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Old 01-10-2016, 04:48 PM
Location: Mokena, Illinois
6 posts, read 7,221 times
Reputation: 12


I will be driving out to Kent Washington on Jan 25 for a new job, I will be leaving the Chicagoland area and driving my old yet good condition 1999 Pontiac GrandAM GT. It will be just me, my Amstaff Effie, my desktop computer and components, bedding material (6 comforters and 9 pillows), my clothes and then essentials like food/water, gas can, oil, tire chains/jumper cables.

There are a few routes I can take, I can go north and take I-90/94 all the way to Seattle through North Dakota and Montana or go a bit further south and take I-80 to Utah and then take I-84 to Portland Oregon and then take I-5 north to Kent.

I have been told that Wyoming is very treacherous in the winter due to the vast open spaces but the same can be said about Montana too. I am trying to avoid the high summits and scary mountain passes as much as I can, I have never driven out west before and I'm kinda scared to be honest. I have bought tire chains as a percussion and my tires now are only a year old so they are pretty good still.

I have the entire week from 1/25 till 1/31 to get to Washington, I do not start work until Feb 1 so i can take my time and drive smart and safe and not have to worry about time. I do only plan on driving in the daytime hours, I want the roads to be as good as i can get them.

I also plan on sleeping in my car at truck stops, I have done this in the past on my way to Maine and slept fine. I figure with 6 big blankets plus my dog my car should be pretty comfortable at night and I can always turn on the car for a bit to warm it up too!

I would like to hear from people who have driven either of these routes in the winter before. i want to know exactly what i am up against before I leave on my journey! I have been looking at the weather but it is still 2 weeks off so I can't completely trust it yet.
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Old 01-10-2016, 06:01 PM
Location: Airports all over the world
6,152 posts, read 6,320,285 times
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I have done I-90 from Bozeman, MT to Washington a few times in the winter. Once was in a two wheel drive pickup with bias ply highway tires and had no problems. Another time was in a front wheel drive car during a snow storm. Was little dicey going over the passes but still not a big problem. While I am sure you could see windy conditions before getting to Bozeman, after that wind should not be much of a problem. If you have lived in Chicago any length of time you have already experienced pretty much any winter driving condition you are likely to encounter along the way. You will have to cross a couple major mountain passes in Montana and a couple more in Idaho. You will also cross one pass in Washington. Unless there is a heavy snowfall or freezing rain going on they are no big deal. In my opinion driving in rush hour traffic in Chicago is far more stressful than driving across the mountains.

Since you have a few extra days to make the trip, you can always pull over and sit out a snow storm if needed. As far as sleeping in your car, That is your decision. Before getting to the middle of Montana the wind can and probably will suck out the heat from your car in a hurry. Thru Montana it could also get way below zero. I have seen minus 40 more than once. I would have a back up plan just in case you discover sleeping in your car is not such a good idea.
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Old 01-10-2016, 08:18 PM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
29,760 posts, read 54,390,602 times
Reputation: 31046
Both routes have pros and con, but I90 is a well traveled truck route that's well maintained. If you hit 84 during a snow storm you are more likely to lose time having to stay where you are until it's clear. Weather can change rapidly, I would wait until just before you go and check the 5 day forecast, and take the route showing the least snow in the forecast.
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Old 01-11-2016, 10:22 AM
12,263 posts, read 18,393,933 times
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Crossing in the car is no problem at all, thousands of tractor trailers do it every day on the interstates in winter. Just consult the weather channel right before your trip and adjust your route accordingly for any winter weather events, focus on the passes because they have their own weather.
Now SLEEPING in your car on the other hand is another matter, and can be dangerous. A car itself will not keep you warm, and blankets only if they are carefuly wrapped around you so that you are essentially sealed in. At the very least, if I were you, I would invest in a good mummy-type sleeping bag rated down to about -10 or so.
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Old 01-11-2016, 04:25 PM
Location: Mokena, Illinois
6 posts, read 7,221 times
Reputation: 12
I do have one of those! I like to winter camp so I have a nice subzero sleeping bag as well as a very nice down filled hoodie that I will be wearing to sleep! I might be driving with a friend now, if he gets the job with the company I just did then he will be driving in from Kalamazoo Michigan and we will be stopping at hotels/motels for the night!

Like my post stated I was/am still planning on sleeping in my car if its feasible (I am near broke and borrowing money for the drive out there) but if I absolutely have to I will check into somewhere for the night.

I have seen posts stating that I can use a candle and hard/feet warmers to keep warm over night so I will be purchasing them for the drive too! As i stated in my initial post I will be traveling with my dog and 6 comforters and 9 pillows. 2 of the 6 blankets are down comforters and then the other 4 are either queen/full sized comforters and fleece blankets! I'm thinking with the sleeping bag, down hoodie/comforters and dog I should be plenty warm.

I'm not 100% sure how truck stops work but I do that most TA's have showers and places to get changed so I plan on taking advantage of that!
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