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Old 09-19-2011, 08:30 AM   #1
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New to RVing we are thinking of going south from Chicago in Jan.

This would be our first real trip. We want to get out of Chicago for the winter. We are retired and thought that we could leave on Xmas day and go south. Then we could go west to Arizona. What do you thing the roads would be like then? Any suggestions?

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Old 09-19-2011, 08:52 AM   #2
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You are sooooooooo much going to enjoy driving from a cold climate into a warm climate. ENJOY.

As for roads, don't start your departure if a snow/sleet storm is predicted anywhere near your planned route. Once such a storm has passed, however, the Interstate and other primary roads open up quite nicely so that black ice won't be a problem.

Also consider: When driving straight south (to southern Alabama or the Florida panhandle for examples), you will get there quickly, whereas a trip out west keeps you on the road longer. It's when "you're on the road longer" that a snow/ice storm can appear and stop you in your tracks.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:00 AM   #3
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Since as a full timer I have no schedule, my preference is to never travel on holidays. I wait until all the folks are off the highway and then head out.

The roads are iffy that time of year and I would get south as quickly as possible. I would check to see which campgrounds on my route are open at that time of year so I would have places to hunker down for a few days if necessary.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:15 AM   #4
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With wi fi you can keep excellent track of road conditions and projected weather the day of travel and before you leave home. Many interstates have road cams which you can view as do state DOT's for state roads. We leave Seattle for Tucson a few days after Christmas and by monitoring weather and the road cams I can make an excellent prediction of weather/road conditions. So far in nine years I have had to overnight just once to wait for roads to clear.

Many states have a call number for road info--in Oregon it is 511---and we can listen to pass conditions when we are about an hour out to decided go or no go. Check the states on your route and log those numbers.

Oregon is a carry chain state---you must have them---and perish the thought of chaining up a MH or chaining up at all---- it is a good idea to have them and required in some states. Better to be prepared---even though I wuld do about anything to keep from chaining up---I have practiced with my chains---just in case.

There are many nice places to stay in Arizona---IMHO Phoenix is not on that list---bad air.

We rendevous in Tucson with friends from Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin---they head south then west as others have advised.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Since as a full timer I have no schedule, my preference is to never travel on holidays. I wait until all the folks are off the highway and then head out.

The roads are iffy that time of year and I would get south as quickly as possible. I would check to see which campgrounds on my route are open at that time of year so I would have places to hunker down for a few days if necessary.
You'd know what the average conditions for that area are better than most. Not only would I be concerned about traffic and weather related road conditions for traveling over the Christmas-New Year's time frame, I'd be very concernd about any overnight freezing temperature conditions on the water systems and storage tanks and related valves in your unit.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:54 AM   #6
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I have older relatives in Phoenix. so i thought that we could visit them for the holidays.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:57 AM   #7
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Then Phoenix it is---lots of people there like it just fine----and frankly do not care what I think. IMHO I should keep MHO to myself most of the time. Have a great visit and a great trip.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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Chicago is a great city. We lived in the western suburbs for 15 years. In 1989 the company I worked for wanted to transfer me to Sarasota, Fl. They sent us to Florida in mid-December. When we stepped off of the plane it was 76 degrees. Needless to say I accepted the transfer and we left Chicago in May of 1990.

Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread.

I would think that the road conditions would be the worst the farther north you are. I don't think I-70 would be a good choice at that time of the year.

I suppose you could drop south on either I-55 or I-57 to Memphis then work your way west on I-40. But, one never knows.

Have a safe trip and happy holidays to ya...
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:48 PM   #9
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We have headed south a day or two after Christmas, going through Oklahoma City, Roswell, NM, and then heading over the mts. (unless a snow storm hits as it did last year) and we had to go through El Paso. Dewinterizing depends on how cold it is at the campground. If the weather gets too bad, we always figure that we can take an extra day getting down to Tucson and dewinterize when we get to where it is warmer. We stay at Rincon East in Tucson and have for the last 4 years.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:32 PM   #10
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We left central Illinois this past Feb for Arizona, snow seemed to follow us, took the southern route thru El Paso, trip took 5.5 days to reach campground near Parker. We came home in March thru northern New Mexico and Oklahoma. 4 days to get home. This year we are leaving the day after Christmas, returning April 1. Won't know the route to take until we see the weather reports.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:46 PM   #11
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The past two years I've left for the SW from Michigan between Christmas and New Years. You just have to be a bit flexible as the weather will dictate when you can leave. Two years ago I had to delay leaving by two days because we got 8" of snow on the day I wanted to leave. Last year (a bad winter year) I had the trailer all packed & just watched the weather forecasts. Seen we were going to have 3 days of clear weather, finished packing that night and headed out the next morning.

I headed south to Terre Haute IN, then to Memphis, then Texarkana both years. But if the weather window would have been shorter I would have just headed straight south to I-10 instead of going over to Texarkana. Dallas had some major icing last year but I was able to avoid it.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njs42 View Post
With wi fi you can keep excellent track of road conditions and projected weather the day of travel and before you leave home. Many interstates have road cams which you can view as do state DOT's for state roads. We leave Seattle for Tucson a few days after Christmas and by monitoring weather and the road cams I can make an excellent prediction of weather/road conditions. So far in nine years I have had to overnight just once to wait for roads to clear.

Many states have a call number for road info--in Oregon it is 511---and we can listen to pass conditions when we are about an hour out to decided go or no go. Check the states on your route and log those numbers.

Oregon is a carry chain state---you must have them---and perish the thought of chaining up a MH or chaining up at all---- it is a good idea to have them and required in some states. Better to be prepared---even though I wuld do about anything to keep from chaining up---I have practiced with my chains---just in case.

There are many nice places to stay in Arizona---IMHO Phoenix is not on that list---bad air.

We rendevous in Tucson with friends from Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin---they head south then west as others have advised.

i hope that i have not offended you. i asked my question to get opions. your advice about the weather call number is very important to know. also i had no idea that chains were still legal (no laughing).
after getting everyones opion we decide which will suit us.

i THANK everyone for their advice.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:26 PM   #13
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We usually leave central Indiana between December 28 h and 30th traveling to St. Louis, Springfield, Mo, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Flagstaff, AZ, to Phoenix. You would have the option to continue south on I- 55 at St Louis, I-35 at Oklahoma City, I-27 or US-60 at Amarillo, and I-25 at Albuquerque. We watch the weather via the Internet several times a day. Our stops for overnight are between Lebanon & Springfield, MO the first night. Several campgrounds are open, but may not have water turned on $14 to $30/night. The second is at Double-D RV campground on I-40 at interchange 1 in Oklahoma, Passport America park, 50 amp $12/night. Third night at Dancing Eagle Casino about 50 miles west of Albuquerque full hook ups $10/night. We get into Phoenix area about 2 or 3 in the afternoon on the 4th day. Total trip is 1,820 miles so we travel 460 to 500 miles each day.

We have traveled this route the past 4 years with no problems. Last year the weather was 14 degrees when we left and got as low as 11. Day time temps were about 35 to 40 until south of Flagstaff. We keep the coach winterized until we get to Phoenix, but we carry 6-1 gallon jugs of water to flush and we shower at camp grounds. Twice we have been able to fill water tank at one of the campgrounds at flush the water lines to de winterize.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:20 AM   #14
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We have done exactly what you hope to do with mixed results, leaving from Iowa. In Dec, the weather will be cold and your camper will most likely already be winterized. The possibility of it sitting outside and parked in a snow bank also exsists.
I used to cover mine in late Oct for winter storage with a planned Xmas departure only to find 12" of snow frozen on the cover and the cords of the cover frozen to the ground with snow plowed in front and stacked. Needless to say we did not go that year. However, with careful thought it can be sucessfully accomplished. Do not dewinterize until reaching further south, expect to possibly stop at a motel or drive very long days until you get to the warmer climates. (we once stayed on the outskirts of El Paso and woke to find 5" of snow within sight of the Rio Grande) Once down to I-10 the weather should be reasonabaly safe from a hard freeze and you can flush and fill your tanks. You can break out the electric heater and spend a nice warm night staying in the camper. Should you decide to travel the Interstate through Northern Az the chance of snowy weather may still happen near Flagstaff. Altitude plays a part in weather even in wintertime Az. If a weather system happens while traveling, waiting where you are a day or two and all will soon clear. South of Iowa, Ill., the snow that we get tends to fall as freezing rain, Knowing the outside temp is a must for safety.
The chances of finding an open campground is more difficult in the north. Again, once you are nearing I -10 they are normally open for business. Finding one open in Kansas city may be difficult even if they advertize as being open year round. Those that are will only have elec only sites with no water and showers questionable. They tend to not pay for staff during the winter months and calling them you will be talking to an answering machine until the owner returns home after working elsewhere during the day!
If you know where you hope to stay in AZ, try to make reservations in advance with some leeway for arrival date. The January, Feb dates are the same time others want to be there and space can be limited. You can find them without reservations but finding the one most popular can be difficult. You may only find a day or so here and there or a week or two depending on ?????? Staying further out, Like in Goodyear is possible but you will find driving into the city as taxing and time consuming, as well as expensive for fuel. Location, Location , location. That is unless all you are after is a warm spot and it will be just as warm there as it will be in Pheonix. Tuson, and Havasu are good spots and two that I prefer to Pheonix. Try them all! 2 weeks here, two there, and two more will get you half way thru Feburary. Make that a month here, a month, there, and before long you will be wanting to be back in Chicago getting the Taxes prepared so you can see if next year you can leave at the end of October!
Better yet, head for the Rio Grand Valley in Texas, It is a couple of days closer, Just as warm, a couple of 100 thousand Canadians, Iowans, and Ill, winter "Texans" playing Pickle ball, tennis, golfing, and spending time at class reunions, and retiree diners from their Northern workplaces, as well as checking the weather chanel to see how much better they have it than those still working at home. I almost forgot the flea markets three days a week!
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