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Old 12-13-2009, 04:55 PM   #1
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Possibly going to Chicago this winter

I might have to go to Chicago for business this winter. I would only be there a couple of days, but I would drive. I am thinking of pulling the Airstream and staying at the Empress Casino. I am just worried about the roads. If I decide to attempt it over the holidays how bad has it been getting with snow and ice. I hear global warming has affected the amount of snow. They don't get it like they used to.

I will be pulling my 73 Overlander by myself from Atlanta to Chicago with my 2006 4.7L Ram 1500. I will be only taking the trailer and keeping the weight down. I have a new furnace and I plan on keeping water out of the fresh water tank and water heater.

Any advice?


Brian & Adrienne
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:19 PM   #2
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Other than the obvious winter weather, issues Chicago roads aren't reportedly the best. Here's a recent post from a member with some firsthand experience.

No personal experience pulling there myself, with flights to/from Chicago being relatively inexpensive we usually fly.

Best of luck,



"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

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Old 12-13-2009, 05:21 PM   #3
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Don't begin to think global warming is going to make the experience any different. Variations within a season ... indeed within a couple decades ... is not how that might happen.

Of bigger but still unpredictable impact is the expected El Nino winter this year. Having been a cross-country skier for 35+ years, we came to expect odd low-snow years every 2-4 years. This was long before El Nino came into fairly common news reportage. Vegas won't take bets on your chances...

Even with furnace running, the principal safe way to travel in the severe north is to use your Airstream as an aluminum tent -- no water, no sewer. I don't know how this will be any fun. And there are quite a number of ways it can go sour on you.

Now... casinos aim to provide reasonable priced rooms. I don't know how camping in the winter is a better attraction unless you just want to say you did it. Yes, I like my bed better than a Days Inn or what-evah...

Towing can quickly end up in a 3-5 day bivouac. A couple years back in the first week of December, Michelle 'thecatsandi' towed from Montana in sub-zero conditions and courtesy camped in my driveway for 3 nights. The hangup? We had blue skies here. The hangup was a Nebraska>Iowa>Illinois storm. Her driving motivation was to get to Jackson Center for scheduled maintenance. She made it by the skin of her teeth ... but not without a freeze-up of several tank valves and other problems.

We've had an adult child living in the LaCrosse, WI > Madison, WI > Milwaukee/Chicago corridor for a number of years now. Being 150 miles further south, temperatures may be a bit higher down there -- that's just too indefinite a statement to hang your hat on. Definitely -- storm paths just seem to bring heavier snowfalls through Nebraska/Iowa and into southern Wisconsin and the Chicago area. And ultra cold conditions will follow on the backside of any storm system.

Your proposition may actually succeed if you can watch forecasts and leave 3-4 days earlier on a moment's notice. Or arrive home up to 5 days later than you expect. Any private pilot knows that waiting out conditions makes for a safe flight.

Salt is a big issue. I usually apply Harley rules -- no towing after salt goes on the roads and then until after a big rainfall in the spring. Yes, some time in the future I will tow south for a bit of winter fun (do you have courtesy camping? ). But always plan on going to a truck wash as soon as you leave northern climes. And don't post in corrosion threads after...

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May the good lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 12-13-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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It sounds like a BUNCH of possible problems just for a couple of nights in your AS. Chicago winters can be really nasty. I would think long and hard before taking that trip. Good Luck and keep us informed.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:34 PM   #5
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FWIW, I just towed through two days of sub-freezing temps, some in the single digits, and over 100mi of snow and ice covered interstate. We camped as well, using all systems, including plumbing. We kept the furnace set on 45F while towing and usually ran the water heater as well. It can be done. I have thoroughly checked all my plumbing, including the exterior shower, and have found no leaks or burst pipes.

Towing in snow and ice is doable, provided you have the correct equipment. Knowing what I know now, and after towing through some severe cross winds, combined with snow covered roads, I would not tow without a ProPride or Hensley hitch, 4 wheel drive, and good tires.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:51 PM   #6

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The surrounding roads may more of a problem than the weather.

Climate of Chicago - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Sandra wanted to go to Cleveland on vacation,
but Im the Husband, so we went to Cleveland. 😂

Its a crooked piece of time that we live in.
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:55 PM   #7
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How do you fine truck washes online and which ones are safe for Airstreams?
2000 34' Limited with Sofa Slide
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:06 PM   #8
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Brian & Adrienne,

We are used to snow and ice up here, so the plows and salt trucks get out early and stay out. However, it is not unheard of for us to have precip plus black ice plus heavy winds and subzero wind chills. The interstates are very, very treacherous under these conditions, even with the maintenance crews out on the roads all the time.

We would not advise you to tow from Atlanta up here in the winter. If you must, watch the weather carefully and adjust your plans accordingly.
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:11 PM   #9
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Life-long Chicagoan here~

The problems with our weather and road conditions are that they are ever changing and unpredicatable. It all depends if the crews are called into work at the right time before the snow starts. If snow starts at the same time hush-hour is, the plow trucks can only go along with the traffic, so clearing is slow going. Freezing of bridge decks also an issue. Its all timing. We no longer use just salt, its now a combination of salt and liquid calcium chloride etc, really wreaks havoc on cars. It doesn't bother us though, its our way of life, we are used to this, and most of us wouldn't have it any other way, I in-fact LOVE snow! Love driving in it too! Just slow down and you'll get there.

Here's a link to IDOT. Illinois State Police Press Release

PS I have never seen an Airstream anywhere on Chicagoland roads my entire life (before we bought ours and that was 2 weeks ago)! They are rare here!
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:56 PM   #10
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if you want to do it, then do it. harley rules? harleys shouldn't be on the road anytime of the year. i will be hauling my 34' excella from seattle to maine after christmas. if the weather is bad, you slow down, if it is good you push on, tis the AS life. happy hauling
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:45 PM   #11
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I have lived in Chicagoland for 43 years. Chicago traffic and road (especially Expressways) conditions are bad enough in the summer. You never know what it will be like after Nov. 20th and before March 25th. Our Northern Illinois Unit held our Christmas Luncheon for our 80 couple club last Saturday without trailers. Twenty couples showed up. Twelve of the other couples have already left for Florida or Arizona. At this time of year, it is too risky to take your Airstream out around Chicago. The potential for accidents and resultant costs are simply too great. Some of our members leave after December 1st, but they pick their days very carefully based on the day by day weather reports. You can not keep a schedule up here this time of year.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:13 AM   #12
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And it's not just the City, it's getting up here on the Interstates in Midwest weather!
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:43 PM   #13
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My best advice for a couple of days there is- don't do it in the winter. This area is a major problem to drive through most of the time even in the summer.

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