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Cross Country trip advice (PA - CA)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bmelloh, Oct 7, 2010.

    • Member

    bmelloh

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    Hello, Gentlemen and Ladies.

    First off, sorry for the off-topic post. But, I figure this is a car adventure, so where best than to ask fellow driving addicts?

    I will be returning home from the Philadelphia Convention Center to Redwood City (Silicon Valley area), CA. Here's the nitty gritty...

    Leavin PA Nov 19 or 20
    Hope to arrive in Redwood City by Nov 25 (Thanksgiving), but willing to arrive late to enjoy it while I can (I don't wnat to kill myself).

    Should average 600-750 mi/day (right?)

    I'm hoping the collective geniuses spread across America here can offer suggestions on pit stops and planning advice.

    Suggestions I hope to receive:

    Routes - especially historing like Route 66. Staying away from scary twisties b/c I unfortunaly will have a very loaded old (95) VW Golf GL (my e30 is home in CA), but "interesting" roads are welcome.

    FOOD - I am addicted to BBQ. But, I'll eat anything - esp anything "special" to a location. I love trying foods.

    MUSIC - I love JAZZ, and any old American live music (like bluegrass and even honkey tonk). Just note... I'm yellow-skinned, and would like to keep my skin attached (unfortunately, some bigotry still exists in the south and I don't want unnecessary risks when traveling alone!). I also enjoy a good cigar with good company and/or good music.

    SAFETY TIPS - Like what to carry with me (road flares, duct tape, flashlight, spare cap & rotor, oil, water, ??).

    Thanks for reading thus far. I hope to hear your minds!!!

    Cheers,

    Henry
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Might be worthwhile to grab a copy of the "Friends of BMW" booklet and toss it in the glove box. Could be useful to have more than just the chance of knowing someone or AAA if you have a mechanical issue during the trip. Given the time of year, for weather's sake, probably go for a southern route. Pack some subsistence items as well - food and more importantly, water to drink.

    If you avg. 60-75, your mentioned distance would take 10hrs w/ no stops. Add in a minimum of two stops for gas, would be lucky to do that in 15 minutes/fillup, another 1/2 hr. right there. Throw in a bathroom/leg-stretch stop here n' there, plus gas &/or food, you'll probably be on the road for 11-12 hrs. Plus, to _average_ something like 75, you'll have to go a good bit quicker than that, and 5mph over the east coast speed limits is already ticket territory. Anyway, count on lower avg. speeds if you want to avoid a ticket until you hit the states w/ 70mph interstates.

    Using a southern route on Mapquest (thru VA. to Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Barstow, Bakersfield, and on home) shows about 3100 miles and 47 hrs. driving time. So, driving a full 12 hrs each day, averaging slightly over 65 for the whole driving time, with any stops additional, would cover the distance by the end of 4 days of driving. But, then there's the factor that you'll be driving in what is typically one of the most travelled times of the year, so metro areas could be particularly busy &/or slow due to holiday traffic, particularly the closer you get to Thanksgiving. So your avg. speeds could be forced down due to the holiday.

    So, I guess one question is, do you need to get there before or just on Thanksgiving... If you leave on the 19th and can get there on the 25th, with that being a span of 6 days, you open up some time for either a less-grueling schedule, or a stop here n' there.

    Memphis is a no-brainer stop for BBQ & blues, if the timing works appropriately.

    Remember that radar detectors are illegal in Virginia and D.C. (come to think of it, that's a reason I might bypass Virginia even if it did take longer), and yes, they do use radar-detector detectors.. Remember, there ARE NO shortcuts in West Va. - what looks like a harmless short squiggle between interstates in W.Va. is more likely a road so circuitous and changing in elevation as to rival any Alps cart path, and probable to take infinitely longer than any guesstimate you could make.

    Make sure your spare tire isn't 100 yrs. old &/or dry-rotted, and inflated properly; and that you have a jack, wheel chock, and lug wrench to change out a flat if necessary. Given the holiday time of year, you might want to pre-plan the trip with advance motel reservations; believe me, you don't get a good night's rest in a rest stop if you find every motel at every exit filled for 250 miles (I've had it happen!).

    If you don't have a GPS, they're nifty for digging up info at exits, restaurants, etc. etc., plus telling you how to get there. Don't forget to use common sense however, there are those stories of people driving into lakes and what-not because they just went where the GPS said, regardless.

    Plan your route, then folks can give some more specific info on what's worth seeing. The reality is, between both coasts, you could spend a year sightseeing just along a single route and still have another year you could devote to seeing interesting, historical, or scenic sights.

    Oh ya - carry a basic toolset too, in case of mechanical issues. If you really want to cover the bases, get an emergency satellite phone that works anywhere with GPS location built in; then, if you happen to get _really_ stuck in the boonies, you don't have to become one of those hapless souls who only survived their ordeal through pure luck, and in so doing, had their story featured on Animal Planet's I Shouldn't Be Alive.

    Clinesdale guest

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    I don't think your "yellow skin" is going to be an issue in the south. I spent the better half of my life there and not once did I see anyone act in a prejudiced fashion toward anyone asian.
    • Member

    funfunfer

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    Not so far south, fewer trucks. Adventure drive!

    Here's a link to a route I threw together on Google Maps.
    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=...68,-113.796387&spn=7.856372,17.578125&t=h&z=6

    I used the eastern half to bring an E28 from NY to TX.
    Interstates in WVa are fine. Eat at "Hillbilly Hotdogs" near Huntington.
    Bluegrass and Western Parkways in Kentucky are fabulous.( Drop down to Memphis, if you like, but I30 to Little Rock is no fun (except you must eat BBQ at Nicks in Conway(?) Arkansas.)

    No experience between Mississippi river and Abq, NM.

    If the weather turns bad , you can cut south at OK City and pick up I-10.

    Enjoy the trip.

    superdave2002 guest

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    Go South young man.
    I've made the east to west trip more times than I can count.
    I prefer to get to I-10 soon as I can without going way out of the way.
    I-20 works well too.
    As far as personal safety, I've found that those above the Mason-Dixon are more racist than those below.
    Southern hospitality is a true phenom. Take advantage and enjoy.
    Good eats and entertainment can be found anywhere. Talk to the locals when you stop for fuel.
    Don't be afraid to admit that your a tourist. (That works even in NYC)
    Make the trip the adventure that it is. The worst that can happen will be a good tale for your grand-kids.

    ENJOY

    Clinesdale guest

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    Excellent advice SuperDave.
    • Member

    bmelloh

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    Great advice indeed. I posted this in another BMW forum and everyone agrees on the south route. I was already choosing the south route because 1) safety - avoiding ice and snow ( FWD + heavily loaded = NO traction) and 2) the food and music!!!!

    And yes, I've been to a few places in the south and LOVED it. I personally have NEVER experienced prejudice, but just because I've never had my house broken into doesn't mean I don't lock the doors (if you catch my drift). I can't wait to get to Texas.... let's just say that if I had to choose one food that I had to eat every day, it would be #1 ribeye steak of #2 bbq ribs (pork, of course).

    The time of arrival is loose. I'd like to make it back by TG so I can share it w/ friends and fam, but I'm not risking my safety nor sacrificing enjoyment of the drive to acheive it.

    That's a great idea on the "friends of BMW" manual. Would they care that I'm driving a VW (the e30 is waiting in CA for me)? I'm guessing not, but it feels like i'm cheating :eek:P

    That's a lot of great info on the routes. I'm going to have to map it out and get back to y'all on that when I have more time to study it.

    I have full GPS on my iPhone (Nagivon). I assume it will work about as well as an independent GPS unit. Won't be investing in a Sat phone, but every day I'll be updating with friends back home and checking in. I'll also be providing them my route so that they can call in if they don't hear from me.

    I have NEVER used a radar detector... (and yup, ZERO speeding tickets thus far). I was trained well to be vigilant of my environment (vigilance is preparedness, preparedness means fewer surprises, fewer surprises means fewer panic situation, etc... my old man used to drive big rigs across America and taught me well). Should I look into a V1???? I've been tempted, but I'm cash poor (teacher and just started paying school loans). I'll consider it depending on recommendations, though. I'll also start checking ebay and craigslist.


    Just bought 2 new tires and I'll have a full spare. I have a little travel tool kit (basic tools) and have the tire stuff. Gonna get a tuneup next week and replenish fluids (coolant, brake, tranny, motor) and change the timing belt.

    Whew, that was a lot. Thank you ALL! Great stuff for me to think about. Please keep it coming!!!!

    Cheers,

    Henry

    Michgndr89 guest

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    If you happen to not drive that far sow-uth and run into any part of Wyoming near Cheyenne, holler.

    The scenery up here is kind of bland, but I-70 or US 50 through the mountains is a great, easy drive.
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I can't possibly imagine that anyone who's listing themselves as willing to be helpful in some fashion or another would care what kind of car a club member's driving; they just might not have familiarity or expertise for your car if a mechanical issue arises.

    "Needing" a radar detector is a relative thing - they offer no immunity, just the potential for advance warning and hopefully avoiding a radar trap, with any luck. If you never speed, then nope, you probably don't _need_ one. I don't push it all that much on road trips, but I like some warning if it can be had, and the nominal reassurance that I stand some chance of avoiding a local speed trap if I happen to have missed a speed limit sign or am inadvertently running over the limit whatever it is.

    If you drive like an idiot and draw attention to yourself, you'll be a ticket magnet, regardless of what ya do, so it sounds like you've got the be-stealthy-&-blend-in part down just fine.

    If your car uses belts instead of just one serpentine belt, good to have an extra set on hand in case one breaks.

    Clinesdale guest

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    If you take the advice of heading to I10 and find yourself going through Alabama, Tuscaloosa (home of the University of AL) has the best BBQ ribs at DreamLand BBQ.

    http://www.dreamlandbbq.com/

    That's about as southern as you can get. They serve you with a bunch of paper towels because they're messy. It's worth the effort to track down.
    • Member

    funfunfer

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    • Member

    bmelloh

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    Perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BBQ shouldn't be eaten any other way than MESSY.


    And yeah, BMWCCA has a great rep for being cordial all around so I am confident they won't care. For the driveway mechs out there, my car is still pretty simple (it still uses cap n rotor, after all). I'm going to get all belts replaced before I leave to be on the safe side. (Honestly, I've never changed a timing belt, only remove and replace a water pump and alt belt on my e30 (m42).)

    funfun: thanks for the insider info! I'll add that to the route. There's some restaurants I saw on food network and see if I can make it work!

    Re: radar detectors... I think I'd be willing to get a cheaper one under $200 (probably used) if you guys with experience think it'll be effective. Suggested brands/models besides V1?


    Cheers,

    Henry Loh
    • Member

    bmelloh

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    Just wanted to add one more thing... anyone here know how to get the directions to the infamous "Crossroads" where Robert Johnson (allegedly) sold his soul to have his magic fingers? The two most popular sights are where HWY 49 & 61 cross (this is well marked) and where old HWY 8 & 1 cross in Rosedale (this I cannot find).

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