Driving D.C. to San Francisco in April

Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 11:40 AM
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Driving D.C. to San Francisco in April

Briefly. DS has been offered his dream job, requiring him to move from D.C. to the San Francisco area. He is considering taking the relocation monies as a lump sum and renting an SUV with tow-hitch for a small trailer and driving his belongings across the country (as opposed to having everything packed and shipped)...and he has asked me to consider joining him. (He likely asked me because his girlfriend can't take 7-10 days off from graduate school for this junket, but I'm good with that.)

Google Maps shows a "Northern" route from DC, passing through Chicago and then onto I-80 across Iowa, Nebraska, southern Wyoming; across Utah via Salt Lake City and then heading southwest across Nevada and into SF. I like this route because there's Chicago and Cedar Rapids (friends), and the Rocky Mountains (I've never been).

But should we consider a more southerly route, like DC to Knoxville, across Tennessee and continuing on I-40 for weather considerations? The timing would be mid-April.

Thoughts, recommendations and suggestions would be most appreciated.

Thank you, in advance.

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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 12:14 PM
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Just a thought, I was under the impression that car rental companies frown on towing trailers with their cars but, of course, that could be fake information. If you haven't already (I bet you have) do check before proceeding too far with plans.



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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 12:37 PM
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I-80 should be safe all the way over the Rockies by mid April. The highest point on any Interstate highway is between Cheyenne and Laramie WY but the road crews do a great job through the winter and shut the highway down for a few hours when conditions warrant. When we moved from PA to Oregon we used a company called UPack. We packed 14 feet of a 53 foot trailer. There was a car being shipped forward of the stuff we packed. When we got our belongings the car was not there (same trailer, I checked) so at some point our stuff was unpacked and repacked. The cost was reasonable compared with some nationwide movers.
The other possibility is to use PODS if there will be a period of storage in California. PODS will deliver where and when you want the POD arriving.
They pick up the empty POD when you have everything unloaded.
Does DS have a vehicle of his own that he wants to move to California? When we moved to Oregon, we had 2 Honda Civics and we had the trunks and back seats packed with stuff we didn't want packed in the moving trailer including a propane tank.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 10:22 PM
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Okay, just curious: DS seems to own neither a vehicle nor a trailer, right? If so, why would you rent both instead of just a small-sized cargo van like this one? https://www.uhaul.com/Truck-Rentals/Cargo-Van/
The cargo van is much easier to handle (feels more like driving a larger SUV) while the car+trailer combo requires some driving skills.
Especially when passing or turning, or when you need to back up in some situations, e.g. reversing to park at the motels or gas stations on the road or at the final destination in the Bay Area.

I don't know if driving on I-80 qualifies as "seeing the Rocky Mountains" from my point of view.
It's mostly flat terrain with some minor hills on a high elevation, and West of Laramie you can see one or two minor peaks in the distance.
There will be a bit more smaller mountains once you get closer to SLC.
Since you lived in Austria for quite a time, I'd say that taking I-80 is as much "alpine" as driving from Vienna to St. Pölten ;-)
If you really want to see the Rocky Mountains, I-70 will offer you the most spectacular views from Denver to Grand Junction.
Though I would keep an eye on the weather forecasts and the CDOT website for road closures or chain requirements (and not take I-70 in either case).
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 02:39 AM
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The company if offering him a relocation package where they pack and ship everything, and fly him to CA?
Now's a good time for him to learn that time and effort have value.

Tell him you'll meet him in CA and go for a road trip to Carmel.

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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 02:41 AM
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I would take the I70 route for a lot of reasons, one being not going through Chicago. You do go through St. Louis but that isn't difficult.

AND do not rent a trailer to tow. I have done that from NC to Denver. Driving and particularly knowing how to back up a trailer is not something for on the job training.
Rent a van or a small truck.
YOu won't see the Rockies on 80. Visit your friends on the way home flying in and out.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 03:48 AM
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The company if offering him a relocation package where they pack and ship everything, and fly him to CA? Now's a good time for him to learn that time and effort have value.”

DS must have both of our recessive genes when it comes to the love of a road trip. All throughout undergrad he and his peers would take road trips with the uni outdoor club for their spring breaks (where he learned to drive/park with a trailer). His relocation allowance is considerably generous; his personal belongings are few; and his love of the great American road trip is just who he is.

Rental companies do offer pickup trucks, we have learned. Since my original post, we have investigated more and are leaning toward a UHaul van if we can’t convince DS to simply fly.

“Since you lived in Austria for quite a time, I'd say that taking I-80 is as much "alpine" as driving from Vienna to St. Pölten ;-)”

Thanks for the (underwhelming) perspective, Cowboy.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 06:54 AM
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I agree- rent a UHaul (or Ryder) van or small truck. From DC probably I-70 would be better through Colorado. Head north from I-70 at Green River UT on US 6/191 to get from I-70 up to I-80 in SLC. The best scenery along I-70 in Colorado is east of Glenwood Springs in the Glenwood Canyon. If your son would rather not fly, another option that I like is the Capitol Limited from DC to Chicago then after a few hours in Chicago, take the California Zephyr all the way to Emeryville. My favorite stop for a day on the CZ route is in Glenwood Springs. Spring for a Roomette instead of coach seating on a long distance Amtrak trip.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
The company if offering him a relocation package where they pack and ship everything, and fly him to CA?
Now's a good time for him to learn that time and effort have value.

Tell him you'll meet him in CA and go for a road trip to Carmel.
Exactly and tell him he will be taxed on that relocation package. It would be better to take the money and hit the IKEA store once he lands. I remember my first relocation package. The movers packed the garbage.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 04:34 AM
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"If your son would rather not fly,..." That is not so much the issue; he just has a love affair with road trips. We drove two vehicles to Charleston after Christmas for a week on the beach, and even for that little drive he had plotted out where he (and DD and his girlfriend) would be stopping along the way.

"... tell him he will be taxed on that relocation package." That ship has sailed. He knows; he's been through this before on a smaller scale following graduation from university. DS has a a solid grasp of his personal financials; and he knows he'll need a roommate (there are a half-dozen or so from his cohort heading to the SF area). He just loves the freedom of a road trip.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 05:36 AM
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You won't see the Rockies on 80
This is true, well, you can see them across a distance. The Wasatch mountains in Utah are scenic though, and there's the Sierras.

You can't take I-70 and visit Cedar Rapids easily, it's even north of I-80. And I-80 doesn't really hit Chicago proper, it skirts the southern suburbs, although it seems like you would like to stop.

If you are looking at a legendary cross country trek, there's always the Lincoln Highway. One of the versions starts in DC, and it runs right through Cedar Rapids.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 05:43 AM
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YOu live in Knoxville anyway so it makes sense to do the I40 to I 70 route. And it is beautiful through the Rockies, especially if not worrying about pulling a trailer (OR having a trailer pushing you down a grade!!), as you now seem to be leaning.
Is the household goods he has even worth a truck rental? Used furniture shops abound everywhere. Aaron Rents?

Also load up your playsists , podcasts or audiobooks for east of the Rockies!! From Knoxville, mid-Missouri or Kansas City might be your first stop and Denver your second depending on your vehicle Just an idea of distance/driving time.

I will share a statement from my father--who lived literally all over the world--There is nothing to compare with the American West.

Last edited by Gretchen; Feb 25th, 2020 at 05:56 AM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 08:54 AM
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tom_mn, the Lincoln Highway looks like it could be fun, even if we only drive a portion of it. The link will be useful for points of interest and history nevertheless. Thank you!

Gretchen, we will be in D.C. right before DS departs, so I would just depart with him. His most essential possessions include vinyl, an expensive bicycle, and a couple of antique family pieces that he loves, plus clothing and (again, expensive) cookware, so something larger than just an SUV will be needed.

I'm not the biggest fan of road trips (...east of the Rockies keeps running through my mind) but I am excited to see the American West. Hopefully this plan will come together without too many hiccups.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 10:50 PM
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Since you mentioned that your son loves to plan road trips.. once you guys decided on the route in general, there are tons of roadside attractions which you can explore - especially since it seems as if you haven't been to the great American West that often yet ;-)

As one ot two days extra don't seem to be an issue re. rental costs, you could think about incorporating some of the national parks into your itinerary.
If you'll end up taking I70 West, you could stop in Moab to see Arches and/or Canyonlands NP.
Colorado National Monument is even closer to I70, near Grand Junction, still in Colorado.

There are some general caveats like weather and/or road closures.
And some specific caveats like size/ height/ width of that rental vehicle - Colo NM has some natural tunnels, for example, your vehicle needs to fit through.
And I also don't know if such a U-haul van would be considered a commercial vehicle, or would face whatever restrictions imposed by the respective national park.
If the parks are of any interest at all, I'd probably make inquiries at each park via the nps.gov website.

If this sounds too complicated, or if you're just not interested in spending extra days on the road, there are also short but scenic detours that won't affect much your total travel time, for example:
A couple miles after you crossed the CO/UT stateline on I70, you have Utah Route 128 as a shortcut to Moab via Dewey.
This is a perfectly paved 2 lane highway with standard lane width, but it will already take you through some awesome landscape. In Moab, you can take US191 back to I70
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 03:40 AM
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Then you're not talking about a very big UHaul truck which is a plus. But.check the rental cost. Maybe shipping the furniture would turn out to be "economical". Bike could go on top of a smaller rental even like a van. Some truck rentals go by time (and mileage) with add ons for extra days.

Actually depending on the size of the family pieces, I have taken a good bit of furniture including a corner cupboard and a chest of drawers in our former vehicle--Dodge;van (not mini). Take a look at the cargo van that someone suggested 'way back.

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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 07:04 AM
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....... Exactly and tell him he will be taxed on that relocation package...... He could be. He can net all of his relocation expenses - gas, rental, hotels, etc., against the package and should be able to reduce the tax to nearly nothing.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 07:17 AM
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the tax law change from 2018 may impact his ability to deduct.
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-ref...oving-expenses

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Old Mar 20th, 2020, 09:36 PM
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The entire state is under a shelter-in-place order from the governor because of the coronavirus. This is a bad time to be coming into the state.

Check the news for developments before you make any more plans, please.
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Old Mar 20th, 2020, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Underhill View Post
The entire state is under a shelter-in-place order from the governor because of the coronavirus. This is a bad time to be coming into the state.

Check the news for developments before you make any more plans, please.

the thread is from a month ago -- i'm sure the OP knows things have changed.
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Old Mar 21st, 2020, 03:35 AM
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Well, maybe knows but the child has a job to get to. It would be interesting to know how the company is handling that. He has a reason to make a decision at the time to get there. Maybe unaccompanied by mother?
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