Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
DennyG

California Advice?

Recommended Posts

I'm just starting to look at a return path from San Francisco. I'm sort of looking at state routes. Maybe CA-1 to CA-152 at Watsonville, CA-152 to its end at CA-99, CA-99 to Bakersfield, and CA-58 to Barstow. From there I'm in semi-familiar territory and can work my way east on Historic 66 or other roads.

 

I'm fishing for comments and in particular am curious about Hecker Pass on CA-152. Scenic? Challenging? Boring?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Denny,

 

You didn't say when your trip was but if it is in the summer months you are going to find that the the run between CA-152 and Barstow to be 1.) mostly boring and 2.) hot, hot, hot.

 

Might I suggest a nice scenic route through the Sierra Nevada Range instead? Make your way over to the East Bay and follow I-580 to CA 120 and let 120 take you through Yosemite, over Tioga Pass to Mono Lake before you turn south on 395 to CA-58 and Barstow. Plus, if time permits while your passing through the East Bay, we can do lunch and I can point out some local remnants of the Lincoln Highway and routes to keep you off the Interstate as much as possible.

 

Rick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will be at pretty much the worst possible time, right in the middle of July, but it's a follow on to the LHA centennial tour so I've not much choice in scheduling. I will have passed though some of the area you mention a few days earlier while west bound.

 

I think I like the 120 & 395 idea and I imagine the 50 or so miles of I-580 is a more than fair trade for a 100+ miles of CA-99. I arrived at the CA-152 etc route by starting out with a drive on CA-1 but I have done that in the past and could still work in a few miles if I feel the need.

 

Details of this leg, including it even happening, are vague and iffy but, assuming it happens, we should definitely work out a way to connect. Thanks much for the insight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd poke my eyes out and wish for an early death before I would deliberately travel the route you suggest through endless farm fields in 100 degree weather with the humidity at 90%. Maybe you can do it at night, so it is cool, and what you miss in the dark doesn't matter anyway. I'd see what it would cost to ship the car ahead by rail, and book a flight for yourself.

 

Not to discourage you! <_<:rolleyes:

 

Roadhound nailed it before I had a chance to reply. Tioga is a must do if you haven't taken it. Tuolumne Meadows is beautiful and Tenaya Lake will awe you. Then turn north at 395 for a detour to Mono Lake. Southbound again, turn into June Lake for a spectacular view of the lake and mountains from Oh! Ridge, then into the village for a burger.

 

Back on 395, watch for Convict Lake south of the Mammoth Lakes turn off a few miles. It is worth a stop. There is still a little of the feeling of the old days when the Sierra was still relatively undiscovered.

 

North of independence, drive into Manzanar, where we disgraced ourselves at home during WWII and kept American citizens and their families in one of several concentration camps. A good friend in high school had been imprisoned at Manzanar as a child.

 

I like Lone Pine as a place to spend the night, and you can drive out to the Alabama Hills to see where some of your favorite westerns were filmed in the old days. If you want a side trip go to Keeler....where they truly housed people in structures built of silver bars. (The story of the Cerro Gordo Mine and its famed tramway has been posted elsewhere here.( (http://americanroadmagazine.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=593&hl=keeler&do=findComment&comment=8326)

 

Or take the route you mentioned and savor the smell the turnips and onions. :P

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, I think I'm getting the picture. Dave, I'm guessing you were worried about subtle hints being missed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Denny,

 

Yah, I especially liked that bit about shipping your car ahead and taking a plane to Barstow. I got a million of 'em!

 

To be fair (could it be I wasn't!?), I can envision some routes you might take going your way, but they won't top the east side of the Sierra. You could go down to Watsonville, via Santa Cruz and its old style boardwalk, visit the mission at San Juan Batista, then take old California route 25 past the Pinnacles. It used to be a very old Spanish / California, countryside drive, but it has been 15 years since I have taken it. It has no big reason to have changed much.

 

You can make it all the way to Bakersfield without smelling a single onion, on some pretty, if not spectacular roads that remind me a lot of the California of 1930. Then you can go over the Tehachapi, take a peak at the Loop, and bee line for Barstow. If I was forced to go that way, I might save at least one eye, and go before nightfall!

 

Dave

Keep the Show on the Road!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Denny,

 

You didn't say when your trip was but if it is in the summer months you are going to find that the the run between CA-152 and Barstow to be 1.) mostly boring and 2.) hot, hot, hot.

 

Might I suggest a nice scenic route through the Sierra Nevada Range instead? Make your way over to the East Bay and follow I-580 to CA 120 and let 120 take you through Yosemite, over Tioga Pass to Mono Lake before you turn south on 395 to CA-58 and Barstow. Plus, if time permits while your passing through the East Bay, we can do lunch and I can point out some local remnants of the Lincoln Highway and routes to keep you off the Interstate as much as possible.

 

Rick

Good advice, but I would definitely suggest one slight detour: When you get to the 120/395 junction at Mono Lake detour north a few miles and go to Bodie. The absolute best 'true' ghost town in the continental USA (there's one in Alaska north of Anchorage that rivals it). It is an amazing place and one can easily spend an entire day wandering around, being amazed that people could live for generations (until the 1940s!) in such a lonely, treeless, forbidding-looking place! It's probably a bit less forbidding-looking in the summer, but in the winter with snow on the ground (I was there on a New Year's Day) it is truly eerie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite Dave's one-eyed (equivalent, I believe, to an easterner's half-hearted) endorsement of a southern route, you've all convinced me that to miss an opportunity to drive Tioga Pass would probably get me laughed out of the forum. Deservedly so, I'm sure. Bodie sounds intriguing and it's on the wanna-see list along with other suggestions. Specific stops depend, of course, on time, weather, money, and mood.

 

Note that I'm not at all tied to passing through Barstow though it seems that both my misguided US-99 route and the enlightened one down US-395 more or less lead there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your adventurous and would rather go to Las Vegas instead of Barstow, you can take CA190 off 395 just south of Lone PIne This will take you through Death Valley and really test out your cars air conditioning. The air temperatures in Death Valley should only be in the 110-115 degree range at that time of year, but it's a dry heat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This will take you through Death Valley and really test out your cars air conditioning.

I'd probably jump right on that if I had any air conditioning to test. The intention (and I keep being very indefinite because so many things could go wrong) is to do this in a 1963 Valiant unburdened by an AC compressor. It might happen in a different car or it might not happen at all (see earlier "...many things could go wrong" comment).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Denny,

 

You should have told us!! I have movies somewhere of my 1962 or 63 Valiant in Lone Pine. You are recreating history!! And I think we may have driven through Death Valley. In fact I think I have that in a movie showing the Valiant as well. But until I look at the movie I can't say if it was air conditioned or the exact time of year....although it probably was summer of 63.

 

You might keep your eye out for “Keep was here!” signs.

 

Dave

 

PS OK, I have checked the movie. Correct the date to 1965...only 48 years ago, and the season to probably late Spring, possibly early Summer. If I get around to editin a half hour down to a couple of minutes, I'll "honor" you with the video!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You should have told us!!

Well, you know how secretive I can be about my travels.

 

Actually, when I started this thread, the chances of the Valiant even starting the trip didn't look too good. Those are much better now but the chances of it finishing remain about the same.

 

Seeing some of that video would be cool. I'm sure I won't make Death Valley this year with or without the Valiant but if the Valiant and I make it to Lone Pine, we'll attempt a recreation or two. I think the last time I tried that it involved rolling up my pant cuffs and standing by a tree house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Denny, if we see you on the side of the road on the LH we'll be sure to stop. Hope you'll do the same. :D

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely! I sometimes feel like I'm way over my head with this old car thing but having some of you pros around helps keep the fear under control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×