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  1. Default Chicago to Portland Oregon in Jan

    My husband and son, flatland driver and new driver, are going to Portland Oregon in Jan. I have heard horror stories about snow and mountains and death. Could somebody calm a mother's fears and tell me the best and safest way to get there. They plan on making the trip over four days.

  2. #2

    Default Calming a mother's fears is a tall order............

    ..........but I'll try.

    Hello Mom,

    Mapquest says the most direct route is down to I-80 in Iowa, thence I-80 all the way across Nebraska and Wyoming into northeastern Utah, then I-84 across southern Idaho into Oregon, straight into Portland. The good news is there are virtually no mountains, per se, all the way to Ogden, UT (I've never been up I-84 into Idaho and Oregon). The not-as-good news is that I-80 across Wyoming holds high plateau elevations of over 6,000' virtually the entire way, tops out just under 8,000' just east of Laramie, and crosses the Contintinental Divide at 7,000' near Rawlins. That makes it subject to somewhat greater amounts of snow, ice, and wind.

    But given the alternative routes, none of which can even remotely ensure snow-free travel, I'd take the I-80 + 84 route in a New York Minute. Your travelers need to have a close look at the weather forecast for each day's travel as of early morning, and a look again at mid-day is wise. Such can be accomplished with a smart phone, a laptop computer, or by just visiting a truck stop's restaurant, where at least one of the TVs is always on the Weather Channel. By looking ahead, they'll be able to estimate the severity of any weather systems and will know when to grab a seat, a cup of coffee, and some pie and just wait it out for a few hours. The snow-removal equipment and skills of the operators in the Western states is nothing less than astounding, and it takes a near-Biblical snowfall to close I-80 for more than a few hours. And, only those most unwilling to prepare by looking ahead get caught out in a blizzard.

    And so what if they do find themselves caught out unexpectedly? A good sleeping bag, warm clothes, fully charged cellphone, and keeping the fuel tank topped off are pretty good guarantees of getting through a short-term stranding without long-term problems.

    So, no horror stories of snow and mountains and death here. Just some common sense, some rudimentary preparations, and a sense of adventure and they're good to go.

    And tell them to wave at me, won't you? I'm driving from North Carolina to Park City, Utah with my sons in late December, returning in January. No problem-O.

    Relax, Mom.


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