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Pacific Northwest in 10-21 days with young kids?

Pacific Northwest in 10-21 days with young kids?

Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 08:36 PM
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Pacific Northwest in 10-21 days with young kids?

Hi,

I'm new to the forum. We're considering an epic road trip with a two kids (7.5 and 3.5). Our current plan has us leaving San Diego (SAN) to San Luis Obispo (SLO) by train, then onward to San Francisco (SFO) for a day or two, then Redwoods for at least a night, then Portland area, then Seattle, then Coeur d'Alene, Boise, then finally ending up in either Idaho Falls or SLC at which point we'll stay a few days and then fly back home to DC. Ideally there would be some camping and kid-friendly hiking involved as well.

I'm starting to think we're crazy.

Alternative scenarios have us cutting out the SAN and SLO portions of the trip (which would mean we wouldn't see some family members) and just start in SFO. Another alternative would be to start in Idaho Falls/SLC area and do a loop (crossing over northern Nevada then up from SFO per the original itin (this loop logs just a bit more travel time than the original itin). A third itin has us going from SAN up the coast to Portland and then going straight over to ID/SLC and then back down to SAN.

Some considerations are the cost of a one-way car rental, the carseats which make the trip more miserable for the kids, and the fact that the longest roadtrip our kids have taken in recent memory was a 6.5 hour drive to a destination with a return three days later.

We ultimately have up to 3 weeks to do this trip; as I mentioned the original plan had us in SAN and SLC/ID for about 4-5 days each (visiting family) with the road trip in between. We'll likely be back out in SAN for Christmas so the pressure isn't as much to go there this summer.

Thoughts? Have any of you done something similar? What are the must-sees for kids? Hubs could honestly care less about the cities and is more interested in nature (he's never been north of Sacramento nor NW of Idaho Falls) and I've been to SFO, Portland, and Seattle but I would love to show the kids Pike's Market, Pier 39. I've never been north of SFO in California.

Lastly, a tangentially related question about carseats for a 7.5 year old--legally required? What if the child is the height of the average 10 year old?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 08:47 PM
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Hi--no need to comment on the carseat question; I did a bit more digging. Thanks in advance for other comments on the itin.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 02:25 AM
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What month?

I like Patricks Point State Park, which is just south of The Redwoods. There are many good spots that See Agate Beach and ask a ranger where there is good Tidepooling.
For The Redwoods, do Prairie Creek area and also see Fern Canyon.
I would see a bit of the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens.
You could do Oregon Caves. There is lodging not far from there that is in Treehouses(I think they require 2 nights tho).
A Jet Boat tour is pretty nice too.
Mount Rainier shouldn't be missed

Olympic National Park-I like the hike on the beach all the way to Hole In The Wall, Sol Duc Falls, Sol Duc Hot Springs(kids would love the warm water), Hurricane Ridge, Crescent Lake, Hoh Rain Forest, Quinault area

In Portland, Powell Bookstore, Voodoo Donuts, Rose Garden

Lassen Volcano National Park in Northern California is a great place too.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 02:43 AM
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Sorry-late July early August
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 03:53 AM
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It sounds like too much driving in too short a time to me and I would cut down on the distances and number of locations. OUr kids would not have enjoyed this type of road trip at those ages.

Portland has a good science museum. Near Portland we enjoyed the Fort Vancouver National Historic site
http://www.nps.gov/fova/index.htm
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 04:40 AM
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My suggestion is focus on the Northwest. You would still have the "road trip aspects" when driving from base to base, and gorgeous coastal walks, rain forests to hike and camp in, cities to explore (with Zoos, Science Centers, markets), a trip to the Mountain, and some lake days with boating and water play. If the fruit is in season, go berry picking too.

Start in Portland, spend 2 nights in city and then 4 days exploring Oregon coast (find a base such as Seaside), 4 days in the Olympic peninsula (hiking and camping opportunities), 3 days in Seattle with a day trip to Mt. Rainier, 4 days in Central Washington (maybe Lake Chehlan, stop in Leavenworth on the way), then carry on to Idaho for last 4 days.

You could also start in SFO and take three days driving up the coast, just take the days away from the Oregon Coast and Portland days and have more overnight stops. So, 4 days on the coastal drive and 2 days in Portland.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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POIson has some good ideas. Here are my thoughts on how to avoid a drop off fee.
Fly to SLC and rent a car. Drive to Yellowstone. Stay in the park if you can. Otherwise, stay in West Yellowstone. Return the car to SLC late in the day. Head to the SLC train station. The westbound California Zephyr leaves in the early morning hours. Take the train to either Sacramento to rent a car or to Emeryville with a bus into SF. No car needed in San Francisco.
If you use the rental car option from Sacramento, head north to Portland or Seattle and spend your time seeing the great Pacific Northwest. Exit Oregon on US 199 seeing Oregon Caves on the way to Redwood NP in northern California.
Continue down the coast ending up in San Francisco. Return the car to Sacramento. It is your choice at this point if you want to fly from SMF or take the train (Coast Starlight) to LAX with a Surfliner train to San Diego.
I avoid one way rental car fees by using the train in between car rentals making a loop to return where I rent.
Many states require a booster seat until the child reaches a certain weight. Ask the rental agency about what the laws are on booster seats and car seats.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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If you consider the family visits as important, it looks like you would be limited to concentrating on the Northwest or southern Oregon and northern California. I do not see any touring trip starting in SF that includes Seattle (and the Olympic peninsula?) to end in SLC.

I would camp, recognizing that this implies staying at a campsite two or more days (again suggesting a more limited itinerary) because with kids setting up upon camp arrival and packing upon leaving will take more time than without the children.

Inexpensive camping equipment can be obtained at any Target, Sports Authority, K-Mart and other similar stores. Donate the equipment to Goodwill at the end of the trip, unless the end is in SLC where relatives might be interested in some of the equipment.

Fly to and from San Diego to the beginning of your road trip.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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Tom fuller's idea of a loop makes sense. Start your car trip in SLC, end it there, and it will also facilitate getting equipment if the relatives do not have or are unwilling to lend you camping equipment.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 02:49 PM
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Personally, I would never ever buy cheap equipment.
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 03:45 PM
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Personally, I would never ever buy cheap equipment.

To each his own, but if it is intended to last only for one 3 week camping trip during the mild season, what is wrong with an inexpensive family tent, etc.?
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Old Feb 4th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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Every time I have purchased an inexpensive piece of gear I've always regretted it and in the long run ended up buying the better stuff later. I purchase a lot of my stuff on www.geartrade.com or end of season at REI, Moosejaw or other retail sites. REI has garage sales 4 times a year and thats another good place to get stuff more than 50% off. Usually about 1/2 the price of retail. This gets the price closer to the stuff at Walmart, Dicks, and Academy.


The biggest differences

Cold, wet, uncomfortable.
Dry, warm, comfortable.

Don't do a trip that you will remember for the rest of your life as a disaster. Invest in quality stuff and you are likely to go again and again. Go to any campground in America and you can see the difference for yourself. You can buy your tent at Walmart for $100 and it will be fine in dry weather. Those tents are terrible in rain and have humidity inside
problems. You can get a cheap sleeping bag that doesn't breathe and you'll be sweating all night in a clammy tent. You will actually have moisture inside the tent dripping by the morning.

It isn't that big of a deal to package it up and ship it back home at the end. We fly Southwest and have never paid a penny for extra shipping of our tents, pads, stove, sleeping bags.
You are allowed 2 free luggages per person- so no problem. You can easily package it up at Fedex or UPS as another solution.

I'm going to guess that you could purchase an cheap tent, cheap pad, cheap stove, cheap lantern at Walmart(for family of 4) for under $400. Good Stuff @ retail price probably somewhere between $1000 and $1500, depending on many thing. You could probably cut that in half by checking out the places I've listed.

Another option is renting the equipment. REI and other places rent these very items.
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Old Feb 5th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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We have all our own good REI equipment. We can get our tent and sleeping gear all in one big duffle bag that is within the 50 lbs. Other small camping items go in suitcases.

Yellowstone, while fabulous, we've already seen and have many other opportunities to see it with so much family nearby. Hubs has never seen the Pacific NW and we're getting a lot of pressure from my parents in San Diego (though we'll see them again in Dec). I'm thinking the loop from SLC or Idaho will be the best bet especially if we just concentrate on Oregon, Washington, and Couer d'Alene. Even starting in Portland might even make the most sense without a loop. The one-way rentals from SLO and San Diego are really not that bad. It's not a huge enough difference to totally write off that option.

These are all really good ideas. I really appreciate them. As a way of saying thanks, I'm going to throw out some ideas on other queries.
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Old Feb 6th, 2014, 04:31 AM
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Could you convince your folks to join you for a part of the trip, perhaps do the loop from where ever seems reasonable and have them meet you there for a few days. This is a grandmother's idea - go figure.
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