Travel tips: crossing the Appalachians in Jan - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-06-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
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Travel tips: crossing the Appalachians in Jan

We're seeking some travel tips again...

After picking up our new Scamp 13 at the end of July, we've logged over 6000 miles, most along the "seaway trail". Starting in Duluth MN, we traveled along the shores of all 5 Great Lakes, the St Lawrence Seaway, and Lake Champlain. Thanks to forum members' tips, we camped in great state / federal grounds during this venture in Sep-Oct.

On 1 Jan, we begin a 3-month "coastal trek". We plan to leave central WI for Assateague Island in MD, then drift down the coast into Florida before heading west along the Gulf (at least to New Orleans), hopefully returning home by 1 Apr.

We prefer traveling on secondary roads, ie not expressways. A major concern, then, is crossing the Appalachian Mountains in early Jan. Has anyone been there, done that? If so, we seek your advice. After a lifetime in China, we've only been in the US for 6 months...and still need a bit (perhaps a lot) of help as we travel around this great land.

Thanks.

Gary & Kan-Mui (Karen)
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:04 PM   #2
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We've been to Assateague Island a few times. I know the State campground is not open now, and it is better than the Federal one. Seeing the wild horses is the big attraction, but they can be a real pain in the @$$ too. They will take food right off your table and stomp through a tent or screen house. Weather will be cool too. Huntington Beach SC is a nice state campground. We were there but have now moved down on the coast of GA, then into Florida in Feb. Been to New Orleans once, never again!
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
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If you are going to be in Mountains where there is deep snow it is most advisable to carry chains for the tow vehicle and if you have brakes on the camper you may be required to have chains for it also.

There seams to be at least one story a year of people who travel on back roads during severe weather getting stuck, stranded, dying, etc. Be sure to have a secondary heat source and fuel (Buddy Heater) and food. Do not take a road that is not marked and on the map. (Logging trails come to mind)

Have someone that you tell your plans to and check in with them on a schedule so if something happens and you get stranded they can contact the authorities to start a search.

Having a way to contact the outside world is a plus. Check Gander mountain for the GPS device that lets you send messages. Your cell phone does not work everywhere, remember that.
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Old 12-06-2012, 05:05 PM   #4
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From Delaware, south, state park campgrounds should be open in the winter, but best to check. We don't make reservations so we got into Assateague only once on three tries. But that was in the early fall. No pets in the state park so we went to the NPS campground. We stayed on the bay side which was quite interesting. Lots of birds and of course the ponies and deer. Be aware, there is no hot water. Not too bad in September but in January......
We typically head for the Outer Banks of N.C. once year. None of the NPS campgrounds open until early April. Also the only road to Hatteras is Rt 12. Lots of damage due to Sandy. Right now it is 4wd only. If you plan to go that way it's worth checking with NCDOT. We haven't ventured much further south. Take care,
Raz
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
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Happy to see you guys are living the dream you expressed last year before you came back to "Amerika". I can't help much with winter travel on the east coast but your combination of a 13' and Jeep Liberty is a very good one for such travel.

If you head west to Washington and British Columbia let me know. I can help with that though I sold my 13' Scamp last summer (Sob!!).
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:59 AM   #6
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We have taken our trailer out east several times from the Chicago area, so we are familiar with several of the routes across the mountains in PA and WV. Depending on how directly you want to get there, you can take Highway 30 quite a ways east from Illinois to the east edge of Ohio. The driving is pretty flat with small towns that whole stretch. You will probably want to hop on I-76 near Pittsburgh to get you to south central PA just east of Bedford, since that road will be well maintained in the winter. Then you can cut down into MD and across north of DC to the island. You could use some smaller state highways in PA, but you are risking big hills/mountains and slippery roads. Going south from the Pittsburgh area into WV is very pretty, but with BIG hills and lots of curves. Or, you could swing down through Kentucky into Tennessee, then go east through southern Virginia and head back north in eastern Virginia. This route takes you pretty much around the southern end of the Appalachians, but you would brush the Smokies a bit.

My first choice: across flat northern Indiana and Ohio, Pittsburgh to Beford on I-76, south into MD and east to Assateague. Of course, watch the weather reports and plan to stay put for a day or so if the weather is really bad. Also, most northern campgrounds will not be open, so plan on Flying J or WalMart parking lots if necessary. We always have an alternative plan in case the weather isn't cooperating and carry light food, water or beverages, and blankets in case we have to stop by the side of the road for hours. Hasn't happened yet, but we're ready. Don't tempt Mother Nature! (By the way, the snowiest stretches are usually from lake effect snows at the southern tip of Lake Michigan and around Cleveland on this route. Highway 30 gets you away from the lakes a bit, though.)
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:41 AM   #7
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Just Found. Worth reading.
This is why we always take the interstate and/or main traveled roads, never a back road.

Missing Couple Found, 1 Survivor - Yahoo!
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:12 PM   #8
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Per mountain travel and chains:

Chains go in to my tow vehicle in fall and stay there 'til spring. That includes chains for the trailer since in conditions where chains are necessary, trailer wheels are subject to the same sliding around as the tow vehicle's wheels.

Side-to-side sliding on slippery surfaces is a concern, and perhaps more importantly, trailer brakes are rendered useless without chains in snow etc. conditions.

Francesca
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:10 PM   #9
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Kevin's route avoids the Alleghenies and is how I'd do it shortest route from Wisconsin to Assateague. You would have a chance of survival on the PA turnpike (76) if you had trouble. I'd stay off US 30 (in PA) as much as possible. If you were to stay on 76 to Harrisburg and then angle down into northern Delaware on I-283, US30, PA and DE 41, it's a strait shot from there south onto the Accomack and Assateague. If you choose I-70 at Bedford PA., you're going to get mixed up with the megapolitan corridor (Baltimore, Washington) and a crossing of Chesapeake Bay. Maybe you would prefer that; I don't know.

On the main point of the mountain crossing, I wouldn't even consider US30 thru the Alleghenies at this time of year. The I-70 route thru MD might provide milder weather than my more northern route into southeastern PA. Another concern might be the lake-effect snows earlier in northern Indiana and Ohio. I don't much care for the Ohio Turnpike in early Jan. Coming from Wisconsin, I guess there's no way to avoid those snow conditions aside from stopping.

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Old 12-15-2012, 12:03 PM   #10
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Thanks for your travel tips

"On 1 Jan, we begin a 3-month "coastal trek". We plan to leave central WI for Assateague Island in MD, then drift down the coast into Florida before heading west along the Gulf (at least to New Orleans), hopefully returning home by 1 Apr."

Thanks for your travel tips. As a result, we're now inclined to reverse our itinerary. We think we'll drive south as fast as possible -- perhaps along the Mississippi River -- and begin our coastal trek in Texas or Louisiana, then meander east and north until we reach Assateague in late March or early April. Hopefully, by crossing the Appalachians at that time we'll be less likely to encounter snow.

Gary & Kan-Mui
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:08 PM   #11
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Your decision has merit.

jack
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:22 PM   #12
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Keep us posted. If you do a blog let me know. The states you will be visiting are the only ones missing on our visitedstatesmap.com map. Well, there is also Hawaii.

Just last night I was looking at Fontainbleau State Park outside of New Orleans. We have very distant relatives in Mandeville. Since we live near the northern most point of the Mississippi I always thought we should go to the outlet.

Have a good trip.

Nancy
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:21 AM   #13
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Gary & Kan-Mui,
Good decision! Watch the forecast and avoid snow when towing.
The state parks are nice along the east coast. You probably know this, but here are some links that we use to find campsites when we travel along the coast:

Campgrounds and Camping Reservations - ReserveAmerica
Federal recreation, camping and tour reservation information - Recreation.gov
Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

BTW, if you're tempted to stay at Myrtle Beach SP, be aware that the campground is right at the end of a very active airport runway. Huntington Beach is a better choice.

We're kicking around FL all winter and heading back up the coast to the "thawing north" in April.

Have a great trip.

Ron & Jane
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldchinahands View Post
"On 1 Jan, we begin a 3-month "coastal trek". We plan to leave central WI for Assateague Island in MD, then drift down the coast into Florida before heading west along the Gulf (at least to New Orleans), hopefully returning home by 1 Apr."

Thanks for your travel tips. As a result, we're now inclined to reverse our itinerary. We think we'll drive south as fast as possible -- perhaps along the Mississippi River -- and begin our coastal trek in Texas or Louisiana, then meander east and north until we reach Assateague in late March or early April. Hopefully, by crossing the Appalachians at that time we'll be less likely to encounter snow.

Gary & Kan-Mui
I like that better, good luck on your adventure
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heading sloowly up the eastcoast to our next 2 month (Aug and Sept) camp hosting gig at Camden Hills State Park in Maine
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