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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Roadtrip #6: Victoria, BC and the Pacific Coast

    On the road again...

    After a 2-year haitus, the folks and I are grabbing our passports and hitting the pavement for a jaunt up north beyond our national border. We begin around 5:00am PDT on Friday, September 16, 2011 and follow the usual counter-clockwise motion through 4 western states. Primary goal: spend a full weekend in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and take in as much as possible. Secondary goals are the 9 National Parks/Monuments on deck, as well as visiting family in Spokane, WA. Tertiary goals are the waterfalls of the Columbia river, the lighthouses of the Oregon coastline, and the Trees of Mystery outside of Crescent City, CA.

    You can look at the Google Maps link for a better visual. The preview thread is here if for some reason you fancy such references.

    Daily blogs will be posted on this thread (subject to internet availability of course), with the traditional summary/conclusion and photos going in the RTA Roadtrip Album some time after I get back.

    Final itinerary (Always tentative):

    Day 1 (Fri, Sep 16) - Hwy 395 (through June Lake, CA) to Minden/Carson City, NV
    Day 2 (Sat, Sep 17) - Drive east side of Lake Tahoe, to Chester, CA
    Day 3 (Sun, Sep 18) - Lassen Volcanic NP and Lava Beds NM, CA to Klamath Falls, OR
    Day 4 (Mon, Sep 19) - Crater Lake NP, OR and Mount Hood, OR to Gresham, OR
    Day 5 (Tue, Sep 20) - Traverse Columbia River (waterfalls) to Spokane, WA
    Day 6 (Wed, Sep 21) - Visit family in Spokane, WA
    Day 7 (Thu, Sep 22) - North Cascades NP, WA to Mt. Vernon, WA
    Day 8 (Fri, Sep 23) - Vehicle Ferry from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC, drive to Victoria
    Day 9-10 (Sat-Sun, Sep 24-25) - Visit Victoria, BC
    Day 11 (Mon, Sep 26) - Vehicle Ferry to Olympic National Park, WA, to Olympia, WA
    Day 12 (Tue, Sep 27) - Mt. Rainer NP/Mt. St. Helens to Longview, OR
    Day 13 (Wed, Sep 28) - Cruise entire Oregon Coastline (lighthouses) to Crescent City, CA
    Day 14 (Thu, Sep 29) - Trees of Mystery and Redwood NP, CA to Santa Rosa, CA
    Day 15 (Fri, Sep 30) - Calistoga, to San Francisco, to Pinnacles NM, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA
    Day 16 (Sat, Oct 1) - Drive home
    Day 17 (Sun, Oct 2) - (Cushion Day)

    After the primary destination of Victoria, BC, Canada has been accomplished and we ferry back to the mainland, if things are looking good with the rental van, we can use that built-in Cushion Day™ to help slow down the pace and solidify some of our goals, and maybe add a few things along the way.

    Although most things are set in stone, I welcome last-minute feedback or ideas, or you can just tell me that this route in this much time is plain crazy. (Don't worry, I'm used to hearing that.)

    Bored beyond your mind? Here are the archives from all my domestic roadtrips since 2005:

    Roadtrip #1 - 48 States in 30 Days (offsite)
    Roadtrip #2 - The Great West
    Roadtrip #3 - The National Parks of Utah
    Roadtrip #3A - San Francisco, CA and back
    Roadtrip #4 - New Mexico and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival
    Roadtrip #4A - Sedona, AZ and back
    Roadtrip #5 - Washington, D.C. and the New England states

    Keep it tuned here...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Day 14 (Thu, Sep 29) - Trees of Mystery and Redwood NP, CA to Santa Rosa, CA
    Don't forget the Avenue of the Giants!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 1

    (Since we're staying in the same local time zone for once, all times in this thread are based on Pacific Daylight Time [PDT])

    This excursion began about 6:00am when my folks picked me up from my residence in Tustin -- in a fully-loaded 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan with all the bells and whistles you could think of. Sweet deal.

    We used SR 55, SR 91, and I-15 as conduits for the star highway of the day, US Route 395. We have driven short sections of this route in previous roadtrips, but never the scenic parts. That was to change today.

    From Hesperia, we started north up 395. Desolate stretches of the Mojave Desert soon transformed into the Scenic Byways of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Whoa, this is some good stuff... jagged high cliffs as far as the earth's curve allowed us to see. The high points of Mt. Whitney and surrounding peaks came into view as we approached Lone Pine, CA. Leftover snow from the previous winter season still clung to high portions above the tree lines. And a waning gibbous moon conveniently setting above the peaks made nice backdrops for the constant snapping of photos.

    We made a brief detour and headed on Hwy 158, aka the June Lake Loop. There's a lot of picture-perfect country on this road, not surprising since the location inherits from the Sierra Nevada family. In addition to snapping some photos of streams and lakes, we hit up the Silver Lake café (by said lake) for lunch, bought souvenirs and then continued up the rest of the loop. The final and largest Grant Lake, surrounded by bare mountains, made the whole area feel very extra-terrestrial.

    Back to Hwy 395... we remember viewing some tufa columns at Mono Lake before, so we thought we'd take a quick gander again, but that must have been on the south end of the lake (off Hwy 120) because the Mono Lake Scenic Area Visitor Center we found on 395 only had vistas and trails, interesting stuff for sure if you have the time to look. Onward...

    We soon left the panoramic views of 395's Scenic Byway behind as we approached the state border to Nevada by Topaz Lake. A short time later we arrived at our hotel in Minden, NV around 3:45pm.

    The day wasn't over yet. After a quick rest to re-energize, we headed 10 miles further up 395 to Nevada's capital, Carson City, and made a bee-line for the capitol building around 6:45pm. Took pics of that as well as the grounds, found a quick bite to eat and headed back to the hotel.

    We're trying to decide if we can squeeze in a visit to Virginia City, NV, 45 minutes from here. Our next overnighter is only 166 miles away so if the view points of Lake Tahoe look like they won't take up too much time, then we may go see what the little town has to offer, despite the increasing number of closed attractions thanks to the end of Summer.

    Really long day. Hoping we can get some of our wind back with the short driving distances tomorrow...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Looking forward to reading more! It's traveling-by-proxy for me!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 2

    Today was one of our lightest driving days so we were able to spend quite a few hours at one place. I thought that was going to be the surrounding areas of Lake Tahoe and its panoramic views. But some last minute considerations changed the game plan.

    After several recommendations from different branches, we decided to head northeast from Carson City and drive up Hwy 341/342 to the Historical Landmark town of Virginia City, NV, arriving at 9:45am. At the main visitor's center, a discount combo pass granted us access to both the V&T Railroad and the Trolley Tour. We took the 35-minute train tour that weaved its way through the various mines and through a tunnel to the edge of Gold Hill to the south, where they let us walk around for a few minutes before reversing course and heading back to the starting point. Twenty minutes later came the twenty-minute trolley tour that took us around the different blocks of town showing various points of interest. Way too much history to try and take in 3 hours, but it was a great history lesson and the folks enjoyed it.

    After souvenir shopping, we decided to drive over to the cemetery mentioned during the Trolley Tour and look around some of the markers. Interesting to see the various ages, from unnamed infants on the same day of birth, to the late 80s... impressive for back in those days.

    With the time going past 1:00pm we decided to continue on. Instead of doubling back, we kept north on the 341 all the way to Mt. Rose Highway (431), crossing our old friend State Route 395 to get there. Nothing but miles of forest until we reach one of the famous vista points of North Lake Tahoe. This would be my first time setting eyes on the largest alpine lake on the continent.

    Since it was getting late, we decided not to circle all the way around the lake, and just traverse the north side until we turned off Hwy 89 that headed towards Truckee. Even though it was September, the hordes of people in both the north ends of Tahoe and old downtown Truckee would make you think this was the middle of Summer. (I'm sure our trek through here on a Saturday didn't help though).

    We stayed on Hwy 89 all the way up until we hit our destination of Chester, CA. Found Maria Walker's Mexican restaurant with good food and a mean Margarita.

    Two National landmarks to check out tomorrow. 231 more miles of fun coming our way...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 3

    Today was completely nature's turn.

    We left Chester, CA at 8:30am and headed straight to the entrance of the first item of the day, Lassen Volcanic National Park, arriving at the Visitor's Center shortly after they opened. We watched the 20-minute spiel about the park, and bought the standard shotglass/magnet/postcard combo before heading up Hwy 89 through the park.

    We barely got started when we came across the first feature named Sulphur Works, which had several steam vents spewing into the air, along with a boiling mud pit conveniently just off the sidewalk. It definitely lived up to its name, as the whole place wreaked of sulfur. Also in this area you could view the 4 peaks that remained of the once-super volcano. We were going to try an hike Bumpass Hell but the parents decided 3 miles was just a little too long and strenuous for them. Probably just as well because it would have taken too much time for what we had left of the day. We made up for it by getting up close and personal with raging streams, the primary Lassen Peak, and the remaining snow that still hung around the summit lakes.

    Three hours later, we left the park through the north entrance and used Hwy 299 (seeing a great view of Mt. Shasta on the way) and a shortcut using the Lookout road to view our next natural wonder, Lava Beds National Monument. This area is somewhat remote and not visited by a lot of people due to its location, which is a shame because it has a lot to offer, primarily the plethora of lava tube caves. Some are casual, while others are for the hard-core enthusiast cavers. Coming from the south meant stopping at the visitor center first and getting the lowdown on what we can do for the next two hours. There is one cave called Mushpot, which is a few hundred feet from the Visitor Center and has lighted paths and exhibits. It goes about 200 feet down and there's many low ceilings you must duck to continue on (and unlike us, you may want to bring a flashlight for good measure). This is the only one suitable for most visitors.

    We then took the cave loop, and although didn't descend into any (half of them were closed because of bats) we did walk to a few caed-in pits with scores of lava rock. Great stuff. We continued north, and just before exiting the monument, drove by one of the lava flows called Devil's Homestead, miles of lava rock from thousands of years ago. The panorama was quite a sight to take in.

    All right, time to book it. We headed north into the final miles of California and straddled the state line using Hwy 161 west until we found the "Welcome to Oregon" sign on Hwy 97. A short time later we reach our hotel in Klamath Falls.

    More nature stuff tomorrow as we cross the entire state of Oregon. Wish us luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 4

    The day began much like before: Getting up reasonably early, having a continental breakfast, and heading out the door and hitting the pavement by 8:30am. It's a good routine we've established.

    First stop of the day was about an hour's drive, and that was the next National Park of Crater Lake. I've heard of people coming here disappointed because the fog and clouds obstructed their view, but luckily we didn't have to worry about any of that today. Despite three nearby natural fires, the lake was crystal clear and all surrounding features looked crisp. Coming from the south entrance, we headed east on the Rim Drive and stopped at just about every point established for sight-seeing folk. Every angle had something different to offer. I think I'd live on Wizard Island if such a feat was possible.

    We would have exited out the north entrance earlier but I misjudged how much gas our minivan was guzzling, and despite our dash saying 105 miles range, we had hardly gone 50 before the gas light gave us warning. *sigh* Freakin' uphill roads! So we had to backtrack to Mazama Village by the south entrance and fill up ($50 limit FYI). Then back up to Rim Village to buy our souvenirs before heading up and out the north entrance to Hwy 138, and back to SR 97.

    From here it was a long drive up the entire middle section of Oregon. Our next destination came into view over 80 miles away, but it would be a few more hours before we reached the base of Mt. Hood, and the National Historic Landmark of Timberline Lodge. We arrived after 5:00pm and there seemed to be a lot of people from some group or convention, so we retreated to the Ramshead Bar on the 3rd floor and treated my folks to a hearty meal.

    We caught some pics of the sunset reflecting off Mt. Hood, and then headed west to the little town of Troutdale. Tomorrow it's back east we go, hitting more nature along the way.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 5

    Today, a lot less touring and a whole lot more driving...

    We left our Troutdale, OR hotel at 9:00am and headed a few miles east on I-84 before immediately getting back off again and using the former Hwy 30, or the Historic Columbia River Highway as they like to call it today. First stop was the Vista House with panoramic views of the Columbia River, friendly rangers to provide you with maps and advice on the upcoming falls, and you could go down below to the gift shop, gallery and restrooms. Great starting point, and I didn't even know that it was here! Good thing our curiosity stopped us.

    Not long after leaving the Vista House, we came upon our first site, the Latourell Falls. I walked 1/4 mile down the path to the base and got in some great shots. As it was only 10:00am and the sun had not come over the ridge yet, it was perfect lighting.

    We continued on to the other falls of Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, and Horsetail, where each was unique in its own right. Of course, what waterfall excursion wouldn't be complete without seeing the grand-daddy of them all, the Multnomah Falls. Of course being the grandest, it's also the one most commercialized and populated. Unless you get here at the crack of dawn, be prepared to deal with a horde of tourists. I ascended the 1/4 mile hike to the bridge and got in some good shots.

    I also took today's opportunity to practice manual shooting with the SLR (full control of aperture and shutter speed) to attain the "silky smooth" flow of the water. I think I did OK. I'll post shots of what I achieved, when I return, of course.

    After 3 hours of driving only 20 miles, we needed to book it. I-84 was our friend for the next 2.5 hours as we paralleled the Columbia River Gorge, taking in the sights of the river, the locks, the trains, and the wind turbines. We then went transitioned to I-82, and met up once again with our old friend State Route 395 in tandem with crossing over into Washington. We spent the next 2.5 hours staring at harvested wheat fields -- miles and miles of it -- before coming into contact with I-90 and finishing the rest of our route up to Spokane, WA.

    Here we are visiting with our cousin for a full day. We'll spend tomorrow trotting about downtown Spokane, and then it's off to the races again on Thursday. So much fun yet to come.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Great report.

    Hi Kinless.

    I am enjoying your trip report as always ! I am also looking forward to seeing the results from the camera !


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default Day 6

    Today, a lot less driving and a whole lot more touring. Keeping balance is fun!

    Time to roll into downtown Spokane. We headed off to the Riverfront Park first, and glanced inside the Flour Mill right there. Next we crossed a bridge expecting the Spokane River to be displaying their famous Spokane Falls, except it was dammed off and the only things to see were puddles of water and construction crews cleaning up and renovating the whole area. Drat.

    Oh, and I guess it was National Hug Day today, at least in Spokane. Got quite a few hugs from some cuties.

    Ahem, OK where was I? We went and visited the famous horse carousel housed there, built in 1909 with all the original figures (repaired when broken, and all renovated once a year). Good stuff. After that came walking a few blocks through downtown to the Davenport Hotel, built in the early 1900s and had massive lobbies, dining rooms, ballrooms, and all those kind of things you would experienced had you lived in that era. So nice to see that kind of stuff preserved.

    We ate lunch at Madeliene's not too far from there, then headed out of downtown and to Manito Park. Here they had several gardens with hundreds of yards of flower displays, roses, dahlias, and a japanese garden with the trademark bridges, ponds with Koi fish, and pagodas. I used the macro lens quite a bit for some artistic flora displays.

    Our feet announced their retirement for the day so we headed back and rested up before going to Luigi's restaurant later in the evening for delish Italian food. Can't ever go wrong there...

    My cousin Rachel and her husband Rob are fabulous hosts. Thank you guys for your hospitality!

    Early to bed, early to rise, and off across central Washington we go...

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