Subject: Re: USA Road Trip
Hi Josie, Highway 5 is the major north-south route through California, and the fastest. The road runs down the western side of the San Joaquin Valley and really offers nothing in the way of scenery; unless, of course, one has an interest in agrobusiness. It's sister highway the 99 runs parallel on the eastern side of the valley. This route passes through the major cities of the central valley; Modesto, Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Still not offering any better scenery except for the possible backdrop of the Sierras, that is if it is clear enough to see them. Alternative routes would include the 101 and the 1 which would add considerable time to your travel although improve your scenery immensely. Especially in the case of Highway 1 which would probably add two or three days to your drive down once you become entranced with the spectacular views. The 99 will offer more in the way of accommodations just because it runs through the major towns. Fresno would be about 3-4 hours out of San Francisco (that is once you got on the road; additional time must be added on for car rental pick-up, getting out of the city, etc.). Avoiding LA is impossible. The urban sprawl will begin in Castaic just as you come off the Grapevine (the name of the I-5 route through the Tehachapi Mts. north of LA) all the way south until it is broken by the military base at Camp Pendleton at the north end of San Diego County. It also extends west from Oxnard in Ventura County all the way east to San Bernardino in Riverside County. There are countless labyrinthine routes through the spaghetti network of freeways within the LA area. Locals will attest to one way versus the other as a means of saving a minute here or minute there. My suggestion is to stick with the I-5 traveling in the third lane (counting from the right). As you approach Orange County move over into the car pool lanes on the left side. Plan on about two and one-half hours to get from the bottom of the Grapevine (Castaic) to San Clemente (southern border of Orange County. Of course, any number of factors could change this estimate. The drive from San Francisco to San Diego is comparable to the Sydney to Melbourne inland drive. It should be no problem for someone used to those long hauls. Once you're in San Diego I'd be glad to meet with you if you'd like. You were very helpful with suggestions last year for our visit to your lovely country. I'd love to reciprocate. Let me know. John in San Diego which is worth the drive through LA