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  1. Default Urgent help needed: route west to east coast with low elevations under 4000 ft

    My daddy is critically ill and I am on the West coast. I am unable to fly as I have a serious heart condition. I also can't travel above 3800-4000 feet of elevation, MAX. Is there ANY WAY to drive from Seattle, WA to Beaufort, SC area without going thru high elevations. Even if I have to zig zag the whole country to get there.

    Please help, I am desperately needing a miracle!

    Thanks you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,411

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I'm really sorry, but there are no roads that don't go over 4000 feet between Seattle and the east coast. I would speak with your doctor about portable oxygen and take a flight. This will minimize your exposure time. You have to cross multiple mountain ranges no matter what route you take.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,216

    Default no available routes - check with your doctor.

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but it is not possible to get from Seattle to the eastern US without going up above 4,000 feet. You are going to have to cross the continental divide, and there is not any place where that is 4,000 ft or below.

    The flattest route would generally be recommended would be to take I-90 across Montana and South Dakota and then start cutting your way diagonally towards SC. I-90 stays at a relatively low elevation, but even that goes up to 6,300 ft as it crosses the rockies.

    The actual flattest route would be to follow US-101 and drive along the Pacific Coast all the way until you get to Los Angeles (I-5 goes above 4,000 feet both going over the Siskiyou Mountains at the OR/CA border and again going over the Grapevine just north of LA). From there you'd take I-10 all the way across the country, however, even that doesn't meet your criteria, as I-10 gets up to 5,000 feet in eastern Arizona. Of course, that route also would take a lot more time too. Following I-90 is about 3000 miles, and could safely be done in 5-6 days, while going down to I-10 adds nearly another 1000 miles, and most of those extra miles are on the slow going PCH, so you'd need about 10 days just to safely cover the miles.

    I think what you really need to do is consult with your doctor about your options. I would be shocked if the medical community doesn't have some solution that would allow you to fly or travel above 4,000 feet (i.e. I would hope whatever condition you have wouldn't be fatal for someone living in Colorado!), but if your only solution actually is to stay below 4,000 feet, then your only option is to find a ship that will take you through the Panama Canal.

  4. Default

    Coincidentally I was on a Qantas flight about 1 month ago that wouldn't let a lady on the plane with an oxygen bottle (that was after having got thru security) and she had permission from her Dr. I would get an ok in writing from an airline if you plan to fly.

    Is train an option then perhaps you could constantly use a bottle on the higher elev.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,671

    Default

    The actual flattest route would be to follow US-101 and drive along the Pacific Coast all the way until you get to Los Angeles (I-5 goes above 4,000 feet both going over the Siskiyou Mountains at the OR/CA border and again going over the Grapevine just north of LA). From there you'd take I-10 all the way across the country, however, even that doesn't meet your criteria, as I-10 gets up to 5,000 feet in eastern Arizona.
    If this trip is to take place any time soon (like this week), the first part of this advice might be very, very difficult, if not impossible. The Thomas Fire has affected US 101 in the Ventura County area, and parts of I-10 are affected by the other fires. Even if the roads are open (as most are), the air quality up there is horrid.


    Donna
    south of the Lilac Fire in north San Diego County.

  6. Default

    Check with your doctor if supplemental oxygen would be appropriate for you. Passenger compartments are pressurized to about 6000 to 8000 feet elevation.

    True, you cannot take bottled oxygen on a flight, but a number of oxygen producing devices are specifically allowed under DOT regulations: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel.

    So, check with your airline to make sure your device is approved.

    Good luck.

    Here is an example from SPIRIT airlines.

    Notice you'll have to do your homework regarding unit size restrictions, extra batteries, seat assignments etc etc.

    https://customersupport.spirit.com/hc/en-us/articles/202096766-Can-I-bring-my-Portable-Oxygen-Concentrator-on-board-

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,429

    Default Planes and Trains, and Oxygen and Pressure

    First a little bit about oxygen levels at various 'altitudes'. Obviously, the amount of air in a given volume decreases with altitude (until you get to about 65 miles above the Earth's surface, where 'space' begins'). As there's less air, there's less oxygen. By law, if you are piloting an aircraft above 12,000 feet you must be on supplemental oxygen. Even if you are a passenger you must be on supplemental oxygen above 14,000 feet. Pressurizing the interior of the airplane counts as supplemental oxygen. But aircraft cabins are usually only pressurized to the equivalent of about 9,000 feet. That's fine for most people, but not for you.

    So airlines face a conundrum. Their cabins are at lower pressure than exists at sea level while your oxygen bottle is pressurized. That pressure difference is thus going to be greater in the cabin at altitude than it is at the airport where you go through security. TSA is looking for bombs and other weapons. The airline is concerned that you oxygen bottle may not be strong enough to handle the increased pressure difference while in flight, especially if the bottle is already pressurized to its maximum capacity at ground level. They simply can't trust that your oxygen bottle is up to the task.

    What an airline does about that problem is a matter of internal and FAA safety requirements, and each airline can and does have different policies. When my wife and I flew on British Airways a number of years ago, they required her to purchase supplemental oxygen from them (at a ridiculously exorbitant price!) Travelingman has pointed you to Spirit Airline's policies and an alternative method of producing supplemental oxygen. You will need to check with whatever airline you consider to see what their policy is, and then see if an oxygen generator can be bought or rented at a reasonable price if it is allowed.

    Travel by train should not present the same difficulties because trains don't get as high and because you'll have a bit more room for whatever equipment you should need. Travel by car avoids most of the difficulties, because you are the ultimate arbiter of what goes in the car with you, but is much, much slower than the two other possible modes of transportation. But as others have pointed out, trying to go 'around' all the mountains between Seattle and Beaufort would add considerable mileage, time, and stress to such a RoadTrip. If you have your own oxygen bottles (2 at least, so you can use one while re-filling the other) and know how to refill them en route, then perhaps your best bet is to just follow the most direct all-Interstate route and provide your own supplemental oxygen.

    AZBuck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    316

    Default

    I have no experience in doing this but it seems that if the issue is lack of oxygen that there are two domains.

    One would be medical oxygen the other is aviation breathing oxygen.

    I understand that aviation oxygen rigs might be capable of being rented similarly to medical equipment and perhaps might even be cheaper for a trip. A difference is that the aviation oxygen would not be humidified.

    But the advice to call the airlines and get the story in writing would be the best approach.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,411

    Default

    Let's also look at this - your dad is critically ill. Do you have the TIME to drive or take a train? If I were in your shoes, I'd be calling airlines right now to sort out the oxygen issue and making reservations.

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