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Driving from Maryland to Oregon in February and need Advice!

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Feb 13th, 2013, 06:32 PM
  #1
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Driving from Maryland to Oregon in February and need Advice!

Hello
I will be relocating for a new job and will be driving my Accord in the end of February from Baltimore, Maryland to Medford, Oregon. I am a little freaked out because I will have to drive alone, during winter and across the country.

I don't know what would be a better route to take at this time, trying to hopefully avoid the worst winter road conditions. Also, what things do you recommend that I should bring with me on the road.

I can use any helpful information I can get to be better prepared for my long winter trip. Please give me your advice!

Thanks in advance!
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Feb 13th, 2013, 07:00 PM
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Get a good set of maps, maybe join AAA if you don't already and ask them to plan several routes for you. Then look at the weather when you plan to go and choose the route that has the best weather.

Equip your car with what you would need to survive for a few days if you get stuck somewhere.

Stop and rest frequently and hole up if things get scarey. The northern states generally handle bad weather very well and clear roads within a day of a storm.

Best of luck.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 07:35 PM
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I'm here in the Rogue Valley and have driven back and forth to Kansas City many times.
I'd Take I-70 to Denver, then head up I-25 to Hit I-80 at Cheyenne. From there just keep on heading West.
When you get to Reno, check the weather conditions for
Ca 89, which heads up and across California to Mt. Shasta,
where you intersect I-5. Just 75 miles to Oregon.
If all is clear, that's the best and shortest route, and scenic too.
If it's dicey on that route, head on down I-80 towards Sacramento, but at the Nevada City/Grass Valley exit, Take Ca 20 due West, keep going and you'll intersect I-5 at Williams. Head North and in about 4 hours you'll be in your new home.
If there's a major snowstorm, they won't let you thru anywhere anyway.
You'll need a set of chains to be legal in snow zones in California and Oregon, but those roads are heavily traveled and you should have no problems.
live cam links:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/
http://video.dot.ca.gov/
http://tripcheck.com/Pages/RCmap.asp...RoadConditions

Stop for a Basque meal in Winnemucca and welcome to the West.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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BTW, it was sunny and 60 here today.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 07:52 PM
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If you use Google maps, you will go across the northern desert of Nevada and the eastern desert of Oregon to get to Medford. That is recommended. www.viamichelin.com will take you to Reno and then connect you to I5 above Redding. That is the safer route. However, in either case I would purchase chains in case they are needed.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 08:19 PM
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We drove from Cheverly, Maryland to Seattle and arrived on Washington's birthday, so your trip won't be that much different. We drove west on I-80 through Chicago and Cheyenne to Salt Lake City, up I-15 to I-84 and then west to Portland. Never got above 6000 feet; I-70 through Denver was just too high for comfort (for us...maybe not for you).

Ran into snow requiring chains once, between LaGrande and Pendleton, OR. Watch www.tripcheck.com for Oregon road conditions.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 09:13 PM
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In one sense, February is a good time to travel cross-country -- you're pretty guaranteed a vacancy at any place you want to stay. Watch the Weather Channel each night, and be willing to (1) change your route or (2) stop if weather conditions make you feel uneasy about continuing. With the flexibility you're bound to have, you can avoid just about any kind of bad weather you'll be running into.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 07:17 AM
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According to Google Maps (which I find generally to be remarkably accurate) it would take you around 8 hours longer (wheels turning) to travel via the southern tier - through Texas then NM and southern Arizona on I-10 - to LA, then up I-5 to Medford, than a more northerly route, such as I-70 and/or I-80. That would help you avoid the high Rocky Mountain passes, and would (probably) limit your chances of chain-up requirements to the Siskiyous (California/Oregon border), at least once you got past the Appalachians.

Going further south would also have a (minor) advantage in terms of longer daylight hours, so you actually might be able to make the trip with the same number of overnight stops as you would in a more northern track. How many days have you allocated to the drive?

Not trying to sidetrack the issue, but have you looked at the cost of just shipping your car and flying? When you count fuel, hotel costs, etc., you might discover that the price difference isn't all that great, and it would save wear and tear on the car and possibly on your psyche as well.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Thank you all for your replies.

Gardyloo, I have thought about shipping my car and then just flying there. Don't know the cost of a car shipment yet. But I am freaking out either way. If I drive, I will be able to bring some things with me in a car. But driving in those winter conditions can be suicidal, I am afraid! Is it really that?!

Is there a way to map out the route to avoid high elevations on the way? Or if I take some small road around it( provided it is possible), will I be stuck in the snowed in unpassable area anyway?

Guys, if you were making this trip, which way would you map it out for yourselves to avoid high elevations and still get to my destination? As far as how many days I will have for the drive, well, I don't really have a particular deadline, but perhaps a week or so.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 08:14 AM
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Use www.viamichelin.com. It assumes a current date for the drive and will use the lowest elevations. If, for example, you tried to detour via Yellowstone, viamichelin would route you around the national park because it is closed to vehicular traffic in this season--at least that is what it does when requesting an Alpine route.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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A really brief check with some online shipping rate estimators says it will cost around $1000 for you to ship the car. (The cheapest I found was $920, up to $1400.)

The road distance is around 3000 miles depending on your route, and assuming you get 25 mpg and gas costs $3.50 a gallon, then you're looking at $420 for fuel. At 450 miles a day (which may be pushing it if by yourself) that's 7 days, so using, say, $120 per day for lodging and food (may be high, may be low) that's another $840, so your costs would be something like $1260. Car maintenance or repairs, or extra days waiting out the weather, would be on top of that.

A one-way air ticket between BWI and MFR for early March is $225. So add that to the cost of shipping the car and you're within a sneeze of the driving cost.

The major differences are (a) you'd have to ship the things you'd take in the car (although some carriers will allow the cars to have contents inside, provided you pay extra for insurance) and (b) you'd have to deal with not having a car for the days the car is traveling but you're not. (The car would probably take 10-14 days to make the trip.)

So assuming the out-of-pocket costs are close to a wash, the remaining questions are, how you value your time, what price do you place on not being nervous (or, alternatively, how would you value the experience of driving coast-to-coast - it can be a lot of fun) and, could you do something on the days when the car's not available that would earn income to offset the relocation costs? All there for you to decide, but it's not rocket science.

As for the driving route, I personally would take the southern route and not gamble on being delayed by weather, or having to chain up when you're by yourself and unfamiliar with mountain/snow driving.

Regardless of your route, it's not as if you're going to need St. Bernards to come and rescue you from a snowdrift. Just keep the radio on, stick to Interstate highways, and recognize that if the weather is THAT lousy, they'll close the highways and recommend that drivers hold up until things are plowed/cleared etc.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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Have you ever done a very extended drive by yourself? Do you enjoy driving? (I love it - but I know a lot of people don't care - or even dislike it.) Are you comfortable driving in snow or ice?

Taking either route across the country you need to be prepared for ice or snow and possibly being stuck on the road. (My parents were stick in heavy fog in Apr going through W Va and just managed to follow the taillights of a large truck to a giant truck stop where they waited about 7 hours for the weather to clear.)

If you do drive, in addition to having the car tuned and making sure the battery and tires are in top condition, you should take:
Water and food for a couple of days
Flashlights/batteries
Portable radio and batteries
Blankets
Snow equipment (shovel, de-icer, car brush and scraper, heater for the key/lock)
Chains if you run into bad snow
Something to give you traction in ice (kitty litter or similar)
Full set of detailed road maps
Never let the gas in the tank go below half - and if there is no place to fill up - find a motel or fast food place until yuo can sort things out

I would listen to the weather on the radio every couple of hours - since conditions can change rapidly - and would also call ahead to where you will stay each night - so they can notify authorities if you don't appear on time.

Given that I love to drive I would do so - but probably take the southern route.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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I agree totally with nytraveler. I would do it but only by the southern route. Be prepared to wait out ice even then. Bring an extra book and a couple of dvds for your laptop, and you can wait it out in a motel.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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I'm sorry, but it is ridiculous to drop down to I-10 to come clear back up to Oregon. And the route taking I-84 will add a good 500+ miles to the trip too. The Passes, such as they are,
on I-80 are very mild. You will probably not encounter any winter weather at all. You don't want to take OR 140 in Winter. I have driven the route I described in Winter and Summer. You are freaking out over nothing.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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> But driving in those winter conditions can be suicidal,
> I am afraid! Is it really that?!

No, it is not suicidal. I've driven in snowy weather for over 25 years, and I'm still alive.
I recognize and can accept that you have real fears, even if I don't share them or (frankly) even understand them. But I honestly think you can get around these fears.
If you've driven in snowy and wet weather in Maryland, then you can handle similar weather in the west. Indeed, you even have a huge advantage in this trip, simply because YOU have control over where you will be driving. If I-80 through Wyoming looks bad, then just go south to I-70. If I-70 through Colorado and Utah also looks bad, then just go south to I-40. If I-40 looks bad but I-80 looks okay, then go north to I-80. If all three look bad, then just spend a day in the city where you are, and wait till the interstates get clear -- they'll be the first roads that are made safe.
Note that your biggest danger on this long trip will not be weather, but fatigue. And, if you constantly fret about bad weather, you're going to get tired a lot more quickly. So just watch the Weather Channel each night, be flexible on your route, and enjoy any (short) stay wherever you might be forced to delay your journey.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 06:27 PM
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Get over yourself. Relax and for heavens sake only have one thread.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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Gretchen,

I don’t know why you even go into these forums. Be mean? This is a rhetorical question, don’t answer.

If you have nothing nice or helpful to say, please do not comment, reply or respond to people’s request for help.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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"Relax" is good advice.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 02:16 PM
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How casually you speak of chains!

People on the East Coast don't use chains. We get lots of snow in New England, and I haven't had any since 1973. I have had studded snow tires and a real 4 wheel drive Jeep with compound low gearing and several Subarus and have never been stuck despite plenty of winter trips into the mountains.

The OP is coming from a state where the governor (2010) took all the snow plows off the road -- too many cars -- and let the cars continue until the roads were rutted masses of ice. In Massachusetts last week, the governor banned private cars from all road until they were cleared.

The OP is coming from a state where I watched a public service worker blow all the snow -- about 22" -- off one side of the sidewalk then blow it back on from the other direction. These are not people who are experienced with snow.

I suspect the OP is young and perhaps female. How is she going to put chains on? Yes, there are garages and the AAA advice is excellent, but have mercy, folks. The OP is coming from a different world.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 07:21 PM
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He/she can have real snow tires or studs, and also wing it,, as most of us do. There are crews at any chainup point. You pay em, they put on the chains. Or you can choose to stay put and not go thru the checkpoint.
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