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  1. #1
    katemonster Guest

    Default Moving from Chicago to Seattle--need some advice

    So, I have just graduated from college and will be moving from Chicago to Seattle for graduate school. Originally, the plan was to get rid of most everything I own (which isn't that much) and fly as I don't have a car. But my parents have just impulsively decided that they don't need their old minivan anymore, and have offered to let me drive it out to Seattle and sell it when I get there on their behalf. I am actually really excited about doing this, but I've never taken a road trip longer than a single day before (and those, to visit relatives and planned and executed by my parents) so I could use some advice.

    First and most basic--how long should I expect this trip to take, minimum, if I go alone? (I may have another person with me but I don't know yet--how much extra time might this save?) I honestly just don't know, realistically, how long one person can spend driving in one day, and don't want to be trying to drive 15 hours or something if that's going to be a really dangerous thing to do.

    Second--I would like to go very minimal on accomodations--are there likely to be campgrounds along the way where I can sleep either outside in a sleeping bag or in the car--easily accessible and cheap? Is this safe? If I sleep in the car, will I risk death by heatstroke?

    Third--the vehicle in question is an eight-year-old Dodge Grand Caravan with 115,000 miles on it. Are there likely to be areas along the way (I'm thinking mountains, primarily) that would be too hard on this car? (the question being of course, "can it handle mountains?", not "are there mountains?") What can I do to be prepared for the possibility of it breaking down in Nowhere, ND on a Sunday where I have no cell phone reception?

    And fourth and more funly--along the quickest way there (presumably on I-90 through WI-MN-ND-MT-ID-WA though I had one site give me a route which went south of there, through SD and WY) what are the biggest things worth stopping for? I'm not really on a time limit here, although the sooner I get to Seattle the less I spend on accomodations and food and that is always good and important.

    Thanks much to anyone who has even had the patience to read all this, let alone answer any of my many many questions. I appreciate any help.

  2. #2
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default From a long-time 'one-way' roadtripper

    Quote Originally Posted by katemonster
    So, I have just graduated from college and will be moving from Chicago to Seattle for graduate school.
    First, Congrats on graduation and deciding to move to a beautiful city such as Seattle.

    Originally, the plan was to get rid of most everything I own (which isn't that much) and fly as I don't have a car. But my parents have just impulsively decided that they don't need their old minivan anymore, and have offered to let me drive it out to Seattle and sell it when I get there on their behalf.
    Actually, the best thing for your parents to do is to give you the car as a gift, and for you to go down and register the vehicle in your own name. You will of course need to get insurance, or for your parents to maintain the insurance (if possible). I say this because most states will not allow a person other than the registered owner to sell a vehicle. For instance, the title will need to be signed by the owner. By not having your parents transfer legal ownership to you, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Unless you are the legal owner, you will not be able to sell the vehicle or register it. Although it seems expensive, if the parent named on the title signs a bill of sale stating that it was a gift, you should only have to pay the registration fee, and not the tax. My father transfered the title of my car to me prior to my departing from Washington to Phoenix, it only cost me $25 to register it before leaving. Your state may be higher or lower, depending on their fees.

    I honestly just don't know, realistically, how long one person can spend driving in one day, and don't want to be trying to drive 15 hours or something if that's going to be a really dangerous thing to do.
    It all depends on your level of confidence as an operator of a motor vehicle. I myself scored very high on the driving exams and in my driving instruction school, and learned some little known tips from my father, an 18-year mechanic.

    If you are a very skilled driver, 15-17 hours/day would be no problem. I usually take only 2 days to drive from Central Washington to Phoenix, where many people would prefer 3 days of 8 am - 7 pm driving (in contrast to my midnight-1 or 2 am departures and 6 or 7 pm stop time).

    Second--I would like to go very minimal on accomodations--are there likely to be campgrounds along the way where I can sleep either outside in a sleeping bag or in the car--easily accessible and cheap? Is this safe? If I sleep in the car, will I risk death by heatstroke?
    First... I have never heard of heatstroke at night in the northern tier states you will be driving through. I rarely hear of it during the day!

    I would reccommend though, since this is your first trip, on staying in the economy motels (motel 6/super 8, etc.). They are clean and cheap, should cost you no more than $46-$50/night (may be less, you'd have to check their websites for details). In all my times of driving cross country relocating, I have never camped. Too many hours behind the wheel, then sleeping in the car or on the ground... i'd never make it. As far as safety in camping, I wouldn't know from experience.

    Third--the vehicle in question is an eight-year-old Dodge Grand Caravan with 115,000 miles on it. Are there likely to be areas along the way (I'm thinking mountains, primarily) that would be too hard on this car? (the question being of course, "can it handle mountains?", not "are there mountains?") What can I do to be prepared for the possibility of it breaking down in Nowhere, ND on a Sunday where I have no cell phone reception?
    I drove over 8 mountain passes (yes, 8... or was it 9.) between Wenatchee, WA and Phoenix, AZ via California... in a 1991 Chevrolet Lumina in which my father (remember, the mechanic) was concerned it wouldn't make it down here. Well, by taking some preventative measures (getting my car's fluids checked and changed, haveing the mechanic tighten bolts and other items, and me and my father replacing my rear breaks) we got down here fine, and mine finally died 2 months ago!

    Snoqualmie pass is not that bad... big rigs usually can do the entire pass at the speed limit (thats I-90 in Washington State). I don't know about the rockies in Idaho/Montana, but they shouldn't be much trouble, assuming you get the car checked prior to going (that includes belts, hoses, etc.).

    As far as cell coverage, most cell companies have made interstate highways a priority for couverage, and as such most have very few patches where you can't get a signal at all. If you stick to the interstates, you won't go very long without a state patrol officer stopping by.

    Another good advice for communications is a CB radio, which if you leave on channel 19 you can get information regarding road conditions or police traps, and even call for help (help calls are reserved for channel 9, but if after a few minutes you can't get anyone there, you can radio for help on 19. Most of the time some trucker will be abliged to notify the state police of your whereabouts.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

    Brad M.
    Last edited by RoadTripper Brad; 07-30-2005 at 07:04 PM. Reason: changed title

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Prices will be lower in Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by katemonster
    So, I have just graduated from college and will be moving from Chicago to Seattle for graduate school.
    Welcome to the Forum -- the advice provided by Brad is on-target -- a couple of other pointers:

    Vehicles that have "lived" in the east (and Chicago counts) are worth less on the west coast due to salt intrusion and rust. It is likely that your parents will get a better price for it locally. The main concern I have for this plan is the condition of the car -- if you have to stop and make repairs on the way, it could turn into more of an adventure than you expect.
    ...but I've never taken a road trip longer than a single day before (and those, to visit relatives and planned and executed by my parents) so I could use some advice.
    Well, you have come to the right place. For starters you might consider reading some of the roadtrip essays here.
    First and most basic--how long should I expect this trip to take, minimum, if I go alone?
    Well, by the most direct route, it is about 2065 miles and you would be wise to spread this over 3-4 days if you can. It could be driven in two days, but they would be absolutely killer days.
    Second--I would like to go very minimal on accomodations--are there likely to be campgrounds along the way where I can sleep either outside in a sleeping bag or in the car--easily accessible and cheap? Is this safe? If I sleep in the car, will I risk death by heatstroke?
    Generally temps in the northern states in August will be 95-100 degrees during the day and low 60's at night. I don't think heat stroke will be much of an issue for you. But it is imperative that you DRINK LOTS OF WATER AS YOU DRIVE.

    Mark

  4. #4
    siel Guest

    Default when are you leaving chicago?

    I will be driving a ford truck form chicago to north california we may have the same road to drive , if you want we can drive together follow me or i follow you we can help each other in case of a problem . i will be in chicago in august 20 , will leave chicago in the 3 or 5 days afterthe 20 of august means on ( 8/ 25 or 8/26)
    let me know
    siel
    Last edited by siel; 07-31-2005 at 03:48 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    You've gotten good advice so far.

    As for how long a person can drive safely....that depends on the person, the driving conditions, and even how that person feels on that particular day. I've had days where I've driven 18 hours with numerous very short stops along the way to quickly recharge my batteries. I've had days where 4 hours driving was more than enough. You really need to listen to what your body is telling you. There's a lot of good advice on how to do a roadtrip in the link the Editor gave you. I'll do some shameless self-promotion and advice you to read the "Art of the Speed Run" as it gives a lot of tips on how to drive safely over long miles/hours of driving. But ALL the articles there will give you great tips!

    Regarding accomodations....I'm one who usually camps (weather permitting). Of course, this depends on when you stop for the night. No one appreciates someone setting up a tent after about 10pm when folks are trying to sleep. Here are a couple of reasons why I prefer camping: (1) The act of putting up the tent gets rid of most any kink I've developed from sitting in the car. It just feels good to move. (2) I sleep better in a tent than I do in a strange motel room. (3) A campground lends itself to other exercise one doesn't usually get when staying in a hotel room. Even if it's quite late, I love taking a walk around the campground to check out the assortment of RVs/tents that people use, and to read the license plates to see if there's anyone there from far away. The walk is always a good thing to do after sitting/driving all day to get even more kinks out and to get your circulation going. (4) I'm cheap. Camping is safe, especially when you're in an established campground, so don't worry about safety issues. To be honest, depending on the amenities of the campground and if it's in/near a city vs. a more rural area, the fees for a campground might be almost as much for a room in an inexpensive hotel. I've seen where you can spend $25/night for one person in a KOA campground and spend $32/night for one person in a Motel 6 just a few miles down the road. So camping doesn't always save you a LOT of money.

    Via the Editor's link, check out the suggestions by Bob and Gen in the "Art of the Cheap Roadtrip". Both give good advice. Gen is a veteran of sleeping in her vehicle at truck stops. There's good advice there if you want to save money that way.

    Re your vehicle....any vehicle should have a good tune-up or, at the very least, have all fluids checked, changed or filled if needed, etc. before hitting the road. Don't forget to make sure your tires are inflated properly and that you know how to check this and do it yourself along the way. If a car has been well-maintained, there is no reason why an 8 yo Caravan with 115k miles wouldn't be road-worthy. Heck, my car has 110k on it and runs like a top. Of course, if the car has had mechanical problems, then your situation may be quite different. This is something only you and your parents can determine with what you know of the vehicle's history. You might want to invest in a AAA membership. Considering the areas you're going to be driving through, I'd go with the Plus membership giving you towing for up to 100 miles.

    The quickest route there would definitely be I-90/94 at 2068 miles. I have done this distance in 2 days but would recommend 4 days so you have a bit of time to stop and smell the roses along the way. If you could stretch it to 7-8 days, you'll have even more fun along the way.

    There are tons of things to see along the way. You will be going through fantastic scenery. What kinds of things intrigue you? Just a few things off the top of my head are the Copper King Mansion in Butte, MT; the groundhog village in Montana (but the exact location and name of this is escaping my brain right now...it's well-marked on the highway); Hagerman Fossil Beds in Hagerman, MT; Ginko Petrified Forest in Vantage, WA.

    Let us know how your trip went! Hope you have a great time.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-31-2005 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Add URL

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