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Driving throught Pacific N'West

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi all -

Hope everyone is enjoying a great summer. Weather in Southcentral Alaska has been perfect. Sunny and 70s for two straight weeks now, with 10 more days of the same projected. This is abnormal, but we are loving it!

I need some advice...I just bought a 1973 VW pop-top camper bus. It is located near Salt Lake, and my wife and I are going to take three weeks to drive it back up here. A trip of a lifetime - I hope.

I need some advice from locals of the area for route selection. Right now my two choices are:

1) Drive west on I-80 through to Reno, and then state highways through the Redwoods to Eureka, CA and up highway 101.

2) Drive Northwest to Boise, head over to Bend and then southwest through Crater National park - on to CA-OR border and up highway 101.

We are looking for:
1) Natural beauty
2) Good places to park the bus for a few days and explore
3) wineries
4) local music/festivals

Dates July 30-August 10 in Pac N'west before heading up AK Hgwy.

Thanks for any advice.
post #2 of 23
The Coast drive up from San Francisco Highway 1 is beautiful. Muir woods, Towering redwood groves. back a litte inland to wineries as far as the eye can see. You could visit 10 wineries a day and not run out for months. Wine country is beautiful that time of the year. You are almost in to crush season if it has not started around that time frame. There are also a great deal of camping locations too.
post #3 of 23
Precisely. I agree with dchan. A beautiful ride!

Deep yogic breaths...
post #4 of 23
me too ! Take the 1.
post #5 of 23
Driving up the coast from SF is a great drive. In the northern part of the state you catch the redwoods then end up on the Oregon Coast which is stunning.

The drive to Boise then Bend will be monotonous in parts, but it takes you through some dramatic high desert country which will be a change of pace from Alaska. From Bend you will be skirting the Cascade mountains which provide some dramatic scenery.

There are two ways to get to the coast from Crater Lake. One is via the Umqua River through Roseberg then over to Coos Bay (this is a very scenic drive). The other is via the Rogue River through Grants Pass then to Brookings. If you do the Grants Pass route be sure to stop at Jedediah Smith State Park and look at the redwoods.

I've haven't driven from Reno to Boise, but I've driven all the other roads you would take in either 1 or 2 multiple times and I've enjoyed them all immensely. You can't go wrong either way.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the quick advice...good to see you guys still active in the summer.

My one major concern of route one is the fact that I will drive across 550 miles of salt flats/desert in order to get to Cali. As many of you know, the bus has an air-cooled engine and does not enjoy high temps. We would most likely make the drive at night, but 550 miles after a long flight is a bunch. Checking at maps and reading about southern Idaho and southeast Oregon seems that, though is is also mostly high desert, it is more inhabited.

Make sense anyone?

I think I am leaning toward sucking it up and driving straight through to Reno though and parking the bus along Tahoe for some saytime shuteye.

BTW - went skiing on Saturday. Last time this year before the snow flies again as the hike out was murder.
post #7 of 23
ok so if you go to Reno...and it would be so be worth it...you would have to make the trek to Tahoe. esp if you haven't been before. I have only camped there twice, so maybe the others will have more suggestions. But I would recommend D.L.Bliss and Meeks Bay as great beach side camping places and not too far from Sth Lake ( ie less of a detour from your route).

The hiking around there is pretty cool from what I've heard...of course you could also rent a mtn bike and do the Flume trail (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) for an amazing scenic view of the area. oh yeh, you could also hike the Flume...but why would you when you can ride !!

just my 2 cents worth<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Jane (edited June 25, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 23

You are going to drive a 73 bus to Alsaka and you're worried about a few hundered miles of desert?

When I was a kid we drove our 73 microbus across that desert a few times. As long as the engine is working properly, it should be just fine. May be a different story for a thick blooded Alaskan without AC.

The good thing about the CA route is that I think everyone living North of Santa Cruz owns or at one time owned a VW microbus. Therefore, there are plenty of spare parts and VW mechanics around when you (uh I mean if) you break down. If you go through Oregon, check out Hells Canyon on the OR ID border.

The ID OR route is pretty dull really. The Reno route is better. I've done both more than once. And have you ever really had a good Idaho wine? In California you will find a variety of music and tall trees. In Idaho you will find potatos and tall grass.

Good luck with that micro bus.
post #9 of 23
Also if you do plan on making it through Ca and want to do some wine tasting, let us know. I can always use a reason to make a trip to wine country. I might even be able to get you a private tour at a few wineries.
V. Sattui for sure. Maybe Hendry and my wife may still have contacts at Beringer..
post #10 of 23
Hood River on the Columbia Gorge isn't out of the way after a stop in Bend.
The whole are is a hotbed of off season sports action. You'd find plenty to do here and there a more than a few wineries in the area.

Mtn. Biking
Kite Surfing
Skiing (lift served or climb for it)
Snowboarding (" " " )
Mtn Boarding
Outdoor music events
It can be crowded with the crowds of wind riding junkies, but that has leveled of some in recent years.

For Natural Beaty I think the Mt. Rainier area takes it in comparison. Mt St. Helens is an area not to be missed though. Evidence of the eruption makes a person quail with smallness in the world/universe, but the area has recovered beautifully at the same time. Kinda gives you hope for Ma Nature.

Sounds like a good time.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited July 04, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
jimpd -

Great points. I plan to take a few days at the start to give the beast a thorough inspection, valve job and inevitable repairs. Of course, it will most likely take a few days to dial it in. I just cringe at the idea of having to dismantle the engine in the middle of Northern Nevada.

And yes, my blood is cold. I grew up in Maine and moved further north to avoid heat. My body functions well at temps between 0 and 70 degrees.

I still think that I am going to take the NOCAL route.

Dchan - I'll let you know my plans as the date approaches.

Thanks all!
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 

Things are shaping up. I will be arriving in SLC on the morning of July 29. I plan to stock up on gear that day and drive across the Nevada desert that night to Tahoe. Any of you Utah birds know a good place to stick up on camping necesities?

2 days in Tahoe. Any suggestions Tahoe residents? Only plan so far is to take in a play at the Shakespeare Festival.

Then on to Boonville and Alexander Valley for wine tours. Any help Dchan?

From there a couple days at the Lost Coast.

Then Up to Crater National Park for a couple days.

Over to Bandon Oregon for some Golf at Bandon Dunes.

Then a day or two exploring Wilamette and Columbia Vallew wineries.

Then up to Olympic National park for a couple days.

Over to Vancouver Island.

Then Vancouver and up the ALCAN.

Any additional help would be great. Also I would love to sit down for a brew or glass of vino with any Bears on my route.
post #13 of 23
Boonville and Alexander Valley? good choices. I'll dig out my note tonight and get back to you.

By the way, don't forget to send AC a note in case he doesn't get to this thread. I'm sure he would like to catch up with you while you are in Tahoe. If for nothing else to have a drink or dinner together.
post #14 of 23
In Boonville you are closer to Mendocino county so I would look to this area for wine tasting.

Of the wineries on this list my choices would be: McDowell, Claudia Springs, Husch, Dunnewood, Edmeades, and Gabrielli.

Check and or call ahead because a lot of the wineries require appointments to get a tour.

Do you know which route you are taking to get to Boonville and how far are you willing to travel from Boonville to get to wine tours/tasting?

Alexander Valley is home of many vineyards but a lot of the wineries are not located there. They just have their grapes grown and harvested there.
post #15 of 23
More notes,
If you are willing to go south some
Sonoma County offers a great deal of great wineries. http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Sp.../Travel/sonoma
William Seylem, Preston (great bakery no tours), Rochioli, and Hanna.

William Seylem and Rochioli produce some great Pinot Noir.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Sorry -

I meant Anderson Valley.

We are on the same page.

I plan to go to:

Pacific Echo (scharfenberger)
Greenwood Ridge
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Gang -

Everything is set to go. I arrive SLC on Sunday morning and take off. Any last minute advice?

Hope to make it back to Alaska sometime in August and let you know how it all went.
post #18 of 23
Carry tools, the (VW)Survival Guide for the Compleat Idiot, and read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace." Especially the chapter(s) about engine troubleshooting/diagnosis.
post #19 of 23
if you can get email access, email me when you know when you will be in wine country. Maybe I'll try to catch you when you are there.!
dchan@epicski.com<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited July 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Roto -

Have the Phase 1 toolkit from Muir's book, and obviously the book as well.

Have not read the Zen of Motorcycle repair though, will check it out.
post #21 of 23
It is a curious book. It sort of guided me toward 'relating' to my vehicle. I was surprised to find a novel improved my awareness/ability to localise which system of an engine a problem is in... then again I was mechanically ignorant at the time anyway...

I had a '72-1/2 the turn signal/blinker lenses (among other things) were specific to that model. Niether the '72 or '73 would fit...boy were they expensive.

GOOD LUCK<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited July 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Have returned to Alaska in one piece, both me and the bus. We ended up puting a grand total of 4700 miles behind us.

No major breakdowns, just some minor tweaks here and there.

Highlights of the trip:

1) Tahoe area. Beatiful lake, cool town in Truckee, great setting for a shakespeare play...on a downside I found out that camping off the road is not as encouraged as in AK. Had the unpleasant experience of being awoken by a flashlight in my eyes at 4:30 a.m. by a highway trooper along the Truckee River. He asked "so did you guys pull over to go to sleep?" hmmmm.....

2) Anderson Valley. If you have only been to Napa and Sonoma Wineries you are missing out. Much less touristy, much less posh, more welcoming. Favorite winery: Lazy Creek...a small (I think 2500 cases/year) family owned winery set off the highway about 1 mile.

3) Redwoods. Avenue of the Giants is a great drive. The redwoods were simply awesome.

4) Oregon Coast...made me feel like I was home in Maine.

5) Bandon Dunes Golf...awesome setting, though it has come up quite a bit in price $150 ouch!

6) Olympic National Forest...great day hikes in temporal rainforests, hot springs, beautiful coast line...

7) Sea to Sky highway..out of Vancouver passing through Whistler...I gotta ski this place.

8) Canadian Rockies through northern B.C. and Yukon.

9) Snow capped mountains of St Elias and Wrangell ranges in AK. I am ready for a full season of skiing this year.

10) Getting home to Girdwood. After 4700 miles in a 1973 bus that tops ot at about 60 mph, 30 up hills, the sight of Alyeska was welcoming.
post #23 of 23
CR, you found one of the best secrets!
Lazy Creek is a favorite of a restaurant I frequent. The owner told us about his meeting with the wine maker and how impressed he was with their wine..
Great find and glad to hear you made it home safely.
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