This roadtrip is something that I had been wanting to do from a long time; drive long and far. I had no idea when I started on this road trip what would happen and how it would be. But once it is done, I can tell you, I has been the most amazing trip till date.
There have been other vacations and trips that were good, but in terms of feeling “the peace” ( I am using this word because I have no other means of describing what I felt), the feeling of sigh of relief one feels under the gigantic trees of Redwood forest filtering light to for the magic effect or looking out at the highway having breakfast.
As a background, I had never driven this far and long alone. I have a 6 year old with me and in general I have few places that I wanted to visit. I had the liberty of time and could take days off because, I had worked most of the year and my vacation time was overflowing.
The plan was to drive from San Diego to Seattle all on US-1 along the coast. I have a friend in Seattle who I visit almost every year. So, Seattle is the logically end point of this trip. Stay at her place for few days before flying back.
I rented a mini SUV for the trip. Hertz has airport to airport for no extra cost. The car was a Volkswagen mini SUV. It seemed small at first, but it fit our luggage and the ice-cooler perfectly.
Here is the route that I took, And total miles driven ? Around 1600 miles and additional miles lost trying to find the exits and in Los Angeles.
Day 1 – Drive to Los Angeles. Visit Disney Land and Stay at Los Angeles .
This was for M and I wanted her to have a good time before we start this trip. M is my daughter. The rest of the trip mostly consisted of driving and I was not sure how a 6 year old would handle it. I was prepared with color pencils, Ipad with games and books, reading books and some audio books as entertainment and music Cds.
Disney land was tiring and the crowd was all too just much. The tickets were expensive and was not really worth it. We survived the first day and with a big balloon of mickey mouse we were done. Not quite, I forgot where I had parked my car in the Disney land parking trip. We walked around a far amount but we could not locate the car. When I checked with the parking guys, they said that they parking is done according to the time slots. So, luckily we found the car. M was not happy first day. I made her walk 😦
We both were still getting use to learning how to go with the flow and deal with it as it comes. Tough first day !
Day 2 – California Science Center at Los Angeles. Second night at Los Angeles.
Trip to California science museum. The reason was to see Endevour space shuttle that is parked in the museum. I had earlier seen photos of the space shuttle travelling through Los Angeles.
Califorina Science Museum (CSM ) was really great, much to my surprise after the Disney land trip. The museum is beautiful. The outside has these lights that are colored from sunlights and it made M very happy to play chasing the light. We watched 2 IMAX movies, the Hubble telescope and the Lemur of Madagascar. Both these movies were absolutely amazing, visually and content vise stunning. The display of the planes and the place for children to play and activity is all done very well. It is a place worth visiting again.
The trip into the hanger of Endevour spaceshuttle was great. It is an iconic shuttle and we got a close up look at the engines. The outer shell is made up of pieces of squares and rectangles and hexagons with each of them having a unique number. I asked someone there a question about the pieces and why was it so, the answer was not very clear.
Day 3 – Morro Bay and drive to Monterey Bay. Stay at Monterey Bay overnight.
This drive as really amazing. We stopped at a place close to Morro Bay. The place has vast walk routes that ended towards the sea. It is some perfect picnic or painting stop. There were people people para-sailing. The pictures I got at this place is really amazing. It is worth a visit.
and the my favorite picture of all..M drawing !
We stopped at other places and the sight and the vastness and beauty of the place was hard to grasp. The cliff’s, the vast ocean, the mist, clouds all together makes you feel a sense of relif. It is a joy to experience. Since M and me had the liberty of the time, we just hung around in the place longer walking around and sometimes sitting watching the water.
Day 4 – Monterey Bay aquarium, 16 mile drive, Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Bragg. Reach Fort Bragg.
Morning visited the Mission Carmel. The place is really nice and the architecture is great. The place is open and has a serene feeling to it ( Yes, it is a mission, serene it is to be ). It is surrounded by mountains which you can see from the courtyard. We had a great time, and M was free to run around. I got some nice photographs here.
Next stop we visited the Monterey Bay aquarium. I thoughts the tickets was really expensive. However the aquarium is really nice, crowded but very nice. There is a big tank where the shark, turtles, sardines and other fish all live together. I am not sure if the other fish are food for shark ;-). The glass is thick and the light is dark, photographs don’t come out well. There is also a large display of jelly fish, they flow ethereally and effortlessly. I got some great pictures of the jellyfish. The colors are something one does not see everyday.
Next we went on the 16 mile drive. The ocean and the gulls and wild flowers look great, however I did not like the fact that the rich people who have their homes at the beach side with beautiful homes would charge 10 dollars to drive around their place. It did not seem like something that anyone would do. There must be more to the 10 dollars than what I know..
The food was good at some local bakery, fresh sea food and the desert was great.
We headed towards San Francisco, Golden gate bridge. The weather was windy and cold and M refused to get out of the car when we reached there. I took few pictures and we headed towards US 1.
The exit to US 1 was tricky and I overshot it by few miles. Driving the US 1 was a little nerve racking, the roads was windy, steep down’s, single lanes with traffic on both sides. My time estimate to reach fort bragg’s was off and I were running late. I and few other vehicles were only ones driving the opposite direction. This drive was a little bit extra exciting, driving in the nights in roads right next to the pacific and high cliffs without any rails for the most part. But, by far this drive was something that makes the California coast magnanimous. The cliff are huge and the water is grey and rough, with mist all around and not a soul in sight. There were few people at certain places, but in general it is very sparely occupied. This drive from Golden gate bridge towards Fort Braggs is something that I would want to do again at a slower pace. Highly recommend this part of the drive !
Since I was driving, I could not take pictures. Few iphone pictures while I was driving. Don’t recommend taking pictures while driving. These pictures is all I have of this part of the drive.
Day 5 – Redwood National and State Forest. Drive to Oregon, Gold Beach.
Redwood national forest was one of the place that I wanted to visit when I started this trip. The place is vast and green and looks dense. We started towards orick from Fort Braggs and visited the Redwood forest center and got the map and asked for recommendation from the people there. They were really helpful and suggested small trips to see the forest. With M a long distances trek and hike is out of question.
This is was the most amazing place, the light in forest is something magical. It would seem that the trees filter magic portion of the light and that falls on you. Feel very tiny and small next to these trees. I could not get enough of looking at these trees and soaking my eyes with the green and feel of the place. I truly felt peace here.
Day 6 – Drive the Oregon coast. Drive to Astoria.
The drive of the oregon coast is beautiful and the lighthouses are picturesque. I had seen Oregon in a earlier roadtrip with M when she was 3 years old and girlfriends . We did visit one of the lighthouses, Cape Blanco and it was chilly cold and real windy like howling wind) . M refused to get out of the car.
Oregon coast has rocks and driftwood all around, they make amazing photograph material. We made it through the entire coast in a day.
Stay at Astoria was pleasant. The hotel room had the view of the boats and the water with the bridge.
Day 7 – Drive to Portland, Rose Garden, Japanese garden, falls. Drive to Seattle and drop off the car.
The visit to Portland rose and Japanese garden was not something in my travel plan. I am glad for this impromptu plan. Rose garden has roses and lots of them. The place has green space and bench to hang out with. I saw people with who had come there for a picnic, painting session etc.
M and me took a bus to the Japanese Garden. They are one of the most authenticate gardens outside of Japan ( that is what has told to me ). The place is nice. I could not get pictures of the Koi fish ponds, leaving M next to a water body is never a good idea.
Next the waterfalls east of Portland. There are few smaller ones on the route, that look like streams and one large one with cascade fall called Multnomah Falls. The walk around the falls is nice.
A young child
M is 6 years old. She is young for a road trip of this order and it is just me and her. However, I would say she had a good time and enjoyed herself. I think all the following worked with her and I have a better idea on how to make the trip exciting and fun for her. She was bored for some part of when mommy is lost or trying to get the hotel booked.
- I had music Cd’s for kids and audio story books. M would sing out loud the songs and listened to the audio books like in repeat play. This was kind of boring for me, but if she is entertained, I could not ask for more.
- Had packed papers for drawing and coloring sheets, her markers and a marker set. Pencil, eraser. Also at multiple places along the drive, I bought her coloring books, like at the Redwood national park and Oregon coast. They made her super happy. It is a present and something to do. M gets bored very easily and so a refresher on the coloring books and new additions to the drawing works well.
- Packed few of her night reading books to help her sleep at the hotel. I let her watch TV at night and I used that time to unpack and arrange dinner and cleanup the food and rearrange travel bags.
- I carried my D90 nikon camera and a point and shoot one as a backup. Somewhere in half way in the trip, M wanted to take photos with the large camera and I gave her the point and shoot one. With instructions and watch on how she was to handle it. It worked great ! She enjoyed taking pictures of flowers and her stuff toys on benches and was chasing butterfly. Showed her how to look at the pictures she was taking. It kept her busy for hours. Ofcourse there was some 100 pictures of the cars window and her shoes etc, but she felt good.
- Ipad at times when nothing else works. A mix of drawing, math and puzzles with story reading apps worked well.
- About the food, I had a ice-pack that I bought from target for 20$ and it worked well for M and me. Filled it with yogurt, apples, juice. I also got bread and nutella for me as breakfast most days.
M is very picky with food and even though I attempted to give her 3 meals a day, it did not work out like that. The diet was mostly chicken nuggets wherever she thought she could eat them and fruits and milk. Kids recover in few weeks once they are back home.
It has taken me longer to write this travel account than plan for the trip and execute it. The trip was done from July 3rd to July 12 this year.
I used priceline app on my phone for hotels. The hotels for Los Angeles was the only one booked and the rest was done through the priceline app.
I would decide how much can I drive around 3pm and book the hotel. I could drive another 5 hours because of daylight saving and that estimated my next pitstop. At night I would look around to see if there was something worthwhile to see next morning. The priceline app worked really well and I did not have to do any planning arranging the hotel. However, I lost some money when I booked hotel at another place for where I wanted to be and lost some money. This is overconfidence and not checking the hotel and the locations carefully on my part. Priceline tries to sell you rooms that are at a discount price and it shows up as closeby locations. I think it would work great in most cases, however, I did not want to change my travel plans so let go to the room. Calling priceline if you have made a mistake in booking was kind of useless. The guy talking to you can’t do anything because it is his job to save money and not change reservations. If everything is done through the app correctly, it will be fine. If you have anything to do with customer service, it is a pain and waste of time. So, incase you do plan to use the priceline app, this is something to remember.
The drive was perfectly safe and I did not see of encounter anything unpleasant. I am aware of where I am and who is around me and don’t take unnecessary risks. I usually stop in isolated places if there is absolutely no one around or there is some kind of couple or family. Living in India, such measure are ingrained.
I kept a check on the fuel meter and regularly checked, one before I start and at 3pm before my long stretch of drive. As much as I could, the fuel tank above half at all times. I was anticipating traffic jams and did not want to get stuck in the case car ran out of fuel.
Since I was not driving back and taking a flight back to San Diego. A lot of things that includes the ice-pack and food and medicine kit etc were either given to my friend or discarded.
I did carry a physical map, but a combination of GPS and Iphone maps worked very well. The route was very simple and there is nothing complicated. Except for a few missed exists and lost in Los Angeles, it driving was uneventful.
The pacific coastline from San Diego and California is purely amazing and mind numbing ( in a good sense ). It is something to be experienced if you live in this part of the world. You should not miss spending couple of days driving and hanging around places, where there is no a soul, just you, water, air and earth ( Gigantic cliffs ). Sit or lay down on the bench and feel the place and the moment in time. M sits on my lap and hugs me and it is just amazing to feel her calm and with me physically and mentally.
Life is and who you are is what you experience and what you do with your life. You got to explore on your own to keep yourself “yourself”. Shedding fears and frustrations which were never yours to being with. You are much better than you think you are !
This roadtrip of mine is nothing compared to this one http://www.seat61.com/Trans-Siberian.htm#Whats_the_Moscow_to_Vladivostok_journey_like