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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,837

    Default San Diego to Denver in mid-February!

    Our son-in-law has recently got a new (and better) job in the Denver CO area. He's currently working by telecommuting, and will be taking our daughter on a "house-hunting" trip later this month. Then, in mid-February, the four of them, plus hubby and I, will be moving them up there permanently. (Part of this makes me sad, but like I said in someone's else's post, the cost of housing here in San Diego vs paychecks don't always go well together. Denver will be a good move for them, though I will miss them a lot!)

    Hubby has the truck-driving experience, so he will be driving a U-Haul type vehicle (brand yet to be chosen/reserved) towing a car on a trailer, 4-wheels up. I'm taking some time off work and will ride side-saddle with him, besides being the designated route-motel finder. The "kids" have the responsibility of packing, loading said truck, and are so grateful not to have to worry about the things we'll do. They are driving their SUV crossover with their two boys, ages 5 and 1-1/2. They'll have their hands full with the boys, another good reason for grandma to ride along.

    There are three basic routes to take, and we intend to take 3 days (a 4th if needed) to drive any of the three. Daughter has a friend who is a meteorologist willing to give her up-to-the-minute weather reports starting a week before we go to depart, so we will choose based on weather:

    1) I-15 to I-70 is basically the shortest route. However, it has two very big CONS to it in the winter. One is that it gets over 11,000 ft in elevation. That's why the ski areas are so popular. The other is that long 6% downgrade into Denver. Hubby drove that towing our 5W, years ago, and said he would never tow that again. So this is probably not in the running, though it is 200 miles shorter than the other two routes.

    2) I-8 to AZ-85 to I-10 to Loop 202 (?I think?) to I-17 to I-40 to I-25. A little longer, the only pass I see that could be "interesting", and that's Raton Pass. As I told my daughter, when you move to a place on the other side of the mountains, you're going to have to go over said mountains. MY QUESTION HERE: What's the grade like going northbound out of ABQ through/over Raton Pass?

    3) I-8 to I-10 to NM-(something) to I-15. This is definitely the longest of the routes, but is "only" 50 miles longer than route #2. We are familiar with I-8 and I-10, but none of us have driven I-25, ever. QUESTION HERE: Is there any major difference between using this route, vs. Route #2, for climbing? I know I-17 has some grades. Obviously, there's some climbing between Tucson and Lordsburg on I-10, but how are the grades on I-25 to get from Hatch NM up to ABQ? (We'd have the same question from Route #2 with this route, too.)

    We are very excited for our family members, and anxious to try to help them out as much as we can since his new job is not funding the move (sad).

    Thank you to those I contacted via PM, too -- we are going out later this week to see what kind of deal we can get on the moving truck. Our area has some medium sized U-Haul and Penske dealers. (Budget is anything but, from what we've seen online.) Any more words of advice on that would be helpful.


    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,520

    Default

    1. That's what lower gears in the transmission are for!
    2. That would be either Loop-303 or Loop-101. I've never driven I-25 between ABQ and COS but from reading other forums, Raton Pass appears to be a relatively easy drive.
    3. That would be get off I-10 in Deming, then NM-26 to Hatch. No bad grades between Hatch and ABQ that I remember. I took that route one year going from MO to SAN to avoid heavy snow in Flagstaff - I-40 to ABQ then down I-25. Even though it's the longest of your 3 options, it's probably going to be the easiest - I-17 can be pretty rough when towing. In fact, I think your toughest segment is going to be I-8 out to Ocotillo.

    How about a (4) or a (5)? Take I-15 to I-40 to ABQ to I-25. The only hard climb will be Cajon Pass out of LA. Of course, you can take I-15 to I-215 to CA-60 to I-10 to US-95 to I-40 to avoid any major passes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    3) I-8 to I-10 to NM-(something) to I-15.
    Should have said "to I-25" instead of "I-15".

    Door/choice #4, taking I-15 up to the 40, wouldn't be a problem if we get to leave on a weekend. However, if we have to drive that on a weekday, the traffic through San Bernardino/Riverside is "to be avoided at all costs!" We've considered that, too.

    We eliminated Door/Choice #5 already, because of US-95. Definitely not a favorite route.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,372

    Default

    As I think I already mentioned via PM, unless you are specifically seeing a lot of bad weather in the forecasts, I would take door #1: I-15 to I-70 in a heartbeat.

    I have made this exact same drive, in a Uhaul, pulling a car on a trailer, in February. Other than being a little slow driving up the mountain approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel (which is to be expected), I didn't have any issues at all. I didn't see any bad weather, and the only real difficult part about coming down the mountain approaching Denver was the traffic - not the grade. As GLC mentioned, that's what low gear is for. Considering I had no issues, I can't imagine your husband, who has much more experience driving big trucks and towing than I did, would have any significant difficulties.

    I will note that a car on a trailer is probably quite a bit lighter than your 5th wheel, so that alone should make the drive easier. The significantly shorter distance is going to save you a lot on gas, and the longer route could have you bumping up near your maximum mileage limits, so again unless the weather forecast says otherwise, this really wouldn't be much of a debate for me.

    As far as actually selecting where to get the truck, I'll just say that the employees at both places generally have a pretty liberal amount of ability to adjust the price and/or throw in extras. In other words, doing a little haggling can actually be helpful. Both places generally will price match each other, it never hurts to ask for them to throw in a few extra miles/days in case you do need them because of the weather, and certainly I would certainly ask about getting a diesel and/or the newest truck they have available (although I don't know if Uhaul has diesels at all anymore).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
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    Nope, no more diesels at U-Haul. Penske's 22 and 26 footers are diesel.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    I think my brother had mentioned the same: all U-Haul's are gas-powered (with the biggest being a V-10), Penske's ramp is rather odd-ball in comparison to U-Haul's, U-Haul has "Mom's Attic", but both places are willing to dicker if you aren't asking for the most popular weeks in mid-July. Hubby and I are going out later this week to price both U-Haul and Penske.

    Thanks for all the routing ideas. I would probably love nothing better than 15 to 70, but the weather is going to be our final determiner. I've seen those routes in summer, and keep thinking that "I'll bet these are gorgeous in winter, as long as the road isn't icy!"

    I will keep you posted as things get rolling.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    The gas V10's are strong engines, but at altitude you cannot beat a turbocharged diesel. Being that you own one yourself, I think you know what I mean. I think a loaded truck towing a car trailer would be pretty sluggish in the mountains with a gas engine with no turbocharger.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    We just went truck-"shopping" yesterday. Ended up putting in a reservation for a U-Haul 20' with a car trailer, through the local corporate-owned U-Haul dealership. We could end up with one from another dealership, it depends on who gets what and when. They threw in an extra day and some extra miles.

    One thing we did NOT like about Penske: that lift of theirs, in the back of the truck, would make loading a lot slower in the long run (compared to the ramps of the U-Haul). They were also a lot higher, which could be at issue in a wind. Prices were comparable, and we don't think we're going 15/70, so we took the U-Haul. We did not have to put down a deposit at U-Haul (Penske requires one), so we can change our minds.


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    For the record, the Uhaul I took over I-70 towing without any problems was gas powered. At the time, they were phasing out the Diesels, and pretty much just had them in their largest trucks. I had a diesel for a previous move, and it's a shame that Uhaul seems to think that gas powered is an advantage (of course, most of their customers don't ever use diesel or know the advantages, and would rather stick to what they know). But the gas powered engine is still good enough to get the job done.

    Again, I think you're really overreacting by assuming that I-70 won't be a good option for you, particularly with the amount of experience you're going to have behind the wheel.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    I'll bring up that point, Michael, about I-70 as an option. Of course we love that route: we take it every chance we get. Over the past 35+ years, we have probably taken that route 20 times at least!

    We took a look at the Penskes today, even though we'd pretty well discounted it. Yes, the diesel is a plus. So is "unlimited mileage". The guy didn't seem too willing to dicker for number of days allotted. Penske gives a AAA discount, but it doesn't seem like U-Haul does. We are keeping it in mind. They seem to want to give you either a 22' or 26', "whatever we've got on hand that can go to Denver". Said that they have a lot of vehicles going out to Texas and Denver, but not a lot coming back, so their prices and inventory reflects that.

    Truthfully, we haven't made any overnight reservations yet, even though we will need two rooms on what may work out to be a 3-day weekend. We are waiting to see what route looks more likely.

    One thing hubby said about the 1-8/10/25 route: "I've never driven up the 25, it would be a new experience, and we've done both of the other routes before!" But we both said how much we'd love to see I-70 through Utah and Colorado, with snow.


    Donna

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