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  1. Default Northern California Sept 2008

    Hi everyone,

    My girlfriend and I are from the UK and are finalising plans for a roadtrip around Northern California, starting 19th Sept for 2 weeks. We are hiring a convertible and staying in motels. Below is our current schedule and we would like anyone to let us know if there is anything they feel is wrong with the distances we are planning to cover, or if there is anything we've missed that would be worth stopping to see. Here goes :

    Fri 19th Sept - Land at LAX and drive to Buellton. Dinner at Hitching Post 2. Been there before and loved it!
    Sat 20th Sept - 101 to Atascadero, 41 up to 46 East, then Giant Sequoia National Monument and stay in Visalia.
    Sun 21st Sept - Sequoia and Kings Canyon NPs, then up 41 North to stay at Oakhurst.
    Mon 22nd Sept - Yosemite NP then Tioga Pass to stay at Lee Vining. Mono Lake - been there before but want to see it again.
    Tue 23rd Sept - 395 North up to South Lake Tahoe. Gondola ride, boat trip maybe. Might look/stay at Virginia City - worth it?
    Wed 24th Sept - Across Plumas National Forest to stay at Chester near Lake Almanor. Nothing else planned, maybe just a relaxation day.
    Thu 25th Sept - Lassen Volcanic NP and stay at Burney.
    Fri 26th Sept - Lava Beds National Monument and stay at Klamath Falls.
    Sat 27th Sept - Long day, Crater Lake NP and then take 62 West, 234, 5 North, 199 to stay at Crescent City.
    Sun 28th Sept - Different redwood national parks and coastline, 101 south to stay at Eureka or Arcata.
    Mon 29th Sept - Lost Coast, Humboldt Redwoods NP and Avenue of Giants. Stay at Garberville.
    Tue 30th Sept - Down to Fort Bragg, Skunk train. Stay Fort Bragg.
    Wed 1st Oct - Mendocino, Point Arena, Bodega Bay and inland to Calistoga. Old Faithful geyser and Petrified Forest. Stay Calistoga.
    Thu 2nd Oct - Sausolito, over Golden Gate into SF.
    Fri 3rd Oct - Lunch and then to airport for flight back...don't want to think about this part :-(

    We've been to San Francisco several times before, so just want to relax there before flying back, definitely a nice meal on our last night. We've eaten at The Franciscan before which was nice, there also used to be a restaurant called The Cliffhanger (I think), that underwent a refurb in recent years. Is there anywhere nice to eat there now? Any other recommendations?

    The last week of the trip (down the coast) is very open to change because we don't know what to expect, so any recommendations there would be very welcome!

    Anyway, not long to go now....can't wait!!!! Look forward to hearing from anyone with their ideas :-)))

    Adam & Lynda

  2. #2

    Default A well planned trip...

    A great trip – you make me envious. Brings back good memories so I’ll just comment on my own experiences over this route / places.

    Visalia. Remember it well as my GPS went dizzy and it kept sending me round in circles until I ignored it. Downtown has good facilities although only stopped there prior to stopping at in the Park at Wuksachi Lodge and John Muir Lodge. Both excellent stays.

    Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are a gem and I would personally stay at least one night - would recommend the John Muir Lodge for one night. That would give you some time to visit General Sherman (largest living thing in the world) and points of interest on the way in and the following morning, before your onward trip to Oakhurst, time for a decent excursion into Kings Canyon. My wife often talks about the serenity and beauty of Kings Canyon – so best not to be too rushed.

    East of Tioga Pass. Consider June Lake – personally prefer it over Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes. Great community, scenic and some good places to stay. On your way to Tahoe call at Bodie Ghost Town

    Lake Tahoe. Consider Tahoe City – forget the city label as it is only a smallish place and is more relaxed than the South Lake Tahoe/ Statelinr location. But if you like Las Vegas like hotels Stateline is your place.

    Virginia City. Small historic place – you can just about walk round the place in 30 minutes but it does have its moments. When I visited they were hosting a classic car rally with vintage cars from all over the place. It was a joy to see. So check to see if any events are scheduled for when you visit.

    Plumas National Forest. The drive from Tahoe to Chester along route 89 is wonderful and scenic with small communities where you can pull in and enjoy a snack/coffee and have a chatter with the friendly locals. And Lake Almanor is certainly a laid back place to stay.

    Lassen Volcanic NP. Don’t know when the snow starts falling but recall a trip at the beginning of October when we were held up at the Park entrance for a couple of hours while a fresh snow fall was cleared from the road so vehicles could use the route. So when we went over the top it was covered with snow and created a very scenic picture. Wonderful.

    Burney. Don’t know about staying there but well worth a visit. The Water Falls are a wonder to see. If you happen to visit nearby Redding check out the Sundial Bridge, very different and well worth a visit.

    Crescent City. Would recommend you stay at the Hampton Inn. The location is on the ocean front with stunning views out to sea. The location takes some beating. If you walk the pebbly beach and look closely you will come across shinny pebbles (forget their proper name) which are somewhat unique to this area - look like a precious stone. Also walk nearby to Battery Point, an old lighthouse and to the harbor wall. Again a great location for a hotel.

    Redwoods. While in Crescent City visit / travel Howland Hill Road (comes up on Google maps I think) an unpaved single track but well maintained road through the redwoods. For getting up close and personal to the trees you will be hard pushed to better the experience. There are a few pull-ins – so talk a short hike along one of the trails. There is one called the Boy Scout trail which is excellent.

    Eureka. An old port that now uses tourism to make up for previous lost trade. A great place to stop / visit.

    Garberville. I’ve stayed in Garberville because it is near the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic drive not to be missed. I’ve not researched the subject but when I was there it was suggested to me that Garberville is the drug center of California. Apparently you can grow drugs and not break the law. No doubt someone knows better – maybe an urban myth.

    Sausalito. It is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in San Francisco.

    It is a picturesque seaside community on the northern shores of San Francisco Bay. It is certainly a wonderful place to spend a few hours and provides a different take/view of the Bay. You can stroll on the frontage, browse, shop, dine or just soak up the atmosphere.

    Although easy enough to reach by car (just northern end of Golden Gate Bridge) I think one of the better choices is to take a ferry from either Fisherman’s Wharf or from the Golden Gate ferry terminal. The fares are very reasonable with the added bonus of a scenic trip across the Bay.

    Have a great trip.

  3. Default

    Hi Eris,

    Many thanks for your reply and good ideas to fit into our schedule.

    We've already booked lodging either side of Yosemite at Oakhurst and Lee Vining (wasn't sure how busy it would be, so didn't want to risk having nowhere to stay within our price range), so we are tied to the schedule for that part of the trip.

    We visited Bodie back in May 2004 because we couldn't get over the Tioga Pass. We took the Sonora Pass instead and got sidetracked on the way. Amazing to imagine the town at it's height with a population of 10,000.

    Snow in early October?!? Wow, don't mind though, as long as it doesn't stop us getting up as far as Crater Lake. Would hate to miss that!

    From Crescent City onwards, we're just looking forward to some relaxing coastal walks and seeing the redwoods up close. Just cannot get an impression of their size from photographs. Looking forward to some fine seafood as well :-)

    We'll come into SF from the North over the Golden Gate, so can stop at Sausolito on the way. We've done Alcatraz before and I've done a boat trip under the Golden Gate on another trip. Thinking about doing the Alcatraz night visit....not sure, but we know we'd have to book up front.

    Anyway 16 working days and counting.....!

    Thanks again!

  4. #4

    Default Not long now.........

    Hi Adam & Lynda,

    Countdown – know the feeling as we go to San Francisco in just over a week to stay with family. Also planned a side trip, this time fly to Albuquerque, hire a car and then meander back to SF.

    Crater Lake. Without doubt it has a wow factor. While wandering around the place go to Crater Lake Lodge have a coffee and sit at the picture window overlooking the lake. Certainly some view.

    My experience in this area is that during September / October, the weather at ground level is normally very good but the high country can be quite different. Just got to keep an eye on things. Mind you a little snow does spice things up. You can suffer fog belts along the coast even when the sun is shining just a few miles inland. So on the stretch of Highway 1 down the coast be prepared.

    Alcatraz at night. Found the experience well worth while – certainly adds a new dimension and the view back to downtown SF, with all lights ablaze, is a sight to see. It crossed my mind it must have been mental torture for the prisoners to be so near yet it was untouchable to them. If you do decide to do it you would need to book ahead.

    So like you we are looking forward to the trip – I’ll wave if I see you :-)

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