Itinerary Opinions and some advice please
Replies: 30 - Last Post: Mar 30, 2012 11:42 AM Last Post By: mrbigSA
Mar 29, 2012 8:48 AM
Itinerary Opinions and some advice pleaseHi guys - I've done some extensive planning on an upcoming trip to the States but there's still a loose end here and there so perhaps the kind folk from TT can offer some advice
My wife and I (mid 30's) reside in Cape Town (South Africa) and will be leaving for California on 27 April for 7 weeks or so.
I've been around some of the States before and have a fair idea what to expect here and there but the wife is a n00b this time round.
I'm not a big fan of planning everything to the minute detail but the reality is that one wants to (need to) be at some places at certain days and that in itself necessitate some advance planning (and booking). Especially if you travel on a tight budget like we do.
That's the unfortunate part of living on a 3rd world continent =)
So please cast your eyes over this and offer some comments:
27-Apr-12 Friday Fly Depart from Cape town to LA
28-Apr-12 Saturday 8 am arrival in LA - get rental and drive to San Diego (Accommodation Booked)
29-Apr-12 Sunday San Diego (Accommodation Booked)
30-Apr-12 Monday San Diego (Accommodation Booked)
1-May-12 Tuesday Drive via Salton sea stay over in Palm Springs
2-May-12 Wednesday Drive via Joshua Tree and stay over in Lake Havasu City
3-May-12 Thursday Drive to Flagstaff and stay over there
4-May-12 Friday Drive to Grand Canyon and stay over (Accommodation Booked)
5-May-12 Saturday Drive to Monument Valley (Accommodation Booked)
6-May-12 Sunday Drive to Zion Area stay over around Springdale
7-May-12 Monday Drive to Las Vegas
8-May-12 Tuesday Las Vegas (want to do a roundtrip to Hoover Dam and perhaps Glen Canyon)
9-May-12 Wednesday Las Vegas
10-May-12 Thursday Drive to Lone Pine through Death Valley (accommodation options seems slim here?)
11-May-12 Friday Drive to South Lake Tahoe South
12-May-12 Saturday Lake Tahoe South
13-May-12 Sunday Drive to Yosemite and spend 1 night (MUST stay inside park but oh dear the options are next to none)
14-May-12 Monday Drive to San Francisco (Accommodation Booked)
15-May-12 Tuesday San Francisco (Accommodation Booked)
16-May-12 Wednesday San Francisco (Accommodation Booked)
17-May-12 Thursday San Francisco (Accommodation Booked)
18-May-12 Friday Drive to Monterey area (some suggestions here perhaps?)
19-May-12 Saturday Drive to Morro Bay / San Luis area (same as above)
20-May-12 Sunday Drive to Santa Monica (Accommodation Booked)
21-May-12 Monday LA (Accommodation Booked)
22-May-12 Tuesday LA (Accommodation Booked)
23-May-12 Wednesday Fly from LA to Washington DC arrive very late in evening (Accommodation Booked)
24-May-12 Thursday Washington DC (Accommodation Booked)
25-May-12 Friday Washington DC (Accommodation Booked)
26-May-12 Saturday Washington DC (Accommodation Booked)
27-May-12 Sunday Take train/bus to Manhattan (Accommodation Booked)
28-May-12 Monday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
29-May-12 Tuesday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
30-May-12 Wednesday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
31-May-12 Thursday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
1-Jun-12 Friday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
2-Jun-12 Saturday New York City (Accommodation Booked)
3-Jun-12 Sunday New York (Accommodation Booked)
4-Jun-12 Monday Morning flight to Orlando arrive 12pm - pick-up rental and drive somewhere on the East coast?
Perhaps Melbourne? We will be returning
From here things are totally in the air - we have to be back in Orlando Sunday 10th for a conference and would like to see a bit of especially the Keys and Everglades before then and see the sites around Orlando after the conference. What's the weather like and would you recommend camping here and there if we don't wan t to book accommodation or is June part of the shoulder season and we wont have a problem with finding something affordable?
We REALLY would like to scuba off Key Largo - perhaps a 2 tank dive on one day or 2 dives spread over 2 days.
Any suggestions welcome here.
I was sort-of thinking the following:
5-Jun-12 Tuesday Drive to Miami and stay over (suggestions here please)
6-Jun-12 Wednesday Drive to Key West and stay over
7-Jun-12 Thursday Drive to Key Largo stay over - scuba?
8-Jun-12 Friday Key Largo - scuba?
9-Jun-12 Saturday Head back towards Orlando with a stop-over in Naples / Fort Meyers and perhaps a brief visit to the Everglades?
10-Jun-12 Sunday Drive back to Orlando (Accommodation Booked)
11-Jun-12 Monday Orlando (Accommodation Booked)
12-Jun-12 Tuesday Orlando (Accommodation Booked)
13-Jun-12 Wednesday Orlando (Accommodation Booked)
14-Jun-12 Thursday Orlando (Accommodation Booked)
15-Jun-12 Friday Fly back very early to JFK to catch flight to Cape Town
If you read this far I'm impressed! And grateful =)
As you can see a lot of accommodation is fixed and having to travel in between might necessitate to just go ahead and book the rest - or what's the thoughts on this?
I realise it seems like quite a bit of driving on the West Coast but we're planning on doing less than 4500km over the first 26 days and stay over for more than one day in a number of places.. Or is my planning insane?
Apart from that perhaps some (budget) accommodation ideas for the missing pieces as above and perhaps suggestions on diving in the Keys would be appreciated.
Mar 29, 2012 9:06 AM
Try the xYosemite Bug. It's not inside the park, but may have availability.
This works for some places (like xPalm Springs), but not so much others (like xYosemite, xZion).
One change you can make is to remove that full "Tahoe" day and use it to drive to xYosemite, then have a another day in Yosemite (subject to lodging, of course). (I don't tell you to remove xTahoe altogether because of the Tioga Pass issue. The road heading into xYosemite from the east closes for winter.)
I'd also say the same regarding xMonument Valley for xZion, but I don't know how hard it'll be for you to cancel that booking. (Not to say MV is not a nice plac. I just don't think it's worth the long detour on such a fast paced trip.)
Given that you want to see xMiami, just get straight there.
The rest of the trip is fine, though still rushed.
Mar 29, 2012 9:32 AM
2Thanks bzookaj - you make good points
Perhaps I should've mentioned we're not really 'hiking' type people and to be frank the only reason I want to visit places like Yosemite is to see some of the landmarks. We have truly incredible nature in South Africa and the most wonderful places to camp and hike (which we do often). Not the hike part though =) usually we do a lot of road tripping by motorcycle so moving around is very much part of our 'style' of vacationing - if that makes any sense.
Regarding MV - I want to show the wife the Grand Canyon and I would love to see MV but don't really want to spend too much time 'hanging around'. But yes, its a hell of a detour as you say. However as luck would have it the accommodation both at GC and MV is flexible and can be cancelled in so required.
In Yosemite I can still get space at Curry Village but am slightly horrified at what's being asked for essentially a tent.
And it might still be rather chilly in mid May? However I guess this is as good as it's going to get.
Regarding Melbourne. Would it be feasible to land in Orlando, pick up car, drive to Cape Canaveral and spend a few hours there. From there go to Melbourne to stay over. Next day take it easy and stay over in Miami.
Mar 29, 2012 10:46 AM
3The eastern U.S. portion doesn't look too bad, but the western U.S. portion seems unreasonable.
In my opinion you are trying to cover far too much distance and packing in way too many destinations in your loop from L.A. through to Las Vegas/Grand Canyon to San Francisco and then back to L.A.
You plan your western portion in late-April thorugh mid-May which is nice weather in the deserts, although starting to heat up, but be prepared for lingering snow in the high sierra.
If you choose to rent a car and drive, I'd recommend listing your four or five highest priority destinations and focus on visiting them leaving the rest as possibilities if you have enough time.
Another idea is to use major cities as bases by flying between them then renting a car locally to explore surrounding areas as day trips or overnight trips. There are a number of budget air-cariers in the U.S. and there are oftentimes specials for flying around on regional airlines (Allegiance, Horizon, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest) or the AMTRAK rail system connects many of your western destinations.
For example, from L.A. you could visit San Diego, Joshua Tree, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs (Santa Monica is actually within the Los Angeles metropolitan area). From Las Vegas visit Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Death Valley (that would probably be an overnighter). From San Francisco visit Monterey, Big Sur and redwood groves to teh north.
Mar 29, 2012 10:55 AM
4You either pay the money to stay inside Yosemite or you don't. The place will completely fill up so don't arrive without a reservation expecting to find a bed.
Yes, it can be cold there at night in May. They have woolen blankets that should be OK.
Mar 29, 2012 11:21 AM
5I think you should add antelope canyon and page on the way between grand canyon and monument valley. Maybe you can find some ideas on my website http://www.travelingeuropean.com .
Mar 29, 2012 11:24 AM
Part of the reason Yosemite is so expensive is that supplies have to be trucked in from fairly long distances. There are special regulations to keep the environment safe, including having to maintain bearproof places to store food and other things that might attract bears. Which reminds me, read carefully everything about bears in Yosemite If you end up in that tent cabin, you will have to store food & toiletries in a special locker. No matter where you stay, you will need to take everything out of your car that might attract a bear--food, food wrappers, sunscreen, lip balm, hand sanitizer... Bears know what coolers look like, so will break into a car to get at one, even if the cooler is empty. You don't want to be paying the rental car company a fortune because a bear ruined the car.
Mar 29, 2012 11:24 AM
Mar 29, 2012 11:39 AM
8Damn you guys made me so nervous I just quickly made the booking in Curry Village, Yosemite!
Rather be safe than sorry hey. Thanks for the advice
Bear is one creature we Africans have NO experience with so will definitely be very careful regarding best practice
Mar 29, 2012 11:41 AM
Mar 29, 2012 11:58 AM
10We stayed at Camp Curry a couple of years ago, and my wi Tioga Pass opening dates
At Camp Curry, my wife was worried about running into a bear in the night when she walked to the central building where lavatories and showers are located. She didn't see any and was slightly disappointed. When you check in, you will get a set of rules, including that you are not to keep food, or anything with a scent (including perfume) in your canvas-sided tent cabin. Or in your car. Those items are to be kept in lockers in that aforementioned central building. It's a great location for walking (you don't have to hike), and just enjoying the mountain air and scenery. Tuolumne Meadows, at about 10,000', is my favorite part of Yosemite, They also have tent cabins, but those may be sold out (or not as the Tioga Pass Road could still be closed with snow). If you could adjust your schedule to go to Yosemite later, you could be more likely to enter Yosemite via Tioga Pass. With your current schedule, you could play it by ear, and, if the pass opens, spend the night in or near Lee Vining, and drive over the pass. If, as seems likely (see above link), the pass is still closed, continue on to the Tahoe area (or even Markleeville and cross the Sierra via scenic Carson Pass).
Don't feed the bears. It's risky and you could get fined by the rangers. The only animals likely to feed on you are mosquitoes. The waterfalls should be great at that time of year! (p.s. I loved South Africa).
Mar 29, 2012 11:58 AM
any ideas / suggestions on the route from San Francisco to LA (we have 3 days, 3 nights there)
I would like to stick to Highway 1 as much as possible (hopefully the weather plays along)
Some spots I have marked so far includes:
Ano Nuevo (but it might be the wrong time of the year)
Santa Cruz boardwalk
Fishermans Wharf in Monterey
Asilomar state park
Breaking the route up in 3 days give me stops in Monterey and San Louis Obispo
Would you recommend staying over here? Considering this will be on a Friday and Saturday .
Mar 29, 2012 12:02 PM
Mar 29, 2012 12:23 PM
13Chances are very slim that Tioga Pass will be open by May 13 or so.
Tuolumne Meadows tented cabins accomodation will not be open then.
Mar 29, 2012 2:12 PM
14If I'm reading
right, there are still backcountry permits available in Yosemite for May. If so, for these experienced campers, would renting gear from REI be a good option?
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