For some people, New Years Eve is about partying and drinking but for us this year it was all about hitting the road and having an outdoor adventure (as it had been awhile). At first we couldn't decide between Joshua Tree and Mammoth Lakes but after seeing the mass of crowds headed for Joshua our decision was made easier.
We made our way out of sprawling L.A. with no plans other then to stop as we please along the way but with hopes to get a decent snow storm before we got to Mammoth (as they had been mentioning for the past week).
Road tripping the Oregon coast was a spur of the moment decision. We were in Portland trying to figure out our next move - which was going to be heading straight to the Californian border then hugging the coastline from there. It was the middle of winter and we had been avoiding living out of the van (road tripping in the cold just ain't fun) and wanted to find some warmer weather asap... But we thought to ourselves, why waste the opportunity to see a beautiful coastline?
The Northern California coast is beautiful, breathtaking and rugged. Our first stop after crossing the Oregon border was Crescent City. Even though Lonely Planet says this coastal town is not worth stopping at, we ended up staying for a couple of days because it had a nice mellow vibe and felt like a safe place to stay in the van. It has all the large chain stores so we stocked up on cooking supplies and found some wifi to check emails. There is a large park by the Visitors Center that is great for picnicking or stretching your legs, which is what we did.
I was determined to find some waves but there wasn’t much swell. We found a safe place to park overnight right by the water where we could check the surf right from our bed and cook while watching the waves roll in. It was epic to say the least!
We were slowly making our way down the PCH just south of Mendocino when we made a last minute decision to hightail it down to San Francisco because we had found out that a band we really liked was playing that night. We left the sleepy coastal towns behind and headed out to US101 making it just outside the city in around four hours. We stopped at McDonalds to use the free wifi and double-check the venue address but to our dismay I had mixed up the location and the gig was actually in Oakland. We don't know a lot about Oakland but had heard from many people it was a place best to avoid. We thought about risking it but we were most worried about the van as it is our home and our whole life in it. Devastated we found ourselves at an In 'N Out ordering ourselves a couple of double doubles. We easily could have spent another week cruising, camping and surfing down the northern California coast!
The search for our future ‘Road Trip USA’ van began well before we landed in the land of opportunity. We began researching makes and models in our price range of around $2000 on the craigslist website. We planned on doing several thousand miles so we needed something that was reliable and got good mileage. We decided the van best suited for us would be a Chevrolet Astro with a v6 engine. It had enough room for a bed but was still small enough to be easy to drive and not be too costly with fuel. We would be arriving in Los Angeles so we were searching for vans in the LA area. There seemed to be plenty of Astro’s available at decent prices so we were confident finding one would be no problem.
Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more