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Old 04-30-2014, 03:14 AM   #1
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Default California trip bits of this and that

Thanks to everyone who gave us advice. We didn't see any snow that was not on mountain peaks except for the east side of the Angeles Crest highway and it wasn't on the road. That was a beautiful drive. The pass into Yosemite from the east wasn't open yet and neither were some of the roads near Mount Lassen. Which was probably good for me because I was getting sick of cliff edges.
The northern California coastal highway has scenery like Oregon but the road is very different. It is often cliff edge with just a painted white line (sometimes missing chunks) marking the edge instead of barriers. Parts were more than a little scary and we won't be travelling south on that road again. Instead of bridges like Oregon you come up and down the canyons to get from one cliff top to another. There were some beautiful campgrounds on this route but not all have services, if that matters.
The most frightening road of our trip was leaving South Lake Tahoe travelling on the west side of the lake on cliffs, there were a few barriers but near the top you cross a ridge where the road drops away on both sides! We are always driving mountain roads in BC but never have I been so frightened as I was several times in California.
Eureka had some gorgeous old buildings and a fabulous co-op grocery store.
You can see that people are suffering economically and many tourist type shops were out of business. Shopkeepers in Morro Bay and S. Lake Tahoe said that it was hard to keep a business alive.
The "Painted Ladies' were on my list for San Francisco but I needn't have bothered. Lovely old houses were all over San Francisco and in many small towns. We had lunch at a great restaurant near the baseball stadium. It is called Delancey Street and it has menu items from "each wave of American immigrants", something for everyone to try.
We loved Santa Barbara, so beautiful, friendly and walkable.
Carpinteria State Park has a beautiful beach but who wants to camp in a paved parking lot (literally) with a bit of dirt behind for your picnic table. I wish we had known.
I enquired ahead of time from the parks branch and was told there is no need for passes in California parks ("not like in some other states" they said) but many places were "fee areas" so I guess I asked the wrong question.
We should have skipped Death Valley. I am interested in Geology but it looks devastated . I was crabby because although I didn't know it 'til later I developed altitude sickness on the way there and it hung on until we were back into the central valley a few days later.
There were many strange but great experiences such as sitting in Lone Pine eating ice-cream at MacD's (ice cream stores still closed) and the view out the window is completely filled with a gorgeous snow topped mountain. All the people we met were friendly and helpful.
The problems with drought weren't obvious to a tourist until we heard about the effect of the lack of snow in some of the tourist towns and saw how unbelievably low Lake Shasta is.
Two weeks wasn't even close to enough time but now we know what we would want to see.

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Old 04-30-2014, 03:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: California trip bits of this and that

Thanks for the report, Lou.

I got that "altitude sickness" in the Canadian Rockies (at Lake Louise). It's the damnedest thing. You don't know what it is and you kind of feel sick, but kind-of don't. Lack of energy, can't breathe right, etc. After a few days at altitude, you adapt...or at least I did. For some people it can be dangerous.


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Old 04-30-2014, 11:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: California trip bits of this and that

I'm glad you enjoyed the trip. Tioga pass (eastern route to Yosemite) isn't usually open until sometime in May or June. As you can imagine, it is quite a job to plow that road since it hangs on the edge of the mountain and goes up to almost 10,000' elevation.

Pacific Coast Highway (the coast road) can be a bit of a challenge in the northern part of the state. I'll be up there this weekend for a quick getaway to Mendocino and points north.
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:16 AM   #4
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Default Re: California trip bits of this and that

Wow! You got a lot done,but still only made a dent. See you next year.
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: California trip bits of this and that

We had the same general experience along the PCH, although parts of it were obscured by fog from San Francisco southbound for a few (20?) miles the morning we did it. Maybe that was a blessing? Couldn't see the precipices.
I know that stretch of Hwy 50 (?) west out of Lake Tahoe, some serious climbs and then drops often on blind corners. We traveled it on our route between between Carson City and Sacramento. Got stopped at some sort of a checkpoint near there by what looked like park rangers. They weren't police, maybe Fish and Game, and I think they were checking boats and trailers for traveling invasive species, among other things. We got pulled in, but were waved through almost as quickly after an older inspector realized we had nowhere to transport anything. Did a quick lunch at the McDonald's in Lake Tahoe. First "walk-thru" window I've ever seen at one of them. Service was brutally slow there, too.
I think we've done that road (it was over 5 years ago, can't recall exactly) that exits Yosemite to the west towards I-5 and points south. It's just switchback after switchback up and down. Quite a ride, if your brakes are OK. We headed south at Ripon on Hwy 99, I believe. Hwy 120 might have been the route out. I remember there were 3 or 4 guys on racing bicycles flying past us on the downhill hairpins. We were amazed at their bravery or insanity on some of the cliffsides. They were easily going 40 mph or more on some of the downhills.
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
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