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Author Topic: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)  (Read 1178 times)

A.J. Bertin

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As some folks on here know, I'm hosting a meet in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this April.  I've figured out my route down to OBX from my home in Michigan, but I'm having a hard time deciding which route to take home so I figured I'd post something here and ask for people's opinion.

I honestly haven't decided what's more important to me... maximizing the number of new counties I get, or clinching some Interstate segments that I don't yet have.  (I'm kind of leaning toward clinching Interstate segments but I haven't made my decision yet.  Maybe I can be swayed.)

I'll be leaving Elizabeth City NC on the morning of Sunday, April 26, and will be taking two days to drive home.  These are the options I'm considering at this point:

1. Take U.S. 158 west to I-85, head north on I-85 for a short segment in the southern part of Virginia, and then take U.S. 58 to I-77.  I'd then take I-77 north and spend Sunday night in either Beckley, Charleston, or Parkersburg WV. (For the route home on Monday from there, I might consider seeing what missing counties in eastern Ohio I can snag... or I might instead opt for the fastest route home which would likely entail I-77 north to the Ohio Turnpike.)

2. Take U.S. 158 west to I-95 and head north on I-95 so I can get all (or most?) of I-95 in Virginia that I need. Then I'd pass through the D.C. area and take I-270 west to I-70 west, so I can clinch all of I-68.  My overnight Sunday night could possibly be in the Morgantown WV area.

I could also be swayed into considering something different, but like I say, I'm just having a hard time deciding what's more important to me at this point.  Any thoughts that anyone has on these two route options would be appreciated.  I'm hoping to book my Sunday night hotel soon and obviously need to determine which city I should plan on staying in.  (I'm generally not a fan of going without a hotel reservation and having to do my hotel research while I'm on the road.)
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sprjus4

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2020, 07:54:31 PM »

1. Take U.S. 158 west to I-85, head north on I-85 for a short segment in the southern part of Virginia, and then take U.S. 58 to I-77.  I'd then take I-77 north and spend Sunday night in either Beckley, Charleston, or Parkersburg WV. (For the route home on Monday from there, I might consider seeing what missing counties in eastern Ohio I can snag... or I might instead opt for the fastest route home which would likely entail I-77 north to the Ohio Turnpike.)

2. Take U.S. 158 west to I-95 and head north on I-95 so I can get all (or most?) of I-95 in Virginia that I need. Then I'd pass through the D.C. area and take I-270 west to I-70 west, so I can clinch all of I-68.  My overnight Sunday night could possibly be in the Morgantown WV area.
I assume the US-158 and US-58 routings are for clinching purposes over efficiency... if you're looking for the quickest routing, for Option #1 I'd recommend US-17, US-64, I-40, US-52, to I-77 vs. US-158 to I-85 then US-58 across Virginia. However, if you're wishing to clinch US-58 or US-158, go for it. US-58, with the exception of just east of I-77, is all 4-lane divided highway largely posted at 60 mph with a few 65 mph segments around Martinsville, Danville, and Hillsville and is a great route if you're looking for no traffic. Only about 5,000 AADT use the roadway, and when I traveled it west of I-85, it was desolate.

If you're looking to clinch I-95, Option #2 would be the way to go, you could even consider adding ~30 minutes and taking US-17 and US-64 to meet I-95 further south and pick up another 40 miles of it, along with the 55 mile freeway segment of US-64 between US-17 and I-95. Be advised of DC though, traffic is horrendous there, along I-95 and I-495 notably. Leaving I-95 at Fredericksburg and taking US-17 to I-66, I-66 to I-81, and I-81 back to I-70 is a nice alternative if you're looking to take that routing, but avoid DC at the same time. I've opted for this route quite a few times trying to head northwest and avoiding the whole DC metro.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 07:57:29 PM by sprjus4 »
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hbelkins

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2020, 09:46:27 PM »

US 58's a fun drive. The climb up the Blue Ridge from Stuart is two lanes, but it's quite scenic. There's a four-lane bypass of Meadows of Dan (where the business route intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway) and more of the four-lane has been built east of Hillsville.

Once you're on I-77, would it be faster to stay on 77 all the way to the Ohio Turnpike, or would US 33 or US 35 be better options? Both cut the corner diagonally to whatever route you'd choose to head north on (possibly US 23 out of Columbus or I-75 out of Dayton.)

If you opt for the I-68 clinch, an alternative is to take US 522 out of Winchester, Va., to Hancock, Md. It's four lanes in Virginia, a super-2 for its short length in Maryland, and the West Virginia portion isn't that bad. How you'd get there from I-95 is something on which I could not give an expert opinion, although US 17/I-66/US 17/US 50 from Fredericksburg is an option.

With all the new construction that has been done over the years, the fastest option for me would involve making my way to Winston-Salem, then US 52, I-74, I-77, and I-81 to Abington, then following Alt. US 58 and US 23 into Kentucky. Because of high water road closures on what would have been our family's normal route to the Outer Banks back then -- and my dad's stubborn insistence that if he encountered high water, even if only about 90 minutes from home, we'd turn around and come back home and not take the trip -- we opted for the route through Hazard, Whitesburg, Norton, and Abingdon. We ended up exiting I-77 at Hillsville and using US 52 into North Carolina because the I-74 connection hadn't been built then, and maps didn't show any other exits between US 58 and the state line.
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2020, 08:39:09 PM »

I assume the US-158 and US-58 routings are for clinching purposes over efficiency...

Pretty much... for clinching highways and counties.

if you're looking for the quickest routing, for Option #1 I'd recommend US-17, US-64, I-40, US-52, to I-77 vs. US-158 to I-85 then US-58 across Virginia.

I'm not necessarily looking for the quickest route... just a route that gives me a decent number of new counties and highway-clinching abilities. I'm not sure I would take this suggestion because my route going down to the Outer Banks on the previous Thursday might possibly entail the stretch of U.S. 64 between the Raleigh area and U.S. 17. (It will either be that or U.S. 70 from I-40 south of Raleigh. My destination Thursday night will be Morehead City.)

However, if you're wishing to clinch US-58 or US-158, go for it. US-58, with the exception of just east of I-77, is all 4-lane divided highway largely posted at 60 mph with a few 65 mph segments around Martinsville, Danville, and Hillsville and is a great route if you're looking for no traffic. Only about 5,000 AADT use the roadway, and when I traveled it west of I-85, it was desolate.

Good to know!  Thanks for this info.

If you're looking to clinch I-95, Option #2 would be the way to go, you could even consider adding ~30 minutes and taking US-17 and US-64 to meet I-95 further south and pick up another 40 miles of it, along with the 55 mile freeway segment of US-64 between US-17 and I-95.

That's a good thought.  However, if I opt for the U.S. 64 route on my way to Morehead City on the previous Thursday as I referenced above, I wouldn't have a need to do that again.  Plus, that 55-mile segment of I-95 would be redundant for me because I'd driven that stretch (albeit southbound) on a road trip back in 2005.

Be advised of DC though, traffic is horrendous there, along I-95 and I-495 notably.

This does concern me a bit, but maybe it won't be quite as bad since it will be a Sunday that I'd be potentially passing through there.  However, in my lifetime, I do want to drive the D.C.-area Interstates, so will there ever be a "good" time for me to check this off my bucket list?  I'm not sure.  I just need to suck it up and do it once.

Leaving I-95 at Fredericksburg and taking US-17 to I-66, I-66 to I-81, and I-81 back to I-70 is a nice alternative if you're looking to take that routing, but avoid DC at the same time. I've opted for this route quite a few times trying to head northwest and avoiding the whole DC metro.

That's not a bad idea for me to consider.  Thanks again!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2020, 08:41:31 PM by A.J. Bertin »
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2020, 08:52:06 PM »

US 58's a fun drive. The climb up the Blue Ridge from Stuart is two lanes, but it's quite scenic. There's a four-lane bypass of Meadows of Dan (where the business route intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway) and more of the four-lane has been built east of Hillsville.

Hmm... that's good to know.

Once you're on I-77, would it be faster to stay on 77 all the way to the Ohio Turnpike, or would US 33 or US 35 be better options? Both cut the corner diagonally to whatever route you'd choose to head north on (possibly US 23 out of Columbus or I-75 out of Dayton.)

You make a good point here.  The I-77-to-Ohio-Turnpike route is kind of the default option in my mind, but I like your idea of cutting the corner.  Between the two options, I kinda like the U.S. 35 option better... if I were to cut the corner.

If you opt for the I-68 clinch, an alternative is to take US 522 out of Winchester, Va., to Hancock, Md. It's four lanes in Virginia, a super-2 for its short length in Maryland, and the West Virginia portion isn't that bad. How you'd get there from I-95 is something on which I could not give an expert opinion, although US 17/I-66/US 17/US 50 from Fredericksburg is an option.

I really like this idea.  However, as I mentioned in my response to sprjus4, it's on my bucket list to drive around the D.C. metro area despite how bad the traffic might be.  I just have to decide how important that is to me... not to mention getting as much I-95 mileage in Virginia as I can get.

With all the new construction that has been done over the years, the fastest option for me would involve making my way to Winston-Salem, then US 52, I-74, I-77, and I-81 to Abington, then following Alt. US 58 and US 23 into Kentucky. Because of high water road closures on what would have been our family's normal route to the Outer Banks back then -- and my dad's stubborn insistence that if he encountered high water, even if only about 90 minutes from home, we'd turn around and come back home and not take the trip -- we opted for the route through Hazard, Whitesburg, Norton, and Abingdon. We ended up exiting I-77 at Hillsville and using US 52 into North Carolina because the I-74 connection hadn't been built then, and maps didn't show any other exits between US 58 and the state line.

Ah I see... interesting.

There's a possibility that Sam Scholtens might be riding home with me from the Outer Banks meet, so I'd like to ask for his input.  He might feel strongly one way or another to sway me toward one route as opposed to the other.
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hbelkins

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2020, 01:34:09 PM »

Once you're on I-77, would it be faster to stay on 77 all the way to the Ohio Turnpike, or would US 33 or US 35 be better options? Both cut the corner diagonally to whatever route you'd choose to head north on (possibly US 23 out of Columbus or I-75 out of Dayton.)

You make a good point here.  The I-77-to-Ohio-Turnpike route is kind of the default option in my mind, but I like your idea of cutting the corner.  Between the two options, I kinda like the U.S. 35 option better... if I were to cut the corner.

Just curious. How far west do you normally go on I-80/I-90 before you turn north into Michigan?

The US 35 option would allow you to clinch it in West Virginia, as well as see the new construction to complete the four-lane link between Point Pleasant and I-64. If you wanted to take the two-lane section of 35 through Dayton, you could follow it all the way to I-70 and clinch it in Ohio as well.
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2020, 11:48:45 PM »

How far west do you normally go on I-80/I-90 before you turn north into Michigan?

Whenever I'm doing that drive westbound on I-80/I-90, I almost always exit at I-280 in the Toledo area.  I take I-280 north to I-75 south to I-475 west to U.S. 23 north into Michigan.
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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2020, 03:02:27 PM »

Whenever I'm doing that drive westbound on I-80/I-90, I almost always exit at I-280 in the Toledo area.  I take I-280 north to I-75 south to I-475 west to U.S. 23 north into Michigan.

Have you ever thought of using Exit 59 on I-80/I-90 instead? Then use US-20 east to Dussel Drive west, then to I-475/US-23 north?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2020, 03:11:34 PM by ChimpOnTheWheel »
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2020, 07:46:09 PM »

Whenever I'm doing that drive westbound on I-80/I-90, I almost always exit at I-280 in the Toledo area.  I take I-280 north to I-75 south to I-475 west to U.S. 23 north into Michigan.

Have you ever thought of using Exit 59 on I-80/I-90 instead? Then use US-20 east to Dussel Drive west, then to I-475/US-23 north?

Yes I have, but I save a tiny bit of money by exiting the Turnpike sooner. Besides, I always prefer staying on nothing but freeways when I'm passing through the Toledo area. I've never been crazy about the idea of using surface roads to get from the Turnpike to I-475/U.S. 23.
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csw

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2020, 07:53:09 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2020, 09:45:48 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2020, 10:34:51 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
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kevinb1994

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2020, 10:43:38 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
I would, if the grade wasnít as bad as it is.
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sprjus4

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2020, 10:45:10 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
I personally donít mind it, though know some people who donít care for it due to the grades and curves, notably at night.
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kevinb1994

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2020, 10:48:31 PM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
I personally donít mind it, though know some people who donít care for it due to the grades and curves, notably at night.
Which I wouldnít bother doing anyway.
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csw

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2020, 10:59:03 PM »

Oh, I definitely enjoy driving on that stretch cause it's challenging and pretty. But if your car is old and tired (like mine), there's a lot of traffic, it's dark, or you're tired, then it's not so much fun any more.
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kevinb1994

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2020, 11:00:14 PM »

Oh, I definitely enjoy driving on that stretch cause it's challenging and pretty. But if your car is old and tired (like mine), there's a lot of traffic, it's dark, or you're tired, then it's not so much fun any more.
Seems like weíre forgetting motion sickness here...
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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2020, 06:24:08 AM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
I would, if the grade wasnít as bad as it is.
Bad car?  What's the worry about the grade?
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2020, 06:38:34 AM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.

Thanks for the tip.  When I was 13 years old with my family, we took that route as part of our family vacation back home to Michigan from Florida.  I don't really remember it specifically.  I also can't recall whether I've been on that section of I-77 in my adult driving years, but I've have to check my Travel Mapping file.  If Sam and I take that route on our way home, it would likely be late in the afternoon or early in the evening on Sunday when we'd be driving that portion.
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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2020, 06:55:54 AM »

If you're considering the I-77 routing, the section between Beckley and Charleston is pretty twisty and can get a little hairy when the sun is down. So keep that in mind if you don't like driving at night or if you'll be at the end of a long day of driving.
Thatís what I donít miss about going to and from the Pittsburgh meet last August.
I actually enjoy that stretch.
I would, if the grade wasnít as bad as it is.
Bad car?  What's the worry about the grade?
Donít be like my father and drive like a maniac.
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A.J. Bertin

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Re: Route home to Grand Rapids MI from Elizabeth City NC (April 2020 trip)
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2020, 12:44:11 PM »

I decided to go with Option #2: "Take U.S. 158 west to I-95 and head north on I-95 so I can get all (or most?) of I-95 in Virginia that I need. Then I'd pass through the D.C. area and take I-270 west to I-70 west, so I can clinch all of I-68.  My overnight Sunday night could possibly be in the Morgantown WV area."

Sam and I will be staying in Morgantown on the Sunday night. I'm not sure yet what route we'll take back to the Grand Rapids area from Morgantown, but I'm not worried about that right now because all of my hotels for this trip have now been booked. We'll cross that bridge (pun maybe intended?) later. LOL
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