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Old 05-16-2012, 12:54 PM   #1
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Nervous Newbie and interstates


I'm a brand new owner, single woman, travelling alone. I have never driven anything bigger than a mini-van, have never towed anything and I'm leaving for a trip through the northern USA in 2 weeks. I'm driving a 34' Winnebago Chieftain and dragging a Toyota Echo.

I've been told to take either I-90 or Hwy. 2 to get across the first set of mountains.

I've heard the view on Hwy 2 is spectacular but it can get narrow in spots. On the other hand, there is less traffic.

If you were me, what route would you take on a 'virgin voyage'.


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Old 05-16-2012, 01:03 PM   #2
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Either one will work for you. I-90 is probably a lesser grade in spots but interstate speed and traffic. As you said Hwy 2 IS more scenic but slower. In either case you will want to take it slow as you are learning. By the time you get home you will free like a seasoned veteran. I would suggest you pick up a copy of Mountain West Directory and maybe a trucker's atlas. I like Rand McNally cause I got a good deal with my 7710 GPS.

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Old 05-16-2012, 01:07 PM   #3
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It's difficult to answer because you haven't said where you're traveling from or to, but we've driven I-90 across most of its length and, for the most part, it is a good road to practice on. After my DW received a driving lesson on our rig last year she drove I-90 across much of WY without issue. The only place I have found where it is a bit "challenging" is going through Lookout Pass from MT into ID. Other than that it would be a great road on which to build confidence IMHO.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:23 PM   #4
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I don't know those roads, but think you might want to stick to the interstate until you get some significant miles under your belt and are really comfortable with the bulk of your rig. Since you are new to driving this large rig, you'll be concentrating on driving rather than the view anyway. (Actually, sightseening while driving an RV is not a great idea no matter how experienced you are.)

I strongly suggest that you get in as many practice miles as you can before heading out. First drive the coach without the toad for a while and then add the toad. Do this on highways and around town. You need to get familiar with how the coach fits the lane, where you need to be to execute turns, using your mirrors, how much time/distance you need to stop, and so on.

One thing that will make your driving much more pleasurable is knowing your route and if necessary, writing out your turns in advance. I am very comfortable driving my big rig with toad anywhere in L.A. - freeways, downtown, Beverly Hills, but LA is my home and I know where I'm going, what lane I need to be in, etc. I have found that I have been most uncomfortable while driving though much smaller, but unfamilar towns without a navigator. Nashville comes to mind. Because of your length you need to know well in advance where you will need to turn or exit, if your exit is on the left or right, etc.

Safe and happy travels!
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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I-90 is a snap. By the time you make a couple of hundred miles you will feel like an old pro. Relatively little traffic compared to some of the interstates back east.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:57 PM   #6
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May I suggest participation in a short course in driving this new to you RV and some of the issues that you might encounter on your first trip. You are probably not in an area that offers a driver's course specifically geared to RV driving, but maybe you could locate a fellow RV'er to assist you in getting used to the motor home. I think that the Interstates would most likely present the fewest challenges for a "newbie", so I would suggest these or another 4 lane limited access highway until you feel confident enought to tackle secondary roads, etc. Take your time and enjoy the experience!

Good luck, Bronk
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Old 05-16-2012, 02:08 PM   #7
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Since you are a single woman you might consider some type of GPS to help in your travels. We have the Garmin Nuvi 465T which can be programmed for the size of the vehicle you are driving.

Garmin nuvi 465T Truck GPS Review (GPSmagazine.com)

The main thing is to take your time and enjoy your trip.

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Old 05-16-2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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I'm not planning on driving in mountains just yet but I'm driving a different motorhome too. My first was 27 ft with no toad, I was scared to death, the next was 29 ft and no toad at first, but hubby insisted, and I was still nervous at first. But had it everywhere from Florida, to Indiana, Iowa, to Vegas, downtown, south to Padre Island put about 20k on that one. This old "new one" is 38 ft and with my toad, youzie! Yes, I'm nervous. I've been driving it all around our area and we are north of Houston so I get in heavy traffice. Took it for 3 or so 70 mile runs to get a feel, air brakes are really different, and around to get things repaired. Drove it only once so far with the toad. But as hubby says don't worry about the toad it will follow you. Just remember if you pass you are a bit longer and turning, need to remember its back there. I will just get pull through sites and should be ok.

I'm a woman too, never drove one of these till I was 64 or so and now I'm 66. My mentally challenged daughter goes with me as hubby works overseas. Biggest thing I drove before was a pickup and 20 ft flat bed trailer so quite an education for me. But I wanted to see the country and enjoy an adventure. So this is sure it and I love it and hope to get on the road within the next couple of weeks. Yeeha!!
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Old 05-16-2012, 02:29 PM   #9
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I envy you being single LOL Sandee and I are already arguing over who gets to drive.

I think it would be wise to find someone who drives these to teach you a few finer points. We were fortunate to have a friend that runs a truck driving school who spent 8 hours with us one day. There are a few key items he taught us that really paid dividends.

The #1 thing we learned was don't forget your flat mirrors can move. When working in close quarters and narrow roads, consider tilting them down a bit so you can see your rear wheels. This is especially important when backing up. In my case I tilt them down to see my exhaust tips and that really puts my location with road lines in perspective. While you are doing this get a good picture of what it looks like out front. After a while you get that picture in place. You will want that picture in place so you can tilt your mirrors back up on I-90 so you can see things coming up on you from further away.

Since our friend was an experience instructor he brought traffic cones and ran us through a lesson plan tailored for our needs. The cones really helped us a lot. If you can find a resource that can do something similar...take advantage of it.

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Old 05-16-2012, 02:49 PM   #10
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New Person

Remember that when you go down a hill try not to go faster than the speed that you came up the hill. You don't want your vehicle to get away from you, and you don't want to burn up your brakes trying to slow down.
Joe from Ct.
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:03 PM   #11
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If you can't get someone to ride with you or give you some pointers, I suggest you go to your local DMV and get the hand book for a CDL license. You don't need a CDL but there is a wealth of info about driving a big rig. It has several sections and you can read/review just those that pertain to your situation. If you have air brakes, there is a great section on the operations of air breaks and how to test them for proper functioning. Also has good info on driving safely and what to look for in these rigs.
I would vote for the interstate since it gives you 2 lanes in each direction. Stay in the right lane and use the shoulder if you become nervous when a 18 wheeler comes around you. Don't worry about the traffic behind you, they have a passing lane.
My DW can handle our rig with out any problems. Take your time and enjoy this lifestyle!
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:12 PM   #12
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I've driven both of them and really liked 2. Traffic was minimal and there are some nice little towns to go through.

The only drawback about it is this is road repair season so you may hit some road construction. That has a good point though because you get to observe the scenery a little better.
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:24 PM   #13
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Route 2 is VERY scenic, and hilly. You won't get the best MPG. And if you're in no hurry you picked the best route.You should have no problem driving it in a 34' Class A, just watch the locals pulling out on the side roads.
I-90 is a highway, boring..really boring! But you'll get better MPG and better time.
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:29 PM   #14
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Living in Idaho I've driven Hwy 2 several times, mostly on m/c's That, and Hwy 12 have stunning views, are not too narrow, and if you're comfortable in a big rig, not a bad drive at all.
However, I remember the 1st time I drove a big rig on a public hwy, I was just out of high school, grew up in the SF bay area. Went to work for a construction equip company, delivering large equp.
My boss, in his infinite wisdom had me take a load from South San Francisco over to Marin county, across the Golden Gate Bridge. Scrapped the right front tire on the metal curb about halfway across when I got caught by a gust of wind. Scared me so bad, I quit my job and joined the Army, this was 1972
If you're comfortable by all means take Hwy 2, but 90 is a better road to learn on. Good luck either way.

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