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Old 11-30-2010, 08:22 PM   #1
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Question Eugene to Minneapolis in early April

Hi all,

Anyone have advice on driving a trailer through the Northern West and Midwest states in April? We're picking up our new Airstream at Sutton RV in Eugene, Oregon on April 2 or 3 and need to haul it back to Minneapolis where we live. Would you recommend the Northern route at all in April, given snow and ice on the road? Or are we crazy to consider it? Or should we go south through LA and then east? We have never actually driven our RAM 2500 and trailer attached before, so we are super newbies. Thanks for your routing help! Wendy and Nick
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:32 PM   #2
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First:Congratulations! You will love your new Airstream!

Second: Head South. Give yourself a chance to learn about towing with dry pavement (as much as possible), and no snow and ice to contend with. Even so, cresting the Willamette Pass that time of year may still be cold enough to be dangerous.

I'm a relative newby too, and I would not have wanted to make some of my early towing mistakes in less than optimum conditions--too much at stake, too much energy, and the laws of physics are not forgiving or friendly to inexperience.

Wishing you the best and a safe trip home via the Southern Route.

Suggest 60 mph as your top speed towing: Safer; Savers Diesel; lets you "get the hang of it" while towing. An old truck driver said "Up to 70, you drive the truck. Over 70 the truck drives you." I drive our sedan at 75-80 mph, but driving while towing I sit back and let the world pass me by. Feels pretty good too!
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:32 PM   #3
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Either way you go be prepared for heavy winds.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:11 PM   #4
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Thanks SS and KL. Is there an optimal Southern route to take to Minneapolis then, without going too far south? For instance, is there a mountain pass route you would recommend?
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:26 PM   #5
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Wendywoods,
We enjoy the northern route. Hy 2 it runs from Duluth to Glacier and into Seatle. It's quiet and not much traffic. We have only driven this during the summer, might still be snow-depends on the year.
Tim
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wendywoods View Post
Anyone have advice on driving a trailer through the Northern West and Midwest states in April? We're picking up our new Airstream at Sutton RV in Eugene, Oregon on April 2 or 3 and need to haul it back to Minneapolis where we live.
Hi, Wendy & Nick, and welcome to airforums.com!

I have two items to suggest, the first one is rather more important, IF the trailer is brand new (i.e.: you are the first owner)

Spend a night at (or near, if they don't have water and sewage parking) Sutton's to get used to your trailer before you two take off into the widl blue yonder.

I say this because if you do take the time to actually live in it for even just eight to twelve hours, you will most assuredly find more than one thing wrong with it, no matter how many times the good people at Sutton's have checked it over for you. Push every button, every switch, pull every lever; open and close every window and vent, even run the AC!

Tell them what you are doing, and make sure they book time for you the next morning to go over and repair the deficiencies you will find. Oh, and get them to help you empty the waste tanks and winterize it for the first time, too...

Look at it this way: where would you rather be when you discover that it has some little (or even not so little) problems: in their parking lot, or back home in the Twin Cities? Worse yet, on the road somewhere between those two spots... oy vay.

The second suggestion may not be so easy, but it is to remember why you bought it, and go travel and camp in it for a few days, down where it's warm!

Either way, good luck, and see you down the road...
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. The Northern route sounds great, but in April? That is really my concern, if it's too early to try that. Thanks for the advice too, Aage, as that's exactly what we will do. And once we sell our house we will be full-timers and get plenty of adventure, I hope! Just wondering now about the route back to Mpls in April. I once took the old Route 66 to LA and went over some rather frightening hills on the way, so I know the Southern route has its tough spots too. Just trying to minimize potential problems on our first drive across the US in April.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:01 PM   #8
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I wouldn't worry too much about the mountains. If you stick to the big roads, they will be well laid out and multi-laned, plus the most important factor: you have the best-towing travel trailer in the world, and PLENTY of tow vehicle to get it going OR get it stopped.

You might feel unsettled for the first hour or two, but it will surprise you how quickly it all settles down in your mind, and then how simple it really is to do.

Take your time when on the road, and get into the habit of looking things over each time you stop. Tires, fluids, hitch, lights, make a check-list, it will make you look and feel like a pro.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:18 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forums Wendy & Nick. There are many people from Minnesota on these boards.

As you are aware, living in Stillwater, the weather is unpredictable in late March and early April, even here, with the possibility of freezing temps, snow, and ice. Since you will be stopping overnight at least twice and are new with this I would suggest that a more southerly route might be more enjoyable assuming that time and finances permit. While camping in freezing weather is certainly possible it is an environment where minor mishaps can lead to a much greater degree of frustration.

I would encourage you to think through your hitch and brake controller choices before you leave as the best equipment isn't necessarily stocked by dealers. I use and recommend the ProPride hitch and the MaxBrake controller.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wendywoods View Post
Hi all,

Anyone have advice on driving a trailer through the Northern West and Midwest states in April? We're picking up our new Airstream at Sutton RV in Eugene, Oregon on April 2 or 3 and need to haul it back to Minneapolis where we live. Would you recommend the Northern route at all in April, given snow and ice on the road? Or are we crazy to consider it? Or should we go south through LA and then east? We have never actually driven our RAM 2500 and trailer attached before, so we are super newbies. Thanks for your routing help! Wendy and Nick

You will have a definite possibility of encountering snow on I-90, I-80, or I-70 especially in the Rockies. For example on the average, April is the third snowiest month in Denver. However it probably won't be a long duration event. So if you allow a few extra days so you can stop on the way if necessary, you will probably be OK.

Unfortunately Eugene is not in a good location to access the interstate system going east especially in the winter or early spring.

If I were you, I would plan out at least three different routes. I would research the weather forecast along the routes before leaving Eugene and pick the best one. There is always the option of I-40, but that is a long way out of your way, and even then you might find snow around Kingman, AZ or Albuquerque, NM.

Regards, Ken
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:13 AM   #11
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Thank you all. I like the idea of 3 routes, and to check the weather in advance. Good advice all! Appreciate. Wendy
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:16 AM   #12
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right on aage

yep, give it a work out first, then take a ride. spend as much time as is practical right near suttons-there are a couple of very nice camp grounds quite close... and remember, once on the road, you have your own house with you. if the roads are too dang bad, then pull over and stay awhile. the weather will improve.
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:44 PM   #13
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I like w7ts' suggestion to be flexible. Might turn out that you hit right on a seam of good weather in the Rockies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
I wouldn't worry too much about the mountains. If you stick to the big roads, they will be well laid out and multi-laned....
This was my thinking when I saw your thread a couple days ago -- just before doing some winter driving myself. 4-lane interstates should be pretty good keeping highways cleared. You'd just like it not to be snow covered anywhere, right?

You'll be driving out with your tow vehicle? I'd recommend going out I-94 and survey the high plateau west of Bozeman -- that wouldn't be bad returning from Oregon if it was a fair week. But I do think you'll open your eyes wide on the I-94 section east of Coeur d'Alene -- it's worse on the westbound downhill section but will convince you that to return that way you'd better see some nice weather. That section is steep with the 4-lane switching back again and again -- not very generous shoulders, etc. It would be easier to ascend going eastward cuz you'd have to take it slower. Still wouldn't relish towing there in any snow.

I'm familiar with US-2 from Kalispell eastward. Grades are quite modest but it's 2-lane much of the way back to Fargo. I wouldn't go that way in winter. I believe winds were mentioned...

Get very accustomed to gearing down on descents. Stay off the brakes. This all comes down to how good weather reports are for a region when a couple thousand foot altitude change makes a lot of weather in itself. There will be some decent driving days on the northern route. Like private plane pilots, you'll do a lot better if you have cushion built into your schedule so that you can wait a few days for conditions to get better.

And follow up on Jammer's advice to check what sort of weight distribution/antisway gear they are inclined to install. Make your Airstream purchase decision and the research doesn't stop? Best wishes -- and please keep us updated.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:41 AM   #14
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I think that your first few hours of towing will be a time where you get used to your rig. If you head south out of of Eugene you will soon be in hills and twisty highway that you may not be ready for yet. If I were you, I would go north on I5,I205(to avoid downtown Portland traffic)I84 east. This will give you five or six hours of familiarization with your rig. Another advantage would be that you can decide if you want to use I80 or I90 when you get to the tri city area. Just remember to take it easy and don't be in a hurry.

Good advice about staying near the dealership for a couple of days. Wish we had done that. It would have made some things a lot easier.

Congratulation!
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