SC to CA - mostly RT 66?
A friend of mine is moving from South Carolina to California next month, we decided to drive her car rather than have it shipped. I just booked my flight up to SC (from FL) and we leave as soon as I get in, on March 16th. My flight departs San Francisco to go back to FL on the 21st.
We had talked about driving up to St. Louis the first night to stay with friends and also stopping in Los Angeles before heading up to Pleasanton, our destination. So with those stops in mind, I was thinking Route 66 would be a great route from St. Louis. Of course, the problem I am coming across is mapping it out. Google maps wants to put us on I-44 until past OKC to I-40. I know RT 66 runs parallel to it, but from what I understand the route isn't well-marked anymore and it might be more of a pain than a pleasure to stick to. I'm assuming when we lose cell and GPS coverage, it might be a better option to stay on 44 and 40, since we'd be less likely to get lost.
Are there parts of I-44 that are old RT 66?
I'm a photographer, so I'll be taking a couple medium format cameras, a wide polaroid, and my DSLR because living in Florida I am so deprived of real Americana to photograph. I'd love to have the ride across America be more than just being on a major interstate with billboards to tease the eye.
I'd be so grateful for any tips or ideas to make this journey enjoyable and safe. Thank you!
I think you are getting the trip off on the wrong foot the very first day. You didn't say where in SC you will be leaving from, but from Columbia to St. Louis is 750 miles, which is a bit too far to safely try to do in one day.
St. Louis to LA is over 1800 miles via fastest route, which roughly parallels old 66, but that's 3 long days on the road with very little, if any, time for getting off the Interstate to do any kind of sightseeing.
Of course, LA to Pleasanton is close to a full day too, and that would be taking I-5 which really has nothing scenic to offer. 101 is a couple hours longer and is a lot more scenic drive. To take CA-1 up the coast would require 2 days.
Tips to make this an enjoyable and safe journey? Add 2 days.
Some Serious Caveats
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Before adding things to your drive, there are a couple of things that you're going to need to come to grips with. The first is your plan to drive to St. Louis in a single day. Columbia to St. Louis is 750 miles and that is more than can be done in a single day, even with two drivers. At the very best, you'd arrive at your friend's house late at night (or early in the morning), tired and out of sorts - hardly an enjoyable 'guest'. If you hope to have a good time there, or ever be invited back, do them and you a favor by taking two days for that portion of the trip. That would let you take your time getting started on the first day, and make some stops along the way at places like Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Nashville, and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
The other problem is, as your mapping routines are trying to tell you, is that US-66 doesn't exist anymore. It was decommissioned over 25 years ago. Certain portions of it are now being signed locally as "Historic Route 66", but trying to follow those portions for any considerable distance will require serious paper map navigation. No on-line mapping database contains info on a highway that doesn't exist. Certainly there are roads other than I-44/I-40 from St. Louis to San Francisco (old Route 66 went to Los Angeles in any event), but you'll have to give your mapping routine some instructions. Most such routines allow you to specify the kind of route you'd like. See if there are options for 'avoid Interstates' and/or 'shortest distance' rather than just 'quickest'. Also, see if your program allows 'drag and drop' where you can just click on some portion of the route and force it to go where you want rather than where it thinks most people would go.
There is an RTA section that is dedicated to route 66 links and resources that might be useful. You can find it here.
I was under the impression that Los Angeles to Pleasanton is around six hours, even with traffic I can't imagine it taking a full day. I've been passenger on that route before and we made it in seven. We are mainly stopping in to see friends for a quick bite before going to her new home.
I frequently make the trip from Port St. Lucie to Nashville by myself in a straight drive. There has only been one time that I stopped along at a rest stop to nap because I was tiring. We're leaving Columbia, SC (my hometown) and when I lived in Nashville I easily made the drive to and from. As well as the drive to and from FL and SC. Eight to twelve hours is not a big deal for me as a single driver, let alone the fact we'll share the weight. I drive a lot for my job and know when its time to pull over and rest.
I'm not interested in visiting attractions or exploring for this trip, as much as being around interesting views when we stop to gas up and grab food. The thought of 66 was more of a question, which has obviously been answered. It was more of a Plan B.
We had a Plan A of taking a more Southern route through LA, TX, NM, AZ and avoiding St. Louis altogether. It would probably be better to avoid any late-winter weather by taking the southernmost route anyway. It just hit me that I should look into the possibility, 66 is something I can do another time without the deadline lingering over my head.
Thanks for the advice.
LA-Pleasanton in 6 hours
Feasible with a couple of caveats:
1) Depends on where in LA you start from and whether you hit commute traffic on your way out
2) Depends on whether or how often you stop (I like Harris Ranch for a lunch break, esp if you're into beef)
3) Depends on whether you go with the flow of traffic on I5 or adhere to the speed limit. (People regularly exceed the speed limit). 75 or 80, if you're willing to risk a ticket, is not uncommon for several hundred miles on I5. This is NOT a recommendation. But this is a low-traffic, two-lanes each way, straight as an arrow bit of roadway with a LOT of people cheating over the limit. The CHP is aware of this and does not condone this, so you take your chances.
4) Depends on whether or not you can stand 6 hours of not much to look at.
5) Depends on whether or not you hit morning commute hitting Pleasanton (unlikely, unless you left LA after midnight). Evening commute is mainly the other direction.
For the rest of the crowd: Pleasanton is about an hour closer to LA than San Francisco; you hit Pleasanton before any traffic (except in the morning).
Driving 750 miles in one day is not a problem - but when you are traveling cross country, doing it day after day is a whole different story. This is why professional drivers are generally limited to about 600 miles.
You can drive from Columbia to LA, fastest way, in 4 days. That's I-20/US-78/I-40/I-15. Suggested overnights would be Memphis, Amarillo, and Flagstaff. You would have time to take the longest stretch of old 66 that still exists between Seligman and Kingman AZ.