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Author Topic: Canada to Mexico West coast family Trip Dec 2011 - few missing items.  (Read 2876 times)
viento1
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« on: October 24, 2011, 10:05:36 PM »

MC5 - wife, dog, 3 kids heading for road trip 2011. We plan to tuck along the very west coast all the way to Cabo.

Things we seem to be missing:

We would appreciate any great boondocking recommendations along the way.
Also our kids are 9,10,and 11 so if you know of any not to be missed things to do that would be great.
We are all learning to kitesurf so if you know of any instructors who give family discounts.
Mini Split AC
Inflatable tunnel hull Cat with 30hp motor
Friends (we supply the wine)
Somewhere to spend X-mass (probably near LA)



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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 01:29:47 AM »

Best of luck with your trip !!  Sounds Great.

Sorry to say, I am on the east coast, stop in if you get really, really lost.
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 07:47:06 AM »

when you get into Comifornia, just south of Crescent City (way up at the north end) on the 101 is the redwood forest. I beleive biggest redwood trees in N America or maybe the world. Anyway, absolutely beautiful. Stop at the "trees of mystery" between Crescent city and Klamath. Huge statue of Paul Bunyon in the parking lot. Lots to see there.
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2011, 09:00:50 AM »

San Simeon.  There is the Hearst Castle,  Elephant seals, lots of beaches.  The weather is usually pretty good.  We have spent two Christmases in the Pismo Beach area.  There is a lot to do and is very popular for the Holidays.

I don't think you will find any boon docking on the coast.  The closest we came to was West port Union Landing on Hwy1 north of Fort Brag.  You can get 40' in there. I think the rate is up to $18 per night now.  We like it because it sits right over the ocean, but there isn't anything there for kids and the beach isn't accessible.  The drive from 101 to Hwy 1 in this area is really pretty, but some people think it's too winding.  We didn't have any trouble with it in the 4107.  The logging trucks in this area are going south when loaded Monday through Friday.

MacKerricher State park further south is really great.  They have a very limited number of spaces for 35'.  You will need reservations.  There is a loop by the little lake that you can get 35' into. None of the State parks will take 40'.

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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 01:01:24 PM »

  Your not going into Mexico, are you? That would seem kinda crazy considering the news reports.

  Pacific Coast Highway in Northern Komradfornia, can a 35 foot Bus run that road, or is it ill-advised??
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 02:00:02 PM »

We have driven 101 which some of is just slow going.  Not a bad road.  We did Hwy 1 between Mackerricher and the redwoods north.  It may not  be for everybody.  It is winding and narrow, but not steep.  Avoid going north during the week days because of the on coming logging trucks.  We didn't have any problems with it.  Just slow, but the scenery was great. There are 40' rvs on the road.

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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2011, 04:47:43 PM »

California Notes: Stay off Hwy 1 south of Ft. Bragg.  Jenner grade would be nasty in a bus.  Likewise, REALLY don't do Hwy 1 south of Monterey to San Simeon (Hearst Castle), past Big Sur.  I promise it won't be a pleasure trip in a bus.  Boondocking is tough along the coast.  In Ventura County is Rincon Parkway.  County Park, no hookups but right on the ocean. No reservations. About $30.00 a  night now. Surfing, surf fishing kite surfing right out your door.  In San Diego, Mission Bay is great for day parking.  Drive up to Clairemont Mesa, or towards MiraMar MCAS and you can stealth camp in the more industrial areas. Mission Bay has a free dump station.
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 06:21:35 PM »

I love this country and it has some awesome coasts and mountain areas. I live down here in Mexico, 100 miles NW of Mexico City. I hate to say this, but this is NOT the time to boondock on Mexican coasts, because of the drug-related rampant violence, kidnappings, etc. Even in world-famous Acapulco and Cancún, most tourism stops when the sun goes down, and the gangs take to the streets.
 
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2011, 09:54:17 PM »

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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2011, 11:25:10 PM »

California Notes: Stay off Hwy 1 south of Ft. Bragg.  Jenner grade would be nasty in a bus. 

Almost.  Keep going a little further south of Ft. Bragg on Hiway 1 until you get to the charming town of Mendocino, then take Comptche Ukiah Rd back over to 101 in Ukiah.  But take a little time to wander around this quaint town first - see if you can find the Irish Shop.  (BTW, IMHO, the Mendocino coast of CA looks very, very much like the west coast of Ireland!)

Quote
Likewise, REALLY don't do Hwy 1 south of Monterey to San Simeon (Hearst Castle), past Big Sur.  I promise it won't be a pleasure trip in a bus.

Excuse me, but I heartily disagree.  Charter buses run this road year round, there's nothing wrong with it.  Yes, it's narrow in places, sometimes you have to take your half out of both sides, and the driver has to pay attention to what he's doing.  What's wrong with that?  If you're comfortable behind the wheel of your coach, don't deny the rest of your family some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the country.  Best part about driving Hiway 1 SB is that there are numerous pull-outs - perfect photo ops as well as places to let the 4-wheelers get by.   See if your kids can spot the most photographed bridge in CA after the Golden Gate.  

However - Check CalTrans Hiway Info before you leave Monterey/Carmel.  Slides are not uncommon on Hiway 1, they sometimes close it.  http://www.dot.ca.gov/ is the website, or call 800-427-7623.

Droopy eyelids, more tomorrow.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 06:20:09 AM »

eagle19952: Is that your bus emergency fund?  Shocked
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2011, 08:19:53 AM »

RJ:  You're right.  Mendocino is a great visit.  And you can head south to Hwy 128, a good drive, to Cloverdale and Hwy 101.

I still contend that Hwy 1 through Big Sur is not bus/motorhome friendly. Great for the passengers, (except maybe my wife looking out the window). Tough on the driver, IMHO. I've not driven a bus on it, but I have faced some.

But, heck.  You think a 4106  is a Greenbrier.  I have a Greenbrier, and it's smaller than a 4106! Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2011, 08:31:04 AM »

We've driven coastal 1/101 from Dana Point clear through to Olympia several times with different rigs.  While I'll agree that some areas are more "scenic" than others I wouldn't avoid any of the route in a bus.  Its a particularly great trip southbound.  If you are northbound the turnouts are really difficult but southbound you can just roll off the side of the road in numerous places.  There's not much for overnight spots though unless you are willing to pay.  If you watch weblogs from those of us who travel a lot there are some casinos and Walmarts in close enough proximity to the coast to make the trip economically. 
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2011, 08:55:06 AM »

The PCH southbound Monterey to San Simeon is a little easier in that you can swing out over the fog line a bit and probably not cross the center line.  Northbound however, you can get into the rock walls, it's that tight.  I have driven the length of Hwy 1 all the way north to Leggett where it reconnects to 101.  In a 45 footer no less, which is technically illegal according to the CalTrans website statewide length limits.  There are no signs stating this on the highway, only the yellow ADVISORY signs, such as at San Simeon just north of Hearst Castle.  There is little traffic in the winter time which makes it a little easier, but be CAREFUL.  On the north end there is a nice boondock lot at the Moss Landing boat harbor near Monterey.  I think it is about 8.00 to park overnight.  South of there the state does not allow any overnight parking along the PCH except in state parks which are all 32' limit.  San Simeon State Park campground can handle a 45, we overnighted there while going to Hearst Castle, even though they also state 32'.  Don't let the log trucks up north scare you, they stay on their side of the road, besides there are precious few of them left now, Georgia-Pacific in Fort Bragg is now closed and torn down.  The Skunk Train at Fort Bragg is a worthwile tourist attraction.  I suggest visiting the Samoa Cookhouse, just accross the bridge from Eureka, you can park overnight right there. The redwoods are one of my favorite spots but according to Redwood National Park you can't park overnight anywhere.  Too bad, you used to be able to park right along the ocean near Orick but it's all signed now.  Be nice to park somewhere in the Avenue of the Giants too, but I suppose the authorities don't want the roadsides plugged with RV's in the summer.  Happy Trails.
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2011, 10:08:46 AM »

Stone Lagoon Rv park is just south of Orick about 4 miles or so. Stayed there twice, once in the fall and once in the spring. Both times there we had Elk that came thru the campground early in the morning and somtimes at night. Had a cow elk that was eating the grass right outside my bedroom window. Her nose was right beside my rear tire. Grin  Just be cautious of the Bull Elk during the fall rut.
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2011, 10:15:04 AM »

Mini-split-----Ck out     MiniSplitShop.com      they run specials from time to time.  just had 9000 on sale for 399 plus 46  shipping.   heat and cool.     Bob
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2011, 12:09:11 PM »

Ok, I have my map out and noted all the recommendations. Thank you very much.

I love twisty, complicated roads in the bus Smiley

Aye aye captain,  no stopping in quaint Mexican road side turnouts.
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2011, 12:32:53 PM »

Huntington Beach CA also has some RV parking right on the beach:  http://huntingtonbeachca.gov/visitors/beach_info/parking_and_camping.cfm#rv_parking
South of HB, Newport Dunes RV Resort is expensive and often crowded, but is an option if HB is full.

South of the border, you really want to keep on the Cuota, not the free old road.   The old road is very poorly signposted and has some serious potholes, at least between TJ and Rosarito.   South of there, I don't know, but my sister used to drive down from Canada to Mulege most winters and she didn't have too many problems along the way.

Have fun, John
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2011, 05:59:47 PM »

eagle19952: Is that your bus emergency fund?  Shocked


two or threee more runs and i get a full partnership,thats the front money.... Cheesy
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2011, 06:10:00 PM »

La Buffadora...south of Ensenada. Interesting site.
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« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2011, 12:18:27 PM »

Just noticed this thread.

I've got a 67 5A based in San Francisco.  Traveled up hwy 1 to Mendocino a few times and I hope you have a Jake and enjoy tight hilly windy roads.  Many 15mpg, 90 degree, turns. Is quite a workout for the driver!

I'm actually planning a trip from SF to Southern California Dec 17th to the 1st.  I have a three year old.  Hopefully our paths can cross! I was thinking of hitting Mexico but am not sure.  Probably safer and easier just to stay in the states.  We plan to spend most of our time hanging on the beach between LA and the Mexico border.  Boon-docking is OK from what I know in National forests, but is probably non existent on the coast.

Let me know if you need any additional info!

Mike


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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2011, 02:03:42 PM »

He Mike,

I would love to see the 67 maybe we can work it out. I expect to be in the LA area for Xmass but who knows. I am sure the kids would tire each other out in an afternoon.

Often when I say boondocking I really mean stopping to sleep on our way to somewhere interesting.
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« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2011, 04:59:38 PM »

I drove my bus up the 1 from San Diego to Castorville earlier this year, I liked the drive.  As the driver, you won't get to take in much of the scenery.  The only other rv's I met were class C's and not many of them.  Stop in at the Nepenthe restaurant on the coast.  Check about road conditions, recently there was a thread, on this site, commenting on the 1 being closed indefinitely due to a slide.

I didn't think much of Hearst Castle but since you have kids it might be worth your time.  Much of the coast is locked as far as free camping with some cities ticketing you for parking in their town.  RV's become a problem very fast in Southern CA.

Since you like wine you will be close to some wine regions.  I like the Dry Creek area of Sonoma County.  If you decide to go that way I will inquire about free spots in the vineyards.

I recommend Venice Beach if you hit LA on a sunny Saturday.  Your kids will remember that forever even though they have filled in the graffiti pit.  Research parking though.  My only idea is to try the Washington Street beach parking lot.  Maybe if you get there early in the morning, they will let you park and if they do I'm not sure you can get out before suppertime.

Once you're in the San Diego area, I recommend the San Elijo campground.  It is spendy but you're at a prime surf spot with a cute California beach town across the street.  Since I live in San Diego, I'm weak on boondocking ideas.

I haven't talked to anybody with Mexico camping experience for the last couple of months but until then it was safe to drive to Cabo.  There are three border Crossings in the San Diego area.

San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest and usually has the longest wait times.  For example, currently there are 18 lanes open and a wait time is 90 minutes.  During rush hour it is routinely over 3 hours.

Otay Mesa is 30ish minutes east and currently has 9 lanes open and a 55 minute wait.  I believe this is where much of the truck traffic crosses.

Tecate is 45ish minutes east and currently there are 2 lanes open and a 5 minute wait.  Tecate has a cute town square and is a very easy place to cross.

Should you choose to drive across in SD the recommendations haven't changed since I moved to CA, drive south of Rosarito a 30-45 minute drive before you think about stopping.  If you want to camp go at least to Ensenada if not farther south.  Should you drive off the toll road do it only during daylight as the topes (speed bumps) are bone jarring.

The highway along the west coast of Baja will cut across to the Sea of California and in the middle is a small town (forgot name) where dirt bikers stay.  The food at the diner is a Mexican interpretation of American greasy spoon and wonderful when I was there a couple of years ago. 

In my opinion. the coast around Mulege is some of the most beautiful landscape in the world.

The other way to go south is to head out of AZ to Puerto Penasco and drive down the Sea of California.  Surfing sucks but it is a nice drive and at that time of year the inland trip through parts of NV, AZ and CA is pleasant.  The kids will like the dunes at Glamis.

You are welcome to dry camp in front of my house should you come to SD. 

Mike   


 
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« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2011, 03:10:10 PM »

OK.. now for my northern cal input...

I have the most experience in nor cal from the lost coast (Fort Bragg) to Santa Cruz.

Highway 1 south from the lost coast to San Francisco is tight and windy most of the way.  If you were pressed for time taking 101 to SF would save many hours of driving time.   If you do take 1 south some good eastern crossovers are hwy 20 between Fort Bragg and Mendocino and goes through the Jackson State Forest.  Highway 116 at Jenner, it follows the Russian river resort area.  From SF to Santa Cruz 280 to 85 is a pretty and faster journey.  Highway 1 is good and not nearly as curvy as north of SF.

As for camping or boondocking. Some of the state run campgrounds have overflow parking lots that you may be able to crash at, also keep in mind that a lot of State run campgrounds have size limits for RV's.  These are not set in stone as I have stayed at Salt Point State Park with my 35' rig with no troubles although the limit is 31'.  I would call ahead to see if you can get your bus in.  Also be sure to check to see if they are open or not as many State campgrounds are seasonally closed.  Some completely, some just a few days a week.  My favorite campgrounds is Stillwater Cove (dump station), run by Sonoma County and Memorial Park run by San Mateo County.  Half Moon Bay State Beach also has a campground right on the beach.

If you plan on staying in SF for a little bit I highly recommend the City Pass (http://www.citypass.com/san-francisco), it includes a 7 day cable car ($6 per ride) and bus pass, a bay cruise and admission to the best museums in town.  At only $40 for kids and $70 per adults it is a steal. If you do plan to stay near SF and camp in the bus I would recommend staying at Golden Gate RV park in Greenbrae, walking distance to Ferry into SF, or Treasure Island RV park in South San Francisco, only 2 blocks from BART, the regional subway, 10 min to SF.  I would not recommend driving in the city itself.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you need any additional info.
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« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2011, 03:37:36 PM »

Hey Randy, if you get over to Yuma give us yell and see if we are still here.  I still owe you and your wife a dinner for the steering wheel.  Grin
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« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2011, 05:52:15 PM »

Otay Mesa is 30ish minutes east and currently has 9 lanes open and a 55 minute wait.  I believe this is where much of the truck traffic crosses.
I always use the Otay Mesa crossing every time I go to TJ Aeropuerto or the Central Camionera (you'll still see Eagles there in revenue service!).   From the 805 it's only a few miles east on the 905, and new sections of the 905 are being built to make it all freeway from the 805 to the border.   Going south is easy, and the wait coming north is usually much less than San Ysidro.   There's one lane for RVs entering USA, and trucks have their own crossing a mile or so to the west.   I've never crossed at Tecate, but the smaller the crossing the less likely the northbound wait.   Not all crossings are open 24 hours  -  I went to a wedding in Mexicali, and we walked through on foot because it closes to cars at night.   You'll see a line of empty cars parked there waiting for it to open, and their owners come back in the morning before it reopens!

John   
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« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2011, 11:08:24 PM »

Great stuff, I am busy making notes and plotting my route. The kids feel Disney is something they do not want to miss. So $700 later Shocked I may still convince them that collecting shells on the beach is the best way to see LA.

We spend a week to head South to LA which gives us plenty of time to stop in SF and that city pass sounds like the best way to do it.  Heading to Mexico on the 25th or 26th.

Hey Ed, I think we may do Arizona on the return trip... will let you know.
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« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2011, 06:28:39 AM »

When in San Diego-especially with the kids-stay at Campland on the Bay.  True the campsites are only about 16ft wide, but during winter, the campground should not be full.  Swimming pool for kids and adults, right on the north end of Mission Bay. Has launching ramp, boat rentals, water toy rental.  Within eye shot view of Seaworld-can see there fireworks at around 9:45pm.  Even though the campground can be crowded and the campsites are tight, you're right in San Diego (which when having a campfire is bizarre to me), minutes from Seaworld, downtown gas lamp district, fishermans wharf and the Midway aircraft carrier, etc.

If staying in Morro Bay, either Morro Dunes or Morro Strand RV Park (a bit cheaper) are good.  A shuttle bus comes right to the RV park to go into town.  Right across from the beach. 

Please do your family a big favor-stay out of Mexico!!  With all the murders, kidnappings (your kids?), you'll be a much happier camper staying in the good old USA.  If you do go to Mexico, leave the RV here and go on a guided tour and never separate out of the tour group.  Really nothing much to see over the border anyway.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2011, 06:47:42 AM »

Randy, also keep in mind the bus rally in Quartzsite Jan. 19-21 if you can fit it into your schedule. Grin
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« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2011, 08:12:31 AM »

Randy,

I walked into an office of Discoverbaja also discoverbaja.com the other day.  They describe their company as the AAA of Baja California.  They will provide all the paperwork you need for Mexico.

TomC brings up two good points.  The news is full of Mexican violence.  My knowledge is second hand from people who have returned.  Those I've talked with don't believe the tourist issues have changed much over the years.  I do have a friend who is going down over Thanksgiving.  He goes with his family every couple of months and he mainly stays in a guarded park which has been his practice for for the last 15 years to avoid campsite pilfering when he is out.

The second point concerning Campland.  It is on the bay so the water will be warmer and it is closer than the San Elijo campground to the local activities, however, Campland's only surf is from jetski's and ski boats. 

Earlier I forgot to mention, that in December, unless there is a storm, I don't believe the wind is strong enough to kite surf.  Again my knowledge is anecdotal as I don't surf. 

Mike
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