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  1. #1

    Default Chasing Cars: Portland and Sonoma (and the North West)

    This question is (deliberately) very vague right now - I will post up more on the proposed route and whatnot later on once I've finished researching the trip properly (I've read loads of very cool threads already!)

    What I am after right now is a possible reality check. What I am proposing is to take three or four weeks off work next June and visit the North West - an area that I've yet to visit. However, this is the tricky part, our busy season at work runs from April through September. As you will note, June is bang in the middle. My boss is not impressed at the idea of me disappearing for four weeks. Regrettably, I must be getting old, but I can kinda see his point.

    The question then, at this stage, is will this realistically squeeze into three weeks? I have entered a route into Microsoft Streets and Trips and it suggests a total mile ~4000 miles so I have a rough idea of how far. What I do not know is how long the trip should take. Your advice please?

    The route:

    First two weeks:

    Fly into San Fran and immediately head out of town towards Salt Lake City stopping at Lake Tahoe and Bonneville Salt Flats.

    Head north via Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

    Head west to Seattle (possible side trip to Vancouver if time permits?). Do the usual destinations in Seattle itself and North Cascades, Olympic and Mt Rainier National Parks.

    Head south along the coast road, camping overnight in Cannon Beach, towards Portland visiting Multnomah Falls en route.

    Spend a couple of days in Portland exploring the town and watching the Champcar race.

    Final week:

    Leave Portland and meander down to San Francisco where the trip will end. I will stay with a couple of people that I met at Le Mans and visit the Nascar race at Sonoma raceway on the Sunday. Fly home on Monday and back at work on Wednesday.

    Between Portland and San Fran I would like to squeeze as much as possible in - obviously - but the timescale is dictated by the two race dates, so the exact details of where I go will be a topic for discussion later!

    Thanks in advance!!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-28-2007 at 04:00 PM. Reason: trademark title(?)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default To Tahoe or not to Tahoe, and more

    Craig, How does it feel to be on the other side of the desk?

    I know this is sacrilege, but my wife agrees that if we could save 4 hours by not seeing Lake Tahoe and could spend the time taking a lake cruise in Glacier NP or in Yellowstone observing the wildlife then we would pass it by in a minute.

    We live near Tahoe and agree it is a very nice lake (more dramatic in winter with the snow-capped mountains), but there are other places along the way that might be more rewarding. That said, if your route took you up Hwy 50 from Sacramento, around the south end of the lake (with a short jaunt to Emerald Cove), to Carson City and across Hwy 50, and didn't cost you a lot of time compared to taking I-80 all the way, then we'd say do it. While I-80 gets you across the state in a hurry, Hwy 50 "the lonliest road in America" reveals the heart of Nevada. Stop for a short visit at the Grimes Point Petroglyphs east of Fallon, and try to resist playing the slot machines until you get to Austin, NV or Eureka, NV. It is more fun in a small, more authentically western town. Ely is a very nice town for an overnight stop.

    All that being said, unless you have a reason to stop in Salt Lake City (and there are several good reasons if you haven't been there), the fastest route to the Tetons is I-80 to Hwy 93, east of Elko, NV, then north to Twin Falls, Idaho Falls (there is a great brewpub right across from the falls in town), and on to Jackson, WY. Again, the goal would be to spend as much time in the NW as possible.

    Speaking of lakes, while Crater Lake is kind of isolated, but it is worth the trip and the boat ride to Wizard Island, as is the Obsidian Flow between Paulina Lake and East Lake in Newberry Crater, and the volcanic area around Bend.

    I'm sure you've seen many of these recommendations before, but one you might not have heard about is the "Ape Cave" just south of Mt. St. Helens. This is a large lava tube - something you don't see every day. Lavabeds National Monument in northern California is similar, but there are several tubes, one of which has ice at the bottom year-round.

    A few interesting historical stops:

    Pocatello, ID - Fort Hall reconstruction - Stop on Oregon/California Trail

    Fort Bridger, WY - Fort Bridger - Early 1800s Fur Trading post, stop on Oregon/California Trail, mid 1800s military post

    Helena, MT - Gates of the Mountains - Dramatic boat ride on narrow lake where Lewis and Clark traversed in canoes when it was a river.

    Tacoma, WA - Fort Nisqually - Fur Trading post

    Vancouver, WA - Fort Vancouver - Fur Trading post

    Astoria, OR - Fort Clatsop - Lewis and Clark winter quarters

    Astoria, OR - Maritime Museum - Commemorating one of the most dangerous river estuaries in the world

    If you are looking for a place to stay in Astoria we can recommend the Rose River Inn B&B.

    The Astoria Column is worth a look around.

    The classic view of Seattle with Mt. Ranier in the background is from Kerry Park on West Highland St., west of Queen Ann Ave, north of downtown Seattle.

    The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA is a unique experience. Besides some fascinating displays of artistic glass works, they have artists in residence who make things in front of a live audience. The "blowing room" has auditorium seating.

    The Timberline Lodge on the side of Mt. Hood, near Portland, is a wonderful place to just relax, have lunch and enjoy the mountain ambiance.

    Almost forgot...while in Glacier NP, don't forget to drive up to Waterton, the Canadian side of the park. Recent reviews indicate that it may not be the best place to stay, but have lunch. It is a lovely old hotel with a spectacular view. The drive west from there, over the Crow's Nest Highway, is pretty special, too. You could go that way instead of across western Montana and Idaho, which is nice, too.

    Obviously, I could go on and on, but I assume you've been following all the comments made on other threads. Your problem will be prioritizing, and I don't envy you that task.

    Craig Sheumaker

    co-author of A Traveler's Guide: America's Living History - The Early Years

  3. #3

    Default Omg!

    That is a fantastic post - thank you so much - though I am now even less hopeful of squeezing it all in to 3 weeks :s I will definately look into all these cool sounding places, as well as those I've already bookmarked, but I'm worried... is it even going to be possible in three weeks? Should I decide to can the idea right now or does the idea have legs? I am not afraid of the mileage - I did a 4,000 mile trip in two weeks last September and that didn't feel too rushed and I drive an average of 50-60,000 miles a year - but I do want to actually spend some time at the various destinations!

    Without getting too bogged down in the details at this stage, how much time would I likely save by lopping Lake Tahoe, Bonneville (which I really fancy seeing, for obvious reasons) and Salt Lake City off the itinerary? There is always potential to do that another time... I'm maybe getting carried away here but I really do wanna go back to the Grand Canyon sometime to do the Skywalk. Could quite happily combine that with a trip to cheer on my mate Dave who's set to play for LA Galaxy next year and even the Reno Air Races which we missed last year. hmmm...

    No, calm down, let's get back to this trip and that 3 week limit... thoughts please?? :)

    Thanks again!

  4. #4

    Default oooh...

    I was thinking, kinda as a fall back plan, I guess, that maybe I could do the US GP at Indianapolis and then head west towards Yellowstone and take in that area for a couple of weeks. However rumour has it that Bernie's pulled the plug on the US for next year. So that idea's out the window...

    So back to the original plan - 3 weeks - doable? Your input please?? :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Fredericksburg, VA



    FYI, it was announced earlier this week that 2007 was the last year for the US GP (F1) in Indianapolis!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Tough Love


    Here is the "tough love" itinerary from Suzanne and me.

    For a true Northwest US trip do: Yosemite (required, unless you've been there), Tahoe, Mt. Lassen (smallish, but sufficiently sulferous, stinky hot springs, mud pots, etc.), Lava Beds, Crater Lake, Bend Oregon volcanic area including John Day units in eastern Oregon, Mt. Rainier, Seattle (Vancouver), Olympic NP, Mt. St. Helens, Portland, Oregon Coast, California Redwoods, Sonoma/SF.

    We could give you a long, long list of attractions, but a guide book on the Pacific Northwest will give you enough suggestions for a month's worth of traveling in just this area.

    We call this "tough love" because we know it isn't what you want to hear - it misses the areas you wanted to see further east - but this is a full 3 weeks of classic NW scenery unlike anywhere else in the country -- you'll be able to say that you've really seen it. (And think of the gas money you'll save.)

    Much of this trip is on back roads, over hill and dale and desert and mountain and glacier and canyon and waterfall and river and lake and ocean and forest and sand dune, which makes it all the more fun.

    If you need specific recommendations, we'll do what we can, but we really recommend keeping it close and comprehensive.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  7. #7

    Default Reality!

    Thanks, Craig. I was beginning to realise people weren't posting because they didn't think it was possible. I don't mind the driving at all, in fact I kinda enjoy being on the move more than spending too much time in one place, but I also don't want to miss too much either! It's tough to get the balance just right.

    I've done Yosemite but wouldn't be averse to a return visit - have a look at my own pace - last time around was a little bit rushed if I'm honest. That is exactly what I'm talking about - the balance of seeing everywhere but missing nowhere!!

    I'll have a look at the map and see how your suggestions work out for me. I'll also keep working on my boss to see if I could stretch it out to 3.5 weeks or, if I pester enough, maybe the 4 weeks originally planned. But it's unlikely tbh! If I've not upset the boss too much, with all this begging and pleading, it is possible that I might be going to our factory in South Dakota next year sometime and it is always possible that I could rent a car and head across through Badlands, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks then. Maybe.

    I'd sooner have done it all this time around really, but I can see your point. Sadly.

    Thanks for your input. If anyone else has any thoughts or suggestions on this I'd love to hear them!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default More Tough Love

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    I was beginning to realise people weren't posting because they didn't think it was possible.
    Actually, I don't think that is the likely explanation for the lack of posts. The 5-6 regular posters who know this area the best have all been busy with other commitments off the Forum the last couple of weeks.

    Craig, has given you some excellent tips and you really ought to read fellow UK Tripper Peter Thody's threads on this area:

    Redwoods to Seattle &
    Oregon and points east

    But the real problem is that you are trying to stuff too much geography into a short time span. When you have roadtripped in the southeastern sections of the USA, you may have grown accustomed to the ease of seeing many, many places in a day. In the NW, it takes days of travel to see even half of what you have outlined and I just don't think it is possible, even for a veteran roadtripper like yourself.

    If it were me, I would spend the three weeks in Oregon and Washington -- even that will be rushed -- but, at least, you will get a sense of what there is to see here! Don't forget, Moderator Judy could easily come up with three weeks of roadtrips on just the Olympic Penisula for you, and that is less than 17% of the area you are hoping to cover.


  9. #9


    Thanks, Mark, have read those two posts previously but it did me good to read them once more. I was a little disappointed to be told that it wasn't a realistic trip and was starting to think a little about other possibilities. But reading those posts again has made me realise that I really do want to do this trip.

    Thanks for the reality check!

  10. #10

    Default Just thinking aloud

    Sorry to drag this one back up once again but my mind has been whirring once again. I'm really keen to do Yellowstone. I was talking to someone who works in Champcar and they told me that Denver will be back on the schedule in 2009 - I'm told August - and I was thinking... fly into Denver then loop round taking in Rocky Mountain NP, Bonneville, Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, Wind Cave NP and Badlands NP. Is that a feasible trip in, say, two weeks?

    If it is then I can relax my original plans for the Portland/Sonoma trip without worrying about missing out on half of what I wanted to do!


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