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  1. Default Washington DC to San Fran with a dog!

    Hello All -

    My wife was just transferred from her job in DC to San Francisco, and we are planning on making the road trip over 5-6 days in mid April. Unfortunately, this is mostly a "utilitarian" drive. We will be driving a rented SUV. We are mid-30's professionals, and we have done a good bit of driving all over the country, so I am not overly concerned about 10-12 hour days of driving. I have done a meandering cross-country trip over 3 months, but that was obviously a very different planning process. Because we probably won't have a ton of time for stopping, some decent window scenery would be nice! Complicating everything is that we will be bringing our 120 lb dog. So here are my questions:

    1) Which route, the I-70 (Northern) or I-40 (Southern) route has better scenery? and;

    2) Are there any suggestions for dog-friendly stops along the way? Motels, parks, or anything that may keep our buddy from wanting to jump out the window?

    Thanks for the help already, and for future comments!

    -Patrick

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,509

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    If you plan on your days being about 500 to 550 miles, that should be plenty of mileage to feel like you're getting somewhere, and give you relaxing time out of the car to walk the dog, etc. You can use an electronic mapping program for getting distances, etc., but beware of using their fantasy travel times. Always add 20% time to those, or just divide your distance by 55 miles, to get your average travel time (550/55=10 hours, for instance!).

    1) Well, of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But if this trip were my husband's and mine, we would say "I-70". Between Denver and the end of 70, in Utah, is some of the most gorgeous scenery that any interstate in the US gives us: the mountains just west of Denver, and the San Rafael Swell area between Green River and Salina, UT. That latter 108 miles has quite a few scenic pull=outs. Humans beware, though, that most of them have dog-walk areas but no human potties. :-) You'll have to take another route to get into San Francisco. I'd recommend doing US-50 across NV if you can, or going up I-15 to catch I-80 if the weather patterns in Nevada don't look good. US-50 is a little slower, "the loneliest road", but more direct. It will take you to I-80 anyway, up and over Donner Pass, and west into San Francisco.

    I-40 is scenic in its own way, but is probably a bit more mileage for you. Going up to 80 would be another option, but it takes you through the traffic of Chicago (yuck) and is not nearly as beautiful anyway.

    2) Pet friendly lodging usually includes Motel 6 and La Quinta Inn. Others are hit-and-miss. The 120 lbs might be another limitation. You will have to figure out how you are going to handle meals out, however, as most motels (M-6 and LQI included) don't usually want you to leave Fido unattended in the room.

    Most of the interstate rest areas have dog-walk areas, and most states are even courteous enough to provide plastic bags for you to clean up your pet's mess. There are city and town parks almost everywhere. Hays, KS had a lovely city park not far from the interstate, and if memory serves, had a nice area for dogs, too. But that's just one example.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,326

    Default That "-" Makes a Big Difference

    When you say that you "are planning on making the road trip over 5-6 days". that hyphen between the five and the six is a huge change on a trip of this magnitude. The fact is that by the shortest possible all-Interstate route, this trip will take five full days. If you want to 'detour' and use I-40, then you will need more than five days (but less than six). If you were planning on using the I-40 route to enable you to see the Grand Canyon or make any other major stop, then you would need a full six days or more. The rough numbers on miles per day that Donna gave you are right on. While you might have been able to do a bit more on an occasional one day sprint, this trip is going to be a marathon and fatigue is going to accumulate throughout. By the end of it you are going to be exhausted.

    And don't be lulled into the common fantasy that because you have two drivers you can go faster or farther. Neither is true. Indeed, you will perforce maintain a slightly slower average speed, because at a minimum you will have to stop more often (whenever either of you needs food or a bathroom) and each stop will take longer (dictated by how long it takes the slower of you to complete the purpose of the stop). And both those situations are only made worse by the presence of a dog. More importantly, any 'sleep' you might get while sitting in a moving car will be fitful at best and will rob the driver of his co-pilot/navigator as well as the possibility of playing some music to help keep alert.

    In the end, though, I wouldn't use either I-40 or I-70 exclusively. Rather, I'd try to 'thread the needle' through the Ohio country and Midwest by using I-270/I-70/I-76 out through western Maryland to I-79 north, connecting again with I-70 around Washington PA. That is a nice, scenic route and avoids the tolls (and the booths) on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Then at Indianapolis, I'd switch over to I-74/I-72 through Champaign IL to Hannibal MO. US-36 across northern Missouri is not an Interstate, but is near-freeway quality, and using it lets you avoid both St. Louis and Kansas City while still picking up I-29 north at St. Joseph. Use IA-2/NE-2 to make the connection between I-29 and I-80 at Lincoln NE, ad then follow I-80 all the way to San Francisco.

    Finally, stops along the way. You are going to need to make stops other than just at roadside 'Rest Areas'. All of you are going to need several short breaks each day to stretch your limbs, take your mind off the road, and just plain relax in a quiet setting if you want to make this trip enjoyable. All the more reason to both keep the route as short as possible and to add that sixth day if possible.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,219

    Default

    using I-270/I-70/I-76 out through western Maryland to I-79 north, connecting again with I-70 around Washington PA.
    Buck made a typo - it would be I-68, not I-76. This also avoids tolls.

    Then at Indianapolis, I'd switch over to I-74/I-72 through Champaign IL to Hannibal MO. US-36 across northern Missouri is not an Interstate, but is near-freeway quality, and using it lets you avoid both St. Louis and Kansas City while still picking up I-29 north at St. Joseph. Use IA-2/NE-2 to make the connection between I-29 and I-80 at Lincoln NE
    Another option is stay on I-74 to I-80. This adds about 40 miles over US-36 but is 100% freeway and still avoids STL and KC.

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