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Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Bishops Stortford...
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Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Hello, I accidentally posted this in the Santa Barbara forum and so I've been advised to copy and paste my post in to the Oregon and Vancouver forums:

"A bit of background: I'm from the UK and I've found a great air fare late next May flying from London to Vancouver, then home from San Francisco 2 weeks later. Before you ask, unfortunately 2 weeks is the longest that my employer will allow me to take off during the summer months. Why this routing? I've always wanted to go to Vancouver (I'm a pilot, and so trying out the sea planes really appeals to me), and having visited San Francisco before I think it'd be a great place to finish up. I would absolutely love to hitch a sea plane to somewhere remote and stay a couple of nights, is it possible to take a scheduled service to anywhere like this or would we have to pay for our own (presumably very expensive!) charter flight?

Our current plan was to spend about 5 days in Vancouver, take a Greyhound to Seattle and spend 2 days there, then spend 5 days driving a hire car from Seattle to Portland and then to San Francisco (mainly along the coastal route after Portland). I've heard that this part of the coast in Northern California is absolutely stunning, and much quieter/more genuine than the more famous route between San Francisco and LA. Would people tend to agree with this sentiment, or is the southern section (the main 'PCH') just as nice if not better? We're mainly hoping to see some natural wonders, some nice views, and some 'genuine' America away from the main tourist crowds.

The one thing concerning me is that every website I look at it warns of the potential fog during this time of year. Is it really that bad, should I really let it change my plans? I mean, I don't mind waking up to some fog and having to wait for it to clear (and being British I'm more than used to rainy days!), but I'd be disappointed if we spent a whole day driving and didn't see anything because of fog/rain. I'm guessing that if we cross over inland then the weather would become much more pleasant?

I'm just thinking if northern California is almost guaranteed to be miserable then would we potentially be better off taking a flight from Seattle down to San Francisco and then doing the more traditional route by road to LA in some better weather? We could then fly from LA back to SF ready for our flight home to London. Also, should we cut out Seattle/Portland from the trip altogether - are either or both of those cities worth seeing after Vancouver or should we just head straight south considering our limited time?

As you can see this trip is still in the early planning stages yet, but I'm receiving lots of mixed reviews and so could really do with some more ideas and clarification on some of my points.

I know that these PCH road trip ideas have been done to death on these forums and I apologise if I'm repeating the same things that have been asked before. Unfortunately I couldn't find any previous posts quite along the same vein as the trip that I'm looking at!

Thank you in advance for any help/advice that you may have."

And then to answer a couple of questions that I had in that forum, so as to make my intentions clearer:

"To answer a couple of questions, yes we are a young couple in our mid-Twenties looking for the drive of a lifetime! We enjoy warm weather and beaches (our summer holiday this year was around Thailand/Vietnam and Borneo) but we equally love dramatic scenery, log fires, hiking, adventurous kind of places. It would be nice to see some warm weather, but not absolutely essential. Am I right in thinking that once we reach as far south as Califorrnia, if we drive inland, then the temperatures are likely to creep up even if it's a bit gloomy on the coastline?

And of course I didn't mean whether Seattle/Portland are 'worth' seeing because a quick glance suggests that they are very popular cities - just in the context of this trip I'm wondering whether our time would be better spent on the road than in those cities, even if they are nice places. If one had to pick either of those two cities to spend a day in, which one would you go for?"

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

We did a trip to the Oregon coast a few years ago at the end of August. I later found out they call it "Fogust" down there. The problem is when the temperatures inland are heating up and the coast is moderated by the sea and stays cool, so that when the warm air hits the moist, cool sea air, you get fog. We camped near Coos Bay for five days and got two hours of sunshine. Then we moved north to Astoria and the rain started. TBH - It was a terrible vacation.

However, you really can't plan for the weather. What I did learn is that when it is terrible on the coast, it is often because it is just so hot and sunny inland. Its the difference in temps that cause the problem. So I think, as much as you are there to see the coast, you have to be prepared to say "Nope, this isn't working" and just head inland. We did bail on the last two days of our trip and went inland in Washington to Wenachee and Leavenworth and had two glorious hot sunny days right at the end.

It was also pretty moody and interesting along the coast in the fog. But you are right in that it wears thin after a day or two and starts to get frustrating. But you can drive out of it, and at that time of year, you are probably safe not prebooking accommodations in order to keep things flexible.

When talking to the people along the Oregon coast, I was told repeatedly that October was their favourite time of year, with good weather and clear days.

Port Moody, Canada
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2. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

We've been on the Oregon Coast at different times and you can just never tell about the weather. I'd say that your plan is reasonable and you should do the coast drive.

After your 5 nights Vancouver I'd take the train( amtrak) to Seattle as it's a much nicer ride than the bus..spend 2 nights Seattle which gives you one full day then pickup a rental car and head down I5 and over to the coast just after Portland.

Check various agencies for drop charges but it shouldn't be too bad at all between Seattle and SFO. I'm assuming you don't want any time in San Francisco as you've been there before so i'd concentrate on spending as much time as possible on your coastal stops....with the caveat that if the weather isn't cooperating then head inland as there is much to see and do there as well. Northern California is often overlooked as a destination but it's got loads of wilderness and adventure.

Besides the oregon foruma nd the California forum have a look at the road trip forum for Trip reports and ideas.

I'd skip Portland this time simply because of your lack of time.. it's a neat city but imo Seattle will be a better fit for you partly because of boeing and the flight museum.

I also think the northern California coast is spectacular... it's not as well travelled as the coast between SF and LA and it's a narrow winding road so it's definitely not fast but the opportunities to stop are endless. it once took us 1/2 day to travel about 100 miles we stopped so often. It doesn't get the press that the sfo-la route does but it's certainly worth doing..

I can recommend Florence Oregon as a great stop and definitely plan to spend a night somewhere in Mendocino...friends have stayed here and loved it

visitmendocino.com/business/stanford-inn-sea…

Don't be put off by the weather reports as this past year the fog season totally didn't happen in San Francisco at least... I think you've got a great plan.

For seaplane rides out of Vancouver look at Harbour Air.. and yes if you want to do a remote ride/ visit then look at the Coastal pacific flight into Bella Bella and a stay there.. prteyy remote and basic...

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Daniel...you have received xome really good advice already...I have a couple of things to add. The Amtrak train trip is scenic from Vancouver to Seattle, but you might want to look at this coach as well. http://www.quickcoach.com/

It picks up at several downtown Vancouver hotels and drops off at several Seattle hotels. Seattle is worth a day or 2 visit. You won't need a car while there. Portland has a youthful "craft brewery" culture...up to you... Likely one day and nite at most.

I would go slightly past Portland before you head out to the coast. As a pilot, I am sure that you have heard of Hoard Hughe's "Spruce Goose"...it cuurently lives at the Evergreen Avgiation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/ It's a pretty cool museum, amd I am not a pilot!

Continue on out the Wilamette Valley (taste some great wine along the way) to Lincoln City and head south along the coast...

I agree with the other posters about the weather in Northen California...you are going to get what you get. The drive along the coast will likely be slow ggoing. Firstly, you will want to stop a lot and quite a bit of it is single lane, so be prepared to get stuck behind some slow moving RV's. Nonetheless, it is a great drive.

I

Bishops Stortford...
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4. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Some excellent advice on here, thanks so much!

I need to get the maps out and read back through all of these posts to start making sense of all of the suggested routes/places to visit. Once I've absorbed this information I may well come back with some further questions.

In the meantime, someone mentions Bella Bella. I just looked on Pacific Coastal Airlines and the cheapest fare is around $350 per person. Would we perhaps be able to experience the same kind of 'remote' feeling and stay for a night or two somewhere on the Southern Gulf Islands? Perhaps somewhere we could fly by seaplane in one direction (for the experience) and then return by ferry to keep the costs down?

A quick question for anyone who has visited Seattle - has anyone managed to get to the Boeing factory in Everett using public transport?

P.S. This thread has been posted in several forums, please don't worry about answering my questions in each thread, I will keep checking between the various threads!

Port Moody, Canada
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for Vancouver, British Columbia
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5. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Regular seaplanes to islands such as Galiano and Pender but there's no cab service that I know of once you're there and not really "remote". Also the trouble with the Gulf Islands is you do need a car to get around as they're not really "walkable". The Seattle folks can tell you if you can do Everett by public transit but my guess is you'd be better renting a car for a day and doing a bit of sightseeing included...

seattle
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6. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

I do this as a tour fairly often from Seattle to SF. Look at some websites for tour operators and you can get an idea of the rout8ing. I often use these as a guide then modify to suit my own needs.

Do take the train to Seattle. Avoid Quickshuttle unless you want to spend hrs getitng to Seattle. Boltbus or the Amtrak Bus make virtually no stops and are mjuch faster.

http://www.collettevacations.com/description.cfm~Tour_Id~66&Pacific-Northwest-&-California-featuring-Washington,-Oregon-and-California-Escorted-Tours

Edited: 04 October 2012, 16:46
Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Hmm, yes I think you are going to be looking at high costs to get into a float plane....

wcwl.com/site/…float-plane-tours.html

No, the Southern Gulf Islands are nothing like Bella Bella.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Here's another one to check out

www.vancityseaplanes.com/sightseeing.php

edit - lol, that page looks pretty good, but clearly the site is under construction! Lots of blanks. I'd just email them for info.

Edited: 04 October 2012, 19:00
Bishops Stortford...
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9. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Thanks to all of your kind advice I am now putting together some form of itinerary, which I have posted in the road trips forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k5811607…

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Vancouver to San Francisco Ideas

Thanks for the link. I'm sure you'll see a few of us over there helping where we can.