Cross country road trips usually take a full doggoned week, and this trip is no different. Expect 5 1/2 days to cover the 2850 miles between western Washington and…. Washington. So much time on interstates will mean a travel pace of a delightful 64mph. This means that the 5 full days will be through after about 512 miles. We have some ground to cover, so let’s be on our way.
DAY ONE (Friday)
We head from the Puget Sound, south through Seattle and then off into the wilderness of the Cascades and the Pacific Northwest to begin our cross country trip. We will be racing to beat a Pacific cold front attempting to come ashore in Washington tomorrow. As we head up through the Cascades, we will likely see some clouds, fog and showers, but when we start heading back down into the Yakima Valley, it will clear out. Clear skies will continue to prevail through the Chimney of Idaho and to Tarkio, Montana, where we will end the day. If you don’t know, Tarkio is about 40 miles west of Missoula.
DAY TWO (Saturday)
Flow will come sweeping gently down the Rocky Mountains, providing a bit of a Chinook wind effect, and raising temperatures to something fairly comfortable for this time of year in Montana. We will cover most of the state with our trekking on Saturday, ending the day in rural Hathawaym which is barely there, west of Miles City.
DAY THREE (Sunday)
It’s almost unforgiving how straight I-93 is through North Dakota. At least for the first couple of days, the road twists and turns through the Mountains, and even has to swing south to hook up with Billings in Montana, but essentially as soon as we cross into North Dakota, it’s a straight shot across the state. We will make it the whole way across North Dakota free of anything particularly frightening climatically, and make it to Barnesville, Minnesota, which is about 25 miles southeast of Fargo.
DAY FOUR (Monday)
It’s way too early in the year to be calling it this, but there is sort of an Alberta Clipper forecast to swing out of the Canadian Prairies into the Great Lakes over the weekend into early next week. The drive between Barnesville and the Twin Cities shouldn’t be an issue, but we could start to encounter the back end of this system by the time we pass through Eau Claire, Wisconsin. it won’t be much, just overcast skies and drizzle, but it will be the first precipitation we will have seen since the Cascades. We’ll stop in Janesville for the night.
DAY FIVE (Tuesday)
That wave will still be attempting to pull out of the Great Lakes as we drive through the region. Conditions are expected to be clear as we get started, and should remain so through Chicago, but clouds will make their way back into the picture as we reach South Bend. By the time we hit the Ohio border, drizzle will have already begun to enter the scene. Light rain, nothing too terribly heavy, but certainly persistent, will dominate the drive through Ohio. We will nearly make it thorough the Buckeye State, ending in North Lima, about 10 miles from the border.
DAY 6 (Wednesday)
The system will continue to spiral out to sea overnight, and driving through the mountains of western Pennsylvania should be a scenic treat. When we clear the mountains, however, the Potomac Valley will still be socked in. Clouds and showers look to hang on through the early afternoon, meaning it will be tough to see even the Wsahington Monument from great distances.