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Author Topic: Big Western Trip – I need feedback and advice.  (Read 6320 times)
Barn Owl
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« on: February 01, 2009, 09:42:40 PM »

Big Western Trip – I need feedback and advice.

My big western trip that I wanted to do in 2010 got moved up to May of this year due to reasons out of my control. It has caused me a bit of anxiety because of the short notice. Other than a tune-up and some minor interior modifications the bus will have to go as is. Because I am about to embark on a trip of ~7500 miles the bus will be my biggest worry, but it has always been my dream to take it. I would rather fail trying than to have never tried so I am going. Second worry has been taken care of; I have arranged for a house sitter so the animals will be feed and thieves will be shot. Now I need you all to look at my route to see if there are places that a bus should absolutely not go. Keep in mind that I already live in a very twisty tight part of the country and I am in a 35’ low-profile bus. Except for the major destinations I plan on as much free camping as possible (Wal-Mart, Flying J, Camping World, friends, etc.). If you know of any really cool stops or places that just shouldn’t be missed I am interested in hearing about them. Likewise, places that you wouldn’t stop even if you had a flat I would like to know about. Does anyone know of some camping sites on the Pacific Ocean that would be breathtaking that is along my route? What about camping around San Francisco that would be safe and accessible to the Marta? Approaching San Francisco up highway one in California is a spot I need assistance with as well as my approach up through Utah to Yellowstone.  I don’t know if the route I have chosen is one that is possible or worth it. I had to divide my trip into “Trip Out” and “Trip Back” because of the limits Google has. Any help on this is greatly appreciated.

1. Trip Out

2. Trip Back
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2009, 09:58:37 PM »

If you get to California, you must see Yosemite, the Big Trees of Calavaras and the Napa Valley. Of course Tahoe is beautiful as well!

Grant
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Grant Goold
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VanTare
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2009, 10:20:19 PM »

Barn Owl if time allows you are missing the most beautiful county in the world by not going up the coast into Oregon, Washington and across Idaho the Snake and Columbia rivers are a sight to see.the panhandle of Idaho is a beautiful spot too but I know time prevents seeing all of the beautiful country out west this will be my 3rd trip back this year to see the places I missed on the prior 2 trips

David
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Sean
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2009, 11:35:52 PM »

Laryn,

You may find some of your route still closed due to snow in May.  For example, the sections on the "out" trip north of mark "C" at Durango, and west of mark "E" over the Sierras.  Check here before you get there: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/

Note that 198 will be an extreme challenge in your bus even in good weather.  Not impossible, but you had best be up to the driving task, and make sure your brakes are in good shape.  Same goes for 550 in CO -- see our write-up here: http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2008/05/winter-spring-wonderland.html

You might want to hunt around on our blog some -- we've done the entirety of your route (but not in that same sequence), and have written up many free overnight stops along the way.  It's not organized by route, but you can use the Topic pull-down to browse by state, or the search box at the top for specific destinations.

On your return trip, be advised the entire route through Bodie is dirt, and I believe there is a length restriction lower than 35'.  I know that our 39' coach is prohibited.  Even unrestricted, I doubt a parlor coach will make it; the road is twisty and rutted.  And we're no strangers to going off road.

Also, from Jackson, WY, I recommend proceeding due north through Grand Teton to reach Yellowstone, and stopping at our favorite free camp site in the Rockefeller Parkway: http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2008/06/free-camping-in-land-of-50-sites.html


Don't miss the Badlands, just east of Rapid City, right on your current route.  It's a short detour through the park instead of the freeway -- turn right at Wall (home of Wall Drug).

Again, we've done most if not all of your route, and you can find many overnight suggestions on our blog.

I'm sure I could make further recommendations, but I don't have the time tonight to study your Google Maps routes in detail.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com


« Last Edit: February 01, 2009, 11:42:56 PM by Sean » Logged

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Utahclaimjumper
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2009, 02:35:52 AM »

If its a site-seeing trip your planning then your missing the best part of Utah, by taking I15 out of Vegas thru southern Utah to and thru the Grand Circle. Google  the Grand Circle for info.>>>Dan
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2009, 06:03:10 AM »

I don't know if this will help, but who knows ?

http://www.freecampgrounds.com/

Don & Sheila
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Sean
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2009, 07:28:44 AM »

A few further items...

... Does anyone know of some camping sites on the Pacific Ocean that would be breathtaking that is along my route?


Yes, there is a Forest Service campground on the ocean side of 1 called Kirk Creek:  http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2006/05/kirk-creek-campground-along-scenic.html

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What about camping around San Francisco that would be safe and accessible to the Marta?


No "Marta" in SF -- that's Atlanta.  In SF there are two unrelated transit systems, the BART, and the Muni.  BART doesn't go anyplace useful, but you might find a parking spot outside the city where BART could get you downtown.  Emphasis on "might" -- there really is no camping anywhere near SF.  The bay area Wal-Marts are all No Overnight Parking, and the one commercial park that was in the city has long since closed.  There is a commercial park on 101 in Redwood City, but no easy access to transit there.

If you are an Elk (and I can highly recommend joining, just on the basis of camping options), there are a few lodges in the bay area that have parking.  We stay at the San Jose lodge when we visit; pricey, at $18 per night (although that includes 50-amp power and water), but a short walk to the CalTrain and the VTA Light Rail.  CalTrain will take you to most of the Peninsula cities, including SF (about an hour), and the Light Rail gets you to most of the south bay.

Most cities in CA allow parking on the street for up to 72 hours.  Note I said parking, not "camping."  But if you maintain a low profile, you can often get away with parking overnight in a business or industrial district right on the street.  We have done so many times.  I'm sorry I don't have a specific street recommendation in SF; we lived there so long, we don't ever feel the need to visit.

Quote
Approaching San Francisco up highway one in California is a spot I need assistance with ...


Just stay on 1, which will bring you all the way to SF.  Where you go from there depends mostly on where you will end up parking.  1 comes in to the west side of the city; to get to the eastern or northern sections without maneuvering around on city streets, you can cross over to I-280 on 35 in Pacifica.

In further regards to free or low-cost camping, here are the books we use and recommend:
http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2007/08/thursday-tips-camping-reference-books.html

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2009, 07:53:19 AM »

Dan, we have often thought about taking the "Great Circle" leg from St. George to Green River.  Have a couple of questions.

First, will that route handle a 40 foot bus (non-raised Eagle) with a fairly large toad?  We have done it a couple of times quite some time ago in a car and recall the "tunnel" with holes in the wall and that seems to be pretty small in my recall.

Secondly, we will be heading home from Yuma and may venture onto I 15 from Las Vegas.  That would occur in early March and I wonder if there would be a pretty good chance of hitting snow?

Laryn, sorry for jumping on your thread.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2009, 08:44:34 AM »

One place you should hit is Antelope Slot Canyon just out side of Page AZ. It is stuning.

http://www.antelopeslotcanyon.com/



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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2009, 09:37:38 AM »

Barn Owl,

Sounds like a great trip! I would recommended, visiting Carlsbad Caverns, while you are in New Mexico. But, be for warned, Carlsbad is NOT the place to break down. There is not much out there (they do have auto part stores, but nothing that has much for buses, don't ask me how I know Grin Cheesy Grin).

On your way back, I think that you would really enjoy the Creation Museum. http://www.creationmuseum.org/. We did the whole tour, and were amazed. Make sure that you do the planetarium too. To get the most out of your visit, slot a whole day. There is so much more there, than you will get in a day, but it is incredible. If you don't have a full day, even a couple of hours is worth it.

I may think of other places later...I would agree with VanTare. The Snake river is beautiful. Spend the night in Twin Falls, ID, and see the river. Beautiful.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2009, 09:57:59 AM »

Hagerman Id on scenic 30 is beautiful with the water falls from the mountains along the Snake River plenty of places to spend the night for free the best water in world at the rest area there and  is full of trout and salmon fish hatechries along hi way 30   


David
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Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2009, 12:53:10 PM »

First thing i would advise you to do is to buy a Mountain Directory West. Tells you a lot about the roads out here and what to expect.  Phone # 1800-594-5999 or www.mountaindirectory.com   Second thing is a good atlas. Looking at your route to Bodie, i would not go that way.....google may be getting you there the shortest way but some of those roads are rough even in a car, no way i would take the bus. Park in an rv park near Bridgeport and take your toad if you have one, otherwise forget it.  We came down 395 from Carson City to Barstow this fall and it is a very pretty drive.....seemed like we were climbing all the ways south, haven't done the trip going north yet. Smiley  By the way Bodie can get over 20 feet of snow so you might want to contact Ca. state parks dept. for a status report. Have a good trip.
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2009, 02:27:20 PM »

Jim, the holes your aludeing to are in Zion National park and have been enlarged, but the rules have changed and you will have to take a shuttle bus thru the park now. My advice would be to take Hwy.89 north from kanab Utah and park the bus at Hwy. 14 intersection and use the toad, then north to Bryce Canyon and on to I70, east to Arches National park and so forth. I'm at Cedar City and we are 5600 fT. so a turbo really pays for itself as you go higher than that. 89 is very good road and plenty of camping along the way, puts you thru the center of the Grand Circle.>>>Dan
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2009, 03:24:32 PM »

I agree that the Colombia Gorge is stunning, and Idaho is worth the price of admission as well.  =)

Concerning California,  I'd avoid downtown Sacramento, makes me have the heebiejeebies in a car. Unless you really want to see the capitol and a bunch of street people, I'd stick to the highways.  =)  Downtown traffic is always stiff, may streets are narrow, with an unpredictable one-way scheme.  Hwy 16 (16th street) is not always well kept, Lite Rail (train) also shares the roadway.  Last time I was there 16th was red-light district as well.   

Normally the gazillion trees are well trimmed, but no guarantee on side streets.

Just my two bits.

« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 03:44:29 PM by MattC » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2009, 05:20:50 PM »

I need to take a computer class to figure out the neat links.  That is really cool how you linke the map with your route to the BB. 

Anyway I took route U.S 50 east out of Carson City to Delta UT.  No cell coverage for hundreds of miles.  It is by far the most desolate stretch of road in the USA.   Somewhere on that road I had an Air Force fighter jet come straight at me head on about 50-100' off the ground.  It scared the bejeebers out of me, but it sure did look cool.  By that time I was ready to see something besides sand. 

If you feel like paying, United Campground in Durango is a great place to stay.  It is at the north end of town, and since we love bicycling, we stay there and ride all over Durango.  They have some fabulous urban bike routes.
David
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 05:24:53 PM by David Anderson » Logged
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