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