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Old 06-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #1
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Question Best Route to Florida

We are planning our very first trip in our Airstream(Okie-Rose) and would like to know what would be the best route to take. We will be leaving from Lawton, Oklahoma and traveling to Panama City Beach, Florida. We really do not want to travel the same roads as the semi-trucks. Can anyone share a good route to take, would like to advoid large cities like Dallas.
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:04 AM   #2
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We are planning our very first trip in our Airstream(Okie-Rose) and would like to know what would be the best route to take. We will be leaving from Lawton, Oklahoma and traveling to Panama City Beach, Florida. We really do not want to travel the same roads as the semi-trucks. Can anyone share a good route to take, would like to advoid large cities like Dallas.
I travel from New Orleans to the family homestead in Altus every year. Here's what I suggest if you want to avoid Dallas downtown traffic:
From Lawton, head south to Wichita Falls on I-44.
From Wichita Falls, head southeast on US287, until you reach Henrietta.
Then go East on US82.
When you cross US69 at Greenville, take US69 south.
Stay on US69 until you cross I-20 near Tyler.
Get on I-20 east to Shreveport.
At Shreveport, take I-49 south to Opelousas.
At Opelousas, take US190 east. This will take you almost to Baton Rouge, where you'll cut over to I-10.
On I-10 East, go through Baton Rouge until you get to I-12.
Take I-12 to Slidell. This will let you bypass New Orleans.
At Slidell, get back on I-10, and that will take you the rest of the way to Panama City.

It's farther than I'd want to do it one day, so if you stop somewhere between Nachitoches and Opelousas on I-49, that should be about halfway.
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:43 AM   #3
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Any time you travel on a highway that starts with an "I" you are going to have trailer trucks. Most of the major state highways will also have some. They are this country's way of getting products around. Construction causes more accidents that the trucks, so I would look to avoid construction where possible.
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:41 AM   #4
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Rosebudj, welcome to the forum, and congrats on the new Airstream.

"Best Route" will vary depending on what it is you desire in your travel... do you plan on a one day, iron butt trip? Maybe a two day slightly more relaxed pace? Or a week long, stop and smell every rose along the path kind of drive...

I've made the trip from OK City to Gainesville Fl many many times over the last 25 years, quite a few of those as a straight shot, marathon run. The longest I took was a three day, no hurries drive that meandered quite a bit. The one thing most of them had in common was: Driving in Dallas stinks! Smart move to avoid it...

Protaganist listed a pretty good route for you from Lawton to Tyler TX. 82 to 69 to I-20 is a nice drive through the country. Country roads, but traffic rolled pretty good along them. Been a while since I've been on it, but the road had nice wide shoulders, and people would actually ease over onto the shoulder to let you pass... gotta love driving in Texas. Unheard of in Florida. I didn't really care for the drive down to Baton Rouge though. I usually took I-20 to Jackson, then 49 to Hattiesburg, then 98 over to Mobile... which is where it would get tricky towing the trailer for you. Getting back around to I-10 through Mobile involved a bit of stop light traffic. Never did that route towing a trailer, don't think I'd really want to try it. Been a while since I've done it though...

Towing the Airstream, I'd probably take Protaganist's route, unless there's construction, as dwightdi mentioned. I'd rather drive backroads and take an extra day if I had it to spare rather than sit in construction traffic.

If you're looking for a week long leisurely trip, pick out some campgrounds you want to visit on the way, drive a bunch of backroads, and write us up a review of where you stay.

I'm heading out to New Mexico and Arizona this fall, so I'll probably be seeing quite a bit of I-20 before it's all over... just need to plan a route around Dallas now...

Hope you have a fun, safe trip. Let us know which route you pick, and how it goes when you get home.

-Red
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:54 AM   #5
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Towing the Airstream, I'd probably take Protaganist's route, unless there's construction, as dwightdi mentioned. I'd rather drive backroads and take an extra day if I had it to spare rather than sit in construction traffic.
There IS some perennial construction in Baton Rouge, but getting off I-10 onto I-12 lets you avoid MOST of it.

If you go to Jackson on I-20, and then take I-55 down to I-12 at Hammond, instead of taking I-49 and US190, that adds a couple hours to the total drive time, but lets you avoid Baton Rouge altogether.

There are also three Corps of Engineers lake projects within a few miles of I-55 that would make good stopovers if you take this alternate route: Enid Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake. Check out the Corps Lakes Gateway website at http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/visitors for more information about those lakes and their associated campgrounds.
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Old 06-14-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
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I am from Wichita Falls, live in Fort Worth, and travel to Florida (Walt Disney World) at least a couple of times a year. I am not thrilled about dicing with 18 wheelers either but more important to me I find Interstate highways really boring and avoid them where possible. Unfortunately they are really difficult to completely avoid them where you are going. If I were in a hurry, to see Mickey and Minnie, I would probably follow pretty much the same route Protagonist suggested and take some Energy Shots to keep me awake on the interstate stretches.

However, if you want to minimize sharing the road with trucks, and are willing to spend, or invest, an extra day or so enroute, you could take Oklahoma 7 through Duncan, and East to Atoka. Pick up Oklahoma 3 just south of Atoka to Broken Bow where you would hit US 70 and continue East till you hit Oklahoma 8 just Soutb of Glenwood. You would have a few miles on I30 near Arkadelphia then pickup US67 to Malvern where you get US 270 to Pine Bluff where you hit US65 south to Tallulah where you would jump on I20 (lots of trucks) to cross the Mississippi into Vicksburg. Stay on I20 to Jackson where you turn South again on US49. I59 through Hattiesburg to US98 through Mobile (crazy traffic). From there on ou have the option of I10 or US90 to Pensacola. At Pensacola you can continue on I10 or for the most scenic route pick up US98 along the beach to Panama City Beach.

This would be a very scenic route with lots of places to stop and visit along the way. It passes through some beautiful sections of Eastern Oklahoma with nice state parks along the way. (I remember being stopped in the midst of a herd of deer one night near DeQueen.) The White River in Arkansas is equally beautiful. Vicksburg has wonderful places to see and visit. (The battlefield at Vicksburg is IMHO a must see as are the antebellum mansions with cannon balls embedded in the walls and the magnolia trees outside. Jackson to Hattiesburg is an interesting drive and if you survive the traffic (don't attempt it at rush hour) is a marvelous place to see. Driving US98 along the coast and barrier islands of the Gulf can be stop and go, but still worth the drive with a stop along the way for a mess of crabs.

That all sounds so great, I may have talked myself into a different route than we usually take when we go to visit The Mouse. That would be the kind of trip that is ideal for our Interstate.
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:41 PM   #7
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There IS some perennial construction in Baton Rouge, but getting off I-10 onto I-12 lets you avoid MOST of it.

If you go to Jackson on I-20, and then take I-55 down to I-12 at Hammond, instead of taking I-49 and US190, that adds a couple hours to the total drive time, but lets you avoid Baton Rouge altogether.

There are also three Corps of Engineers lake projects within a few miles of I-55 that would make good stopovers if you take this alternate route: Enid Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake. Check out the Corps Lakes Gateway website at www.CorpsLakes.us - Corps Lakes Gateway for more information about those lakes and their associated campgrounds.
The Corps parks you mentioned are 110-145 miles north of Jackson on I-55. After that you would have to go back the same 110-145 miles to get back on your route. If you were to consider this you may as well stay on I-40 to Memphis and then south on I-55.
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:46 PM   #8
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The Corps parks you mentioned are 110-145 miles north of Jackson on I-55. After that you would have to go back the same 110-145 miles to get back on your route. If you were to consider this you may as well stay on I-40 to Memphis and then south on I-55.
Sorry about that. Senior moment there, mainly as a result of recently taking I-55 to Memphis, and forgetting the lakes were north of Jackson. Thanks for the correction.

Ignoring the lakes as stopover pointsó since I was wrong about their locationsó staying on I-20 to Jackson, and then taking I-55 down to I-12 is still better than driving through Baton Rouge.
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:53 PM   #9
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Thank all of you so much for the route information. I will let you know which route we take and how much we enjoyed the trip! Rosemary and Scotty
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