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6 English lads with plane tickets, 3 spare weeks and a hire car need your help!

6 English lads with plane tickets, 3 spare weeks and a hire car need your help!

Old Nov 3rd, 2004, 04:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
BTW - I meant to ask when I saw your screen name - - Are you from warwickshire? I'm a Californian but lived in northern Oxon for five years . . . . . .
janis is offline  
Old Nov 3rd, 2004, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,552
I'd consider cutting one night from Yosemite and adding it to the long drive back up the coast. You could stop at Santa Cruz, there's a wonderful old fashioned fun fair on the beach with a great old wooden rollercoaster. It's a fun college town and would break up the journey.

Additionally I'd recommend Hearst Castle which is interesting and some wine tasting as you come up the coast. I love Boony Doon which is a fun Santa Cruz winery with a tasting room open every day.

Hope that helps!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 02:44 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14
Phew! Thanks for all your tips. We are actually doing the Grand Canyon for a night between Vegas and Sedona - I forgot to mention that. As for Yosemite to Death Valley, the Bakersfield route seems to be a winner. 9 hours of pure driving pleasure! The "car" we've hired is an eight seater Dodge RAM and according to the rental company, we can take it to Mexico so long as we pay the hard cash premium for the privilige. Is Sedona really that quiet? The sping break party scene sounds good - we could skip San Felipe and drop in on Lake Havasu on 20th April - is this party season?! We were considering dropping in on Santa Cruz but were told it is a bit rough around the edges - is this just timid folk worrying over nothing?

Janis - I am from Kenilworth originally. Nice town. Nice and dull! Great place to grow up though.
KenilworthOnTour is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 03:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,476
Santa Cruz "rough around the edges"????? With the "travel schedule" and the "activities" that you are contemplating I suspect Santa Cruz would seem rather tame and certainly not the least bit daunting. It's a great seaside type of place.."typical" US beach in many respects.
TopMan is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,785
Hi Kenilworth,

Sedona is lovely - the scenery is amazing, but the nightlife definitely leaves something to be desired. We went to one bar that our jeep tour guide suggested, and although the band played good blues music, the bar was filled with older locals who looked like they have been going there every night for 20 years.

Maybe we were steered wrong, but it's not a happening pub-type place. However, we did hear there was a martini bar somewhere, but we didn't have time to find it.

Anyway, Sedona is wonderful to see, and your trip sounds great!

kaudrey is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 11:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 742
Just a couple of drinking tips:
Assuming you'll be staying at Furnace Creek in Death Valley there is only one bar at the ranch there. Kind of a cowboy feel, somewhat fun, juke box, pool table. There's also a rinky dink bar at Stovepipe Wells.

I WISH we had your pubs here!

At the Grand Canyon, the El Tovar has a lovely outdoor porch attached to their bar that looks across a lawn out to the canyon rim - really something around sunset!

Santa Cruz is a college town, there are probably loads of good spots there.

April is our best month in Calif., as green as it gets. I love Death Valley, the bleakness and the color of the rocks. The desert will be very different from your pretty green country! Enjoy your visit!
gigib is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 11:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 9,232
You should not have any problems finding crazy Americans. It will be approximately every other one you run into.
wliwl is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just for clarification, the Santa Cruz that people are referencing is Santa Cruz, CA, a college, beach town south of San Francisco--not Santa Cruz, Mexico.
SAB is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
KenilworthOnTour. May I add just one other note of caution.

If you go to Mexico (as you have been advised the car rental co. will have to approve, you will need special car insurance for Mexico etc) please take note of one more thing.

Am sure it is not relavent to you and your friends but do know that drugs and unlawfull conduct in Mexico can be a terrible problem. One does NOT want to be arrested in Mexico and thrown in their jails.

Am sure this will not be a problem but just felt that you all should be aware of this. Even my friends in Mexico get very very upset at the legal/judicial system there.

A lovely trip to all of you. Be safe, have fun and file a trip report when you return.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2004, 12:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 882
Why make such detailed reservations? Why not just get some suggestions of good sights to see and places to eat/drink from us and then just have a devil may care attitude of where you end up at? Maybe tour sections of Route 66 (personally, I'd like to visit Oatman, AZ on 66 one day), go to Vegas and then hit Sedona and the Grand Canyon. The only places you may want to plan for hotels/motels are destinations like Yellowstone or any popular park. April isn't exactly the prime time that people here will be traveling in general so getting accommodations anywhere should be very easy compared to traveling from May thorough September.

Stephanie is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2004, 09:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,637
I would recommend not backtracking all the way to SF at the end of your trip from Big Sur and instead spend 1 or 2 nights in San Jose and fly out from there. </i?

Yes (she says, dripping with sarcasm) and there are so many direct flights out of SJC to London every day!

NOT! Guys, please don't dedicate 2 nites to San Jose!
Grasshopper is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2004, 09:29 AM
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woops, what a way to screw up itallics! Sorry.
Grasshopper is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2004, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106

I'd suggest downloading or printing out the first part of your thread and saving all the excellent suggestions and recommendations before this thread is deleted entirely by Fodors.

If you plan to drink your way through the West, there are certainly plenty of bars and liquor stores in San Jose and you are welcome to spend as much time here as possible drinking your way through this town. Otherwise, the others have given you good advice.

Be aware that there is a person posting under different names that will tell you terrible untruths about San Francisco and then recommend San Jose instead.

I live in a nearby city of San Jose and we have a better history than San Jose. San Jose has nothing to recommend itself but arrogant self-promotion. There is nothing to recommend in San Jose that you cannot find elsewhere, 2 to 10 times better.

Enjoy the rest of California!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2004, 11:09 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 97
A Dodge Ram? You realise it's like a bloody bus - don't you? We hired one by mistake a couple of years back and in the end traded it in for a smaller traditional mini-van. Mind you - shouldn't be a problem for a bunch of intrepid lads - just be prepared to drive a transit van with windows!!

By the way, just checking you are all over 21 aren't you - drinking laws are tough and enforced vigorously! It's a good idea to have the UK picture driving licenses with you tho - the Americans like ID with a photo - it's easier to flash than a passport and we used it for cashing travellers cheques as well.

Have fun!!
annethered is offline  
Old Nov 7th, 2004, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
A few tips on Yosemite - hopefully you are staying in the valley to maximize your time - you've probably already used the yosemite nat park website to get online lodging. I like to stay in the tent cabins at Curry camp since it's relatively cheap and fun - can get loud but I bring ear plugs and we're fine but we're outdoors/camper types. Some people prefer the comfort of solid walls and a non-shared bathroom. Check out the following website [] for a good and candid description of the lodging alternatives as well as good hikes, etc. My favorite place to have a beer in Yosemite is the Pizza patio right in the Curry Camp area. A bunch of tables outdoors with great pizza and beer while you stare straight up at 3000 feet of rock. Plus, I've meet tons of great people (of course mostly Americans but lots of Europeans as well)at this "outdoor" pub. If you want to hang out with all the climbers - you can also head over to the cafeteria near Yosemite Lodge as most of the climbers that work the system to "live" at Camp 4, hang out in that area. Crazy but fun crowd - I've met a bunch of pretty famous (or infamous) climbers - sometimes they do slide shows or talks about their climbing experiences - April may be a little early for that but really fun to see if you're into that sort of thing. All the hikes are awesome, esp. Vernal/Nevada falls and Yosemite falls at that time of year - hopefully all will be open. Don't think Glacier point will be open that early. In San Franciso, you'll find no end of pubs and other interesting places to drink. If you're looking for good beer first and foremost, we like to hang at Thirsty Bear Brewing on Howard Street. Great beer and tapas. I can't even begin to name all the bars and clubs so I recommend that you look at and look at the "bars and nightlife" section under the "best of Citysearch" for bars/pubs in all categories plus think about what areas of town you'll be most interested in so you can book your hotel accordingly. If you stay in the union square area, it's pretty centrally located and you'll find you can pretty much walk/cab all over the core SF area - given only 2 nights you'll want to prioritize what you really want to see/do. It will take you about 4 hrs to get to Yosemite valley if you leave SF at a non peak traffic time. I hope you can schedule such that you will be leaving SF for Yosemite on a weekday and NOT in the late afternoon because you do not want to spend your time sitting in commute traffic over the bay bridge and all the way out of the Bay Area. It could add at least 2 hours to the 4 hour trip and you are on a tight time schedule. You're going to see some pretty interesting variations in climate/culture/topography on your trip! Just between SF and Yosemite, you'll drive through coastal hills down to farmland (nuts and fruit orchards) and rural communities and then back into the Sierra Nevada mountains! Bring serious layers of clothes b/c you'll potentially be in snow in Yosemite and warm/hot weather in Death Valley/Vegas!
NorCal_Jo is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 01:59 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14
Right, many thanks again for all your comments. Obviously, we wouldn't dream of indulging in anything stronger than a white wine spritzer while in Mexico! In fact, we've scrapped the whole itinery in favour of spending three weeks in San Jose. Err ... no, we haven't. That would be foolish.

I've another question I hope someone can answer. If you're starting in Sedona and ulitmately ending up in San Felipe, would you split the journey with a stop over in Phoenix or Mexicali (or elsewhere)?
KenilworthOnTour is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14
Forget that last post. I've forgotten it already. We're not bothering with Mexicali or San Felipe. Screw them. Why is the USA so damn big? 3 weeks will never be enough. I despair. I really do.
KenilworthOnTour is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,137
Don't despair, we will try to help you nice English lads have the best time. As for Sedona, the hiking is wonderful there and the red rocks are great. Maybe if you hiked and took the "broken arrow" tour you would not need to partay on;-)there, save it for Vegas, baby .
Judyrem is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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You're smart to research your destinations and map out a plan. But if you don't mind Motel 6s and the like (i.e. one-star kind of places), you could let the weather and your liking of each place determine how long you stay, if at all. So much to see and do in California. Personally, I'd skip the Mexico part in favor of San Diego, but that's just me.
Enjoy your trip and please be careful. All this talk of drinking...
Old Nov 8th, 2004, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 93,658
Except for checking out the possible problem going across the Mexican border in a rental car, sounds like a fantastic plan.

If you haven't yet, you might also post on their BB called The Thorn Tree. There's a somewhat how shall I say it more "free spirirted" group of posters there who can help you smooth out the itinerary without worrying about you drinking too much!!
suze is offline  
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