I decided to make this year's road trip the most researched and chronicled one I'd ever taken, and the following report is the result. For the first time I also made a detailed budget. Please keep in mind that expenses were for me, my wife, and our 10 and 3-year old kids. My wife puts up with long hours on the road as long as we eat in decent places and stay in clean, comfortable lodging.
From Los Angeles we drove up to Sacramento, over to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma and the Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley, further east to Virginia City, NV, back across to Sonora, and then down and home via Yosemite. This was a 5-day/4-night trip.
6:27 AM- left from Orange County (I was shooting for 6:00 AM at the latest)
7:23 AM- stopped in Azusa (I-210 and CA-39) for gas and potty break as traffic was at a standstill.
Note: If you are leaving from the Disneyland vicinity and heading north in the morning, not only do you have to avoid I-5 but you also have to leave by 6:00 AM if you want to avoid heavy traffic on I-210 E from CA-57 N on your way to connect with I-5 again north of Los Angeles.
7:32 AM- departed from ARCO gas station ($2.999 per gallon cash)
8:33 AM- stopped at McDonald's in Castaic for breakfast
9:13 AM- departed
12:17 PM- arrived at Pea Soup Andersens in Santa Nella for lunch
1:33 PM- departed
1:36 PM- went to ARCO station to fill up ($2.879 cash)
1:43 PM- left for Sacramento
3:36 PM- arrived Holiday Inn Express (Convention Center) in Sacramento
Dinner at Fat City Cafe in Old Sacramento (very good)
Total: 423 miles, 8 hrs 13 mins
Budget $10.00 ; Actual: $13.40
B $30.00; A $36.25
Dinner: B $50; A $45.53
Lodging: prepaid so budget and actual matched at $63.38
B $39.00; A $44.47
B $5; A $2.50
B $22; A $0
Difference between budget and actual: $13.85