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Old 10-20-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I will be driving to california san diego area in the middle of december with my mother who dislikes the mountains what would be the best route? By the way she gets nervous when the roads are crappy from the weather.

Last edited by Dg60; 10-20-2010 at 12:59 PM..
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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Well the Rockies go from border to border between where you are and CA.

What about flying? Or Amtrak?
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
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I-44 to Oklahoma City, OK
I-44 to Albuquerque, NM
I-25 to Las Cruces, NM
I-10 to Casa Grande, AZ
I-8 to San Diego

That'll get you away from winter driving quickly and avoid most mountains.
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:25 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by Dg60 View Post
I will be driving to california san diego area in the middle of december with my mother who dislikes the mountains what would be the best route? By the way she gets nervous when the roads are crappy from the weather.

You're probably not going to avoid winter driving conditions whichever way you go, nor will you be able to avoid mountains altogether. That means the best you can do is limit your exposure to both and that means getting south as soon as possible. The farther south you are, the less likely you'll encounter bad roads and, if you do, the sooner it will melt off. The downside is that the farther south you are, the less likely it is that the state and local highway departments will do anything to the roads if they do get bad.

So...having said that, here's what I'd recommend based upon over 30 years of cross-country truck driving. (Qualifier: Not knowing your starting point, my advice will be general for just about all of Illinois, except the Quad Cities area.)

Get on I-57 or I-55 and head south. They come together down in the Missouri bootheel, so it really doesn't matter, though I-55 will be a little longer.

Stay on I-55 to West Memphis, AR and take I-40 west to Little Rock. From there, take I-30 west right to the early suburbs of Dallas (Mesquite,TX). Go south on I-635 and it will soon merge with I-20 west. That will take you around the south side of the entire Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and avoid the downtown crush. If you miss the I-645 exit and don't want to go back, just stay on I-30 until it merges with I-20 west of Ft. Worth.

Know this, though: Texas interstate signage seems to be based upon the idea that you already know where you're going. There is often little advance warning of an impending exit and rarely instructions about which lane to be in. It's not uncommon to get to an exit and find you need to be on the other side of the road. (Tip: Usually, this problem can be avoided by noticing the placement of the exit number sign on top of the larger signs which tell you of an upcoming interchange. If it's mounted on the upper right hand corner, it's a right exit. If over the upper left, it's a left exit. This doesn't always work everywhere, but it's usually the case.) Also, Texas interchanges are notorious for having little, if any, merge lanes and for lanes which just suddenly disappear. Keep focused.

Stay on I-20 west until it merges with I-10, way out in West Texas near the little town of Kent, and continue westbound to El Paso. The total distance from Dallas to El Paso is about 650 miles. Watch your speed in El Paso. They're not joking.

You will go through the Davis Mountains just after merging with I-10, but they're nothing to worry about as the peaks are well spaced apart and there are no long up or downgrades.

Stay on I-10 (watch your speed in Las Cruces, NM too.). Just west of Las Cruces, you'll probably have to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint, but unless you're Hispanic, it won't amount to anything more than a "wave through." However.. if you ARE Hispanic, you may be questioned about your nationality. Just co-operate and don't make a fuss.

Continue on I-10 to Casa Grande, AZ. You'll go down a fairly good hill at Texas Canyon (west of Willcox, AZ.) but it's not a problem for cars. The scenery is awesome! You'll also go right through Tucson, but it's a straight shot.

At Casa Grande, get on I-8 westbound and stay on it until you get to San Diego. You'll pass through some serious desert, with services few and far between, so keep an eye on your supplies and gas. Everything you may need can be found first at Gila Bend and then again at Yuma, AZ (on the California line), but not much inbetween. They are about 115 miles apart.

Just into California, you must pass through a California agriculture check station. Most people call it a "bug check." They may ask if you have any fruits or vegetables and, if you do and depending upon what you have and where you got it, you may be required to surrender them. Their objective is to prevent the accidental importation of harmful pests. Just go along with them and it'll be fine.

From the state line for the next 100 miles or so, you'll be crossing a horrifically hot salt flat with the only services available around El Centro, which is about the midway point. If you have mechanical problems, just wait with your car and the California Highway Patrol will soon be by. They patrol that area regularly looking for cars in trouble, as they do in all desert areas of the state. They know what most others fail to recognize: Even though this is the modern-day, 21st century, the desert CAN kill you, so they keep a close eye on travelers.

After the urban El Centro area, you must climb up the only real mountains you'll find along this route. It's roughly 9 miles of 6% grade to the top, passing through a magnificent area of giant, jumbled boulders, but there is no corresponding long, steep downgrade on the other side. You'll stay up in the high country for awhile, then begin a gradual, incremental downgrade into San Diego. There are several brief downgrades, but nothing for you to worry about. Right at the top of the mountains is a gigantic casino, if you'd like to stop and play.

Along this route, you may encounter icy or snow covered roads just about anywhere except the desert areas of southwest Arizona and southern California. When it does get ugly in west Texas and southern New Mexico, it can get REALLY ugly, so keep an eye on the forecast. It is also possible to see huge amounts of snow in the mountains between El Centro and San Diego, but CALTRANS and the CHP will close the interstate if it does.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!
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Old 10-21-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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Thankyou so much for your help! I do a lot of driving in the summer i have a straight truck and farm but really wasn't looking forward to driving out there in the winter. I really appreciate the advice.Thankyou so much for the help.
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Old 10-22-2010, 03:39 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by Dg60 View Post
Thankyou so much for your help! I do a lot of driving in the summer i have a straight truck and farm but really wasn't looking forward to driving out there in the winter. I really appreciate the advice.Thankyou so much for the help.

You're welcome. I hope you have a nice, easy trip.
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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If you check long-range weather before you leave, it's often better driving further north. It snows a lot less west of the Mississippi when it's cold, so if there is no snow in the forecast, you can go very quickly across Iowa and Nebraska, whereas there is an even greater risk if freezing rain down through Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma.

One thing to keep in mind in winter driving is the long nights and short days. It's harder to keep your windshield clean in winter, and lights can flare a lot worse than in warm weather driving, so your long hours of driving in darkness can be nerve-wracking. Also, even at midday, the sun is very low in the sky, so in your eyes.
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Old 10-22-2010, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
If you check long-range weather before you leave, it's often better driving further north. It snows a lot less west of the Mississippi when it's cold, so if there is no snow in the forecast, you can go very quickly across Iowa and Nebraska, whereas there is an even greater risk if freezing rain down through Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma.

One thing to keep in mind in winter driving is the long nights and short days. It's harder to keep your windshield clean in winter, and lights can flare a lot worse than in warm weather driving, so your long hours of driving in darkness can be nerve-wracking. Also, even at midday, the sun is very low in the sky, so in your eyes.

That's all true. Which route to take very much depends upon the long range forecast. However, one of the risks of going across I-80, even if there is no bad weather, is freezing fog at night around Elk Mountain, between Laramie and Rawlins, WY. Slick spots created by the wind blowing across previously fallen snow can be a hazard all the way from Illinios to Utah too. When one of those looms up out of the dark, it increases the pucker factor exponentially.

To keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing, add a pint of rubbing alcohol to the tank.
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Old 10-25-2010, 07:06 AM
 
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Stillkit, all of us "Truck Drivin' School Grad-u-ates" are gonna be lost once all you Old Timers are gone...
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by Crew Chief View Post
Stillkit, all of us "Truck Drivin' School Grad-u-ates" are gonna be lost once all you Old Timers are gone...

I'm already gone! Been retired now for nearly 7 years!

Truck on, dude!
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