Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Itinerary

Ok, so I haven't written in a while....
sorry about that.  Life has been a little crazy with work, training, and a very scary incident with Humphrey.  I'll write about that later, but first, a post that has been requested by a couple of people.

Yes, I have people who read this blog!!!  You make my day!!!!!!!!!
The 101 Roadtrip Guide


So here it is....
the itinerary of what I did on my Road trip in August.  What I loved and what I would do differently.....

Day 1
Drive to Seattle.  Yes, it is a long drive, but completely doable.  If you want to break it up, stop in Yakima, WA.   If you left early in the am, you would still be able to explore and shop at all of the fruit stands I saw advertised.  The next day, get up early and go into Seattle.

Before you get to Seattle, stop at Snoquamish Fall.  Beautiful and a nice break before you hit Seattle traffic.

Day 2
We drove up to Bellingham, about an hour north, and went on a Whale Watching tour.  LOVED, LOVED this adventure.  We went thru Island Mariner Cruises and had even gotten a groupon to make it an amazing deal.  If I had the opportunity, I would spend a week exploring the San Juan Islands!!!  They are so beautiful.  I would hike, camp, and even splurge at one of the spas on one of the islands.

Day 3
Exploring Seattle.  We did it thru a Segway tour.  A fun way to cover a lot of ground.  Here's my one Seattle tip, don't go up the Space Needle.  It is expensive and not the best view in Seattle--instead go up the Columbia Building.  Cheaper and a better view.  We did not go in the Chulily museum and regretted it.  Other than that, just explore....

Day 4
Left Seattle behind...took my car on its first ferry ride!!!  Hooked up with the 101 Highway and got to Olympic National Park.  If you can, allow more time for this area.  The Sol Duc campground is AMAZING!!!  My only complaint, you can not make reservations, it's first come first serve, but worth it!!!  Soak in the Hot Springs; take the hike to the waterfall; and just enjoy the scenery.

Day 5
Went to Kalaloch Beach and campground.
Had my first experience with the Pacific waters....they are cold.  Do not expect to spend time in the water, unless you have a wetsuit.  It is still fun to explore the beach and the surrounding areas.  One of the cool things near by is the Quinault Rain Forest.  Yes, rain forest.

Day 6
Continued down the 101 Highway and got to Oceanside, OR.  The adventure along the way is part of fun.  We ate at Clark's Restaurant in Arctic, WA (it's listed in every guide I found about the 101).  Old time diner with amazing food.  We also found out that the 101 coincides with the Lewis and Clark trail and stopped at a National Historic site, Fort Clatsop.  It is very interesting and they have historic re-enactors as well.  We did not spend any time in Astoria, OR and wished we could of.

We got to Oceanside early enough to explore the Prom and the shops.  That was enough for me..  I did not really enjoy the vibe of the town, but did find an amazing photography studio.  It's a very touristy town.

Day 7
A short drive to Newport, but first a stop at Cannon Beach.  If you can, spend an entire day at Haystack Rocks and Cannon Beach.  It is beautiful, clean and perfect.  I saw a horseback tour going on the beach and thought, I wish I had signed up for that.  The town of Cannon Beach does not allow any chain stores in its limits.  Accommodations are expensive--I could not find anything under $200!!!  Oceanside does have very good deals (our hotel was $59) a night and I could have chosen at least 3 others in that price range.  Stay in Oceanside, but play in Cannon Beach.....

One of the fun things on the drive from Oceanside to Newport is that you go thru Tillamook!!  With the cows and the factory.  Yes, it is busy and touristy, but stop anyway.  You get to sample cheese and then there is the ice cream.....Yum.....  I got a map and found the actual cows.  I did not know that the Tillamook Creamery is actually a co-op of small family famers!!  I like them even more for this.

Take the time for all of the scenic side trips that you can.  The views are amazing.

We camped at Beverly Beach State Park.  Loved it!!!!  We even had our own beach access!!!

Day 8
Explored Beverly Beach, Newport and the surrounding areas.  Whatever your interests, you can find something to do.  A tip, pick up the locally produced guidebooks when you are in the area.  They have split up the coast into 3 regions and give a TON of ideas.  At the Yaquina Head lighthouse, go to the tide pools, but beware, the beach is made up of River Rocks!!!  It is very hard to walk on.

Day 9
It is time to leave Oregon behind and head to California.  But before we did, we spend the morning at the Newport Aquarium.  It is ranked in the top 5 Aquariums in the country.  It's fun and as a special treat, we got a behind the scenes tour and kissed by a Sea Lion named Leah.

Leaving Newport around 3, we headed off to Crescent City, CA.  It was a little long, but stunning in its views.

It was another camping adventure, as we had made reservations at the KOA.  DO NOT BOOK THERE!!!!  It was awful, between the shower hogs, the drunk couple fighting until 4 am, and just general bad attitudes all around, I wanted to leave in the middle of the night.   There are many campgrounds in the National and State parks of Redwoods.  Go there...  there are hot showers at most of them and they are cheaper than the KOA.

Day 10
Explore Redwood State and National Parks...  It's weird--California has Redwood parks and the then there is the National Park.  As far as I could tell, they overlapped a lot.....

On the road into the park, we saw a herd of elk on the side of the road that must of had 30 in it..

Now onto the trees,  AMAZING.  I am 5'9" and felt like an ant.  Take some time to do some hikes and become immersed in them.  Lose yourself in their beauty.

We stopped at the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, which is soooo worth it.  We took a tram ride thru the trees, had nice paved trails-with a self audio tour with information about what we were seeing, and the largest privately owned Native American museum.  It was well worth the money and time.

Another fun fact, all of the drive thru trees that you hear about are on privately owned land.  We paid $5 to drive thru one.

Day 11
It's time to head to San Francisco.  The 101 Highway was still our guide.  We took a little time off of it to drive the Avenue of the Giants, but still got to the Golden Gate Bridge by 2 pm.  If you can, park on the north side of the bridge.  I missed the turnoff and drove the bridge and then got in a mess of traffic before I found the parking lot.  I was surprised how busy the walkway was and how many groups will walk 4 across.  It made for a frustrating walk on the bridge, but still do it.  GO THE WHOLE WAY and back.

Here is my one and only hotel tip of the whole trip.  The Wharf Inn.  When I was planning the trip, I went into sticker shock for the price of hotels in San Francisco. WOW....  The Wharf Inn's rooms are very basic, do not expect a fridge or microwave in your room, and yes the walls are a bit thin.  Request a room on the 3rd floor and in the back and the noise is not too bad.  I did not find it too bad, and the free parking (even for 6 hours after checkout), the price and the location made it all worth while, plus the front desk clerk was very friendly and informative about the area and gave a great dinner recommendation (Alioto's).

Day 12
San Francisco....Ride the cable cars, explore China Town, and whatever else catches your eye....
We left around 5 in the afternoon and drove to Sacramento.

Day 13
Drive home....

In summary, to make this trip affordable, we camped about half of the time.  I love to camp and all of the campsites we stayed at had warm showers......

The purpose of the trip was to get a feel for the area.  I had never stepped foot in either Washington or Oregon.  I would go back in a heartbeat.  A week in the San Juan Islands....  More time in Olympic National Park...... Time in Cannon Beach.....  Hike more in Redwood....  See more in San Francisco....

Did I have fun....
ABSOLUTELY!!!!
So get out there...

Your Tour Guide,
Melissa

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