This is the route I'm planning to take. Since I'm planning this from the comfort of Kim's living room, of course, it's subject to change based on actual conditions--road, weather, and personal temperment.
- North on I-75 from Tampa to the I-75/US-280 intersection around Cordele, Georgia. 323 miles and what I expect to be the highest-speed stretch.
- West along US-280 and US-80, from Georgia through Alabama, Mississippi, and Lousiana into Texas, past Dallas to Anson and the US-83 intersection. 1002 miles.
- North along US-83 ("The Road to Nowhere") between Anson and Shamrock, TX. 185 miles.
- West along I-40, the historic route of "The Mother Road," US-66, from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona into the Mojave Desert at Barstow, California. We diverge from I-40 where Route 66 does (chiefly in west Arizona). 1035 miles, barely edging out the US-80 route for longest stretch.
- California 58 west from Barstow to Four Corners, CA and then north on US-395, past Death Valley and following the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains to Lake Tahoe. 379 miles, and the stretch most likely to be diverted in case of inclement weather, but we'll see.
- US-50 west from Lake Tahoe, merging with I-80 as it heads toward San Francisco. 213 miles.
- I-680 down to San Jose, about 75 miles.
The last legs are a bit odd--they're not nearly as direct as the central valley route I-5 takes or even coming up the Pacific coastline would be. But I'm told it's a beautiful drive and it's a drive I haven't done before--and when you're driving this far, a few hundred extra miles don't make too much difference. The total mileage on the trip is just over 3200 miles, so if I average 400 miles a day (presuming I'm driving just 12 hours a day that's not unreasonable, right?), that makes it an eight-day trip. Assuming no side trips or long stops, neither of which is a safe assumption, admittedly.
The total cost for the trip I'm estimating at $700, which is a real quack-in-the-dark figure; it's assuming I'm sleeping in a motel every night and that the average room cost is going to be $50 a night. $75 a night won't be unthinkable--although if it's warm enough in Georgia I may just try to sleep in the car the first night!