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Author Topic: Big changes to the Big Western trip route.  (Read 3293 times)
Barn Owl
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« on: February 08, 2009, 11:38:14 PM »

Better to start a new post and reference the old one. Because of the advice I have been given I have changed my route. I am not going to do southern Utah this time because my brother lives there and I will need something to do the next time I go out there. Also many have recommended that a more northern route up California would be more enjoyable. I have heard from several that some of the passes I want to use could still be closed during the time I will be there. I will have to see how that plays out the closer I get to those parts and adjust accordingly. I have called Yosemite National Park and have been told that Tioga pass (that link has some great photos) has only 50% of the normal snow fall for this time of year. At least at the moment that is working in my favor. I will also at some future date post small side trips that have been recommended if we are making good time. I plan on a drive through Death Valley and will try to do it early in the morning to keep from baking. Are there any good inexpensive or free overnight spots near that area to stage a crossing? Keep in mind that I am trying to do as much as I can for free. Has anyone seen the Sumpter Dredge? I think that would be a neat stop. What about my route above San Francisco to Harris Beach State Park: Brookings, Oregon? I still would like to at least look at Crater Lake even if I donít drive around it. Let me know what your thoughts are and if there is anything or anyplace I am overlooking.

The first post: Big Western Trip Ė I need feedback and advice.

New changes:

1. Grand Canyon National Park to Brooking OR

2. Brooking, OR to Provo, UT
« Last Edit: February 08, 2009, 11:57:00 PM by Barn Owl » Logged

L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2009, 08:04:09 AM »

Can't tell you anything about San Francisco or north as it has been 42 years since i did that in a car. However last spring we came across 299 from Redding to Arcata and then north to Brookings.....side note, there was a scenecruiser or a buffalo in a yard along 299 not too far from Arcata. Anyway, We stayed just outside Orick  at the Red School House Rv park and had about 100 elk walking around the bus at daylight. The Redwoods are right there too.

In Brookings we stayed about a mile up the south side of the river at an rv park. Another mile or two farther upstream is a really nice golf course. If i remember right Harris state park is on the north side of the river about 7-8 miles up.  There are a couple of rv parks at the harbor, one is right next to the water.

The drive up the Oregon coast from Brookings is really nice, one other place we stayed was at Beverly Beach state park, we were in the lower part of the park by the hiway and had about a 100 yard walk to the beach.

In 04 we were visiting family in Bend Or. and left the bus there and went to Sumpter for a couple of days.  The dredge is well worth seeing. The town only has about 200 people there most of the year but 3 times a year, ( memorial day, 4th of July, and labor day,) they have a big swapmeet/flea market and there are 3-4 thousand people there.  Two years ago we were in the area again at memorial day and passed thru......the change from before was amazing. Grin

That part of Oregon is very pretty but you have several passes to go over, got your Mountain Directory yet? Grin

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Barn Owl
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2009, 08:17:03 AM »

Ed,

I think I would like to camp on the beach and you are the second person to mention that there is a campground right on the ocean. I need to find out more about it. I am going to get a mountain directory and they have free shipping to the end of February.

Laryn
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L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2009, 02:54:58 PM »

Last mid-April we tried to go to Crater Lake via US97 from Weed, CA but had to head down out of the mountains to Eugene, OR because of ice, snow and very cold weather. We plan to try it again this year but a month or so later. US97 is a nice two lane (mostly) scenic drive with very little traffic.

One thrilling drive is US199 from Crescent City, CA to Grants Pass, OR. It is very narrow, lined with huge Redwoods and rocks and one lane in some spots. I wouldn't recommend it for any high or over 35' buses but the Smith River scenery is fantastic. As great as it was I won't be doing it again!

Anywhere in the western mountains up through May can bring some winter surprises.
I once sat in a motel through a three day blizzard in Sheridan, WY on 27 Sept after flying all day in beautiful warm Fall weather.
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2009, 11:49:47 PM »

... I plan on a drive through Death Valley and will try to do it early in the morning to keep from baking.


Well, you could start in the early morning.  But from Death Valley Junction to Olancha, about the shortest route "through" the park, is a good four hours, and that's if you make no stops.  You'll want to divert down to Badwater (or come in past it from the south), and at least stop at Furnace Creek.  I would figure a minimum of one full day in the park.

The park service campground at Furnace Creek is very nice, if you want to spend the night, but no hookups.  Hookups are available at the concessionaire-operated campground at Stovepipe Wells.

If you come in via the route you show, you'll miss all of that.  You'll also miss Scotty's Castle.  I suggest coming west out of Death Valley Junction instead.  You won't miss anything in Beatty.  About the only point of interest on this route is the ghost town of Rhyolite. Otherwise, at least continue north out of Beatty and come in past Scotty's.

Quote
Are there any good inexpensive or free overnight spots near that area to stage a crossing?

No bus-accessible free camping in the park.  However, plenty in the desert to the east.  There is also a boondocking lot across from the Amargosa Opera House at Death Valley Junction where they want, I think, $5 to spend the night.  If you come in from the south, out of Baker, there are several spots in town there as well: http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2008/02/eclipsed.html

Lastly, if you come through Pahrump, some casinos there have free overnight parking.  Again, check the blog.

Quote


Your route to Brookings looks fine.  Leave plenty of time for the southernmost section of 1, just north of the gate.

Quote
I still would like to at least look at Crater Lake even if I donít drive around it. Let me know what your thoughts are and if there is anything or anyplace I am overlooking.


That's an open question.  Only you know best what you want to see.

No reason not to do Crater Lake, unless the road is closed.

The way you are coming into Salt Lake, it would be a nice side trip to Promontory and the Golden Spike National Monument.

Also, the route you are showing to Bodie is inaccessible by bus.  You need to go further north on 395 and turn right on 270.  The last several miles of 270 is dirt.

Again, we've done most of your route at one time or other, so check the blog for where we stayed -- lots of free or cheap spots along your route.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 08:01:53 AM »

I've driven 199 from Crescent city to Brookings, Or many times in my 18 wheeler-so it is a nice drive in a bus.  299 is also a truck route, but also a heavy drive, but through very scenic country.  '
Highly recommend what Sean said about Death Valley.  You've got to see Scotty's castle. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 09:31:04 AM »

As long as you are going to Brookings, keep going north you can't go east from Brookings. The Oregon coast has some of the best views on the west coast plus a collection of beautiful bridges built in the 20s and 30s to build 101 up the coast. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' fishing trip was filmed at Depoe Bay (a lot whale watching trips out of there) the house from 'Sometimes a Great Notion' is just off 101, Howard Hugh's Spruce Goose is in a purpose built museum in McMinnville and Tillamook has a good WWII aircraft museum inside a WWII blimp hanger (one of the biggest wood buildings in the world) plus a great tour of the Tillamook Cheese plant. From there you could go up the Columbia River gorge (home of some of the highest waterfalls in North America) turn south on 97 to climb onto Oregon's high desert and Bend home of the best beer in the country IMHO and the High Desert Museum and Rafter Recovery Center from there you can continue to Crater Lake from the north a much easier climb than from the south
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 01:30:30 PM »

There is a fee for Death Valley (if you have a US Golden Eagle Pass it's 1/2 price) also if your going to stay at California State Parks during your trip, you may want to make reservations. During the busy season many along the ocean and high tourist areas are full. (Reservations can be made online).
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 08:04:28 PM »

TomC,

I don't think you ever drove US199 in an 18 wheeler, I'm not even sure you could make it unless you had a 42' or shorter trailer. If you did you would have a few scrapes!1

From CC to Brookings is US 101, a far different story, a very decent highway.

However, US101 from Newport,OR to Astoria,OR is one of the worst roads, surface wise, I have ever driven.
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2009, 10:37:07 PM »

Dang it! I wanted to get home early tonight (2300hrs not 0130hrs) and spend some time going over the comments, Sean's blog, and I have more questions that will just have to wait. But I would like some clarification on one comment:

Quote
Your route to Brookings looks fine.  Leave plenty of time for the southernmost section of 1, just north of the gate.

Is that because it is just slow going or there is just so much to see? How many miles of the southern most section of 1 are we talking about? I am toying with the idea of skipping 1 and going up 101 further north into Oregan as I get feedback from those who have been up that far. I will post a map later to clarify what I am talking about.

Thanks
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L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2009, 11:20:41 PM »

Well Gus, believe what you want, but I have driven 199 from Grants Pass to Crescent City at least twice that I can remember-and with my 48ft trailer with 235" wheelbase tractor, was 68ft overall.  199 is NOT the worst highway I've ever been on-in fact it didn't even occur to me as being a bad highway-I do remember it as being very scenic though.  When you're with one of the Van Lines and doing furniture moving, you have to sometimes drive on non truck routes-and the Highway Patrol understands that.  Probably one of the few trucking methods that they more or less turn their heads when they see a big moving van in a residential or non truck route-as long as you don't get stuck-and in 21 years, never had a scrape on my trailer because of narrow roads (that's not saying that I didn't at times take up the entire road on narrow 2 laners).  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 07:23:45 AM »

I found crater lake campground to be very crowded and commercial.  I tend to like to get away from the crowd a bit.  I found a campground nearby that is isolated, $5 self pay, no utilities at all except firepits.  The nearby stream was gorgeous as the water was volcanically heated.  The blues and greens weres stunning.  The only downside was the mosquitos there could fly faster than I could walk and were the size of small birds.  My coach has good screens, and not going outside at dawn or dusk greatly reduced the issue.

The name of the campground is Jackson F Kimball state Park, and is accessed from route 62, and a small pretty side road - county road 624.  There was a small sign indicating the turn.  two more lefts with signage (Sun Mountain road) and you are in the park.  Its small and when I went through, deserted.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 08:05:23 AM by H3Jim » Logged

Jim Stewart
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2009, 07:52:42 AM »

Looks like my kind of place, will have to go there next time we are in the area. Thanks for sharing. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2009, 09:00:21 AM »

Laryn,

Sorry for the delay. I am in HI w/o a computer, so quick answer here from my Blackberry.

CA-1 is very narrow, twisty, and steep from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. You can do it in your bus, no problem, but figure on 25 MPH for that stretch.

-Sean
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2009, 09:02:30 PM »

TomC,

I believe you!

You said you drove 199 from CC to Brookings! US199 doesn't go to Brookings that is what I tried to say to pull your leg a bit!

If you drove to GP from CC I take my hat off to you. I don't see you made it around those one lane curves between the Redwoods and rocks!! My wife covered her eyes in a couple of those spots.

That may be the only place I ever saw two lanes narrow down to one lane with no center line.
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2009, 10:28:45 PM »

Laryn -

Just keep thinking "Cliff's Notes". . . "Cliff's Notes". . .  "Cliff's Notes".   Grin


Otherwise, you're going to burn out not only yourself, but, more importantly, your family.

More to come via pm. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2009, 05:54:08 AM »

I have been up 1 all the way from southern CA to Oregon. It is a beautiful ride. Never did it in a bus though.  Wink

Up into Oregon it's a different matter. Lots of sightseeing along the beautiful Oregon Coast. You could spend an entire summer there and not see it all. Course I'm kinda partial because I grew up there. The sand dunes in Florence  and Dunes City are something to behold. Take a buggy ride and have fun. Fishing out of Depoe Bay is the best!

In fact here is a map. It even shows Valsetz where I grew up as a kid!

http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Depoe+Bay&state=OR

I could keep talking, but I think you get the idea. Besides you may want to move there after seeing it! Roll Eyes

HTH,

Paul

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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2009, 06:39:26 AM »

Gus, try the road to Hana on Maui.......two lanes down to one lane bridges, whoever gets there first has right of way. Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2009, 10:33:29 AM »

Ed -

Hey, I survived the road to Hana!  Great drive!!   Cheesy


Paul -

The first time I ever drove Hiway 1 between Monterey & San Luis Obispo was SB, and I was behind the wheel of a GMC 4905 - a coach with the longest wheelbase of any 40-footer (and some 45's, for that matter) ever built.  Four-speed stick with an air throttle, loaded with 44 passengers and two full baggage bays.  Four years of experience in skoolies, only six months of experience in charter coaches.  Had never been on the road before, but, shifting & steering, steering & shifting, I had a job to do, and I did it.  Simple as that.  Slept good that night, too.

I've since driven Hiway 1 between Monetrey and San Luis Obispo hundreds of times in GM 4905s and MCIs. . . it's not that big of a deal in a bus.  Granted, it's a little twisty in spots, but tour coaches run both directions all summer long on this stretch of roadway, and it's been years since I've heard of ANY vehicle ending up on the rocks below.  Don't scare Laryn away from one of the most scenic drives in CA just because you're afraid to drive it in your own coach.

My recommendation to ANY busnut who wants to take this drive, and questions their skill level, is to drive it NB.  A little harder to use some of the pull-outs for photo ops, but NB keeps you against the mountain, so you're not spooked by the drops.  And, if things get tight with traffic, simply STOP for a minute or so to let it clear, rather than kissing the mountain to get out of their way.  Now how hard is that, eh?

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2009, 11:52:57 AM »

RJ,

First let me clarify. I have not driven that road in a bus, and when I did in a car it was 6 years ago. I really don't want to scare anyone in seeing that beautiful part of PCH, so accept my apology.

Experience speaks unlimited words, Thanks for sharing yours.

Paul
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« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2009, 12:17:27 PM »

Paul -

Sorry if I came across a little harsh, I tend to get that way sometimes, even when it's unintended.


From this, tho, I'm posting a new thread folk might be interested in. . .

 Wink

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« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2009, 06:47:42 PM »

Ed,

I used to live in Hawaii and remember that road well. I usually flew into Hana though because it was much easier and a lot more scenic by small plane. I also flew gliders  for the first time on the north shore of Oahu, great place for that.
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« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2009, 08:26:10 PM »

We lived on Maui for almost 11 years. I had a boss that lived in Hana and had been driving back and forth every day for over 30 years.  I don't think i could do that!!! Shocked
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« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2009, 04:07:28 PM »

Why not back track out of Yosemite and follow 395 on through Carson City, past Tahoe, hit Hwy 80 and drop down to Sacramento from there?  There are some almost free state parks along hwy 89 and very close to the 80 freeway at Stampede Reservoir.That is a really pretty section of 395 as apposed to a really ugly stretch of I-5.

We have done the trip from the coast to Grants Pass twice.  It wasn't hard at all.  It's slow, but well worth the drive for the view.  There's lots of little towns to stop at along the way.

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« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2009, 07:44:50 PM »

I study every idea that is posted and I have about four different routes of possibilities. I am starting to lean towards a route that is more southern with the understanding that I just cannot do it all on this trip  (RJLong is a voice of reason for sure). On the bright side that would mean somewhere in the future a northern trip (If I can recover financially from this one. Normally I pay and play, but because my children would be grown adults by the time I could save up enough I am going to go on a payment plan). Much of our route depends on the wife and children, and how much time they want to spend at some of our stops. I will just have to be flexible and willing to add or subtract extra destinations as we go. I have learned so much about the west coast just by studying everyone's recommendations. If you know about a great place or a beautiful road, regardless if it is on my posted route, let me know about it.

Has anyone had any experience on this road? It looks beautiful. Is it busable?

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, Utah Highway U-150
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