College Bound Holiday Road Trip WA/OR/CA

Old Nov 8th, 2020, 07:15 PM
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College Bound Holiday Road Trip WA/OR/CA

needing to drive to San Jose during the holidays, and don't want to deal with the mountain passes. Was thinking of taking Highway 101 thru Oregon and Northern California till San Fran. As anyone done this route before during the winter months? Any tips, places to eat, worries I should be aware of? The plan is 9 hours from Seattle to Bandon, OR. Then Bandon, OR to San Jose, CA. Unload, spend a few days, and then head back the same route to Seattle.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.
Thank you
George
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Old Nov 8th, 2020, 08:25 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. That is a heck of a long haul in two days. If you take I-5 say as far south as Albany and cut over to 101 and down to Bandon you are talking close to 9 full hours car time without a single stop -- and likely with some rain and or fog it could take longer.

Then Bandon to San Jose down 101 is another 9 to 10 hours plus stops. It would be MUCH better if you could take three days for the drive = and three days back.

(even taking I-5 without snow it would be tough, and REALLY tough if there was snow in the Cascades.)

You might want to also post over on the United States forum and tag your question for WA/OR/CA to get specific suggestions.

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Old Nov 9th, 2020, 08:14 AM
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Thank you Janis for the quick response. We normally do this drive straight taking our son to college and back using I-5, to where we leave around 1am, and it only takes us 14hrs. Due to the campus closed until winter quarter, this is the first time having to do this route in the winter. This is why we felt driving the coast would be better, as we're used to the rain, it's the ice/snow I want to stay away from. I've never driven the coastal route, and we felt that 2 days wouldn't be that bad, but if necessary we'll add the third day. Our plan is to drive in mostly the daylight hours. I'm thinking with the pandemic some places along the route may be closed, and this is why I ask for any suggestions on food stops, fuel fills ups, rest stops, etc.

Thank you again!
Blessings,
George d.
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Old Nov 15th, 2020, 10:11 AM
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California is currently asking anyone who arrives in the State from anywhere else to quarantine for two weeks.
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Old Nov 16th, 2020, 05:00 AM
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I can't help with the small towns along the Oregon Coast. In my one experience driving up to the Bay Area a few months ago, the supermarket restrooms are open and cleaned frequently. So I would research the locations of Safeway (or any other upscale brands) along the Coast. The big truck stops such as Pilot / Flying J, TA Petro or Love's are also options once you get away from the Coast. I like the Pilot/Flying J brand or TA better than Loves's but use Yelp and Google Maps in advance to check COVID comments.

South of San Francisco I find the US1 to I280 easier than 101. There is a Rest Stop at Crystal Springs.

No food suggestions. For lunch I picked up grab n go meals at the Supermarkets and researched coffee shops. The drive through/fast food places such as McDonald's tended to be very crowded. There will undoubtedly be takeout food available wherever you decide to stop.

Have a cooler with food for sandwiches and breakfast to limit stops .

California doesn't enforce squat, by the way. However mask wearing even when outdoors is expected in the politically liberal areas. In rural areas such as the Central Valley I have seen people outside unmasked when pumping gas, though. But be prepared to wear masks when entering any establishment.

Last edited by mlgb; Nov 16th, 2020 at 05:18 AM.
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Old Nov 16th, 2020, 06:44 AM
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Wow! Thank you for the detail comments, I will definately have my cooler with me.

Blessings,
George d.
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Old Nov 19th, 2020, 07:34 AM
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How much do you have to unload when you get to San Jose? Is it just you or do you have passengers? Currently the Amtrak Coast Starlight is running 3 days per week. It leaves Seattle on Monday 12/21 and Wednesday 12/23 at about 9:25AM. The train crosses the Cascade Summit between Eugene and Chemult Oregon. It is in Klamath Falls at 10PM and is in Sacramento about 6:30AM.
Granted, things can happen that will slow or even stop the train. The normal scheduled time from Seattle to Didrion station in San Jose is 24 hours and 10 minutes. Amtrak is running the coach seats at half capacity with everyone in a window seat. Masks are required. You can also pay more and have a roomette (sleeper). You can also bring your cooler with food and drinks (no alcohol) on your Amtrak journey.
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Old Nov 19th, 2020, 07:41 AM
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Thank you for the idea. We actually thought of that if we had went down in Fall, and needed to come home for the holidays, but seeing that my son is not going down till January start, we are driving. Yes, we have an SUV full, as it's his last year, and him and his friends have a house they've been renting, Depending on lockdown in Cali, my wife and younger son may or may not join us. We also need to pick up his bed and desk he ordered when we arrive, so I'll need the SUV for that too. Going to be a quick couple of days and then straight back. Probably the other reason for my passengers, is just to get out of the house, see the coast (even if its raining). But, thank you again, I think I would enjoy the train ride as well having a private roomette to read. Stay safe and thank you again.
Blessings,
George d.
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Old Nov 20th, 2020, 07:39 AM
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If there is someone at the rented house that can receive packages, consider mailing or Fed Ex-ing several packages out on Monday Dec. 28. Things like the bed and desk could be purchased in California.
We have a son, DIL and 3 grandchildren in northern LA County. We will not be traveling south from Oregon before April at the earliest. I have driven it and I have taken the train/Amtrak bus in winter. I much prefer the train to a white knuckle trip through northern California on I-5. Hope you have a good healthy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
If you do end up driving south on US 101, remember to make a stop at the Tillamook cheese factory. They have recently improved the visitor center. They have great ice cream and cheese.
If the weather gets bad before you get to Brookings, the Red Lion in Coos Bay is good.
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Old Nov 24th, 2020, 05:22 PM
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Thank you for the advice. I've told my son the same thing, to order and have his bedroom furnishings delivered, so we don't have to visit any stores and load it up, and him and his roommates can setup his bedroom after we arrive. Yeah, I've never driven I-5 in the winter, so this is why I chose the coast. We are hoping to make our first day drive from Seattle to Bandon. I completely forgot about Tillamook, but yes we are going to have to stop and grab!! THANK YOU so much! Happy Thanksgiving

Blessings,
George d.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 07:30 AM
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I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Have you made any further plans?
We live in central Oregon and are quite familiar with driving in snow but don't do it unless very necessary. The last time that I attempted to put on tire chains was in Weed CA a few winters ago. I had driven south on US97 and then they would not allow us on I-5 without chains. We waited about 2 hours on the side of the road until they had I-5 fit to drive following police at about 45MPH.
Another winter, my DW was driving back north from LA and the plan was for me to take the Coast Starlight south to Sacramento and meet her there and drive back home. The train stopped in Dunsmuir for several hours while they tried to get trees off the tracks. They finally backed the train for over 20 miles to a wye and turned the train around. I got back to Chemult 20 hours after I left Chemult.
If you must drive, US 101 is the safest choice IMO
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 08:08 AM
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WOW! Thank you for the comment. Yes we are planning on taking 101 all the way to San Jose. I rather drive an extra four hours then have to deal with the snow and chains. Our plan is 9hrs to Bandon, OR, spend the night and then the next day 9hrs to San Jose. My only concern currently is a message from Santa Clara County about mandatory 14 day quarantine for anyone traveling into the county. This may be sticking a thorn into our travel plans now.

Thank you again.
George d.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 08:44 PM
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it isn't just the 14 day quarantine -- were you planning on staying in a hotel in SC County? You wouldn't be allowed to check in - Hotels are only open for essential travel and quarantine. The current directive will stand through at least Dec 21 (and knowing SC County - likely longer)

Heck - the 49ers had to move lock stock and barrel to Arizona - they aren't even allowed to practice/play in an empty stadium.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2020, 08:50 PM
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Thank you for the update. Yes we have a reservation near the campus, and we were not aware of the essential travel and quarantine order at the hotels. I will inquire with them. I actually told my son, as he is renting a house near campus, that it may be best that he fly or take the train with clothes only, have his furniture purchased and delivered to the house, and anything else, I'll ship. He will quarantine in his house, and hope that fellow friends can drop off necessities so he won't have to visit the stores while he's quarantining.

Thank you so much for the information.


Blessings,
George d.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 07:44 AM
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It sounds like your driving plans may be shelved, but for future reference, a couple of comments...

I've driven along the coast between Seattle and California (both the Bay Area and southern California) in December on many occasions, and I would caution against overly optimistic drive times. First, you're likely to encounter wet conditions for much of the distance, and while that's not especially a deal breaker, it can reduce average speeds big time. But second, and IMO more importantly, short daylight hours, especially combined with wet and/or windy roads, can make for some hazardous conditions.

You don't say your origin point, but if your plan is to follow the whole Oregon coast, i.e. from, say, Astoria all the way south to the California line, then 9 hours might well be a push. If you're willing to use I-5 as far as the south end of the Willamette Valley then cut out to the coast on OR 38 (my favorite route as well as being the among quickest and most scenic roads between I-5 and US 101) you can save a fair amount of time as well as saving the most scenic part of the coast - between Bandon and the state line - for the next morning. Here's a map, which, typical of Google in my experience, is extremely optimistic regarding drive times. I have NEVER made it to Reedsport in the six hours advertised, even on a weekday in mid-summer, never mind December. https://goo.gl/maps/btAnp5Y812EDnMFq5

As for stops along the way, you wouldn't really have time for many, especially the second day as your plan now stands. Driving through the redwoods will be time consuming, as will traffic delays in the Bay Area. Regardless, you'd be arriving in Santa Clara County well after dark. However, if you do go ahead with the plan as stated, one stop I'd try to make (maybe a late lunch) would be at the Samoa Cookhouse in Samoa, across the bay from Eureka. This is a converted lumber mill mess hall serving hearty food family style (or maybe not during Covid) in fun surroundings. File for future use if nothing else.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Dec 3rd, 2020 at 07:49 AM.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 07:52 AM
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Currently the Coast Starlight leaves Seattle King St. station on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. The Saturday departures are over $50 more than Monday and Wednesday departures (($84 coach seat) to Sacramento.
The Coast Starlight arrives in Sacramento at 6:15AM when on time. There are several daily Capitol Corridor trains that leave Sacramento and stop in San Jose. If you get shut out of lodging in SC county, you could try for something in Sacramento and make the day trip to San Jose in a rental car. If you or he fly into Sacramento (SMF) there is the YOLO bus that takes you from the airport into Sacramento (or Davis).
In coach, Amtrak has limited all coach cars to 50% capacity giving everyone a window seat. If you can afford it, the safest train travel is in a Roomette or bedroom. The sleeping car attendant will bring food to your room so that you do not have to go to the dining car and sit with others.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 08:28 AM
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Thank you so much @Gardyloo! You are right, I may say 9hrs, but it usually is longer as those ETAs are based on standard road conditions at speed limit. My plan was to go through Astoria, as we do that drive often, hitting Seaside and Cannon Beach for a view, but your idea of taking OR38 sounds appealing, so I may try that if we do this venture. Actually, based on all the items my son has for his house rental, I'm actually rethinking this trip, and instead of bringing the family to get out of the house for a little bit, to just make the drive solely with my son and I. Where I'll just unload everything at the house, and then head back the next day as Santa Clara County has issued the quarantine mandate. Thank you so much for the input, and I will be adding the Samoa Cookhouse to either this trip or in the summer when I need to move my son out of his house.

Blessings,
George d.

Last edited by firestomper; Dec 3rd, 2020 at 08:33 AM.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2020, 08:32 AM
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Thank you Tom!!

I was talking to my son about this option, and I was going to research this over the weekend. I told him that the price of him taking the train, shipping most of his items, having his furniture delivered, instead of us picking it up, and then him and his roommate setting it up would probably be cheaper than the gas and lodging. As he loves to read, I think he may enjoy this so I will definitely research this as the alternative. I would love to get out of Washington for a bit, and I love to drive no matter the weather, but I also don't want to expose or be exposed if it's not absolutely necessary.

Thank you for your input.

Blessings,
George d.
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