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Roadtrip routing advice (Dayton to DC)

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1995hoo:
Following up on this to report back:

Drove out last Wednesday. Capital Beltway (I-495/95) east through Maryland to avoid rush-hour backups in Virginia, then I-95 north to the Intercounty Connector (MD-200 toll road) west to I-270. I-270 north to I-70 at Frederick, then I-70 west to Hancock (breakfast/toilet stop) followed by I-68 west to the exit for US-219 south to Deep Creek Lake, but we turned the other way and took US-40 into Pennsylvania past Nemacolin Woodlands and up to Uniontown, where we picked up PA Turnpike 43. Great road, almost nobody on it. It takes you back to I-70 east of Washington, PA, and I-70 was torture after that nice empty toll road. Then we followed I-70 west to Wheeling and, as mentioned further up the thread, I took I-470 around the city due to ambiguous road signs about construction. When it merged back onto I-70 we pulled off for lunch, then resumed the slog across Ohio on I-70 the entire way except for a gas stop near Zanesville and then taking the southern part of the I-270 beltway around Columbus.

Easy drive on the whole except for the backup at I-77 mentioned further up the thread (lost half an hour there), the slow truck traffic on I-470 near Wheeling since it was down to one lane, and the usual unpleasant experience on I-70 in Pennsylvania (which, while I had not previously driven that particular segment, struck me as typical of Pennsylvania's antiquated Interstate system). Total distance about 517 miles, travel time about 10 hours including stops.


The trip home is where I sought advice and we made the drive yesterday. Thanks again to all for the advice. It worked out very well and I liked the West Virginia roads enough that I think I'd make some version of that part of the trip my standard routing in future trips to southern/southwestern Ohio. Only downside was rain. It didn't really affect the drive all that much, but it made some of the pictures quite naff when the autofocus messed up due to waterspots on the windshield. Just means a future trip is needed to get more pictures, right?

Anyway, based on the comments about US-33 versus US-35 I decided we'd take I-70 back to Columbus and then take US-33 down past Lancaster and Nelsonville to the Athens area. This also allowed for taking I-70 through Columbus, which we didn't do on the way out since we hit the area around 4:00 PM last Wednesday. I had no idea it was that big a city with the high-rise office towers downtown and such. Don't know why, I just pictured a smaller city. Anyway, US-33 was an excellent route, light traffic and easy to set the cruise control at 70 mph for most of the way. (Passing the town of Logan was nice because we have a four-year-old nephew named Logan, so we took some pictures of the BGSs for him.) The construction at Nelsonville was not an issue at all, but as "vtk" said further up the thread, the trip through town slowed us down a little. I didn't really mind, as it's nice to get a little variety once in a while. I was a little bit surprised at the lack of an advance sign for the roundabout, but I suppose it's new.

Anyway, at Athens we turned onto US-50 and followed that east to the crossing located west of Parkersburg. Stopped for lunch at a Burger King on the outskirts of Parkersburg and then took US-50 (Corridor D) all the way to Clarksburg. What a pleasant drive! Set the cruise control at 70 mph for most of the trip—might have been able to go faster, but since it was raining and I didn't know the road I opted against that idea. Perhaps six or eight other vehicles on the road going eastbound but I left them behind climbing the hills.

As we approached Clarksburg I asked Ms1995hoo how she wanted to go for the rest of the trip. I figured she'd want to take the Interstate and I got a pleasant surprise when she said that on trips home she hates the segment from Hancock to DC because it feels like a rat race, too much traffic and too many aggressive drivers. So she said to go how I wanted! So I took I-79 south to Exit 99 for US-33 near Weston. After a toilet stop we headed east on US-33 (Corridor H) to Elkins, at which point I decided we ought to go down to Seneca Rocks because she'd never seen that area and I thought it would be a scenic detour (which of course it was) and more interesting than Corridor H construction near Mount Storm. BRIEFLY got stuck behind two trucks climbing one of the mountains, but we got past when they had to stop at a mandatory brake check spot before descending the other side. Made a left onto WV-28 at Seneca Rocks and followed that to Petersburg, then US-220 to Moorefield and a gas stop. At this point Ms1995hoo asked how much further it would be, so I turned on the sat-nav (it said 126 miles) and it had me take Old WV-55 out of town back to Corridor H (US-48/WV-55). This proved to be another excellent road, saw maybe one other car heading eastbound the entire way and again I set the cruise control around 70 mph. Damn shame when that beautiful freeway ends near Wardensville. Continued on WV/VA-55 to I-81 and then took I-81 and I-66 back home. Total distance worked out to about 514 miles (shorter than the drive out!) and it took about 9 hours 30 minutes including stops and a delay of about 15 minutes near Delaplane, Virginia, due to a wreck on the highway that had us crawling past on the shoulder.

The drive across West Virginia was an outstanding route, far better and more interesting than the conventional routes going around via Washington, PA. The ONLY negative in my mind was that the mountains occasionally interfered with the satellite radio reception—we were listening to Game 1 of the Nationals–Cardinals series on XM and it kept cutting out through some of the more mountainous stretches. But we heard the important parts!

I would recommend this route to just about anyone except perhaps for the portion near Seneca Rocks—that part depends on the driver's comfort with twisty mountainous two-lane roads (indeed we briefly got stuck behind a guy in a Mazda 5 who was clearly terrified going down the mountain between Harman and Seneca Rocks....thankfully he pulled into one of the truck pullouts and let me past). Next time I might follow the future Corridor H route around to the north of the Canaan Valley area because I suspect it would be faster, but the desire to take a scenic detour trumped that this time.

I may upload a few pictures from various places, but it needs to wait—got to call the mechanic. Auto-dimming rearview malfunctioned and I see a double image every time I look in it, so it has to be replaced ASAP. Damn annoying.

So thanks again for the comments. Until I saw the advice here about how good the Parkersburg-to-Clarksburg segment is I was rather wary of heading across West Virginia based on past experience with getting stuck on some of the two-lane roads. I like a good mountain two-laner, but I don't like those as major portions of the trip when I have to get somewhere by a particular time.

hbelkins:
Second to last time I was on US 33 heading east out of Elkins, it looked like a new truck climbing lane was being built on one section. Wonder if that got finished? I think that's east of Harman, because last time I went out that way I took WV 32 up to Davis and then across WV 93, and I don't remember passing thru that section.

If all goes well I'll be doing US 33 from Weston all the way to Richmond on Thursday.

1995hoo:
I recall using a climbing lane at one point on the segment between Elkins and Seneca Rocks, but I can't say as I recall exactly where, or whether there were any others, because normally unless I'm trying to get around a slow truck I find climbing lanes unremarkable and I just treat them like a normal lane (that is, I drive in them under the "keep right except to pass" theory). Didn't notice any significant roadwork anywhere along that segment, however. There was also a section between Elkins and the Monongahela National Forest where the road was a four-lane divided expressway. I don't know whether that was a new configuration or not because I had not been on that segment before (and it had been 20 years since I'd been in that area at all).

I took a look at a map and I see the mountain where the trucks had to stop at the top is Allegheny Mountain and it's marked as being on the Eastern Continental Divide. There was no climbing lane heading eastbound on that particular mountain; I passed one of the trucks in a passing zone and then passed the other at the brake check spot just after the summit. On the descent to Seneca Rocks the westbound side DID have a climbing lane, however, and I recall it because I was tempted to use it (illegally passing over the double yellow line) to get around the slowpoke in the Mazda 5. I have to say I was thankful for the brake-check stop for truckers because I do not like descending a mountain on a two-lane road with a truck behind me, especially when the driver in front of me is slow.

Looking at the satellite view (which of course I know could be out of date), the only climbing lane I can see on eastbound US-33 in that area covers the segment shown here, just east of the four-laned portion.

hbelkins:

--- Quote from: 1995hoo on October 08, 2012, 02:57:01 PM ---There was also a section between Elkins and the Monongahela National Forest where the road was a four-lane divided expressway. I don't know whether that was a new configuration or not because I had not been on that segment before (and it had been 20 years since I'd been in that area at all).

--- End quote ---

Known locally as "The Racetrack." Built in the late 70s-early 80s as part of Corridor H before the routing was moved north to follow US 219 out of Elkins. This section was built before the portion between Buckhannon and Elkins was finished.

My family went on a vacation in the early 80s to drive Skyline Drive and the BRP, and we spent the night in Harrisonburg. I remember we had to take the two-lane route through downtown Buckhannon and on to Elkins because the four-lane was only completed to Buckhannon, and then that short portion east of Elkins.

Hot Rod Hootenanny:

--- Quote from: 1995hoo on October 08, 2012, 09:48:18 AM ---Anyway, based on the comments about US-33 versus US-35 I decided we'd take I-70 back to Columbus and then take US-33 down past Lancaster and Nelsonville to the Athens area. This also allowed for taking I-70 through Columbus, which we didn't do on the way out since we hit the area around 4:00 PM last Wednesday. I had no idea it was that big a city with the high-rise office towers downtown and such. Don't know why, I just pictured a smaller city.

--- End quote ---

Columbus; we're bigger than Baltimore and D.C. (though much smaller than those two combine)

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