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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    34

    Default Newbie requests help on solo trip across the U.S.

    Hello,
    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm hoping you'll be able to help me make my first trip across the U.S. a good one. I'm new at RVing and taking it slow. What I'm hoping for is to steer around heavy weather and steer clear of roads that are closed.

    What's the best method for staying ahead of troubled roads? While my Garmin 760 LMT routes me around roads known to be inappropriate for RVs, that doesn't help for roads that have closed recently. I have been able to find DOT local highway conditions for UT and CO. Is there a real time tool out there that will help a new navigator?

    What's the best way to plan for weather? The 10 day forecasts I have found are for cities rather than regions. My weather alert apps help me when local weather problems crop up but there's no sense in driving into a problem if simple planning can avoid it. What are the best tools for this job?

    At some point I step back and laugh at myself for taking so long to plan. I imagine experienced RVs have their route planning down to a science. I'd like to get on the path to that process. I'm not looking for shortcuts, I want to learn the details, the thinking behind them and take intelligent steps. What I don't want is to go around in circles, waste hours and days searching fruitlessly for information means and methods that are well known already.

    I'm hoping to develop a route planning process that efficiently gives me enjoyable and event free travels. For me, on this trip it's as much about what I don't want to see as what I do want to see.

    I'm ready willing and able to learn.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,734

    Default controlling what you can, and accepting what you can't

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I imagine experienced RVs have their route planning down to a science.
    This line really stuck out to me, because I really think it's at the heart of your problem: Planning your route isn't a science, and in fact, most people don't plan everything out to every last detail. There are people who don't make their plan until they wake up that morning - or change their plan because they feel like turning right instead of left.

    The beauty of being on the road is the ability to discover what's out there. People frequently come on this forum and ask things like, "tell me where to find the hidden gems," when by their very nature, anything that people would respond with is no longer a hidden gem. The hidden gems are what you find by allowing the road itself to be your guide, and stopping when something catches your attention - even if it wasn't in your original plan. If you are focused on scheduling out every last detail, you're going to miss a whole lot.

    I'm hoping to develop a route planning process that efficiently gives me enjoyable and event free travels. For me, on this trip it's as much about what I don't want to see as what I do want to see.
    If your goal is about efficiency and event-free travel, then you're kind of missing the point. If you are already focusing on what you don't want to see, then you have already closed yourself off to countless potential opportunities. At some point, you are just following a schedule and checking things off a list, now the beauty of a roadtrip is that you get to approach it anyway you'd like and if you want to schedule out every last detail you are free to do that, but to me, that's not really much of a roadtrip.

    I would strongly suggest you read this article (which is a bit like a mission statement for RTA): The Art of the Roadtrip.


    What's the best method for staying ahead of troubled roads? While my Garmin 760 LMT routes me around roads known to be inappropriate for RVs, that doesn't help for roads that have closed recently.
    First off, what kind of "troubled roads" are you expecting? With the exception of seasonal road closures, there are really not much in the way of large scale road closures. You may have construction, or perhaps a weather related issue, and in most of those cases there is a posted detour. Those sorts of things are also typically posted by the DOT road condition site, but honestly, it's really nothing that I ever worry about, so I really don't have a better answer than that.

    What I will tell you is that you should never blindly follow what a GPS tells you - especially in an RV, even if it will supposedly route you around routes not appropriate for RVs. A GPS is a great tool, if you take the approach that you decide where you want to go and how you want to get there, and then use the GPS to meet that goal. If you allow the tail to wag the dog, by just doing what the computer tells you, you can quickly find yourself in a place you shouldn't be, especially not in an RV. Paper maps are a fantastic tool that still can't be completely replaced by computers and GPS.

    What's the best way to plan for weather? The 10 day forecasts I have found are for cities rather than regions. My weather alert apps help me when local weather problems crop up but there's no sense in driving into a problem if simple planning can avoid it
    Again, I'm not exactly sure what you're hoping to find. Yes, most web/app based weather forecasts are generally based on cities, but the weather for a city is generally applicable for the region. The weather in Denver usually isn't much different than the weather in Colorado Springs. I'll also say that 10-day forecasts are barely worthy of being a rough guide - until you're about 3 days out, forecasts just aren't very accurate, and if you're concerned about severe thunderstorms, then you're looking at same day before you'll have anything even close to accurate (especially because you're typically talking about a pretty small area). Again, I don't have much more to tell you, because, other than a check of forecast for the area I'm planning to spend the night, especially if I'm camping, it's never something I've worried all that much about or every found to me that much of an issue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    34

    Default

    Thank you for your reply, Michael. For this trip, I'm a man on a mission. I have to be in New England by the end of the month. I had originally planned to give myself more time to meander but personal issues got in the way. Now I just have to make sure I get where I need to be on time. Once I've finished my business in MA I'll switch to sight seeing mode and enjoy the scenery with intent and gusto. The road closures I'm looking to avoid are the sort brought about by the heavy weather that's been visiting so many places. Just as an example, a few months back a section of The Pacific Coast Highway fell in blocking traffic in and out of Big Sur. Just the other day I read that flooding had knocked out some important roads near where I'd planned to go in Indiana. I'd rather have my surprises come with hats and horns at a party rather than blaring horns and shouts from fellow motorists in traffic. :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    397

    Default

    I'll check forecasts for several cities across a region to see the trend. For example I'll check Billings, Bozeman and Butte to see if there are any differences.

    Then I'll check the ten day forecast and move the regional weather predictions across time to see what the frontal activity is.

    That's to get a sense of regional.

    Localized actual weather can be dramatically different (sorry to differ on this). But Colorado Springs could be getting golf ball sized hail while Denver is in sunshine. Or in winter Denver can be getting 2 feet of snow while Ft Collins is in the clear sunshine. It's weather. It varies.

    Some things you can only have alternative plans for.

    Closed roads - there are seasonal (snow banks!) closures which are generally scheduled to be cleared. There is some variation as to when they actually get cleared depending on past snowfall. But in general, closed roads aren't common. But if you are trying to travel on a seasonally closed road you need to find an info source that's updated frequently and you need to have an alternate plan in case it won't be open during your visiting window. (I have experience with Trail Ridge Road across Rocky Mountain National Park of this type.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,734

    Default sweating the small stuff

    If you are just on a mission to get across the country quickly, then certainly that is a completely different kind of trip - and certainly different than the kind your original post implied by talking about planning an RV trip with lots of sightseeing. If you just have to get across the country, then you just have to get across the country.

    But the overall points are still largely the same - you're worrying about pretty insignificant things.

    You still don't have to plan out everything perfect - especially if you've got enough time to include some sightseeing along the way. If you've only got 6 days to make it across the country - then really the only things you need to focus on are finding the fastest route and appropriate, even-spaced places to spend the night. If you've got more time than that, then you also have more time to deal with the unexpected, should it come up.

    Yes, there can be road closures due to severe weather, but they are very unlikely to affect you. The Big Sur closure is unique because of its unique location and geography that make it impossible to get there from with other routes. The road closures you mentioned in Indiana effect a small number of state highways in a small part of the state - any of which it would be very unlikely that you'd use. And even there such closures are listed on the state DOT website, and I'm sure that there are detours posted. On the list of 1,000 things to worry about, I'd put this somewhere around 792, with the odds of simply being delayed for a couple of hours because of a crash and traffic congestion being dramatically higher.

    The same is basically true in regards to weather. As I mentioned, severe storms themselves are generally pretty small in area. As NoFanofCB mentioned, it certainly is possible for Colorado Springs to be getting a storm, while it is still sunny in Denver - but the point is that weather forecasts just aren't that specific. If there is a chance of a storm in Colorado Springs, most of the time the weather forecasts (especially any forecast more than a day in advance) are just going to say there is a chance of storms in both places. Certainly, if you're going to be traveling across a state, it makes sense to look at the forecasts in several cities across that state. But in any case, the odds of having weather dramatically impact your trip - especially since this is a spring/summer trip - are very small. Trying to route yourself around the potential for bad weather is often counter productive any time of year, and if you do find yourself driving when a thunderstorm pops up, find a safe place to pull over and wait for a little while until the storm clears.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,122

    Default

    I have been able to find DOT local highway conditions for UT and CO. Is there a real time tool out there that will help a new navigator?
    Safetravelusa.com has a clickable map which links to each state's DOT website.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    34

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Safetravelusa.com has a clickable map which links to each state's DOT website.
    Thank you noFanofCB,

    That is exactly what I was looking for.

    I look forward to being able to return the favor down the road.

    Openmind

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    397

    Default

    That was glc who posted the link.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,692

    Default

    As a former RV'er, here are a few things that stick out for us as lessons learned:

    * Never turn into a place without carefully looking over to see how you are going to get out. (Canada's rest areas are not always easy for an RV'er to exit. US interstate rest areas are far better planned for long vehicles!)

    * Park in the back of a supermarket or discount store's parking lot and walk. It is less likely that someone will block you in. Try to park so that you can easily pull out forward.

    * If you travel on interstates, when you must go up or down a grade, there are usually signs to warn you, and an extra "climbing lane" to use.

    * If you are on a 2-lane road, and you are the leader of the pack and you have 5 or more cars behind you trying to get around, try to find a safe place to pull over and let them around. It's not always possible, however.

    As far as road closures, detours and construction zones are concerned, you've been given some very good advice. I wouldn't sweat construction zones. While we live in an area with year-round construction possible (I go through two construction zones in 20 miles on my way to/from work every day), the rest of the country isn't so lucky. There are two seasons: winter, and construction. Detours will happen, and are usually well marked. If you are traveling on a road with many commercial truckers, you know that the detour has to take them in mind, so you will be okay too.

    safetravelusa.com is a good site to use. Many states have 511 as state highway information, which I find is handy since most of us travel with a cell phone these days. I find my Garmin GPS doesn't always warn me about a traffic snarl until I'm already in it, so I don't really use that device very much. (It's also been known to tell me to turn the wrong way down a one-way road.)


    Donna

  10. #10

    Default

    This National Weather Service map shows about a week's worth of forecasts for many weather characteristics. Explore the options, move the time bar, zoom in.
    https://digital.weather.gov/

    Another useful tool:
    https://weather.com/maps/planner

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