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Old 02-02-2011, 03:19 AM
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
4 posts, read 9,520 times
Reputation: 10


Hey there,

To make a long story short, My husband & I have moved to Baltimore, and due to factors beyond our control, in three weeks I will be driving our car and our 2 cats across the country. We've considered other options, but this seems to be our best bet.

I'll be driving solo in a car with GPS & snow tires. I have some experience driving in snow, but it's not my favourite thing to do. Can anyone give any advice on routes to take, strategies, or other tips? I'm considering taking the I-80 for part of the trip, as I've read it's one of the safer winter highways.

Also, any cold weather driving tips would be greatly appreciated, as where I come from it rarely gets any colder than -5C (23F). For example, someone told me I'd need to plug in my car at night? (huh?)

Thanks in advance, you've been awesome during our relocation!
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:30 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
15,711 posts, read 50,505,292 times
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I guess I-80 is as good a route as you are going to get, my only specific advice would be to stay put till the current storm ends. Not sure what is driving your 3-week from now timing besides convenience.

Consider selling the car, or consigning it to a car lot, since it's a Canadian spec car and you may have some hassles getting it registered in Maryland anyway.

The "plugging in" comment is for cars that have a "block" or coolant heater installed.

You don't want to get stuck in the middle of the country during the current storm, particularly not with 2 cats going nuts in their cages.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:14 AM
Location: Texas
14,076 posts, read 19,061,661 times
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Don't worry about plugging in your car. Outlets are few and far between and, in fact, are very rare, especially along the route you're considering.

I'd suggest pouring in a bottle of fuel line de-icer, such as HEET brand or something similar, every time you fill up. If it's a diesel, I recommend Type A, non-sealing transmission fluid. I used it for years in the big truck and never had the fuel lines freeze up. It not only helps prevent freezing, but also raised the flash point and scours the gump off the injectors. Half a can or so should do nicely.

Don't neglect your windshield wiper fluid. You'll need it if it's snowing they've been salting the roads. Just use the commercially available fluid and add a pint of rubbing alcohol to keep the jets on the wipers from clogging with ice. I always carried a small, plastic Tupperware pan, a bottle of fluid and a squeegie for cleaning the windows, but you can do as you like. If the salt on the windows is dry, it'll come off with just a dry cloth or paper towel. If your windshield gets greasy from all the salt and road gunk, clean it with a can of Coke. Pour it on, let it set for a few seconds, then wash it off. It'll take off ANYTHING.

If it gets really cold and you're worried about the fuel lines freezing up, just leave it idling all night. When you get ready to leave the next morning, go ahead and floorboard it for a couple of seconds to blow out the carbon build-up and un-burned fuel. Don't worry about that cloud of white smoke coming out of the exhaust. It'll soon disappear.

And, DON'T SLEEP IN IT! If you do that without leaving one window about half-way down, you may gas yourself to death. In fact, always leave the drivers side window cracked about an inch or so. It allows any errant fumes to exit and it helps prevent dry eyes.

DON'T set the parking brake...EVER... if it's cold or you've been running through snow, the brake shoes will freeze to the brake drum or rotor and you'll have to crawl underneath and thaw them out with a Fuzee flare, which I doubt you have with you.

The route you've chosen is the right one if you want to avoid most of the big mountains. I-90 across Montana and Washington goes over a series of them, culminating at Snowquamish, coming down into Seattle and it can REALLY snow up there.

Just stay on I-80 all the way to I-84 in Utah and run it west on into Portland, OR, then north on I-5. You'll have a few long downgrades, but only one real pass, between LaGrande and Pendleton, OR. They keep it pretty well covered in cinders so traction isn't usually a problem.

Your biggest threat on that route is the wind, which can be a major factor anywhere from Iowa on, but especially across western Nebraska and Wyoming. It tends to blow a lot out there and often creates ground blizzards, even if it's not snowing at the time. It picks up already fallen snow and sweeps it across the highway up to about the top of your windshield. Big trucks are usually above it and can see just fine, but cars are down low, lost in the white-out. If you hit one, just slow down and watch out for those trucks coming up behind you. They may not be able to see you. Also, be aware that wherever the wind can cross the road unobstructed, the blowing snow will create patches of greasy ice. The combination of slick ice and high wind can put you into the ditch right damn quick, so slow down.

At Laramie, WY you'll see a large, over-head traffic warning sign just before the last exit into town (if my memory serves me right). If it says anything about high winds or blowing snow, take the next exit, turn right and go down to US-30 and make a left. That two-lane road will take you back to the interstate in about 100 miles, but it'll bypass the most dangerous part of I-80 where it goes around Elk Mountain, west of Laramie. The wind out there is strong enough to blow trucks off the road and people die, so it's easier to just avoid it altogether. If my memory is wrong and the overhead sign is past the last exit into Laramie, just take the next one and turn around. It's not very far.

Keep your fuel tank at least half full, carry a blanket, small shovel, some food and lots of cigarettes if you smoke, just as a precaution in case you end up in the ditch and have to sit there for awhile before being rescued. Dig away from the tailpipe if that happens and keep it dug away. Keep your cellphone charged all the time, even though service is spotty in several areas.

You'll be alright if you just exercise good sense and stop when it gets too scary to drive.

To help you with finding pet friendly motels for your overnights, try this site: DogFriendly.comĀ® - Pet Travel Guides and City Guides for Dog/Pet Owners

Also, if you stop to let the cats out to do their business, consider how and by what route you'll get going again before you stop. For instance, don't stop on an uphill. It'll make it harder to get started again if there's snow or ice on the ground.
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:04 AM
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
4 posts, read 9,520 times
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Stillkit, I can't thank you enough! This is just the advice I was hoping for. I'm so glad you mentioned about not setting the emergency brake, as I always set it out of habit- not for this trip though!

I wish I could delay the trip, but my work is done at the end of next week, and I have tenants moving in to my apartment on March 1st! Your tips are just what I needed to help get me to my new home (knock on wood) safely.

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Old 02-14-2011, 09:10 PM
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,368 posts, read 34,810,502 times
Reputation: 13869
Canada and United States Travel - Highway and Road Conditions, Weather, Airports, Ferries, Traffic and Transit

Let this be your road trip Bible, it has all the states weather and road condition links in it.

You can consider something like this...

Seattle, WA to Baltimore, MD - Google Maps
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