This was our first official road trip. We were traveling in a 4X4 truck & staying in a tent & motels. Nothing was booked. We planned on camping more than we did. We also decided to eat at restaurants.
We travelled 6650Kms & spent $616 on gas
***We learnt that it is better to book some things, especially in popular areas; check on tripadviser for reviews of campgrounds/motels; have food /meals in your cooler at all times & bring a stove/BBQ***
Sept 3, 2010- Left BC around 3:30 Mountain Time. Drove as far as Ritzville (96 Kms S of Spokane on 395), arrived around 9:30. Stayed in Motel on Highway, very noisy, & $93 night, Yikes! 525Kms
Sunset as leaving Coeur d’Alene Idaho
Sept 4, 2010-Left Ritzville. Drove past many fields of potatoes, onions, etc. Stopped in Tri Cities for breaky and took some pics of Columbia River.
Drove along Columbia River Gorge (very windy, lots of people windsurfing) Stopped at Crooked River Gorge just after Redmond, bridge & gorge made for some great pics.
Continued on to Bend, on Hwy 97 had lunch and got some supper for later. Stopped at Butte Lava Lands, bought our America Beautiful Pass ( $80) Did a walk thru trails, we had never seen lava area before so very interesting, but was 1 hr. wait to do drive to top of Butte, so we continued on.
We continued on to Crater Lake, campground was full, so we drove on to Diamond Lake, 10 kms. Nice campground for $16 with showers. Set up camp, ate and got ready for bed. Looked at our watch as we got into bed… only 8:40pm… long day. 680Kms
Sept 5, 2010-Up at 7:30, probably b/c we went to bed so early, not a good sleep though, only +4C this am. Continued onto Crater Lake, up a steep climb. The first viewpoint, I was speechless. It is the bluest water I have ever saw, with the broken off top of volcano as an island, all in a big crater. The drive up got steeper as we went, glad that I wasn’t driving.
We drove up & out of park & then started to descent down. The area turned into cattle farms, with cattle as far as you could see. We followed Klamath Lake, very big lake but no boats or anybody on it. Our GPS got us lost trying to find a restaurant, so 1.5 hrs. Later, we finally found one, where we had the biggest omelettes we had ever seen, by the time we left it was noon. We crossed into California, with Mt Shasta in the distance.
Mt Shasta in distance
We had just entered our 4th state! Drove on thru Weed. We hadn’t really noticed the climb until we started on way down. The road was very windy, & everybody was going extremely FAST. Lake Shasta came into view with red sand and blue water, very pretty! It was 17C when we started going down & 27C within 10 minutes. We didn’t stop, but continued on through fields of olive trees. Went thru Corning, “Olive Capital”. Not much else to see from Redding-just before Sacramento-but that is what happen when you are on the interstates (we took I-5,505,680,101.) We were getting close to San Francisco, so I let hubby take over the driving again. Good thing for the GPS, stay in our lane! It went from 2-3-4-7 lanes! Saw lots of refineries and some Navy ships. I had saw Marina Campground on internet in Marina Ca, but this being our first road trip, I didn’t look too closely at things, & that was our destination. We passed 2 campgrounds (which we should have stopped at) they wanted $55 for a site & it was getting dark, & we were very tired (another really long day) we opted for the Motel 6 nearby. At $106, we thought wow, thought they were a budget motel. Future note- book ahead-research parks/motels always have a backup plan to stay. Exhausted! 855 Kms
Sept 6-2010-Had a great sleep & breakfast, & away we go again! We drove past Monterey & Carmel (I know what were we thinking!)
After Carmel, we stopped at viewpoints & took pics, stopped at Bixby Bridge.
Arrived at Fern wood Campground. Everybody was leaving as it was end of long weekend. We chose our site, $40. Redwood trees & Big Sur “River” runs thru it (more like a small stream) we were only ones on the tenting side of campground, VERY nice!
We decided to go for a drive. Big Sur is in a valley area & you do not see the ocean. After we left the valley (10 min) it got so foggy! We drove as far as Groda, hoping that the fog would lift but it did not. We had stopped before Sand Dollar Beach & walked thru a field of sagebrush to the cliff area. Stopped at Sand Dollar beach on way back, $5, short walk to an overlook of beach. We watched some surfers.
It was still abit foggy at 4pm. went back to our campground & ate at restaurant there, quite expensive. We went back to camp & lit a fire as we were freezing! Not what I expected in California. Myths like Canadians all live in igloos & California is sunny & hot! Off to bed.
Sept 7, 2010- I woke up at 5am, but stayed where I was till 7, then off for a nice hot shower. Sat in the peace & quiet with the Blue Steller Jays jumping on my table while I was writing in my journal. We were going to stay another night but decided to move on towards some sunny weather.
We stopped at Pheifer Beach( it is hidden turn in , no sign saying it is there… I found this out on internet.) Cost $5 walked through a canopy of trees to get to the beach, big waves & tunnel rock and purple sand( from the seaweed?).
It was very cool…. 12C so not really beach weather for me.
We continued on to Jade Cove( Willow Creek) & drove to bottom.
We went looking for Jade rocks, we actually found quite a few. The fog had lifted today which was nice.
Drove onto Piedras Blancas , there is a lighthouse & elephant seal rookery there.
We got out & listened to the guided talk and watched them for about ˝ hr.
Drove onto Cambria-Pas Robles. Wine vineyards all along the drive.
Onwards to Visalia, Lemon Cove, and Three Rivers( many orchards along the road) We were going to stay in Three Rivers, but the campground was a dingy trailer court with a trickle of water running through it ( not the campground that they lead you to believe on the internet) *** trip advisor reviews*** probably would have helped me here!
We continued on to Sequoia NP. The foothills campsite that we stopped at next, the ranger told us that it was still 1 hr. to the trees, so not staying there. Onwards we go. The temp was 35C at the bottom, wow… sure hotter than at the coast. The road is VERY windy switchbacks all the way, with cars flying down like it was a Nascar race,YIKES! We finally saw the BIG trees! My husband, being a logger for over 30 years jumped out when we saw the first one and ran to it like a little kid. He was in awe!
We drove to Lodgepole campground, camping $20.We hadn’t ate dinner, or bought supplies( remember this is our first roadtrip and even though I thought I was so organized, clearly I wasn’t, and distances can be so deceiving ) the store up there was closed, it was only 6:30. We were told the only place to get food was the Lodge, ( which closed at 8:30) so we quickly set up camp, unloading all our food/drinks into the bear box, as it gets dark around 7:30.We drove 2 kms to Lodge, where we needed reservations, so we had to settle for appetizers in the bar. We ordered 2 Quesada $29 ouch! But they were really good. Went back to camp & lit a fire. The sites are very close together with not much trees/bushes for privacy, in the busy season it wouldn’t be very nice. The bathroom was along ways away from our site. The stars were amazing. In bed by 10, exhausted… long day!
Sept 8,2010- I can’t believe all that we have seen in a few short days, it hasn’t seemed rushed but we haven’t stayed in the same place for 2 nights. Originally, we were going to spend 3 days at Big Sur & 2 days at Sequoia NP. Back to lodge for breakfast-$29 for buffet for us both, and on our way by 9:30. Asked about Crystal Cave but you needed to book tour and it took 1.5 hrs. to get there & 1 hr. for tour, plus they had over 1 hr. construction delays, so we opted to pass this time. Maybe bring our grandkids here when they are older.
We drove to Sherman trail. We walked the d”28 stories” down a paved pathway/steps.Lots of trees to see. We really enjoyed it.
Drove onto Auto log, tunnel log.. more pictures!
Drove to Morro Rock, this is a must see/do!
It was one of those things that I hadn’t seen/read about, but a great roadtrip surprise!
There are stairs built into the rock(early 1930’s by hand) that take you all the way to the top.
Don’t let the height stop you from going all the way to top, take breaks if needed but all ages could do this. The view from the top was spectacular!
We headed towards Isabella Lake on Hwy 65... the road was not in very good shape though it was paved just really rough pavement & there was nothing along the road, so decided to head back out to the freeway.Bakersfield-Olancha... lots of orchards again.Stopped at a stand & got some fruit, $8 for a big bag! We stopped in Tehachapi for dinner in a cafe that looked like a train. Forgot to take a picture, cool little place & food was good $30 for us both.Drove onto Lone Pine... lots of motels... paid $99 .. long day!
Sept 9,2010-Out on road by 8:30.Turn to death Valley right at this town.