West coast / California trip june 2019

Discussion in 'Americas' started by michaelkozera, May 20, 2019.

  1. michaelkozera

    michaelkozera Long timer

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    hello everyone!

    me and the wifey are planning a trip to California on the bikes and are looking for some advice/ guidance.


    we are leaving end of may for ~10 days +/- 2days.

    so far, plan is to leave Calgary:
    -head west to Vancouver
    -hit Seattle
    -Portland
    -san Francisco
    -los Angeles
    -san diego
    -then head back home through vegas
    -saltlake city
    -then home stretch back home


    of course alot of stopping and site seeing. also plan on riding in and out of all the major cities to go see things like Yosemite NP, Zion NP, grand canyon, etc, etc.

    gonna be about ~6,000km round trip.


    any recommendations from people about "must see" locations.

    what about food? wifey loves crab, lobster, shrimp. me, i love me a good fish and chips, and burgers of course. any "must go to" joints?


    what about motels? we dont really care for fancy stuff, just a shower and bed really. location is irrelevant, just where would be the cheapest to stay? inside city? outskirts of city? just outside city?in between city? any one got a spare guest room? we would return the favor if you ever were to pass through our city/home.


    from friends and family ive been told you can find cheap spots on the coast roads but starts getting pricey in and around los Angeles/ san Francisco?.


    are there places we should avoid? this one is hard to research cuz the media down in the states seems to blows everything completely out of proportion. but we would rather get first hand knowledge.

    what about security, had a few friends go down south and told me horror stories about gangs and violence, corrupt police and alot of thefts. frankly i think they are full of shit.....but im still contemplating if i should bring protection, like pepper spray/bear spray of some kind? we got bike covers, motion sensor alarm locks, rotor locks, 2 chains, and gps trackers.


    is the Mulholland highway open? or still closed due to the fires?





    lastly, we have done many long trips before (~2,000-3,000km) but never one this long and this far away from home. any recommendations on "must bring" items?


    thank you for all your help and input. we greatly appreciate it!

    cheers from the both of us!

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. dubtruker

    dubtruker Been here awhile

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    I live in Vancouver and do this ride often. I will be doing it in June as well. I used to head out the coast just south of Bellingham and hop the ferry over to the Olympic peninsula. Then you can follow the coast all the way down. Lincoln City Oregon, then Eureka California has great availability of affordable hotels. After Eureka Head to the lost coast roads until Legget, then head to the coast again to pick up the northern most part of California 1. On the road the most affordable town is Fort Bragg to stay overnight. All of the roads on the map along this stretch of rad between the 101 and the 1 are awesome to ride on an adventure bike. Also when time is tight I do a horrible iron butt ride to Grants pass Oregon which has cheap hotels and the most northern In N Out. Next day I head diagonally through the mountains towards the Coast(Eureka). South of San Fran you can take this amazing road between San Jose to Patterson on I5 where you will find cheap hotels. Then I usually head back towards the coast again and just ride the 1 down to Malibu. There I stay in Calabasas up the hill for a cheap hotel and to ride all the Malibu Canyon roads on the next day.
    Sorry for Rambling but these roads are some of my Favourites.
    #2
  3. dubtruker

    dubtruker Been here awhile

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    Places to Avoid staying overnight would be San Fran unless you are going to stay in a very expensive hotel all other places along the way were great. Eureka is a little sketchy but I have never had a problem and there are always more expensive bikes then mine in the lot overnight.
    #3
  4. Ken in Regina

    Ken in Regina Long timer Supporter

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    My first observation/suggestion: either double the amount of time allocated or halve the area you plan to cover. If you really want to be able to stop and see anything at all, never mind getting into - not just ride through - the larger centers, you have w-a-y too much planned for 10-12 days.

    To illustrate, four of us took a ride from Regina almost to the coast (Whistler) and back last July. We rode 4200km. It took us 7 days.

    And we did not stop for any sightseeing. We went intentionally to ride the many neat roads through the interior of BC, and specifically the Duffy Lake Road (BC #99 from Lillooet to Pemberton).

    The point being that, with one exception, we rode the entire time to cover that distance in that time. That was an average of 600km per day with only a single stop for a bit of sightseeing - checking out some waterfalls in Wells Gray Park at Clearwater, BC.

    Your planned route requires an average of 600km per day of riding just to cover the approximate distance you've guesstimated. Given some of the roads you are likely planning to travel (I sincerely hope you aren't planning to "slab" such a potentially beautiful ride), that's is some way serious riding, even without any sightseeing.

    By the way, we didn't consider this (4200km/7 days) a long trip. We would have classed it as about "easy medium". Yes, I know it's all relative.

    Just sayin'...

    ...ken...
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  5. ArrinD

    ArrinD Been here awhile

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    +1
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  6. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Enthusiastic curmudgeon Supporter

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    Hi Mike;

    There are many great roads in California, even parts of the coast. It may be better at the end of May, but we always found the coast itself too crowded with road blight (i. e. campers and RVs) to truly enjoy it, forget about making time. Get inland and stay away from the large centers if you're going for the riding.

    As for Utah, highway 12 from Zion NP/Bryce to Torrey is mandatory. If you have time and haven't been before, check out the area around Moab (Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, La Sal Loop, Dead Horse Point, etc.), but it doesn't sound like you'l have anywhere near enough time to do all that.

    Have a great trip!

    JP :beer
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  7. Nihon Newbie

    Nihon Newbie Weirdo

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    The 130 from San Jose to Patterson is great, but I hope you just take it out and back so as not to skip the Big Sur coast...

    Highway 1 all the way down is AMAZING, as are parts of the 101 along the Oregon/Washington coast. However, expect many one-way traffic controlled zones where you'll have to stop and wait for northbound traffic, then you'll be directed you proceed. That part of the coast is continuously under construction due to being ravaged by heavy storms half the year, especially in the last 7 months. There are numerous tiny towns along the coast where speed limits dip to a crawling 40kph. Summer traffic means idiot tourists who slow down to take photos rather than pulling over, so beware. You may encounter heavy fog at any time along the coast, so Rain-X & Fog-X those visors.

    The Lost Coast area is amazing, crossing the GG Bridge in SF is rad. If you're intent on staying in SF, I highly recommend the Fort Mason Hostel. Great views, super cheap, still safe and well managed. Leaving the Bay Area, I recommend highway 35/Skyline Drive to highway 17, cross 17 and proceed southeast on Summit Rd, which turns into Highland Way>Eureka Canyon into Watsonville, where you'll pick up the CA-1 again. It's just a cool little goat path of a paved road. If pressed for time, you can just take the CA-1 straight down from SF.

    Definitely stop in Monterey. There's an amazing aquarium there and a good grocery store within walking distance of it. Avoid all the restaurants, IMO they're all overpriced and serve mediocre food for tourists. From there you MUST take CA-1 south and see the Big Sur coast. Continue on the 1 until San Luis Obispo, my home area. From there down the 1 is nothing nearly as special. Mulholland will likely be open by then, but any of the twisty highways that connect highway 1 and the 101 freeway are good choices, too. Traffic through Malibu is absolutely awful and I avoid it at all costs. The 101 is still mostly coastal down there until you tip East into LA, then you might consider heading east to Vegas.

    As for Yosemite: you will likely only be able to access it from the west entrances on 120, 140, and 41. The only eastern entrance from the Vegas side is Tioga Pass road, which will likely not be open by then, due to very late season snow. So, you can figure out how to squeeze that in. Above Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Salt Lake City, even the Grand Canyon, I feel like Yosemite deserves top priority on your trip, but that's just me.
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  8. michaelkozera

    michaelkozera Long timer

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    Thank you for all the great input.

    What about hotels/motels? Should we be calling ahead to book? Or are vacancies high enough to not worry too much?

    Problem is when have a "loose" schedule, so if we wanna stay longer in a particular area we really dont want cancel all our reservations. From what ive been told it wont hurt to call ahead by a day. But vacancy during the week sre high. Weekends tend to be harder to find rooms. Maybe we will bring 2 sleeping bags just in case.
    #8
  9. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Enthusiastic curmudgeon Supporter

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    You've got a few things going for you; You're flexible, you're not staying more than a night or two at any one spot, and the end of May isn't full-blown tourist season yet, so there should be plenty of vacancies along the way. In my experience, outside of the major cities and major tourist spots, places don't really start to fill up until 4 PM. To be safe, I suggest looking for accomodations at lunchtime. By then, you have a good idea of where/when you'll be getting to that evening, and you have plenty of time to change plans if you're totally stymied. You can also try booking your next night from your present location. This is very convenient if you're using a chain, as they are often very willing to do that for you at no extra charge.

    With a GPS (POI listings) and Smartphone (WIFI) along the way, it's relatively easy to find something close to where you want to be without a lot of bother. Most of the internet search sites have rating systems to help, but I recommend dealing with the hotel directly (I prefer the actual hotel, rather than their central booking number). This gives you better options when you get there, as on-line bookings are often unchangeable or upgradeable.

    JP :thumb
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  10. Ken in Regina

    Ken in Regina Long timer Supporter

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    I agree with all of Bullwinkle's key points.

    When my wife and I travel (49 nights in hotels in the last 12 months) we always try to book our room by lunchtime of the day we need it. Sooner if we're sure where we want to stay.

    I use the internet if necessary to research the possibilities but always phone the hotel directly. I never use an online booking site and only rarely the chain's central booking center.

    ...ken...
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  11. michaelkozera

    michaelkozera Long timer

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    yeah, we gonna get that USA phone travel plan so we get 1gb data, plus call/text.

    smart idea to book by lunch time.

    we plan on doing most of our riding in the early morning, like 7-8am, less people on the roads the better. plus in the desert, really dont want to be riding mid day/full sun.
    #11
  12. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    I'll take a shot at the Elephant in the room: Security. I love Seattle, Portland, Eureka, San Fran, Los Angeles...all main cities on your route. But, they are, to use the crude phrase, Shit Holes. In many of the parts of these cities you will be dealing with rampant property theft, literally stepping over and around homeless drug addicts, hypodermic needles, humam feces, I could go on, but, I won't. Just to use San Fran as an example, there are several hundred (yes Hundred) city employees who's only job it is to respond to and clean up human shit on the sidewalk. This is shit not in far outta the way places near the railroad tracks on the fringes of society...It's on Fishermans Wharf tourist sidewalks! With rampant drug use comes rampant crime. Leave it (what you own) available and accessable and it WILL be stolen...period.
    Are there great places in these city's? Certainly, but, you need to be aware of what awaits you. You gonna leave your bike, with luggage, unattended in one of these places when you go for a quick bite of lunch?
    There's plenty of world class riding and scenery outside of the SH. As others have pointed out, drive to the coast, take a left and head south. Drive by, past, or through the cities and keep going.
    And for those who doubt/want to defend San Fran do a google search and type in San Francisco Poop Map, or watch the Seattle Tourist video
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  13. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

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    There are some great hostes on the tent space thread along this route, give them a few days notice and enjoy some good company and hospitality. Hotels are more expensive than inland and campsites get booked up early so plan ahead.
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  14. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    Michael, I agree with Ken, this itinerary seems to be some stupidly over-ambitious plan I would make and then try to stick to it by doing 500-600 mile days back to back while trying to sight-see at the same time... :loco

    :lol3

    Seriously, that is a lot of ground to cover even if you plot it as a straight route between those cities you mentioned, without even considering meandering through hundreds, maybe thousands, of potential side roads and side trips that would be much more interesting on a bike. On an itinerary like this I'd take a car and simply slab it to at least give you a chance to spend more than just sleeping time in those cities.

    Last June I rode to Cody, WY (Yellowstone) to meet some friends, starting in Las Vegas. Somehow I managed to do 4000 miles on that trip when the shortest distance Google comes up with is 856 miles. And I still couldn't hit all the interesting places I wanted to visit in CO, WY and UT in 11 days.

    I'll second (third) the idea of making reservations around noon for that night and not just show up to see what's available. June is already travel season, popular destinations will be filling up. But, if you know where you plan to spend the night tomorrow and it doesn't seem like it would be a stretch to get there, you might as well make that reservation the previous night from the convenience of your current hotel room and it's WiFi.

    I use both Google maps and Booking.com for hotel searches. I typically make the reservations through Booking (some smaller hotels/motels you see on Google may not show up, then calling them directly works best). Never had a problem, even if I made the reservation a couple of hours before showing up.

    If you guys pass through Portland (on a weekend) or Las Vegas (on a weekday, yes, I commute between the two), send me a PM. I'll buy you a beer while you tell me why I was wrong above and you managed to do the entire loop and keep it to interesting roads... :beer

    Gustavo
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  15. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Too far for too short of time. By the time you get half way through your trip it will already be running together as a blur and it will be a death march home from Salt Lake City. Slow down and actually see the areas you are passing through.
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  16. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Long timer Supporter

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    Some hotel/motel suggestions:
    Klamath, CA - Ravenswood Motel
    Fortuna, CA - 4 motels surround Eel River Brewing - should have no trouble getting a room
    Ft Bragg, CA - Lots of motels including the Seabird Lodge - check out Django's Rough Bar for dinner
    Pacifica / Rockaway Beach, CA - Sea Breeze motel
    Santa Barbara, CA - Motel6 Beach, Hyatt down the street for dinner or breakfast

    Get the Butler Maps Pacific Pack for suggestions on alternatives to Hwy 1 while traveling along the coast...

    https://www.butlermaps.com/motorcycle-road-maps/pacific-pack/
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  17. ZBM2-AR

    ZBM2-AR Adventurer

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    I've been on the west coast most of my life and I avoid the major cities like the plague if at all possible. I'm planning a much smaller trip than you leaving next Monday and I'm allowing 2 weeks for it, I figure it will take 10 days but I'm also stopping in Portland for 3 days to visit friends and family. I'll show you my route just in case you're interested. https://goo.gl/maps/RHFKTx5xaJdjUxbd6
    Unless you like "big cities" there isn't much to see in Seattle, Portland, etc. I would recommend Killer Burger in the PDX area, you can find one in Vancouver (Wa) their peanut butter bacon burger is amazing.
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  18. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I agree that the itinerary is ambitious. You could probably cover the miles in 12 days, but might want to blow through a couple major cities to expedite progress. Portland and Los Angeles could be skipped. Taking your time riding the coastal highway would be better use of time.

    Some key spots:
    1. If you like beer, stay at the cheap motel next to Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma. They have live music most days, but generally afternoon to early evening.
    2. The best seafood I've had lately was at Fish Hopper in Monterey California. Ask for a table out over the water. I recommend just getting the crazy variety platter with lobster and lots of other variety.
    3. There are motorcycle museums in Carmel and Solvang. Both towns are worth walking around.

    Lodging:
    Hostels are great if you can score a private room. In California, there are a couple of lighthouse hostels, a couple of old military bases, and some homes. One that sometimes doesn't come up on hostel lists is Yosemite Bug Hostel/Resort, just outside the national park. This would be a good place to splurge on a couples massage, and spa time for the hot tub. They also serve drinks and food.
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  19. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    There is a chowder house in Pismo beach, dont remember the name but the line around the corner will let you know which. The Other Big place is empty for a reason.
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  20. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I almost forgot about a couple fish n chip places that are interesting. Both are English pubs, of of which is also a motel.

    1. Cameron's English Pub is in Half Moon Bay between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The guy that started it is from the UK, and it's a really cool place. They have a couple old style rooms in the Inn, or lots of rooms in the new hotel next door. The have a double decker bus outside that serves as a smoking area (vehicles are excluded from the no smoking rules in California).

    2. The London Bridge Pub is just down the shore from Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey. They have Boddington's on tap.

    3. And just because I highly recommend The Fish Hopper, I checked their menu. They also have fish n chips. Not cheap, though, $22. I took my Mom there for Mother's Day and bought their $120 seafood platter. It was enough for 3 people: ahi tuna, crab, lobster, prawns, scallops, salmon, etc. And fresh sourdough or course.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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