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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    In a small village Ahetze in southern France near the Spanish border and the Atlantic coastline.
    Posts
    4

    Default California Road trip itinerary suggestions.

    Hi everybody,

    This is my first RTA visit...my wife and I arrive from France in SF late June. Hired a 4WD to hit the road for about 12/13 days, including as much as possible scenic byways/roads. Main points of interest National Parks, some historic sites and nice (urban retreat) places to stay.
    Draft itinerary : SF, Half Moon Bay, Big Sur coastal road to Santa Barbara, via Bakersfield to Manzanar NHS, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon, Yosemite NP, Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, John Muir NHS, Napa Valley, SF.
    Question 1 : Is the length of is trip OK for 12 days, we are not in a rush but will limit our NP, NHS and places to see the 'basics'.
    Question 2 : Is an itinerary extension to Santa Monica, also including a Death Valley visit (heat) up to Manzanar recommended(length/time)?
    Question 3 : Is an itinerary extension via Santa Monica and Mojave to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon recommended(length/time)?

    Thanks in advance, much appreciate your feedback,
    Regards,
    Ben,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Starter Set of Suggestions

    Bienvenue sur les forums de RoadTrip Amérique. Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First: There is no need ot hire a 4WD vehicle. Every road you'll be driving will be paved or at least well graded, and your rental car contract will expressly prohibit you from taking the car off-road. Renting such an expensive specialty vehicle when you can't use it for its intended purpose is a significant waste of money. It is still not too late to cancel this reservation and get something that will be more comfortable, make better use of the gas you'll have to buy, and generally be more manageable on the road.

    Second: The area you'll be travelling through is perhaps the most discussed on these forums. Rather than try to remamber all the great recommendations that people have made over the years, I gathered up some of the best a while ago, so read through those and see if any of those ideas appeal to you or your family.

    Third: Your tentative itinerary is quite nice. How much to try to do or see is a very personal decision and some people would feel that you weren't doing enough with your two weeks while others would feel that you were trying to accomplish two much. The only one who can tell you what's right for you is you. You could certainly include a trip to the Grand Canyon, which would be about a two day round trip from, say, Bakersfield allowing for some significant time there as well as the drive. Is it worth it? Only you can say, but I might be tempted to see this unique site, certainly at the expense of one of the several wooded mountain parks in your current itierary. Yosemite is also unique, but with it on your schedule you might be able to forego Sequoia and/or Kings Canyon. You might want to look at a routing that goes roughly Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Tioga Pass to Yosemite, lake Tahoe and back to San Francisco.

    Bonne Chance!

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    In a small village Ahetze in southern France near the Spanish border and the Atlantic coastline.
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Hi AZBuck,

    Nice French welcome...thanks for quick and interesting info, which I will review carefully tomorrow (it's after midnight over here) and come back. About the car, what do you recommend most suitable for two youngsters in their sixties, opt for safety and some comfort? US makes only, please.

    Thanks.
    Ben,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default I'm Such a 'Youngster' Myself...

    ...and my wife and I are usually quite comfortable in an Intermediate or Mid-size car. We find such cars the best compromise between comfort, price, gas mileage, sportiness and creature comforts. You won't be able to specify exactly what make and model you will get - note that each company will list specific car that represents what you can expect to get when you rent a car of this class but will then carefully add the words "or similar". The best you can do is to check each company's website and see if they say that they feature cars by a certain manufacturer, but even then if they say General Motors, you might end up with a Chevy, Pontiac, or (less likely) a Buick. In the end, though, the various models/makes from the same manufacture will be so similar as to make almost no difference. I think that you'll find that an Intermediate sedan is less than half the cost of the 4WD you initially reserved and will be a better all around vehicle for your trip anyway.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    You also have no guarantee of an American make - you will find a lot of Nissans and Toyotas in rental fleets over here. However, they will be American-built models. You will also find a lot of Mexican-built Fords - confusing, isn't it?

    I'm going to go by the Enterprise listing.

    Intermediate sedan = Pontiac G5, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla, or similar
    Standard sedan = Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, or similar
    Full Size sedan = Chevy Impala, Nissan Altima, Dodge Charger, or similar

    All 3 of these are very close in price in SFO.

    Now, go figure - in SFO, the cheapest Enterprise rental is a small SUV - Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, or similar. A standard sport utility (Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Acadia, Dodge Journey, or similar) is about the same price as all 3 of the sedans previously listed. However, standard SUV's do not get good gas mileage - less than 20 mpg. The small SUV's get in the low 20's, the sedans should get in the mid to high 20's.

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