Category Archives: Road Trip

Napa, California to Farmington, New Mexico

We’re going to take a delightful road trip from beautiful Napa Valley to the 4 Corners of New Mexico, undoubtedly seeing some beautiful desert landscapes. It’s a two day drive that covers 1061 miles. The second day will be a few miles longer, as our 64.9mph pace will net us 519 miles on the first day, less than half what we want.


Things are rather chilly by the standards of southern California this summer.It’s still plenty warm near Death Valley, which is about as far as we will make it on our first day. We shouldn’t have to worry about too much weather, as we’ll be inland of the coast, which will keep us out of the clouds. Some models seem to think there will be some shower activity along the Mexican border, but we aren’t going that far south. We’ll stop in Fenner, California, which is not the most densely populated area.

We are in the throws of “monsoon” season in the west, and this typically means showers and storms for Arizona and New Mexico in the afternoon and evening. Depending on the flow, it can be fairly widespread, or it can just be an isolated cell or two causing headaches for the resorts of Colorado. New Mexico is almost always active, as wit will be on Wednesday. Actually, models indicate a more organized boundary scooting through the area, so perhaps a few more thunderstorms will be in the Farmington area than we should expect upon our arrival on Wednesday. Expect the threat to pick up pretty soon after we arrive in New Mexico maybe a few miles before that. Then all we have left to do is go out and enjoy the natural splendors of New Mexico. Land of enchantment!

Greenville, North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee

Today we get a nice long trip across I-40 from the Coastal Plains from NC to one of the hotbeds of country music, Nashville. I’ve actually taken this trip before, and midway we get to enjoy the picturesque Smoky Mountains. But will Mother Nature cooperate and give us some sunny skies to enjoy the scenery? Let’s see what this day-long 621 mile haul brings us!

We head out early today given the length of this trip, making sure to get out of the city before all of the college students from ECU can continue their weekend fun. An area of low pressure has been camping off the Outer Banks for the last few days, keeping scattered shower and thunderstorm activity over the region. This low pressure, however, is starting to drift towards the northeast as a cold front makes its way through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, drawing the low pressure towards it. We expect a few scattered showers over Eastern North Carolina when we get going, however, with the cold front pushing through the Appalachians at this point, shower and thunderstorm activity is expected to quickly blossom during the late morning hours. By the time we roll past Raleigh towards Greensboro, the Rain-X we applied could be coming in pretty handy as some strong thunderstorms could kick up over the Coastal Plateau. By early afternoon, we should be heading towards Ashville, with much of the thunderstorm activity behind us heading towards the coast. With the front shifting through, skies should be clearing out, leaving us with fairly nice weather as we mosey on through the Appalachians into TN. There might be a couple lingering showers over the southeastern portion of TN during the late-afternoon/early-evening, but for the most part should be clear sailing as we speed on down I-40 towards Nashville. Country music awaits!

Morristown, Tennessee to Sioux City, Iowa

Remember how much fun we had yesterday with the day long road trip? Well, let’s try to double the fun with a two day trip from Tennessee to Iowa. It’s going to cover 1034 of the flattest miles you may ever see. All that travel will be done at a pace of 62.8mph, and we will get to shy of half way after the first day, covering a mere 502 miles. I’m ready. Are you?


The day may start a little slow for a variety of reasons. First, it will take an hour or so to get from Morristown to the interstate in Corbin, Kentucky were we can really start to drive. Second, the back side of a system moving through tonight may leave some memories in the form of some early morning showers for the Smokeys. By the time we are on the interstate, however, we will be able to drive quickly free of lingering showers and restrictive speed limits. We will end the day in Mansfield, Illinois, between Urbana and Bloomington.

Day two, Wednesday, will be a very easy drive. The interstates are good, the roads curve every once in a while to keep you engaged. Other than that do, it’s a good day for a road trip, with sunny skies and warming temperatures. Roll the window down and enjoy the open road on our way into beautiful Sioux City.

Cleveland, Ohio to Morristown, Tennessee

And here we are, with another 1 day journey. Just an extra half hour tacked on to the end of our typical 8, but it will be through the beautiful Smokey Mountains, so who are we to complain? It’s a 520 mile journey, which equates to our travel coming at a rate of 61.9mph. Shall we?

I’m not going to mince words. This drive is going to suck. We’re going to be following a cold front as we head from Cleveland to Morristown. In the morning, it will likely be a general rainy type of precipitation, with a stroke of lightning intermittently lighting up the sky. By about 1 in the afternoon, three hours in, the thunderstorms will really ramp up. The heaviest of the wet weather will come between Parkersburg and Charleston, West Viriginia as we start to come into the mountains, which will only help the development of soaking thunderstorms. Between Beckley, West Virginia and Abingdon, Virginia, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a break in the rain, but as we swing back southwest into Tennessee, some showers and storms will again be possible, though not as strong as we will have seen earlier in the day.

Toledo, Ohio to Rochester, Minnesota

This is going to strain our friendship, I think, this drive from Ohio to Minnesota. It will be just shy of 10 hours, which is under out threshold for one day’s driving We will definitely need some stretching when we are done with our 593 miles in the car. It’s going to be an interstate laden drive, buy the time in Chicago will slow us down and we’ll cover the distance at a pace of 60.3. Let’s make our way to the Mayo clinic.

It’s been an active week or so for the northern tier, but a squall line moving through northern Indiana, when it arrives in Toledo, will signal the beginning of the end of the stormy, nasty period for at least a day or two. Fortunately, one of those days will be the one we will be in the car. After Toledo shakes off some morning sprinkles, we will be on our way through some warm but not terribly oppressive weather as we inch through Chicago and eventually roll through Wisconsin, other areas that have been recently raked by severe weather. Actually, both Toledo and Rochester have seen their share of rough weather over the past couple of months. Let’s just keep driving and avoid the gawker slow down at people picking up the pieces after their rough weather.

El Paso, Texas to Lawton, Oklahoma

Just a one day journey today, headed to Lawton, perhaps the only site that you can get to in one day from El Paso. It’s a 655mile drive that will actually take us about 9 1/2 hours. IF you do the math, that’s a 68.5mph average, telling you all you need to know about the terrain we will be covering.

The drive will be extremely warm, with temperatures in the neighborhood of 100 degrees in El Paso and not much cooler through west Texas. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 90s all the way through the drive. The dry line will set itself up along the Texas/New Mexico border, but its associated storms won’t go up until around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and by that time we’ll be between Abilene and Wichita Falls, well away from any inclement weather. Hot and dry will be the name of this long, steamy drive.

Pocatello, Idaho to Little Rock, Arkansas

Today’s trip takes us 1,555 miles from the lovely Rocky Mountains to the Land of the Ozarks. Off we go!


We begin out trip traveling east out of southern Idaho, watching a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. Well, if we’re lucky. A cold front is making its way through the Northern Rockies, streaming some high clouds out ahead of it with showers pushing their way through the Pacific Northwest. While we should stay dry during the morning as we make our way into southern Wyoming, the skies should remain mostly cloudy out ahead of the front. With the flow increasing ahead of the system, our main issue throughout the day will be gusty south-southwesterly winds of 25-35mph at times, especially in western Wyoming through some of the mountain passes. While we won’t get the worst of it, it’ll still be breezy as we travel through Cheyenne southward into Fort Collins, CO, the stop for our first night.

A fairly quiet start to the day as we travel southbound towards Denver, some partly cloudy skies greeting us. Our area of low pressure over the Northern Rockies is continuing to shift east and intensify some, increasing the southerly flow over the Plains. By midday, some showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop over KS as a remnant boundary kicks up activity. Most of this activity is expected to be off to our north, however, making for some picturesque scenery as we travel eastbound through Hays towards Salina. Some southerly wind gusts might catch us off guard as the low shifts towards the Northern Plains, and maybe a stray thunderstorm or two, but otherwise the evening shall end on a quite note as we roll into Wichita, KS.

Our friendly low pressure system is now shifting fully into the Northern Plains and deepening. The old frontal boundary that was lingering over the Central Plains yesterday has disintegrated as strong southerly flow continues to stream up through the Plains to the low. Also, broad high pressure is found from the Great Lakes down to the Lower MS River Valley, quelling much of the activity through the morning hours. With the low level jet feeding northward, our trip out of Wichita through Tulsa will be rather windy, but dry and sunny. Winds should die down as we cruise across the Arkansas state line at Fort Smith. While we may see some thunderstorms off in the distance, east of Little Rock, we should remain dry as we pull into the state capital.

Elmira, New York to Ocean City, New Jersey

Our trip is short for Saturday, as we will only be moving from one state to the next state over. It’s a 5 hour drive that covers about 302 miles. It will be a slow way, because we won’t get to take the interstate too much, and we’ll only average 57mph. How will the day go? Let’s find out.

It’s been a very active couple of weeks to begin the summer across the northern tier of states. This won’t change for our trip through the Mid Atlantic on Saturday. Showers and isolated thunderstorms will be possible through the day, I suppose, but I wouldn’t worry about them until it’s around 1 in the afternoon, by which time we will be in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After that, some storms may follow us into Ocean City, but really, I just think it’s going to be dry and hot. Well, humid, but you know what I mean.

Hagerstown, Maryland to Corvallis, Oregon

A long distance drive today, likely to take us into a short 6th day. It will cover 2753 miles, and after a slow start through some hill country, we will eventually speed up. Our average pace will be 64.9mph, fairly slow for a cross country trek. We’ll cover about 519 miles a day at that pace, which, frankly, isn’t a whole lot. We have some driving to do, so lets get to it!


Well, we couldn’t have timed our departure better. A system will move into Hagerstown by the time we leage, with a warm front angled from Hagerstown northwest towards Pittsburgh, which is essentially our route to start the day. By afternoon, the heaviest slug of rain will be up towards Cleveland, also part of our route. Rain will clear out by the time we are south of Sandusky, and we will be in dry weather for the rest of the day, which will end in Elkhart, Indiana. Our route will take us just south of Milbury, Ohio, the suburb of Toledo devastated by an EF4 tornado over the weekend.

Our day will begin quietly, and we can traverse the rest of Indiana and Illinois in peace (aside from any traffic in our neighborhood) though as we slip on out of the Quad Cities, the threat for some showers and isolated thunderstorms will pick up. A developing system in the High Plains will be the culprit, and any rain we see will be the result of hot humid air streaming north. That means it could be torrential at times, but won’t likely be associated with anything severe. Our day will end in Walnut, Iowa, which is about 45 miles from the Nebraska border.

Most of the rain, at this point, looks like it is going to stay north of I-80 in Nebraska. Expect a lot of driving in Nebraska, by the way. There is a chance we could see some rain before we reach the Panhandle, but the way things have trended lately, it seems much more likely that we will be dry and fairly warm from Walnut to Ogallala, Nebraska. Some rain and a cooler wind will then kick in, ending our party. The day will end in Burns, Wyoming, just after we cross the border from Nebraska.

This will likely be the rainiest day of our drive. A distinctly summerlike wave will get hung up over the Upper Midwest and trail back into Wyoming, stalled and bleary. We’ll see our heaviest rain as we pass through the highest elevations of the state. Frankly, we’ll hope to be out ASAP,, given the way things look. Utah will be better, but now much. We’ll again be driving through the peaks and valleys of that state, and contend with some remnant showers into the Panhandle there. The day ends right up along the Idaho border, in Blue Creek.

We’ll experience some showers to begin our Sunday. We should get out of it by the time we reach the Rupert, Idaho area, and then finally be in the sun. I can’t foresee any rain for our Sunday afternoon. The day will take us through the rural parts of Oregon, and the day will end in the remote town of Millican, right in the middle of the state.

With that many words expended thus far, I think we deserve a nice finish to day. We’ll get to enjoy the Cascades in all their sunny glory. Don’t worry about any weather problems as we finally close in on Corvallis.

Benton Harbor, Michigan to Auburn, Alabama

Alabama day continues, with a road trip to the first state alphabetically. We’ll be traversing the center of the country, riding the Tennessee Valley from southwestern Michigan to southwestern Alabama. The trip covers 772 miles and will take us a day and a half. We will start by passing through the fringes of the Chicago metro, then will pass through Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Birmingham before getting off the interstate to head towards Auburn. It will take us a day and a half to head through these metropolises at a pace of 61.3mph. The first day, covering about 2/3rds of the trip will only see 490 miles tick off on our odometer, but it’s going to be slowed down by a Friday drive through all those cities.


A strongish system skirting the US border in Canada and a weak upper low with a lot of energy to work with in the Gulf will be putting a squeeze on us as we begin our drive. A cold front with heavier showers and thunderstorms with sometimes gusty winds will be sweeping into Lake Michigan as we head south. We’ll be dry for sure until we get to about Indianapolis, when we’ll be in the northern reach of the instability of the southeast. We should stay dry most of the way through Indiana, but the threat for showers and storms will be there, and will only increase as we had south. There’s a good chance we will see SOME rain by the time we reach Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville and our stop for the night, but given the pattern, it’s tough to say exactly where it’s going to hit us. Most likely somewhere south of the Ohio River, however.

The storms will die off over night, which is nice for any of us that want to sleep. OF course, who wants to do that in a hopping town like Franklin? The storms will take a until after 1 or so to really get going in Alabama and Tennessee, and by that time, we’ll already be on 280 between Birmingham and Auburn. We’ll probably have to dodge a thunderstorm or two in that last hour of the trip, and they will likely be stronger than anything we see on Friday, but there is also a good chance the sun will be shining when we show up in Auburb.