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  1. #1

    Default Philly to Oregon Coast in January

    Hello all,
    My first post because this is a big one. I am an older woman and I'm driving from Philly to Oregon with my dog to stay for a month on the central coast (Yachats). The plan is to leave on the 1st and arrive in Central Oregon on the 4th or 5th. I know that's a lot of driving every day, but I love to drive. This will be my longest trip and the most risky, weather wise.

    Right now, it seems it will be just me and my Westie, and driving alone, in the winter, across the country, is either insane or will be a blast. Weather is going to be a huge factor and after studying the map, I'm not sure which is the best way to go. If I take 10 it will take forever. 70 goes right through the heartland with too many mountainous areas. Rt 40 and then make my way up 5 to 126?

    I'm going to join AAA and I have road service as part of my extended warranty but I'm driving a 2001 SAAB and more than a little concerned about finding parts for my quirky car should something happen. My car runs fine and is so comfortable, but it's a SAAB. I was thinking of renting an SUV for the trip. Is this worth the expense?

    I would share the driving but can't connect with anyone who can/wants to do it with me. I dread posting for a companion on a forum. I'd rather drive myself then get stuck in the car for 4 days with someone I want to push off a cliff after a few hours together, ya know?
    Any thoughts, tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Too much worry for a crap shoot

    Greetings Visualgirl, welcome to the forum!

    I really think you're worrying too much about what is essentially a crap shoot, especially when it comes to weather. Interstate roads are the first to be plowed and are usually the best kept roads even when the weather gets a little dicey. I'm personally one for straight lines. I don't like the notion of veering too far in any direction to bypass anything. Diving south can bring you into 'warmer' weather, but that's not always the case. The Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, and I-40 through Arizona are known to get their fair share of snow. I-5 north over the Shasta-Cascade area in Northern California/Southern Oregon also poses a potential problem as that area gets a lot of snowfall. I think your best bet is to take the route that is most direct.

    As far as your car goes, the number of people driving imports has actually helped with the availability of parts. Except for maybe a small town in the middle of nowhere, any decent sized city should either have any spare parts that would be needed on hand, or at worst, a 1 day wait from the nearest larger city. That in itself shouldn't be a worry. If you get your car checked out prior to leaving and get a clean bill of health, you should be fine. I've driven a 1991 Chevrolet Lumina from Washington to Arizona with no problems (and that was 2004), so your 2001 SAAB should have no problems if it is still in good condition.

    Unless you're going off-roading, an SUV would actually be a disservice to you, fuel economy wise.

    I would suggest getting a NOAA Weather Radio to help with your trip while on the road, it's the best way to get good weather reports.

    After looking at the maps again, I really think the biggest challenge you may have is getting from I-5 to the Oregon Coast, especially if they get another 1-2 punch like they did just a few weeks ago. Again, this is a time to watch the weather, talk to locals, and don't feel odd about pulling into a Sheriff's station or State Patrol office and asking the road conditions ahead. They'll let you know what highway is best to take to Yachats, but I might point you toward US 20 as it appears to be a better road, but I haven't driven it myself, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Again, I'd try to stick with straight through. I-10 may sound good, but it gets bad weather too. We've had a lot of rain here in Phoenix recently, and I just think it's too far to dip south until you know exactly how bad the weather is.

    Just my 2 cents!

  3. #3

    Default straight lines

    Hi Brad
    Appreciate the response! Any and all suggestions welcome.
    After posting last night, I checked airfares! I almost worried myself out of the challenge.
    I, too prefer straight lines when travelling but I am leery of the most direct route which is 80, I think. I'm at work and am doing this post via iphone so not looking at map. But this is so far north. Still debating.
    Sharing the driving is also an issue. It's a lot of miles.
    Checking with the police is excellent advice and I will be able to check weather, assuming a good signal, on the phone or a computer, for NOAA reports.
    the car will definitely be checked out the week before I leave. I know my car, though, and have had a few little surprises in the past, which is why I was considering a rental.
    I have to do this trip, so have to figure it out soon.
    BTW, the return trip has no time table as of now, so can enjoy a leisurly ride back home.
    thanks again, brad. Looking foward to more
    Last edited by visualgirl; 12-13-2007 at 12:49 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Do you want ice or snow to deal with?

    According to the many experienced roadtrippers here, the more northern routes are often the best routes to travel in the winter. They are most used to potential winter storms and have more equipment to keep the roads safe. Our Editor, who lives in Vegas which is very close to I-40, says he avoids driving it in January because of the bad ice that is relatively common there during that time. Another thread on this forum is currently discussing the horrible ice storms that can hit Texas and other southern states in the winter. In other words, going south may not be an advantage. Even the most southern route, I-10, can get icey at this time of year. I-80 is a major route for truckers. They have the equipment necessary to keep the roads open most of the time.

    Any area can have a storm. So it's good that you'll have access to NOAA.

    I think it's best to go the shortest route and watch for weather news. Allow yourself an extra day or two, if needed, to hold up if a particularly bad storm comes along and closes the highway for a day or two.

    A good front-wheel drive car should function just fine. You don't need 4-wheel drive for most ice/snow conditions. In fact, I'm biased against them. Maybe it's just where I live but, when we have ice, most of the cars on the side of the road waiting for a tow-truck are SUVs. I think it's the false sense of security people driving these have to blame. They forget to drive carefully because they foolishly believe that 4WD are safer. Not true. If you don't adjust your driving to the conditions, 4WD won't save you. And I think there's something to be said for being familiar with your car, how it functions and responds.

    Check out the "Gear Up" section for tips and hints about things you will want to have in your car. Carry chains and practice putting them on before you leave. And check out these links here:
    Bob's Winter Driving Tips
    Mountain Driving Tips

    Enjoy the trip. You should be just fine.

  5. #5

    Default Advice

    Thank you, Judy. Great advice. After reading your post, I realized that while I fear the trucks, they ARE the ones on the road all the time and it probably is best to follow major truck routes. This winter seems to be starting to be very stormy and so I will just keep my eyes and ears open for conditions.
    This is going to be a fun challenge!
    I used to live in New York State and have driven many a time in poor conditions. I just think trying to get there within a 4 day time frame is making me more anxious than the actual drive.
    I will be fine and I will enjoy the trip! 8-)

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