Terrified to ride on Mountains
Hi, hubby has planned for us to move to Vegas and as an added bonus we are making a road trip out of it. I have never driven this far (Michigan to Nevada) I am very interested in seeing and travelling Route 66. However, the way we have planned it thus far, we will mostly be on Interstates like 1-40 etc. My question and concern is this, will I be riding on mountains (I have no problems riding next to them)? If so, is there a route I can take to avoid this? And what is like driving on I-40? Any help for a novice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I've only driven parts of I-40/Route 66 so I may be wrong on this but you are mostly driving through flat-land states like Missouri, etc. No mountain drives are on this road that I'm aware of. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
As for mountains, I think your fears may be ungrounded on these. While there are certainly some windy, twisty roads in mountainous areas, most interstates are fairly straight, wide, and have ample shoulders/rails/etc. to keep you from any drop-offs they may have. But, in fact, most interstates going through mountainous areas don't even have any drop-offs to speak of.
Just a thought, you may want to explore some of these roads once you get settled in your new home. Colorado is close by and has some fantastic scenery and historical areas that you would miss by avoiding such roads. In fact, mountainous twisty-bits are my most favorite types of roads to drive. Fun to drive, great scenery, etc. I think you should give them a try.
However, they shouldn't be a factor during your move to Las Vegas if you stick to I-40.
I-40 do so got mountains
To reach Nevada from Michigan, it will be necessary at some point to cross some mountains, since you do have to cross the continental divide -- but if you stay to the southern edges of the USA they are relatively small.
I-40 goes through Flagstaff ~ 5000 ft and there are a few passes in New Mexico. The only route that avoids mountain passes is I-10 and even that has some elevation gains.
I've split-driven I-40 with my girlfriend from Williams, AZ to Oklahoma City, OK. Flagstaff is quite high up there. Roadwise, it was in fairly decent shape (this coming from a New Englander means: it isn't a road that should have been replaced 20 years ago). There was a fair amount of traffic, but not anything like I-70 or I-95.
For your Route 66 nostalgia, there are several areas where you can hop off the Interstate and travel sections, since I-40 more or less overtook 66's alignment in those parts.
What is the concern with mountains? Is it a worry about dangerous mountain roads, or is it something else? I know several people who don't like bridges, and they don't even know why. Is it something like that? Barring that, you will be doing yourselves a great disservice by avoiding the beautiful mountains of the West!
Thanks all for your responses, they helped ease the fear somewhat. I really appreciate it.
Timbota- My fear is probably unwarranted but I fear the actually riding on moutains. I have no fear of just passing them or being sandwiched between them on two lane roads. It just seems as if you could ride right off the edge of the moutain, when riding on the moutain itself. I fear bridges also but I manage well when crossing them. I guess I will have to do the same with moutains. As we have decided 1-40 is the route we are taking.
We would have considered 1-10 however, that is one long drive through Texas and all the drop down routes to 1-10 after Texas, involve some sort of down hill driving through moutains. Which seems like it will be very taxing on our minivan.
Is the elevation something I should be concerned about?
I really wonder what the elevation is going to feel like. I have read somewhere that it can make you physically ill. Heart palpitations etc... Hmmm maybe I am just worrying for nothing. Thanks again everyone!
New Mexico is at a surprisingly high elevation. I think much of Arizona is as well....at least the northern parts. However, the elevation is probably not high enough to cause any of the problems you have heard about unless you are a person with a lot of health issues.
I have made several roadtrips through the Rockies. Leadville, one of my favorite towns, is at about 11,000 feet elevation. More than twice the elevation in NM and AZ. On my most recent trip through there everyone in our group was fine, although a little winded when walking up steep hills due to the thinner air, except for a very overweight lady who was with us who has diabetes and some fairly severe circulation issues. She also has some heart problems as well which also effect her circulation, and very high blood pressure. She was having trouble breathing even when just sitting and was experiencing numbness in her feet and lower legs. She also had elevated blood pressure and heart rate (beats per minute). She and her husband elected to leave Leadville early and go onto New Mexico. Even though much of New Mexico is at about 4-5000 feet elevation, she didn't have any problems at that altitude.
So, in essence, unless you have a lot of health issues, I truly don't believe the elevation is something you will have to worry about. True elevation sickness normally only occurs to mountain climbers once they get into higher elevations. I believe about 15,000 feet is where you have to start really acclimated yourself to the thinner air in order to avoid elevation sickness. You won't come near that height no matter where you drive!
Back to driving on mountains. You haven't been watching "The Long, Long Trailer" have you? :-) While there are some exceptions out there, most mountain roads that are heavily traveled are wide, with wide shoulders and sturdy guard-rails. I'm not belittling your problem as I know phobias can be difficult to overcome but I encourage you to take it slow and learn to enjoy mountain driving. You will be missing out on some of the most fantastic scenery in the West if you avoid it.
Also, you might actually be surprised to find you are on mountains without even knowing it as the elevation gain is often so minimal per mile that you don't realize how high up you are without a GPS to clue you in on your elevation. One other point, if you have driven through passes between mountains without a problem, you have actually been driving on a mountain! Passes are not at sea-level and are, in effect, still on the mountain but just at a lower elevation. If you do that OK, you might actually do better on mountains than you are envisioning.
I hope that helps a bit.
On my trip out West a couple of years ago, I found that it took me a little while to get accustomed to the elevation (I think the average we were at was 5000' or so). Keep in mind that I live in a town that's probably 150' above sea level, at most, though I do get out for hikes in the mountains nearby...though the highest I've climbed is Mt. Algonquin in NY, which is about 5500' if I remember correctly.
Add the elevation to the daytime air temperature of 105? or so and the wildfires smogging the air, it made it a little difficult. Then, the added physical stress of having some serious allergic reactions to a certain traveller-unfriendly bug, and even then it was still only a little difficult.
I would agree that each individual's response to elevation changes is quite varied and probably depends on general health conditions and other factors (like the allergies, wildfire smoke, etc.)
I live right at sea level and, except for a tad bit of shortness of breath when exerting myself while climbing hills, have not had any trouble with elevation changes.
It is definitely something that people should be aware of though so you raise some great points!