One shot from I-5 San Diego, and one from I-5 LA -> Wanna guess which is which?

Finally, after what I can only call the long, long winter we are back on the road again! This morning bright and early (and bushy-tailed…well, at least one of us that is) it was jacks up, engine revved and off northward on our journey to Oregon.

Now the only problem with journeying to Oregon is that you have to go Northward through California, and despite this State being the most populous in the nation (by a good margin too), road planning has never kept up and there are really only three viable ways to go. Your choices are:

1/ Follow The Coast (Hwy 1 & 101) - An absolutely gorgeous drive if you’ve got the time, but it’s packed (and expensive to stay there) in summer. And you DO need time.
2/ Go Straight Down the Middle (I-5) – Possibly the most boring route on earth, but it’s the biggest road and it’ll get you there in the straightest way possible.
3/ Take The Eastern Route Thro’ The Sierras (Hwy 395) – We did this last year coming South and it’s our absolute fav route….scenic, relaxed, pristine & road in near-prefect condition (which is really saying something in California). Everyone should do this drive at least once in their life-time, but again you need some time.

Our goal this time was to high-tail it, so we reluctantly submitted to choice #2. Now I admit there are a few scenic bits to I-5, but these rare moments of joy are completely obliterated by the fact that you have to drive through Los Angeles, the fact that much of the road resembles a discarded cheese-grater, and the fact there are at least a gazillion trucks doing the same thing….oh and then there’s that seemingly infinite flat, flat, pancake-stretch in the no-mans land between Bakersfield and Sacramento in the middle. In case you can’t tell it’s not my favorite drive.

Honestly I don’t think LA traffic ever has down-time

But human nature is a mysterious thing. Despite having driven this same route many (many) times in my past, I somehow always imagine that this time it won’t be so bad. I guess it’s the same natural instinct that causes women to forget about the pain of childbirth? In my fantasy-land, I see the RV driving effortlessly through LA, coasting the middle bits with ease and arriving refreshed and satisfied at the northern end.

Light at the end of the tunnel….our relaxing spot in the Orange Grove

Well our little day-drive to Bakersfield, CA managed to shatter those dreams. Instead we got the welcome of bumper-to-bumper cars in LA (and this on a Sunday morning no less), 2 accidents which managed to stop traffic yet again (why does everyone always stop to look?), and a ride so bumpy I’m surprised it didn’t scramble the eggs in the fridge and shake off everything attached to the rig (our front TV actually DID come loose requiring me to do some emergency towel-stuffing of the cabinet to keep it in one piece). To put the cherry on top we entered Bakersfield to a breezy 96 °F (~36 °C) which put all question of free-camping out the window.

Fruit, goat cheese and walnut salad with oranges from our RV park!!

But there was light at the end of the tunnel. My back-up plan for Bakersfield was an RV park set in an Orange Grove which had been recommended by just about everyone I’d talked to. So after our long, stressful, jaw-jarring drive we arrived to blissfull peace in a luscious, green grove with space to breathe and relax. Ahhhhhhhhhhh…..We set-up the rig, went for a walk in the grove with pooch and snabbed a fresh orange right off the tree for dinner.

We never drive two days in a row, so we’ll be taking a day to hang out here before our next leg north. Forecast is for 94 tomorrow so we’re happy for the hook-ups…and the little ray of light in our long journey north.

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43 Responses to Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Northward Bound We Go…..

  1. Marsha says:

    We are using 101 and love it. It is a really nice road so far. We are in Garberville right now.
    Yep, that traffic looks bad…yuck. Enjoy your day off.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, I JUST checked out your blog on Gaberville and wrote down the name of that lovely park you’re staying at. 101 is a really nice drive especially in the northern section. Definitely my fav area of the hwy.
      Nina

  2. Jim Brown says:

    If you have not tried one, may I recommend a “date shake” at the store just south of the park. Great way to cool down from the heat of the day.

  3. Hey, glad you could make it to the Orange Grove! You are lucky, they just upgraded the WiFi here last month, and it’s not bad at all. Try to stop by in the fall for THE best oranges you ever had!

  4. I’m new to your blog and I’ll write more later to introduce us. I’m currently reading your posts starting at the beginning (I’m up to Jan. 2011) and I love it! My question on this post is “Did you call ahead to reserve this spot?” It sounded like it was a last minute decision.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Wow! I’m impressed you’re going thro all the posts. Welcome to the journey!

      To answer your question this one was a last minute decision (no reservation). It’s low season here in the middle valley so I knew it would be fine. There are lots of empty spots here right now. During winter and esp. while snowbirds are migrating on hwy 5 I gather the park fills up, so if we were travelling then I’d probably reserve.

      Nina

  5. Glad to hear you made it safely through LA, although not without a little pain, it seems. Wish we were heading north with you but we’ll be on the road again before you know it. Safe travels!

  6. Luke Alexander says:

    Bout time you guys hit the road again. On the south right corner of the Orange Grove, over the fence is a great place to buy fruit and nuts. California Fruit Depot.
    We are going to spend the summer in Morro Bay, this year. We will miss Eugene and Anacortes. How far north are you going?

    Luke

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh nice! Will definitely check it out!

      We’re focusing on the southern OR coast this year since we did northern last year. So Eugene will probably be our furthest north. Unless things change…. RV plans sculpted in jello :)
      Nina

  7. Jerry B. says:

    If you have some time, take a ride out to Lake Ming county park, about 10 miles from you. We always stay there on our way from the Bay Area to Death Valley or the desert. The sites are really nice pull-thru’s and grass all around, right on the Kern river. I’ve heard good things about Orange Grove but have never stayed there.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh thanks for the tip! We’ll probably try and make our way there tomorrow am to check it out. Sounds like our kinda place. Nina

    • libertatemamo says:

      Jerry. Just want to let you know we did our morning walk at the County Park this AM. WHAT a gorgeous spot! The campsite is a bit tight for our size, but is absolutely beautiful. And the surrounding park has soooo much space, trees and shade. Polly had a blast chasing ground squirrels. Really appreciate the tip to go check it out.
      Nina

  8. Hi Nina and Paul,
    I’m impressed that you take your time to enjoy the journey. I like the idea of never driving 2 days in a row. I’ve also heard about the RV park in an Orange Grove in Bakersfield, but have always muscled through the 96 degree heat in an asphalt parking lot. You’ve convinced me the Orange Grove would be a much better choice. Hope we meet up in Oregon or ?
    Kathie

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s a very nice park. The daily rate is a more than we usually like to pay ($39 or $35 with Good SAMs), but it certainly is comfortable and pretty.

      Very much hope we get a chance to meet up again. Have completely enjoyed our time together, first in Borrego Springs and then San Diego. Thanks much for some great memories!
      Nina

  9. jil mohr says:

    It is raining on the northern coast of Oregon….:and is suppose to all week :(…we hope to get to Astoria in between drops either later today or tomorrow….so when yo leave Eugene are you crossing over to Florence on 126?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh no….a whole week of rain. Then again, it is OR :) hope it let’s up for you enough to enjoy the sights. And yes, once we get to Eugene we’ll head over to Florence on the 126.
      Nina

  10. jil mohr says:

    PS we stayed at the same park as Marsha did in Garberville with the same PA rate….and the Ave of Giants is amazing….

  11. Janna says:

    I like that, “we never drive two days in a row…”–wonder if I can convince Mike to do that??

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah we decided that one early on in our travels. Usually we only drive about 150-200 miles (this trip to OR is an exception and we’ll be going up to 290 for our longest day), and we always take a day to relax in between no matter where we end up. Interestingly enough we’ve always found something to see and do in every town. I think our fav “surprise” stop was Murdo SD our 1st year on the road. Middle of nowhere, but it had the coolest vintage car museum. Who knew?
      Nina

  12. Dave says:

    Yup, hopefully OG pool has warmed up, tad icy a couple weeks ago…on the bright side, only 400 mi. and the scenic beauty begins in Redding…resting comfortably now in Troutdale, OR. amidst the mist…and we too never drive 2 days in a row…

    • libertatemamo says:

      A man after my own heart! Yeah we’re hoping it’ll warm up a tad before we get there. Should be Mid-June before we actually hit the coast. Nina

  13. We absolutely refuse to drive through LA. If we have to go on 5, we swing north on 15 and across, or around on 210..

    • libertatemamo says:

      Now THAT is a smart choice. Don’t know why we didn’t think to do that? Must remember that for next time we make the drive.
      Nina

  14. Brian says:

    Congratulations on safely making it through to the other side. Nothing is more infuriating than rubberneckers who slow traffic to a crawl so they can get a glimpse of whatever is happening on the side of the road. It makes you wonder what they hope to see. Personally, I’d rather not witness an accident- especially a bad one.

  15. heyduke says:

    For some reason when I was routing us North towards Oregon and Washington I never once took notice of Highway 395… thanks for pointing out this route as now it appears it may be the one for us…

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh you MUST do that drive. Simply fabulous. Late spring or early fall are very pretty, but summer is great too. Once you get up in the mountains there is plenty of space and cool weather. We’ll be doing the drive again…no doubt about it.
      Nina

  16. Craig zander says:

    Those LA Freeways are bad,bad,bad..No fun for rv’s

  17. ayo says:

    Oregon is going to be amazing. I’m jealous, though we’ll keep you posted as we head north later this summer to see if a meet up is in store!

    xo

  18. Lisa says:

    Whenever Hans and I need to go through LA (from San Diego) we try to get on the road between 3am and 4am (any day of the week); makes the traffic a little lighter. It’s brutal but saves a little sanity! I suppose if you are in an RV park your fellow campers may not be so happy to hear the beast start up before 7am!

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know that may seriously be a smart move. It’s probably the one time of day you can actually drive thro’ without traffic. I had seriously forgotten how bad LA traffic was.
      Nina

  19. Jeff and Cheryl says:

    Just a word of hope. When we came through the Stockton/Sacramento area in Feburary, the only part that would scramble eggs in the shell was a brief section through downtown Stockton! This streach of road has improved a whole lot in the last 4 years. If you want to have a little change of secenry take 99 north for a ways. We’ve done that a couple of times and it does relieve the boredom. Cutting over at Chowchilla has worked out well. BTW, unless we have to be somewhere in a hurry, we travel one day out of every two, too!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh excellent. I am VERY happy to hear about the road conditions. Gives me much hope for the northern drive from here. And cheers also for the travel tip. We’d looked at 99, but hadn’t really considered it. It’s a good idea.
      Nina

  20. Bob says:

    Love the no driving on 2 consecutive days theory. Out of curiosity, how long were you on the road to get from SD to Bakersfield. Also curious as to what you consider your upper limit (hours/miles) when relocating to the next city. So far our longest drive has been about 260 miles ( 6 hours), but are thinking abut a 340 mile single day journey next month.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Our drive here was ~230 miles and took ~4 hours (we stopped for gas too). That’s a long day for us. We typically limit our drives to ~150 miles max. and sometimes we do much less. Our absolute longest drive (ever) was ~350 miles…definitely our upper limit. These coupla drives north are longer than usual, but we’re staying below the 300 range.
      Nina

  21. rommel says:

    I knew it! I’m heading to LA and San Diego this weekend, and I am dreading the one in LA.

  22. rommel says:

    Ow thanks for the hints. Have a safe and fun trip!

  23. […] with LA. I love the diversity there, but man-oh-man do I hate that traffic. It almost killed us last time we drove through the city, so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to take a day-trip w/ the toad to see the sights. I […]

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