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  1. Default SF to Seattle/maybe Vancouver with kids

    Hello. For two years, RTA helped put together great road trips for us and I seek everyone’s help again considering a kid-orientation. We are a crew of 5 with 3 kids, 7, 10, 13.

    We love baseball, hockey, natural beauty, quirky local flavor, history and science, and comfort –that is, we are not campers or extreme-adventurers, not that we can afford luxury-- but a very occasional splurge is possible.

    When planning road trips, I have been overambitious and you have kept me in check. I think I am getting more of the hang of it.

    I like having everything figured out beforehand: for each road trip (NM to CA and CO-WY-CO) your suggestions were the foundation for binders I made with web printouts, maps, suggested detours and restaurants.

    This year we are going north up the west coast as one way.
    We have 16 days in August. Plane and mini-van are booked.
    Bringing our Garmin car navigator.
    Suggestions and advice from all experts and been-theres, please!

    Here are some thoughts without close analysis of a map.
    -The crew would like to hit Portland.
    -Husband thinks it's possible to bunk inside a redwood tree and
    -he wants to make a quick detour to the Korbel winery.
    -We are going to try to get to games for the As, Giants, and Mariners to help along one son's wish to visit all the stadiums over time.
    -We are trying to hit all 50 states in our lifetimes.
    -I would like to visit at least one of the amazing heights (volcano, etc.) if its inclusion wouldn't mean overambitious timing or camping (but cabins are okay).

    From what I can glean from RTA, I submit the comment that scenery is important but I understood I couldn't get to Portland easily if we just do a scenic run up the coast -- is that true?

    I can do research on my own re SF and Seattle-- so I have these questions now:

    1) We prefer 3-5 hours of driving at a time with a night or two at each stop. What itinerary do you suggest?
    2) What stops and roadside oddities can you recommend on the way?
    3) What do you think, drive up to Vancouver and then end up in Seattle for touring and plane ride home? Or tour Seattle and zip up to Vancouver and stay overnight in Seattle for the ride home?

    Thanks for all! And Thank You for being here!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Background

    For starters, you should have a read through some of these discussions of RoadTrips in and around the Pacific Northwest. A few other thoughts: I'm planning a trip to Portland myself for later in the year, and that whole area is chock full of Lewis And Clark history, great ocean locations and scenic drives. You should certainly plan on taking one of your short stays in that area. I know of nowhere that has accommodations inside redwoods. Most of the 'amazing heights' such as Mounts St. Helens, Hood and Ranier require serious (days long) hikes and strenuous climbs. One exception would be Crater Lake National Park where the lake is inside a dormant volcano cone. You can drive to the top and around the cone, so I think that would be your best bet. It's a 5 hour (minimum) round trip drive from Seattle to Vancouver and back, so I can't recommend that as a day trip. If you want to see Vancouver, then you should plan on spending at least one night there.


  3. Default Newbies, check out the links and scroll down to bottom for more

    I am going to study the list of links.

    If you are an RTA newbie, note that each link has other links and almost every page has a list of "similar threads" at the bottom. You are sure to find something helpful. As an RTA freshman, I do try first the search box for RTA but I always get steered in the right direction when I post a new thread.

    If I can, I will post what I come up with to inspire others either to critique or plan their own.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Initial thoughts....

    My wife and I took the following route from the Bay Area to the redwoods for my birthday in March... bits of it may fit your leanings.

    Starting from San Francisco; go over the GG Bridge on 101 North. If you haven't been up to the Marin Headlands, you may want to pop up there for this view:

    Photo: Don Casey

    A little past Santa Rosa, at Fulton, exit 101 onto River Road heading West. Follow this into the Russian River resort area... not too far after crossing the river at Hacienda (where my uncle had a summer cabin in the 1960s) you'll see Korbel on the right.

    Photo: Don Casey (my wife, but not my Corvette; mine's the blue convertible not in the picture to the right)

    If you time it right, they have a decent little deli where you can have lunch. This is just past the tasting room (which is behind me and to the left in the last photo.)

    Photo: Don Casey

    Continue on down river road until you link up with CA1 at the Coast... turn right and head North.

    A little bit on you'll hit a turnoff for Fort Ross State Park - the kids should enjoy this. It is a rebuilt/reconstructed log fort and houses that date from the 1800s, when Russia established a presence in Alta California to contest claims for the territory from Spain/Mexico, the US and the British/Canada.

    Photo: Don Casey

    After the visit, continue North on 101, enjoying the coast. Stop in Mendocino to shop and have a snack (or lunch if you got an early start).

    Either stay somewhere along the coast, or continue on to the Garberville area (CA1 will turn inward to meet 101). There are some motels in Garberville, and a very nice hotel called the Benbow that gets close to the "splurge" category. They have historic rooms in the main building, and "terrace" rooms that may fit a family better.

    Photo: Don Casey

    From Garberville you're well positioned to hit the Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods State Park the following day as you continue north.

    Photo: Don Casey

    ...and of course, if you have the right equipment, when the rain stops the top comes down so you can really appreciate the tall trees as you drive through them...

    Photo: Don Casey

    May be tough to hit both As and Giants, as they aren't usually in town at the same time. If you can, try to do the Giants, as the stadium is really cool and the As home is unfortunately not. Don't miss the garlic fries.
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 06-30-2009 at 10:16 PM. Reason: inserted photos and final commentary

  5. Default THANKS ALL-- feel free to add your thoughts, anyone else!

    I have a lot to study. Beautiful, beautiful pix and nice tips from all.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default part one done

    I've just finished up my prior post (discovered I hadn't offloaded my March photos, so it's a good thing this incented me to offload/backup/archive them).

    Tomorrow I have some final thoughts on what a 'day two' might look like, taking you into southern Oregon from the Garberville area, so I'll be doing one more post then.

    There are some really funky places the kids might enjoy (that I enjoyed as a youngster on trips to Portland/Seattle)... I'll list some in that post.

  7. Default looking forward to it


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default continued.... funky attractions

    Funky attractions in the Redwoods area (I refuse to be held accountable if one or more members of the party think these are lame... they HAVE entertained any number of tourists over the years and are still in business). All these are on US101.

    There are a couple drive-thru trees; here's the one in Myers Flat I managed to squeeze a Ford Expedition through (very very carefully after folding the outside mirrors in):

    Photo: Don Casey

    (I'm not sure, but that white mark may be a flood high water mark painted there: from the 1955 or 1964 flood).

    Confusion Hill: one of those places with 'unexplained phenomena', usually related to an off-kilter structure. Can be fun watching balls roll uphill, etc. A few miles north of Leggett.

    The visitor center in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The 'funky' here is one of the world's first RVs, built out of a hollowed redwood log mounted on a 1920s truck chassis.

    Photo: Don Casey (aren't fisheye lenses fun?)

    Trees of Mystery: has expanded a lot since I went through there in the 1960s... core of the attraction are some interestingly-formed redwood trees, with associated legends, myths, and not to forget the huge Paul Bunyan statue out front. Past Eureka but before Crescent City in Klamath (California, NOT Klamath Falls, OR).

    Leaving "funky" aside for now......

    As you continue north on US101 you'll be passing through redwood country up to and into Oregon.

    Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Avenue of the Giants (both a little north of Garberville) offer lots and lots of opportunities to see and get close to redwoods. I would highly recommend the self-guiding walk in Founders Grove as something the kids would both enjoy and tolerate. The Dyerville Giant (fallen redwood on this trail) has to be seen in person to fully understand how massive these trees can be. I'm 6'2" and standing straight up when I took this shot:

    Photo: Don Casey

    Beyond Avenue of the Giants and closer to the Oregon border is Redwood National Park, and a few more state parks.

    A little beyond Klamath you have to make a choice: continue up the coast and follow it north, or cut inland on US199.

    On the coast the kid-friendly things that come to mind are jet boats on the Rogue from Gold Beach (more on this option below), dune buggies in the Oregon dunes near Florence, the cheese factory at Tillamook, and the Tillamook Air Museum (in an old blimp hanger that is worth a look all by itself).

    On the inland route (and the one I lean towards, at least in part):

    Oregon Caves: easy 90 minute tour of the caves, and the hotel there (The Chateau, below) is a hoot. A little worn, but what kid wouldn't like eating in a restaurant with a creek running down the middle of it, or in a 1950s era soda shop. May be worth looking at this for an overnight:

    Photo: Don Casey

    Eventually, 199 runs into I5 at Grants Pass. This is the other place to take a jetboat ride on the Rogue:

    Photo: Don Casey

    I LOVE THESE THINGS! and my guess is so will your kids. Trips come in varying lengths, the longer ones include lunch or dinner.

    The other things in Southern Oregon worth mentioning include:

    Crater Lake

    Ashland Shakespeare Festival (have non-Shakespeare plays too, including maybe some aimed at the younger set)

    Jacksonville (19th century town)

    Photo: Don Casey

    and for the foodies in the crowd: Harry and David's mother store in Medford, Rogue Creamery in Central Point (at least 4 types of bleu cheese; try the smokey blue), and Butte Creek (working) Mill in Eagle Point.

    In theory, you could cut back to the coast from somewhere north on I5, or follow it up to Portland.

    You also could take a run up the east side of the Cascades (by exiting Crater Lake to the north), allowing you to hit things like the High Desert Museum in Bend (Natural History museum with live raptor shows, etc.), and cross back over the shoulder of Mount Hood, or better hitting the Columbia, turning left, and following it to Portland.

    Lots and lots of option.

    I believe I'm done here.
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 07-01-2009 at 06:02 PM. Reason: Will he ever shut up?

  9. Default Thanks to CalOldBlue and all the rest----afterthoughts welcome!

    Great pix and tips. Don't think my crew is old enough to think anything is lame. Looking forward to this trip!

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