Gents and ladies-
What a pleasure to find this forum. I've done some reading of older threads and it appears this is the place to post this particular set of questions. First, some background:
My 20 year-old son is a US Navy Seabee presently deployed to Guam. He returns to his base at Port Hueneme, CA, in October and will then come home to NC on leave. The return trip will be the road trip, as he'll want to retrieve his beloved 4WD pickup truck for use on weekends in California over the next several months in homeport. He has agreed to take me along to share the driving and to spend more time together on this leave. For a variety of reasons, he'll be wanting to keep the pace stepped up, but he will plan for there to be some "wiggle room" schedule-wise in order to assure he gets back to base within the prescribed time allotment. With all of that, he wants to plan to arrive one full day before the last day of leave (ie: two days before he reports back to work) and he wants to plan to take one full day longer than the quickest practical time frame. He's a 20 year-old military man, 10' tall and immortal, and I'm a 52 year-old former geologist with many cross-country trips under my belt, so we've collectively got some ability to both push it and enjoy a bit of scenery along the way. So, the questions:
Leaving from Raleigh, NC, we plan to take I-40 all the way to Barstow, CA. I wonder if there are major construction projects featuring multi-mile lane closings along the way. My experience with various state's DOT websites as to "current construction projects" has been miserable, having tried to become aware of just this kind of info, only to find the sites woefully out of date. I keep detailed maps and GPS aboard and like to bushwhack around traffic problems whenever I can, and it helps to have a notion of where they'll be.
We'll need to get the majority of the trip behind us before starting to consume some of the "wiggle room" and sightsee. Neither he nor I have been to the Grand Canyon, and I see it's only about 60 mi north of the I-40 corridor. I don't figure on repeating the scene from the "Vacation" movie, where Clark Griswold stops there for mere seconds, but I do wonder if it would be enjoyable to literally "stop by" for a couple or three hours. Thoughts?
Ditto the Hoover Dam a little farther on from the Grand Canyon. We have no interest in Las Vegas, but it appears US 93 runs fairly flat and straight from I-40 to the dam. Having done that, it seems that heading on to Vegas to pick up the I-15 belt routes around to I-15 South back down to Barstow is the logical route. Does that bring me too close to major traffic issues at Las Vegas?
Once south of Barstow and approaching the Los Angeles basin, we'll be headed for Port Hueneme, near Oxnard, well northwest of LA. Various routing services say to enter the LA basin and take CA 210/ I-210 across the northern part of the basin, through Pasadena, thence CA 134 to US 101 through Thousand Oaks and on to Oxnard, where the base is located at Port Hueneme. But, I am always suspicious of "directions" from the likes of Mapquest (no offense) and have looked favorably at leaving I-15 at Victorville, thence CA 18 towards Palmdale, thence CA 14 to I-5 a little south of Santa Clarita. From there, it'd be CA 118 through Simi Valley, then Moorpark and Camarillo and Port Hueneme itself. The goal would be to avoid urban/suburban congestion on the LA Basin freeways, but if bushwhacking from Victorville to Palmdale or the Palmdale to Santa Clarita represents too many towns, stoplights, and lousy roads, it might be just as well to bite the bullet and stick to the freeways. So, some inside knowledge of Southern California and comments on the above would be very useful.
So, sorry to be long-winded, but comments, observations, and critique of the notions expressed here would be greatly appreciated.