I moving from NYC to San Francisco over Thanksgiving and need route advice. I've read several threads but still can't decide since it's too early to forecast the weather and I've never driven west before.
Here are the factors
1. Need to stop in Chicago (taking I-80 from NY)
2. Driving a 1990 V8 cargo van containing sport bike (400 lbs) and personal belongings (mostly clothes - no heavy furniture)
3. Have about 4-5 days (plan on doing 700-800 mile days)
4. Driving partner/passanger is a woman who would like to "see" a few things along the way
5. I'm a good driver (drove Chicago to Phoenix in 26 hrs...) and don't mind the cold or snow. Ice is a different story.
My main concerns are
1. Vehicle reliability (if it breaks, where's the nearest town?)
2. Snow/ice/wind (think...cargo van)
3. Elevation (again...weighed-down cargo van)
I've never taken I-80 west so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of elevation/weather in the western part of the country. I know it's the most direct route, and probably the least scenic, but is it the safest? Again, I don't mind snow all that much, but I don't want to loose time due to road closures.
I'm also seeing posts about I-40 not being that safe in the winter, but keep in mind I'm talking late Nov here. I've only taken it as far as Flagstaff so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of weather conditions and elevation west of there. Plus this way adds about 300 miles to my trip.
I don't know much about I-70 either, but I figure it won't make much difference in this case since I'll still have to go north or south when I hit Utah
Any general suggestions?
Which way is flatter, and is the difference significant?