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  1. Default Driving from Nashville, TN to Medford, OR in early February! Need advice please!

    Hello!

    My husband and I are getting ready to move from Nashville, TN to Medford, OR. We are planning to leave February 1st. Wow, I can't believe that is only 12 days away! We are going to be driving a 16 foot Penske truck and pulling our car on a car carrier. I've done a little research on the best route to take, but we still have a lot of questions and are a little nervous about making a cross country trip in February with such a big truck!

    My questions for you guys:

    1) Per my research, it seems that I-80 is the best route to take. Can someone confirm this? I've read that I-40 can get terrible ice in the winter and the highways aren't as regulated/maintained during bad weather. As far as I-90, it seems to be a well maintained highway, but it's a longer route and I've read that in winter travel, the best route is always the shortest route. So am I thinking correctly for leaning towards taking I-80?

    2) The part of the route that makes us the most nervous is everything after Winnemucca, NV. Google Maps suggested to take Hwy 140 through Lakeview, OR and Klamath Falls, OR but I have a couple of concerns about doing that. First concern is: I've read a lot of people say how scary Doherty Slide is right near the NV/OR border. I checked it out on Google Maps and I see what people are saying! Not sure I want us to be driving a giant truck on a narrow and curvy road by a cliff in early February! My second concern about taking Hwy 140: I grew up in the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon and every time someone mentioned Klamath Falls it was always in relation to the many terrible car accidents there in the wintertime because of the terrible icy and curvy roads. So it makes me nervous to be driving through Klamath Falls in Feb, especially with our grant truck and car carrier! Because of those 2 concerns with Hwy 140 (Doherty Slide and Klamath Falls), I started looking into alternate routes to take after Winnemucca, NV. I'm thinking that perhaps going south into Reno, NV might be a better idea, but even after Reno there's still a few different paths to take and I don't know the best one.
    Option #1: Hwy 395 through Susanville to Hwy 44 through Lassen National Forrest to Hwy 89 through McCloud to I-5 which takes you straight up to Medford, OR
    Option #2: After Reno, continue on I-80 and go through Sacramento and then take I-5 all the way up to Medford, OR
    Or perhaps, there's another route I'm not even aware of?
    I guess I'm kind of asking a lot of different questions haha. Basically, I am wanting to know what is the best route to take after Winnemucca, NV.

    Would appreciate any thoughts and advice! Thank you :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    9,883

    Default Time is Safety

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quite frankly, questions like yours are the absolute hardest to answer, simply because there is no hard and fast 'best' answer. Which route would work best for you depends on (1) the weather two weeks from now, which neither you nor we can know; (2) the degree to which you become comfortable, which neither you nor we can know; and (3) the amount of equipment that the states of Oregon, Nevada and California have available and devote to the particular roads that you'll be on, which neither you nor we can know. So, I'm not going to give you a hard and fast answer. Just a flexible plan.

    That plan is to basically follow I-80 to Winnemucca NV and then assess conditions between there and Medford. Under decent conditions, you should be able to make it from Nashville to Winnemucca in four days of steady, workman-like driving. It is only at Winnemucca that the conditions on I-80 and/or OR-140 and/or any of the other routes you've mentioned will be known. It is only at Winnemucca that the forecast will be up to date enough to make an informed decision on which way to go. You simply won't have the information you need to make a rational decision before then.

    This is where 'Time is Safety' becomes important. Under the worst of conditions, losing a day to bad weather on the Great Plains and having to take two full days to get from Winnemucca to Medford, then you'll need to have seven full days in hand when you leave Nashville. And by the way. You should plan on having the truck and trailer for an additional two or more days so that you have a day, at least, to load it and a day, at least, to unload it. Do NOT try to load the truck and drive on the same day.

    If at any given time on the drive, you start to feel even the least uncomfortable with the truck/road/weather conditions, stop at the next available lodging and just get off the road, recover you equilibrium, let the weather conditions pass, and let the road crews do their jobs before venturing out again. Time is your friend. Use it. Do not be under any pressure to make decisions now that you may regret later. Wait until you have all the information needed to make the best decision for your skill set, for your rig, for the actual road conditions. You just don't have that information yet and won't have it until well into your trip. Leave yourselves the extra time to make a considered and well-informed decision, and to simply not be on the road, any road, if that's what conditions dictate.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
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    Default

    I'm going to disagree with both of you. In the winter, driving a truck and towing, I'd stick to Interstates as much as possible, and I'd be wary of I-80 through Wyoming, it's high prairie and subject to strong winds. When it snows, it's frequently closed due to whiteouts and black ice.

    I-40 really isn't that bad. Even though it's 250 miles longer, I'd take I-40 to Barstow, CA-58 to Bakersfield, CA-99 to CA-46 to I-5 unless the weather forecasts indicate otherwise.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    I will chime in and agree that in most cases, the all-interstate route is a better idea. Interstates are the lifeblood of our transportation industry. Those commercial trucks gotta move goods. As such, the interstates are the last to close in rough conditions and the first to be reopened.

    That said, even the I-40 route suggested by GLC can be at issue. Not so many weeks ago, I-40 was closed, the pass on CA-58 was closed, both around the same time. About a week later, the Siskiyou Pass was dicey (though not closed; friends of mine went over it).

    Take it slow and easy. Be ready to get off if the weather conditions start looking like more than you can handle. Yes, I-80 is terrifically windy at times and can be labeled "hazardous to high profile vehicles", which describes that Penske truck. (Nice choice of a car carrier, BTW: better for your car to be 4-wheels UP!) That's probably why GLC recommended the 40/58/46/5 combination, as those are normally not nearly as windy as 80 can be.

    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default

    Another issue with I-80 is California has the strictest chain laws in the country, and chains are frequently required over Donner Pass.

  6. Default

    Wow, thank you everyone for the responses. It's given me a lot to chew on. AZBuck, I especially appreciate the time you took to write that long response. I know you are right, I just simply won't know till we're near Winnemuca, NV. I guess I just hate the not knowing part! I'm a planner...in case you couldn't already tell haha!

    Speaking of chains, that is something my husband and I have been debating about. I want to buy chains now ahead of time for the Penske truck so that we are prepared with them should we suddenly need them on the road. However, my husband is worried about spending the money on something up front that we may not end up needing. He says that while we're on the road, if we need chains, we'll just go buy some. I keep telling him "What if there's no Les Schwab near where we're at!"

    What is your guys' advice for the chain situation? And where can we buy chains (Les Schwab and AutoZone)? And is there an option to rent or buy them? Appreciate any tips!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    If you really "need" chains, you're better off getting off the road and waiting it out!!! Why spend $200 on something you'll never need for a truck you're renting??

    We did a moving trip in a U-Haul in February. That's what we decided. Just wasn't worth the expense, nor did any of us know how to put the darned things on! Well, Hubby did, but he had no interest in doing it because it's not easy.


    Donna

  8. Default

    That’s a great point Donna. Okay we’ll hold off on buying chains.

    Do you (or anyone) have any recommendations for apps or websites for us to check the weather for our route every morning when we wake up before we hit the road?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    Weather.com is probably as good as anything, also wunderground.com. Safetravelusa.com has links to each state's DOT site for road conditions.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Default Go to the 'Sources'

    The best 'app' for weather predictions is the National Weather Service. Everybody else uses their data and predictions and just 'packages' them for consumer use. I would certainly use that to determine what weather I'm likely to encounter, but glc's recommendation of Safetravel for its links to state DOT websites would be another good one.

    AZBuck

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