Sunday, August 28, 2005

Road Trip Advice

I'm driving from Houston, Texas to Providence, Rhode Island this week. I've done this drive a few times now. I usually drive along I-10 from Houston through to the east side of Louisiana, then take I-59 north through Atlanta. The thing is, I'm watching Hurricane Katrina, which expects to hit New Orleans Tuesday and proceed up through Mississippi. If I go my usual path, I'll be going through much of its wake, about a day later than the eye of the storm. I'm wondering how bad an idea that is. (Track Katrina here.) It's apparently a serious hurricane, because they're evacuating New Orleans. But I wouldn't be there for the worst of it. I'm just worried that the roads will be in bad condition, or that the weather will still be bad enough such that driving is non-ideal. There's an alternate possible route that I just made up. I could start north from Houston on US-59, then take I-30 and I-40 east through Little Rock, then all of Tennessee. I've never used those highways, so I don't know how nice or not-nice a drive it is. Yahoo! maps tells me that going this way will add about two and a half hours to my trip, which is not really all that much, considering the 2000 miles ahead of me. And it might be worth it to miss the possible hurricane mess. Thoughts? Anyone familiar with the highways in question, or just how bad areas with recent hurricanes are likely to be?

11 comments:

  1. I'd avoid it if I were you. People are saying dire things about what could happen.

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  2. Don't compare it with recent hurricanes. This is now category five, and we haven't seen anything like that in a long time. It's going to be much, much worse than any of the recent hurricanes. They're saying it's going to cause serious damage to 50% of the best-constructed houses. You don't want to be in a car in it.

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  3. I'm from East Tennessee, and though I've not driven the full length of the state, I'd say the highways are in pretty good condition. Do try to avoid going through Knoxville at rush hour. Middle and East Tennessee are scenic, semi-mountainous, but the real great stretch is I-81 up through the Shenedoah Valley in VA. One of the best drives I've been on.

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  4. Tennessee is beautiful. I used to love driving through it. Go that way and avoid the hurricane.

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  5. If you drive through TN as I used to in college, I believe you'll pass through a town called 'Hogsnort'. That's pretty funny. The chance of picking up some trinket in Hogsnort should convince you to head that direction if you aren't already convinced by the danger of driving through a storm of biblical proportion.

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  6. Ashley said the portion of New Orleans where her parents live is under several feet of water. Tennessee is not.

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  7. I can vouch for US-59 from Houston to Texarkana, and for I-30 as far as Little Rock (though it's sometimes known as "I-thumpety" for its less-than-smooth pavement, it's a fine drive, and generally not covered in traffic.)

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  8. Jonathan Weinberg8/30/2005 05:51:00 PM

    I'm from Memphis, and I've done that big-stretch-of-I-40 thing a few times, and the length of TN is generally a nice drive (though the major cities -- Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville -- can indeed be tricky if you catch them at rush hour). Eastern Arkansas is pretty much the pits, though.

    If you think you're going to plan on stopping in Memphis, email me (I'm googlable at IU) & I'd be glad to give you ideas for places to eat!

    Btw, does I-55 up to I-57 to I-70 make any sense, as a way for going to Providence? If you go that way, you can stop at Lambert's, Home of the Throwed Rolls....

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  9. Thanks for the tip and offer, Jonathan. The other constraint I didn't mention is that I've planned some visits with various friends along the way, in North Carolina, DC, and New York. So that rules out that top route.

    I ended up taking I-20, and I'm now about 100 miles west of Atlanta for the night. The road was fine, but Mississippi doesn't have electricity, which means gas stations are closed. No problem if I'd filled up in advance, but with my half tank I barely coasted into the station in Alabama. Close call!

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  10. how long does that drive take and what kind of car do you have that can handle it a "few times"?

    i'm curious

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  11. It takes about thirty hours. Depending on how much of a hurry I'm in, I do it over two, three, or four days. I drive a 1997 Nissan Altima.

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