that much longer but it does seem to have more of a scenic route rather than the revised one. As long as its not a heavy traffic route i can consider it, plus going over the stops it seemed more likely to have hotel availability in the cities mentioned being that they are more major cities. We have talked and it looks like we plan to leave the hotel by checkout time in the morning every day and drive to the next city and the proposed times seem to line up not being too late to get to the next place and get a room.

  8. #8
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    We have talked and it looks like we plan to leave the hotel by checkout time in the morning every day and drive to the next city and the proposed times seem to line up not being too late to get to the next place and get a room.
    Check out time is often around 11 am. If you plan to leave at 11 am and drive for 10 hours, you're looking at arriving after dark, 9 pm. That's certainly do-able, but the drawbacks are that you'll have to do dinner "on-the-fly" along the road, and you might want to have reservations for overnights due to later arrival.

    Also among your choices, of course, are whether to stay in larger cities (where there is more choice) or smaller towns (less choice, but often a quicker get-away in the morning). If you choose to stay in a larger city, stay on the far end of town so that you don't have to fight rush hour in the morning.


    Donna

  9. #9
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    If you're worried about lodging choices - and with a cat, you might need to be - you will definitely want to do reservations so that you can secure pet-friendly lodging.

    Hattiesburg - Motel 6, almost always pet friendly!
    Dallas - Motel 6, ditto!
    Clayton - Days Inn, Super 8
    Laramie, WY - Motel 6, Days Inn, Ramada, and more
    Twin Falls - Super 8, Shilo Inn, Motel 6

    Monteagle, TN - Motel 6
    Columbia, MO - there are a number, including Motel 6, Super 8
    Mitchell, SD - Days Inn, Ramada, Motel 6
    Sheridan, WY - Days Inn, Motel 6, Super 8
    St Regis, MT - Super 8

    I used BringFido.com for this information for you. Some of those properties may require a deposit (refundable), but they were all referring to dogs. You'd have to research deposits for cats.

    Since this is a military move, be sure to save your receipts and mark on the back of them, what they're for (lodging, food, gasoline). You may be eligible for per-diem and this will probably be what they require. Talk to your PCS specialist in the personnel office and, perhaps, the Disbursing office, too.


    Donna (wife of retired sailor)

  10. Default

    Id like to start out by saying thanks for the advice, i am currently in clayton NM and getting ready for tomorrows leg to laramie. Few questions any advice for the next 2 legs? The lack of scenery and civilazation from dallas to clayton had me a little worried in the event of a breakdown/other. After leaving dallas it got super flat and the route ended up taking us what seemed like off the beaten path at points with single lane roads with zero other cars around. Clayton to laramie seems easier than dallas to clayton with gas stops in trinidad, co springs and denver.

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