I just signed up for this forum, looking forward to using it a lot in the coming months. I happenstanced on what appears to be the perfect set of coincedences for an epic road trip and have 3 months to improve it with your help!
So I'm just looking for some general advice. My biggest question is if anyone's used the couch surfing project, and what their thoughts on it are. I've been doing quite a bit of backpacking recently, and I'd like to count on camping more, except I'm worried it's going to be too cold.
Also, I'm a little concerned with the life expectancy of our 93 Toyota Camry wagon. I've been trying to find a good travel planning site to add up all the mileage I'm going to be doing and see what a mechanic has to say about it, but I've been really disappointed with all of them. Every trip-planner seems to be trying to sell hotel accommodation's and theme-parks rather than guide me to the hot-springs, wineries, campgrounds, and hiking that I'm really looking for. I want a good tool that will plot my route on a map, tell me how many miles I'm realistically doing and how long the expected drive time is between each leg, and let me save the whole trip so I can tweak it repeatedly over the next 3 months, and share it with all of you. Any thoughts? Here's the best one I've found.
That being said, any other general advice would be lovely, especially if you're familiar with the areas, I'd love to know where to go. I *hate* tourist traps, and in my experience, using guidebooks it's hard to tell which areas are tourist garbage, which aren't and which are tourist traps but totally worth it.
So that being said, here's some background and the general itinerary.
I've been ski-bumming and saving money in Lake Tahoe for several years now, (it's almost impossible to leave this place once you get comfortable). But with the addition of a girlfriend who's being forced back into school for financial reasons I'm stoked to be leaving, moving to San Diego, and trading the snowboard in for some board shorts and surf boards.
Here's where the road trip comes in! We have a room lined up in SD with no commitment date! I have several thousand dollars to spend, tons of family and friends to visit in Canada and Oregon, (where I have never really been) and my lease runs out on Halloween.
Now, add to that a love of wine and the outdoors and a pretty solid basis of knowledge of the viticultural areas of the pacific northwest with a strong desire to visit, and a will to spend 4-6 weeks (random, approximate number) driving around the Pacific Northwest.
Here's the basic plan. Somewhere around the end of October we're going to start in Tahoe City, Drive to her parents ranch in Mendocino and leave all of our non-essentials and my car parked there.
Probably spend a couple days tasting around the greater wine areas of Napa/Sonoma/Carneros/Mendocino before driving up the 1 to areas I've never been before.
I want to spend some amount of time backpacking around the lost coast, but I definitely need to research this more, with only one car I can't shuttle anything and I don't know how wet/worthwhile it's going to be this time of year.
Then it's up to Oregon and Washington, I want to taste as much wine as possible in the Willamette and random other wine areas, visit Eugene, Seattle, Portland, and then cross into Canada and check out Vancouver.
I'm half Canadian and have family everywhere up there so I imagine I'll have some local guides, plenty to do, and some free places to stay from Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatoon.
From there I want to make my way South, and get into Yellowstone for a bit.
From here, I'm kind of open to suggestion. Eventually we have to make it back to Mendocino, pick up our things, and drive down to San Diego, (with a couple day pit-stop in the Santa Barbara / Central Coast area to visit friends and family and explore some more wine areas.) We hope to be Ending up in San Diego around the beginning of December sometime.
Wow, monster post, hope someone spends the time to read this whole thing!
Anyway, thanks for the advice in advance, look forward to talking to you lots in the future!