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Old 07-18-2010, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
576 posts, read 1,112,379 times
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I am going to drive from Cleveland, Ohio to Seattle, Washington in early August. Most likely, I will drive by myself so I am being a bit careful and posting this thread (having never driven more than 9 hours straight by myself before).

In the past, I have been to cities where the traffic lights are on the sides of the road instead of hanging overhead in the center (bit confusing), cities where some street signs are unique, cities where speed limits are different, sparsely populated parts of states where gas stations are not plentiful etc...

Are traffic regulations generally the same in each state and am I just being overly cautious?

I am trying to decide on whether to drive via the shortest route across the country to Seattle (which goes through sparsely populated Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana) or take a route through more populated states such as Colorado (I always wanted to visit Denver so that is why I threw out Colorado). Any opinions from the experienced here? Would I lose my cell phone connection in some states?

Can I get a hotel room relatively easily in all states if I just show up when tired of driving and am in need of some sleep?

Any other thoughts would be welcomed!
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Old 07-18-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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Traffic laws differ somewhat. Speed limits in some states do not exceed 55 mph, but not in the States you will be driving. Yes, you may lose cell phone reception in some rural areas. Your phone battery will die faster as it works harder to get distant coverage. I do not advise just showing up at a hotel unless you are prepared to drive long distances after finding no vacancy. Keep your tank full, some stretches can go over 100 miles without any services.
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Old 07-18-2010, 06:59 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,083 posts, read 34,207,063 times
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Easy. I've driven cross Country more times than I remember and the simple rules I've always lived by is:
1) When you have to stop for a break (bathroom, food, stretch, etc...) fill up with fuel.

2) If you see a sign that says "last gas for 200 miles"... it probably isn't lying, stop and top off.

3) Pick a time you will stop driving for the day. Pick it earlier than you think (I usually start looking around Supper time.) That way if there isn't any room open, you still are fresh enough to go a bit further. Don't start thinking of finding a place when you are already tired, that is too late. If you find a place early, go to bed early and get an early start the next morning (cooler for longer and less traffic).

4) When you do find a room, top off the gas tank that evening. If you get an early start some gas stations in smaller towns may not be open when you are ready to hit the road. While you are getting gas, buy some snacks so you don't have to run down to the vending machine and pay 4 times as much at the Motel. (get enough for the next day on the road as well.)

Cell phone reception. Yes you will lose it in the more rural areas. Don't get your knickers in a knot, people traveled long distances long before cell phones. Think back to how many times your vehicle has left you standing by the side of the road calling for a tow. If that number is below 2, you probably have ZERO to worry about. If you are in an area that has spotty reception, the locals that travel that stretch of road know where they are and are generally more apt to stop and offer assistance if you do find yourself stranded.

Either route you are looking at is a great drive. While I really like Colorado myself, it is hard to beat some of the lonely regions of the other route you mentioned. It is open, bare, and starkly beautiful. I couldn't live there (I like trees too much ), but I love driving through those areas. Some of the areas in Montana are simply beautiful, so much so that I seriously thought of moving there 5 or 6 years ago.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,241 posts, read 24,477,553 times
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Even in Wyoming and Montana you won't be without cell service for long. Be careful, because some towns like to gouge hotel prices (namely Casper, WY). Slept on an off-ramp that night (for free). The view of the stars was striking.

Let your intuition guide your gas pedal. Enjoy your visit to my city of residence.
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