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View Full Version : Driving from LA to SFO - any tips?



Tony Egan
10-07-2009, 07:26 AM
Hi Californians,
I am travelling from Sydney to New York on business in early November and have tacked on some vacation and have 7 nights to plan. The first two are booked at Joshua Tree. I'm still tossing up how to spend the next 5 days getting to SFO; whether to stay inland and see more NPs or head back to the coast and wind up through Big Sur and Carmel. One thing I'm not sure of is the early November weather/accessibility in areas like Kings Canyon, Sequoia etc. I imagine Yosemite might be a gamble in a small hire car at that time? (18 years ago I visited Yosemite, Monument Valley, Death Valley and Grand Canyon albeit not with my serious photography head on)

Appreciate any and all thoughts you might have. I realise it is a lot of potential territory to cover. I was toying with the whole idea of the "Nostalgia Tour 09" and checking off locations like Oceano, Point Lobos etc that have a strong photographic resonance but I believe some of these places aint like they used to be?

Thanks
Tony

TheFlyingCamera
10-07-2009, 10:40 AM
IF the weather holds, the trek up 395 on the east side of the Sierra is wonderful. The challenge would be getting back over the mountains if there is snow. You'd have to keep going on up to Tahoe and come through Truckee Pass if Tioga and Sonora passes are closed. Still on the west side of the mountains, there are plenty of interesting spots worth taking a peek at, including Pinnacles national monument (http://www.npca.org/parks/pinnacles-national-monument.html).

Sirius Glass
10-07-2009, 11:42 AM
Tony,

You have listed all the high spots. After Joshua Tree NP, see what the weather is like and then decide.

For hourly conditions: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/Hourly
By road number: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/hi.htm

Kings Canyon closes the eastern part around then so check: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/pvfall.htm

Look at the California state parks: http://calparks.org/recreationHQ/

Yosemite can book up early so if you want to go there then you need to book ahead. If Tioga pass is closed, then do not go up 395 because to get to Yosemite would require you to go to Tahoe first and then drive back south.

Steve

mgb74
10-07-2009, 12:52 PM
... but I believe some of these places aint like they used to be?

Thanks
Tony


Very true. But they are probably better now than they will be in the future. All other things equal, you may want to focus on the less protected areas first.

Denis K
10-07-2009, 01:27 PM
Hi Californians,
I imagine Yosemite might be a gamble in a small hire car at that time?
Tony

I've always wondered how this got started but in the US we 'hire' people and 'rent' things; thus "... in a small rental car ...".

... and by the way, in this case I think us yanks have it correct.

Denis K

Vaughn
10-07-2009, 03:27 PM
Yosemite will probably be fine -- the only problem is an early storm and a requirement to have tire (snow) chains in the car.

So I would suggest having two sets of travel plans -- good weather hit the west side of the Sierras, and if the winter sets in early in the mountains, then hit the coast instead.

But if you go from Joshua Tree towards the west side Sierras, you might consider highway 58 through Tehachapi to Bakersfield. Right before Tehachapi there is a big cement works ("plant" for Denis) that might be fun to photograph from the side road that goes by it. Easily seen from the highway, just double back on the side road at the next highway exit.

Have a great trip, Tony! Too bad you don't have the time to head up here in far northern California and the Redwoods. My wife is an Aussie and it would have been fun to meet you.

Vaughn

Tony Egan
10-07-2009, 08:54 PM
I've always wondered how this got started but in the US we 'hire' people and 'rent' things; thus "... in a small rental car ...".

... and by the way, in this case I think us yanks have it correct.

Denis K

... don't start the pedant in me! it should be "...we yanks are correct"
Both words work here and are interchanged. 'Rental' mainly for the type you pick up at airports and 'hire' for weddings, graduations etc. which come with a driver so I concede the point ;)

Language differences can be fun and frustrating. I lived in the US for a few years and can translate pretty well on the fly. On my first visit 25 years ago I was in a diner and asked for extra serviettes (napkins) for the table. The waitress was very perplexed. We figured out later she thought I were saying soviets and was being asked to bring some more Russians to the table!

Tony Egan
10-07-2009, 09:04 PM
Thanks Vaughn - I noticed I am one week too early for the Jim Galli workshop in Tonopah which would have been a good coincidence if my business meeting wasn't on that week. 18 years ago we spent a night in Tonopah. My young kids at the time were fascinated by the slot machines and guns and ammo in the supermarket!

Vaughn
10-08-2009, 12:21 AM
Tony -- my three boys are growing up bi-lingual...they speak both American and Australian -- and we are adding some Spanish to that. My wife has a degree in Nursing and in Spanish. Spanish with an Aussie accent is pretty funny (or so I have been told -- in Spanish, I am limited to asking for a beer and ask where the bathroom is.)

Scott_Sheppard
10-08-2009, 12:47 AM
Tony:

You HAVE to go to Hurst Castle....

http://www.hearstcastle.com/

A GREAT place to take photographs.

Thanks

Scott

Curt
10-08-2009, 01:18 AM
I was toying with the whole idea of the "Nostalgia Tour 09" and checking off locations like Oceano, Point Lobos etc that have a strong photographic resonance but I believe some of these places ain't like they used to be?

Big Sur, Point Lobos to San Francisco is excellent, what I like is how little Point Lobos was allowed to change, only nature works there. Yosemite would be great if you can get there or in and around San Francisco and even north to the Redwoods. Too little time and too much to do, isn't it always that way? California is like an entire country.

Steve Smith
10-08-2009, 02:41 AM
... don't start the pedant in me! it should be "...we yanks are correct"

But remember, they drive on the wrong side of the road over there!

Steve.

Michael W
10-08-2009, 08:47 AM
Have a fun trip, Tony.
I'll be rooting for you. :)

Denis K
10-08-2009, 10:22 AM
This would seem to me to be the age-old problem of taking a short trip to a place that requires much more time to see. Do you treat the trip as a scouting trip or do you spend quality time in just one place. Since you have already been to Califorina, you may have already scouted the place and know where you want to return to, but weather may not allow that. When presented with this problem, I've always tended to make it up as I went along. One thing I like about the western states, is that the places YOU find most interesting just seem to pop up almost at random as you travel around. For me, some of these places aren't even in the guidebooks and I would never have found them unless I just happened upon them.

If you end up doing the coast route, LA gets a bad rap but in my opinion has some nice places to visit. If you drive through there and have time you might drop by The Getty and the Huntington Library.

Have fun, we would all like to be with you.

Denis K

Tony Egan
10-08-2009, 09:41 PM
Denis - good points there. I like to take the back roads and be surprised, leaving enough time in the travel schedule to stop and look around. In a large city I prefer to have company but on the road with a camera I'm quite satisfied on my own.
Thanks for the ideas and links so far. At this stage I'm leaning towards heading back to the coast and spending a few consecutive nights in the Carmel area.