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  1. Default Route 66 in late fall/early winter

    I'm in the beginning stages of planning a two-week trip on Route 66 from Chicago to New Mexico, or possibly as far as part of Arizona around Thanksgiving time. I'll either be driving straight from New York, or flying to Chicago and driving back East.

    Are there any spots on the route that are particularly problematic at this time of year? I posted another thread under the gearing up advice column, asking for help choosing the right rental car.

    Overall, how is this time of year for travelling Route 66? Will a lot of things be closed that are must-sees? Are there any side-trips that I should consider?

    Weather-wise, are there passes that will be likely to be blocked out because of snow conditions? I won't be going as far as Oatman, AZ this time, but I didn't know whether possibly New Mexico might have some problematic mountains to climb.

    Is it possible to sleep in a car at this time of year, or should I not even consider such a thing even as a backup?

    Thanks for any and all advice!

    Susan

  2. Default All-weather route

    Welcome to the Forum, Susan!

    As much as any road can be, the I-40 corridor is an all-weather route. That said, you CAN run into inclement weather in the midwest or west at any time after September. The later in the year you go, the more likely the encounter. Winter, however, doesn't get into full swing until late December and January. So, you could luck out and get great weather in November. Or not. Not even the weatherman can give you more precise information than that this early, other than to predict whether it will be a wetter or dryer than normal year. You have to decide whether it is worth it to take your chances.

    Al of us have our favorite attractions along the way. My bent is toward history and natural landscapes. Along Route 66 (which is not a complete road across the country anymore, I assume you already know this), I like the Lincoln sites in Springfield IL, the Gateway Arch, Westward Expansion Museum and the great wineries along the Missouri River bottomlands out by St Charles/Defiance, MO.

    Farther west, see the National Memorial at the Murrah building site in Oklahoma City. Carol White posted some great information on this site on a different thread just today. There are also some great cowboy museums in Oklahoma. In western Oklahoma, visit the Black Kettle battlefield on the Washita River.

    In New Mexico, take a side trip to Lincoln County to learn about how Billy the Kid lived and died there, and see Smokey the Bear's grave at Capitan (south of your route). Or, visit Santa Fe and Taos if that appeals to you (north of your route). You could ride the aerial tramway to the top of Sandia Peak at Albuquerque, and/or visit the Acoma Pueblo (west of Albuquerque) and learn a little more about the pueblo culture of ancient New Mexico.

    Petrified Forest is not to be missed, and I also recommend Hubbel Trading Post and Canyon de Chelly which will both be north of your route in eastern Arizona. It can be very cold in that area if the weather isn't cooperative (also in the Santa Fe/Taos area). Finally, there's lots of great things to see and do around Flagstaff, AZ.

    As I said, this road typically stays open all year (although it can close for short durations when a blizzard hits any specific area). There aren't too many "passes." It could very well be too cold to sleep in your car -- but you can find economical motels all along the route, especially in the smaller towns. Bob

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

    Default

    You've gotten great advice from Bob on traveling/places to see, so I'll address the sleeping in the car issue. If you really must sleep in your car to save money in order to make this trip, be sure to pick safe places to park for the night.

    Gen, a frequent contributor to this forum, advocates sleeping at major truck stops where truckers frequently overnight in their rigs. These places are open 24-hours so you will have bathroom facilities, etc. You can usually take a shower there for a small fee (sometimes free). Gen recommends that you let a waitress or clerk know that you are sleeping in your car. She has found that they are helpful and will keep an eye on you to help ensure your safety.

    If you are concerned about getting cold, you might want to consider getting a propane catalytic heater. I've never used these in a car but I've read they are safe for enclosed places. Personally, I would crack a window just a teeny bit to ensure you are getting some airflow if I used one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    9,358

    Default Heater Safety

    I checked Coleman's website and the manuals for their catalytic heaters, and among the 12 warnings are the following:

    6) This appliance consumes air. When used in any inside area, provide a fresh air opening of at least 3 square inches (19 square centimeters). Do not use other burning appliances inside.

    7) Never operate the heater while sleeping.

    8) This heater gets very hot, but no flame is visible. Keep all flammables (tents, sleeping bags, etc.) at least 2 feet (0.6 m) from heater.

    Even granting that these may just be a way of limiting the manufacturer's liability, I think I'd take a pass on trying to keep warm in a car with one of these.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    Default

    Oops...thanks for that, AZBuck. Coleman sells an "emergency kit" for use in a car that includes a catalytic heater, blankets, etc. Since it is marketed specifically for situations when you are stuck in a car, I had made the assumption that it was considered safe for in cars. While I did note that I would crack a window if using one, that's probably not enough to ensure safety. I won't make that recommendation to anybody anymore. (Oops....and I just did it in another thread. I'll go back there and change that post.)

    Thanks again. Wouldn't want to put anyone in an unsafe situation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default I do not like them, wuss I am

    Sorry to rain on your parade. I spent 15+ years working in hospital emergency rooms as well as several years working for Uncle Dupey, and safety has been built into me. BTW - from another manufacturer of catalytic heaters:

    Of course in our proud litigious society the product doesn't come without a long list of disclaimers. After reading the instructions and all of the ominous warnings you may be scared to use the BlackCat at all. It comes down to following two golden rules, keep everything at least two feet away, and provide at least six square inches of ventilation.

    I just don't see how you can keep the heater two feet away from everything in a car.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Oh, it was a parade that deserved to be rained-out. I'm very glad that you did the research I neglected to do.

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