West Coast tour

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Liesbeth
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West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Sun May 02, 2010 6:54 am

for years my husband and I have dreamed of traveling to the US for our holiday, now at last we have saved enough to go for it. It has taken some debate to decide our destination, but after ruling out the south for sake of the summer heat (Stefan's a teacher and stuck to summer leave) we decided on the West. Flying to San Francisco mid July and flying from Seattle early August gives us 20 days to explore the West Coast in our rental car.

I figured you guys might have some good suggestions of what to see and where to stay. So, tell me your must-see places (off-the-track or touristy, we're not fussy), secret hide-outs, summer events and favourite drives. We won't go camping, but are on a budget accommodation-wise, so cheap but okay motels are useful as well.

We will definitely visit my aunt in San Bruno, see SF and I'm really rooting to see at least one sequoia. Yosemite is on the list (will the sequoia groves do the trick or should we really go to Sequoia NP?), some Pacific coast line driving up north (Redwood NP?), as well as seeing a bit of Portland and Seattle and possibly a trip to Olympia NP. I'm doing all of the driving alone and don't think I want to make the detour to Vegas, how about Reno? Where can we get a desert feel if we don't want to go too far south? What are your recommendations for getting a feel of the pioneering days and what other historical landmarks shouldn't we miss?

Thanks in advance for your help, even if it's just to help me anticipating this trip even more!

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Unremarkable
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Unremarkable » Sun May 02, 2010 11:12 am

If you're driving up the Oregon coast, take Highway 101. It's a beautiful scenic drive, much nicer than I-5. Also to keep in mind if you're buying souvenirs, Oregon has no sales tax.
Also, don't know if you're into Shakespeare, but Ashland Oregon (near the California/Oregon border) has a world-class Shakespeare festival. It's a quaint town and they have many different plays during the summer, Shakespeare and otherwise.
The Oregon sand dunes are pretty cool, you can rent dune buggies and ride them around, it's pretty fun.
In California, stop by Santa Cruz. It's South of San Francisco by about 1 hour, but totally worth it. Check the boardwalk, and the beautiful beaches.
I'll post more about Seattle, and other places I think of later.

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Squid
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Squid » Sun May 02, 2010 1:16 pm

We both have an auntie in San Bruno! That's kind of funny.

I second Yosemite and Santa Cruz, though depending on what you're into, Carmel or Monterrey might be good too. (They're all in the same-ish area so you would be at liberty to change your mind if you decided one didn't float your boat. Pun completely intended.)

As with Unremarkable, I need a little time to recommend stuff in SF proper. Actually, I'm really interested to hear what other people who have visited our fair berg want to suggest.

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grant
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby grant » Mon May 03, 2010 7:43 am

Well, I loved the Sutro Baths when Musee Mechanique was out there, but I've heard it's moved to the wharf.

Anyway, both those places - there's something dreamlike about them.

Also, when leaving the city, make Muir Woods your first stop. Redwoods. Peace.

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Re: West Coast tour

Postby LoveSickJerk » Tue May 04, 2010 8:22 am

I haven't been to Reno, but I did drive the length of Nevada (from Bonneville to Vegas) last summer, and I can tell you one thing about that: you only need a little exposure to get that desert feel. It was 120 degrees in the car without air conditioning at one point.

So I'd recommend that you check out Reno, which also seems to fit your north-bound plans nicely.

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grant
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby grant » Wed May 05, 2010 12:31 pm

Oh - then you'd drive through the Donner Pass! American history!

Plus Lake Tahoe's pretty.

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Squid
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Squid » Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:44 am

Bad Dudes.

I'm bumping this topic back up to the top for two reasons:

The first is very selfish: I'm coming to SEA (and PDX) week of 6/28. (Yes, I am just missing the Captain on 7/8. Sadface.) And even though I have a Special Seattle Secret Squirrel helping me with plans, I'm of course going to want to hear your ideas for Liesbeth so I can steal them and make them my own.

Next, I wanna hear what Ms. Liesbeth is looking to get out o' my foggy city. Art? Buildings? Hanging out in a park with 20somethings wearing neon green Ray Bans and italian cycling caps? Awesome food? Talk to me!

xoxo

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:46 am

well Squiddie, since the Seattle residents aren't very forthcoming I'll tell you what's on my list for Seattle: Elliott Bay Book Company and at least one of the Sonic Boom stores, a show at one of the many illustrious venues (depending on what fate brings us in the days we're there, a quick search yielded some promising stuff at the Tractor Tavern so far) and at least one ferry ride.
And if the weather is good: views! I suspect you locals might scoff at the Space Needle, but would you recommend it for a trained geographer whose professor has drilled her to always find the highest point to assess the area? Is the Smith Tower a good alternative as my travel guide says?
My husband had the idea of making a brief visit to Canada since we're so close. Can anyone tell me how long the drive to Vancouver is, and what the drive is like: great views from the highway or ugly suburbs? Suggestions for reasonably priced accommodation in or near Seattle are welcome as well.

As for San Francisco, I still haven't gotten much further than a streetcar ride and see the bridge. We know beforehand that we don't have enough time to really do the city justice, so I'm guessing we'll just wonder around a bit, soaking it all up and dealing with our jetlag and culture shock. I'm tempted to visit Berkeley, although I"m not entirely sure what I'd expect to find in the middle of summer. I need to read up and get some more ideas, and would appreciate to hear what neighbourhoods you would recommend.

I really love the Donner pass suggestion, that's definitely on the list.

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grant
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby grant » Sun Jun 20, 2010 8:22 pm

Just go through before the snows come.

And make sure you're not traveling with any Germans.

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Squid
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Squid » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:09 pm

Grant! Cut it with the late-night chortle-making! I just snarfed my tea. Ouch.

Liesbeth, I think we're of like minds re: SEA, lots of the same things on our lists. (Uhm, and thanks to der Slice and that photo of breakfast that Grant posted, I have one more...)

As for SF, depending on how much time you have, I'll be happy to send you to a proper burrito*/chocolatier/doughnut/farmer's market/hipster hangout - whatever you want. And I think Berkeley would be fine to visit during the Summer - even though the kids are out and about in droves during the school year, the locals get the chance to actually leave their homes during the summer. And there are SOOOOO many restaurants and gourmet ghettos, not just in Berkeley, but in the neighboring Oakland environs. Food, food, FOOD. We're very spoiled here.

*You may have gathered that burritos are like religion in SF. You almost can't discuss them in public. People have very passionate opinions about them. I will prepare your burrito briefing and your trip nears. Please plan to study it on the plane ride over.

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:39 pm

I have 11 hours on the plane and am flying during the day, so taking into account some time for the on-flight film which no doubt is of such high standard as to not be missed*, I will have ample time to memorize your list. Be advised that I"m a vegetarian though.
Seeing that breakfast photo reminded me that pancakes were already a must on this trip, but I shall now add waffles to my breakfast list. I"m tempted to go to the Twin Peaks diner for some cherry pie while in WA, but perhaps I shouldn't be quite that touristy...


*I've flown to the US once before in 89 and the film was Turner & Hooch, starring Tom Hanks and a dog. I tried to resist but just couldn't help watching it; it has haunted me ever since.

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grant
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby grant » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:24 pm

Diners: There's the William Least Heat Moon diner quality meter, if you decide to take time driving on little roads and avoiding the expressways.

Least Heat Moon ranks roadside diners by the number of calendars on the wall. If there are no calendars, you're throwing dice. If there are four, you're guaranteed a great meal, and don't skip the pie.


Vegetarian: It's San Francisco. Lord, you can't snap a power line in that city without electrocuting 20 vegetarians.

eric2
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby eric2 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:56 pm

I have a few Seattle suggestions. Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill has a good view plus there's an old water tower you can walk up to the top of and get an even better view and it's free unlike the Space Needle. The waterfront is kinda lame but there's a sculpture park at the north end if you're into artsty stuff. Alki Beach in West Seattle has a good view of the skyline, worth at least a drive out there. Easy Street Records in Queen Anne is a really good record store. There's the ultra-touristy Pike Place Market with the famed fish tossing but it's nothing too special, at least to a Seattle native like me.

You could check out the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods just north of Seattle. Ballard has the locks. Fremont has my favorite European style bar, Brouwers, which has 60+ beers on tap and great food.

In SF go to Ghirardelli Square for a hot fudge sunday.

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:22 am

Yeehah, this Saturday I will be on the road.

in case anyone in Seattle is curious what the hell I look like, I'm willing for once to disclose my identity - I'm totally in for drinks or some other kind of meet up. Of course, no pictures can be made public !
Looks like I will be in Seattle 3-5 August, because we have decided to squeeze in a visit to Canada: not to Vancouver, but to Vancouver Island from Olympia peninsula - apparently Voivod hail from there, or so my husband claims, which is of course totally a reason to go and explore. But I digress, what I'm saying is that I could meet up Tuesday evening or all day Thursday. Post here or pm me if you're interested.

I am probably be the only Internet addict in the world travelling without computer or smartphone (in fact, without a phone at all because it doesn't work in the US), but hopefully I will encounter a computer along the way.

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Squid
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Squid » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:04 am

VOIVOD?! Well, I mean, Voivod are pretty much a reason to do anything.

And btw, Eric, thank you for all your suggestions. I had an awesome time - and met some board-types in person! oooh!

I'll post more about it soon but I jumped straight back into work and haven't had a free moment since.

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:16 am

Jace has picked a hipster (?) place to meet, so come and join us on Tue 3 Aug at King's Hardware on Ballard Avenue Northwest (same block as the Tractor Tavern) around 8pm! Don't be shy in thinking I don't want to meet you, because I love all boardies. Except spammers, who can flog their loans and viagra to someone else.

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sour29
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby sour29 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:49 am

Well, I guess I'll stay home, then.

And roll in my pile of bills and pills.

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:26 am

whoah, I drove in SF! scary but excilarating

love it here, have eaten two muffins, pizza, organic granola and Dutch hagelslag
today, scary California coastal road, hurrah!

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Liesbeth
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Liesbeth » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:35 pm

how come I didn't know that Seattle's hills are even steeper than any of the SF hills I drove on? I am in total shock!
Am staying in a hotel room with fake fireplace for the night. Tomorrow back to standard motel fare. Still, it cannot be worse than the shady motel we stayed at in Reno, we spent the whole evening in a casino to just not be there.

this holiday is excellent!! I cannot help using more than one exclamation point, it must be the effect that the USA have on me. Three more days of fun to go, and a board meeting tomorrow. I had a prep meeting with Squid while in SF - wonderful to meet someone you've known for 6 or 7 years, yet never met.

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Moni
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Re: West Coast tour

Postby Moni » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:04 am

Excellent!! (I also used an extra exclamation point for you)
Good to hear you're having such a great time! My guess is that overall you'll have found driving in the US acutally quite relaxed, at least compared to Europe, could that be? Streets are more spacious, lower speed limits, automatic cars... aah :)


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