Arrived in Great Lakes today and after checking in at Navy Lodge I thought I'd pass some info on concerning what may be of interest to those who plan on driving to Great Lakes from the Southeast US.
We traveled by vehicle starting in South Carolina and went via I-26W thru SC into NC, then I-40W at Asheville going over the Smoky Mtns then hitting I-75N in Knoxville going North to Lexington Kentucky. Got on I-64W to I-65N in Louisville. Please note significant construction in Louisville that gave my GPS fits with the detours transferring from 64 to 65 northbound. We actually somehow got off the Interstate in downtown, but if you follow the detour signs it gets you back onto the route you need and GPS catches up and gives you a look like "What? I didn't do it..." Not much of a snafu exactly, but be aware. I-65N all the way to Gary, IN and from there went West on the toll thru Chicago to Great Lakes.
The highest fuel price per gallon I saw on the whole route was $2.09, with more times then not $1.85 being the average. If you take the toll from Gary to Great Lakes, there are a total of 3 toll payments, $0.80, $1.90, and $4.50 ($7.20 total). And even taking the toll, traffic in Chicago can be a lesson in patience. I highly advise you making sure you fuel up before hitting Gary, IN so if you're stuck in traffic in downtown Chicago (which you will be), fuel won't be an issue.
No significant snow to speak of, with a light dusting at the top of Smoky Mtns and light accumulation in Northern Indiana and Illinois. And this accumulation is patchy. The roads are all snow free and well salted, even at top of Smoky Mtns. As I write this, temp here in Great Lakes is 31F and clear skies.
The only area that raised my blood pressure was Chicago and it is what it is. Prepare for it and don't be stupid because every other vehicle around you is controlled by an idiot.
If you're attending PIR, be safe in your travels and congrats to that recruit in your life. Wait. Scratch that. Congrats to the SAILOR in your life.
Thanks for posting. My wife and I are making this drive February 4th from Hickory, NC. Planning our trip so we arrive in Chicago traffic around 7 pm. Hoping to miss some of the local traffic. But being from Atlanta and having lived in Charlotte and Philly as well, I'm well prepared to test my patience in traffic.