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  1. Default 10-days coastal Oregon/Washington/Canada trip

    My husband and I, along with our 5-year-old son, will be driving the coast for about 10-days in September. This is our first real road trip as a family of three (my husband and I have done a couple pre-kiddo). We did drive 15-hours straight to Colorado this past winter, but we then stayed put for 6-days. This time we will be stopping and starting the whole time, save for two big driving days to get us through CA on the way there and back. We are all super excited. I have great memories of road tripping growing up and look forward to making great memories with my kiddo :)

    I am doing good getting a list of what to do, but I am looking for recommendations on places to stay, and the best way to break up the trip with hotel stays. I have been going backwards as most of what we want to see/do are on the Northern end of our trip. I am guessing we will jet through Northern CA & Oregon to get up to the Port Angeles area (and probably want to come back to the Oregon coast in the future after getting a glimpse!).

    Our big drive will get us from home to Medicinio, CA (I think - still trying to iron out this part of the trip - we have seen the CA coast enough so we plan to just drive that first day to get to new scenery - so I might push us further if I can). From here we have eight days to break up our trip before we jet home down the 5-fwy.

    Here are the things we really want to do. This might be too much, but I would rather have lots of options to choose from leaving us with a great excuse to go back! We tend to have a plan, but fly by the seat of our pants when actually on the road. What I really need to figure out where to stop and sleep for the night and still be able to get as much as we can done. Suggestions on that are very much appreciated!!!

    *Seeing Redwoods - nothing fancy, just looking for a good place to stop and see some of the big trees. We have seen them, our son has not so I know he would like to at least stop to look.
    *Tillamook Factory
    *Considering a stop in Newport for the aquarium (maybe a good place to stop for night two - or maybe somewhere a little south of here so we could get there quickly the next morning?)
    *Beachcombing - any must see beaches where we can find good beach treasures and see some driftwood? And take some great photos! I really want to spend time exploring the coast because I know my son would love it
    *My son really wants to see some waterfalls - suggestions?
    *Holl of Mosses (and being the Twilight junky I am we will probably drive through Forks as well just so I can say I did!)
    *Trying to figure out if or where we should spend the night between the Newport area and Port Angeles. Or should we just get from point a to b and call it done so we can do the rest?
    *Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria
    *In Victoria tea at the Empress & Butchart Gardens & possibly whale watching. Possinly stay the night before we ferry to Vancouver (this is kind of the thing I want to see most so it will definitely make the cut!)
    *Ferry to Vancouver (not sure what we will do here)
    *Seattle (again, not sure yet)
    *My husband would love for me to squeeze in something like Mt. St. Helens or Crater Lake. Just not sure if that is doable. What do you think?
    *Stop at Powell's Books in Portland when we jet home down the 5-fwy! I am a book junkie and have a seperate budget for this stop alone ;)


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Odds and Ends in Answer

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    My, what big (and wide ranging) questions you have! So let's just work through them. First of all, you seem to be in pretty good overall shape logistically, and better yet, your memories of pleasurable childhood RoadTrips are leading you to trying to create the same for your son. I'm assuming that 'home' is somewhere in the L.A. basin, in which case Mendocino might be a bit far to travel in one day when you consider getting out of town and navigating the Bay Area. Even if you're in a rush and just jetting along I-5, you should still break up the drive every few hours with a short stop for your son (and the drivers!).

    I'm preparing for a trip of my own shortly to the Oregon coast, and one of the spots I've been looking forward to for the vistas, wildlife and beach combing is the Three Capes scenic drive between Tillamook and Pacific City. And having been to both, I think you'll really enjoy both the Empress and Bouchart in Victoria. If Bouchart is on your list you should know that Portland, OR has about half a dozen great gardens, specializing in roses, and other attractions your son may really enjoy in Victoria are the Natural History Museum and a First Nations museum in Duncan, north of town on thee Trans-Canada, where he can participate in helping to carve a totem pole or canoe.

    For even more ideas, I refer you to these posts by a local, but 10 days is not forever and I'm afraid you already may be overloading your trip. Remember that part of what makes a great RoadTrip is just relaxing!


  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply!

    We will be stopping along the big drives for sure, but majority will be done in the wee hours of the morning with our son sound asleep (and one of us too - switching off when we need to) and oblivious to the drive. This is how we drove to Colorado and he did excellent and was shocked to wake up in Utah the following morning ;) Then we listened to audio books, did scavenger hunts, and stopped every couple hours to eat, run, throw snowballs, and just stretch. Great fun!

    As for the overloaded schedule, yep it is. More because we like to have lots of options to choose from when we are there. No plans to do it all of course. But being in the know about what we can do helps us. I tend to make a notebook with printouts of all the things we can do. I put it in order of travel and then we decided as we go. Kind of like if we are in the mood to take a hike and really stretch our legs I already know good places to stop and do just that.

    Really, I just need to figure out where to sleep in order to maximize our trip and not let it feel rushed on the northern end...this is becoming the tough part for me. When my husband and I have traveled before we did the whole thing on the fly making hotel reservations as we went. But with a 5-year-old I feel like we should have some plan, even if it changes on route.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default a rough outcome

    I really would strongly suggest that you rethink your plan of trying to do most of your driving while your kid is sleeping.

    That sort of plan can work for a day or two during a speed run type trip, but its just not practical for a 10 day trip where you want to do things every day. The reality is that it means you aren't going to be getting as much rest, and you're going to be the most tired when your child has the most energy. Trying to take this approach over the course of a 10 day trip is going to wear you out, and it will do so very quickly.

    I really wouldn't change your 'take it as it goes' approach that you did as a couple, and would really stop worrying so much about trying to maximize every last second. When you are traveling with children, I think you'd be better of looking at having more flexability and more free time where nothing is scheduled.

  5. Default

    I think everyone is misunderstanding what we are doing. We are definitely not crazy enough to drive overnight for 10-days with or w/out a 5-year-old. That would be pure insanity and very unenjoyable for all. Given that we can't fly we have to do a big drive at the beginning and end of our trip to get where we want to go and explore. We have done it before so it isn't new to us. And we plan a couple days at home to recover from our vacations before getting back to regular life.

    We will only be driving during the night while he is sleeping for the first big drive to push us past San Fran. The purpose is to push quickly past all that we have seen before and get to something new. We have explored the CA coast from from San Diego to San Fran numerous times on many different trips. Having limited time we don't want to spend our vacation getting up the coast we have seen.

    Once we get past San Fran to our first stop we will get a good nights sleep and then slow down to enjoy new scenery and taking it very easy and relaxing. We will be stopping to enjoy the scenery and do some fun things. Spending the night in hotels.

    The only thing I am looking at scheduling, and hoping to get advice on, is some hotel stays and a good way to break up our trip. My husband prefers to have a 'plan' this go around since we have a young child. We can always cancel and change our plans while on the road, but he wants to know we have a place to stay.

    As for my list of what we want to do - they are just wants, not absolutes. I am making no schedules or plans that we have to stick to. That will all be done as we travel based on energy levels for the day. I just want to have information now so I am not spending time searching for information on the road.

    So if anyone can help me break up the hotel stays so we have a 'rough' plan that would be great and very much appreciated. I am not at all familiar with the area so I am not sure where would be good targets to stop for the night - like which towns are plentiful with hotels, which are not - that kind of thing. If not I will keep trying to figure it out on my own.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Instead of driving through the night, why not leave very early in the morning for your big push so you can beat the morning rush hour and get to a hotel at a reasonable hour? Driving through the night is going to throw all of your sleep patterns way off, which is not an ideal way to start a trip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Another thing to consider

    You may have problems getting into a motel room before early afternoon.

    I also think disrupting your sleep patterns at the beginning of a road trip is fraught with peril.

    Anyway, what I like to do at the start of a road trip is leave shortly after work on Friday, and drive for 4-5 hours until normal (or slightly past normal) bed-time.

    If you're leaving from LA and come up I5, that could get you into the Bay Area (spending the night in the 'burbs somewhere to save some money); positioning you for a more leisurely run up to Mendocino the next day, allowing time to do some combination of: Muir Woods (redwoods), Point Reyes National Seashore, Fort Ross, and a nice drive up the coast. You could even extend this day past Mendocino to the Garberville area, where you could drive Avenue of the Giants (if you do, take the short self-guided Founders Grove walk).

    From LA up I5, Tracy would be about 5-6 hours, and if this was done on a Friday night, you wouldn't many traffic issues on Saturday continuing up 580 over the Richmond-San Rafael bridge into Marin and over to the coast.

  8. Default

    Ignoring the beginning of my trip, which nobody but my husband and I seem okay with, can anyone help me break up the rest of my trip? Our goal is to get all the way north to Canada and I want to make sure we do so leaving ample time to exlore the things we want to explore. Anybody???

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default some thoughts

    When I had kids that age, I tried to limit my distances to 300 miles/day MAX, usually less. That's a solid day of driving with enough stops to eat, hit bathrooms, stretch legs... not much left for sightseeing.

    If you target 200-250 miles/day, allowing SOME time to see things, then from Mendocino it would look like:

    Crescent City, CA (225 miles)
    Newport, OR (230 miles)
    Astoria, OR (135 miles: short day so you can do aquarium, visit Tillamook, etc)
    Forks, WA (200 miles, not counting side trip to Hoh Rain Forest on way)
    Victoria, BC (n/a miles: via ferry from Port Angeles)
    Vancouver, BC (n/a miles: via ferry)
    Seattle, WA (140 miles)
    Portland, OR (175 miles)
    Medford, OR (275 miles; long day)
    Sacramento, CA (300 miles; longer day)
    Home (longest day)

    That's a total of 11 nights out of Mendocino, counting only one night in each place. I think you have a scheduling issue.

    That's just one man's opinion, and you may decide I'm too conservative in my scheduling. I will note that today, with NO small kids on my road trips, unless I'm doing a sprint on a highway like I5 or I80 I still pretty much adhere to my 300 mile rule-of-thumb.

    You choice now is to either decide you want to/can do more than 200 miles/day average between Mendocino and Portland, or whether you want skip some parts, or have more time, or....

    Note that the drive up the coast, while scenic, is not superhighway, so you should expect to average 10-15 mph LESS than you would on I5.

  10. Default

    Thank you!

    I know some people don't like to drive big distances in one shot, and others do. But my husband and I are very used to it. And it is the only way we will be able to see what we want. We have seen the CA coast plenty and want to get into Oregon ASAP. This isn't our first road trip, just our first with our son.

    Here is what I have worked up. Most of the places I checked have lots of rooms available. I did make reservations, but all can be canceled. I am trying to leave the trip open-ended as much as possible. But I wanted a game plan. So this is it.

    Aside from driving 259 miles on Day 2 I tried to keep everything under 200 miles. According to Google Maps that has us driving about 3-4 hours each day. I think it will leave plenty of time for us to explore what we want each day. I marked a couple things we definitely plan to do, the rest will be decided as we go.

    Day 1
    Drive to Garberville, CA

    Day 2
    Avenue of the Giants
    Drive to Bandon, OR (259 miles)

    Day 3
    Drive to Tillamook, OR (191 miles)

    Day 4
    Tillamook Factory
    Drive to Ocean Shores, WA (171 miles)

    Day 5
    Hall of Mosses
    Drive to Port Angeles (165 miles)

    Day 6
    Ferry to Victoria
    Explore Victoria

    Day 7
    Explore Victoria

    Day 8
    Ferry back to Victoria
    Drive to Seattle (85 miles)

    Day 9
    Drive to Portland (175 miles)

    Day 10
    Drive to ??? - there are a couple different options open to us, we will drive as long as we can and then stop for the night.

    Day 11
    Finish the drive home

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