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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default A long day's drive from LA to San Francisco

    I completely understand why the moderators warn against driving too long. My family left our house in Orange County at 5:15 AM on our way to the Bay Area. We had to drop a friend off at Long Beach Airport on the way, so we took CA-22 to I-405 before heading north via I-5. We left Long Beach around 6:00 AM.

    Stop #1 was the McDonald's at Castaic (mile 123; 6:57 to 7:46 AM). It's the last part of suburbia before going through the mountains and down to Grapevine.

    Stop #2 was Lost Hills (mile 194; 9:11 to 9:30 AM), where we filled up the tank and headed west on CA-46. We stopped briefly at the James Dean memorial east of Cholame. There wasn't much to see here, so we snapped a few photos and moved on.

    Stop #3 was Mission San Miguel Arcangel (just north of Paso Robles along US 101 [mile 263; 10:55 to 11:15 AM]). The mission is being repaired after extensive earthquake damage a few years ago, so we didn't go into the chapel.

    Stop #4 was Mission San Antonio de Padua (mile 303; 12:10 to 1:28 PM). This required a fairly long detour off the 101 via Jolon Road to Fort Hunter Liggett. Entering the base to see the mission requires a security inspection, and drivers must present the vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and a valid driver's license. We ate our lunch there in the picnic area before touring the grounds. This is one of the best preserved missions in the chain.

    Stop #5 was Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (mile 346; 2:19 to 2:29 PM). If San Antonio and la Purisima Concepcion are the best preserved, Soledad is probably one of the least preserved. The chapel and attached rooms were rebuilt in 1955, but the remains from the original quadragle are mostly-dissolved adobe walls. The mission failed and was abandoned for so long that not much remained. Unless you are intent on seeing all the missions, this is one that can be safely skipped.

    Stop #6 was the NASA center (formerly Moffatt Field [mile 441; 4:05 to 4:24 PM]) to see some WWII bombers on temporary display. I checked the Collings Foundation website to see where their B-17 and B-24 would be on their annual tour, and it happened to be along our route.

    Our final stop was the Embassy Suites in South San Francisco (mile 467; 4:50 PM) where we stayed two nights.

    I'll post photos, times, distances, and our second day itinerary when I get more time tonight.
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-26-2009 at 11:35 AM. Reason: adding info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Actually, you saw a lot!

    I'm surprised you saw as much as you did on this long drive.

    You broke up your driving with stops and, really, I don't mind a long time from sleeping spot-to-sleeping spot if I'm not just in the car the whole time but, rather, getting out and doing things along the way. I've been known to be on the road by 6am and not stopping until 8-9pm but I've only done this once or twice non-stop, i.e. just stopping for food/fuel/bio breaks. Usually this is driving like you did with sightseeing/explorations along the way, sometimes out of the car for several hours at a time. Doing nothing but driving is far more tiring.

    But you make a good point and people need to be aware of their own stamina and do a pace that works for them.

    I hope you enjoyed San Francisco and had a pleasant drive home. Anything else you want to share about your trip?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Day 2

    We certainly enjoyed the trip. The kids loved staying in a hotel, my wife enjoyed not having to cook or wash dishes, and I enjoyed seeing new places and revisiting ones I haven't seen in years.

    Left hotel 10:01 AM.

    Stop #1 at Mission Dolores (mile 481; 10:21 to 10:41 AM). There were bus loads of tourists there, so we just took photos outside and moved on. We knew we had a busy day ahead of us.

    Stop #2 at Mission San Rafael (mile 500; 11:20 to 11:33 AM). This mission was completely rebuilt in 1949, and I deem it one of the other missions that could easily be bypassed. We checked another mission off the list and moved on.

    Stop #3 at Mission San Francisco Solano (also known as Sonoma Mission; [mile 528; 12:18 to 2:20 PM). This mission is run by the California Parks Department and has other old structures nearby to visit. We had our picnic lunch across the street from the mission at a large city park. There were a number of interesting shops, also, and the kids scored Ben & Jerry's ice cream before we headed off for our next destination.

    Stop #4 at Point Reyes National Seashore's Bear Valley Visitor Center (mile 576; 3:20 to 5:11 PM). Our 9-year old completed the Junior Ranger program booklet and toured the replica Miwok village to earn her Jr. Ranger badge.

    We got back to our hotel at 7:15 PM (mile 629). Highway 1 along the coast that leads back to US 101 is narrow and twisty here, as it is in other stretches. It's best not to take it at too quick a clip lest you make your passengers car sick. Along the way we stopped briefly for photos at Stinson Beach and on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-26-2009 at 03:38 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Day 3

    We left South San Francisco at 10:25 and retraced our route down US 101 (minus the detour on Jolon Road).

    Stop #1 at Carmel Mission (officially Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; mile 733; 12:26 to 1:15 PM). This mission is almost completely rebuilt, but it boasts a beautiful garden and courtyard. It was worth the trip.

    Stop #2 at Carmel Valley for lunch (mile 743; 2:00 to 2:15 PM). We brought sandwiches along and stopped at a local supermarket to pick up some hot items (cold turkey and cheese sandwiches get old after 3 days). We ate in the parking lot of the Garland Ranch Regional Park because it didn't look like a picnic area was available. After that we took Carmel Valley Rd/ Arroyo Seco Rd to get back to US 101. The road was narrower and twistier than I'd expected, but it offered a cool drive through the trees with occasional vistas of the valleys below. Don't expect to take it quickly.

    Stop #3 at Paso Robles for gas and snacks (mile 849; 4:15 to 5:05 PM). There's a McDonalds built in retro 1950's style on the west side of the CA-46 offramp from US 101) that was interesting. My 9-year old asked me if this is what McDonalds were like when I was a kid. Hmmm...

    Stop #4 at Taft (mile 940; 6:34 to 6:43 PM). Instead of taking CA-46 to I-5 again, we took CA-33 south to parallel I-5 and see what there was in the vast unknown part of the central valley. We found there were lots of oil fields and a bit of agriculture. It didn't take us much longer than going the I-5 route, and we got to see some small towns we wouldn't have otherwise ever visited. When the speed limit drops from 65 to 70 mph to 35 mph in these towns, pay attention! There was a police cruiser stopped on a side street waiting for speeders in Maricopa shortly after we saw the 35 mph sign.

    Stop #5 at Saugus for dinner (mile 1,023; 7:59 to 9:09 PM). I felt exhausted once I got out of the car, even though I felt fine behind the wheel. The choices at the Magic Mountain Parkway exit were fast food, Red Lobster, or Marie Callendars. We chose the latter. A cozy late dinner was a nice way to close off our trip.

    We arrived home at 10:18 PM (mile 1,093).
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-26-2009 at 03:35 PM. Reason: adding info

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Quite some "Mission" !

    Hi shirohniichan,

    Sounds like you had a good trip, thanks for sharing your report !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Photos from Day 1

    Sorry I couldn't post photos yesterday, but my web page hosting site was down for maintenance.

    Day #1 at James Dean crash memorial:


    Mission San Miguel Arcangel:


    Jolon Rd.:


    Mission San Antonio de Padua:


    Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad:


    Collings Foundation bombers at Moffat Field:


    Breakfast buffet area of Embassy Suites South San Francisco:
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-27-2009 at 10:04 PM. Reason: adding photo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Day 2

    CA 121 to Sonoma from San Francisco:


    Mission San Francisco Solano:


    Point Reyes National Seashore Bear Valley Visitor Center:


    Looking south from Stinson Beach:



    Golden Gate Bridge from north side:
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-27-2009 at 10:09 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default Day 3

    Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo:


    Carmel Valley Rd.:


    Retro McDonald's at Paso Robles:


    CA 33 north of Taft:


    I-5 south approaching Grapevine:

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