Areas to Avoid

Areas to Avoid if at all possible

traffic hell L.A.
Los Angeles is Traffic Hell, at any time of day

Charts below are from DanaMite’s  experience of living and driving in Southern California from 1990-2009.  Some of these areas may have become better or worse, depending on local circumstances and populations.

Traffic Jam Freeways:

San Diego

SD (4-6 pm)
Northbound 805/5 merge
Northbound 15/163 merge
Northbound 15 to Hwy.78
Eastbound 8 thru Mission Valley

Los Angeles

LA / Orange County (4-8 pm)
Northbound 405 LAX to San Fernando Valley.
Southbound 5 – Orange Co.
Eastbound 91
Eastbound 10

fleeing from SoCal –

  • Leave from work before 3 pm , if not
  • Don’t rush, take your time, leave after 6 pm
    (make sure you let the innkeeper know that you’ll be arriving late, and they’ll get quite upset after midnight)
  • Save yourself cash & stay only one night – Saturday Night (altho some places, esp B&Bs usually require a 2 night minimum stay)
returning to SoCal –

Sundays 3 pm – 9 pm – almost all major arteries coming into a city can get backed up.
Grapevine/ Tejon Pass from Bakersfield, I-5
US Hwy 101 South, from Santa Barbara can get bad
I-15 Westbound coming from Las Vegas
I-10 Westbound coming from Palm Springs
Hwy. 91 Westbound coming from the East

hwy highway

 

I80traffic

your escape route outta town
preplan for freeway gridlock – before you get stuck in it.

Region – San Diego
freeway days times problem areas 
5 N weekdays 4-7pm 805 merge to Encinitas
15 N weekdays 3-6pm Mira Mar to Escondido
8 E weekdays 4-6pm Mission Valley
to LaMesa
5 weekends 11am-4pm summer months
– beach traffic
5 near Del Mar all week 11am-7pm Horse Races
JUNE – SEPT
Region – Los Angeles
freeway days times problem areas 
5 N weekdays 4-7pm Orange County to LA
5 S weekdays 4-7pm LA to Orange County
405 N all the time 1-9 pm LAX airport to San Fernando Valley
405 S weekdays 4-7pm LAX airport to Long Beach / Orange County
405 weekends 10am+ summer months – beach traffic
10 E weekdays 3-7pm jct of Interstate 605 to Interstate 15
91 E weekdays 4-7pm winter months: Big Bear ski traffic can be heavy until 11pm

freewaybackup

metro / metropolis

Term used to differentiate a single city from a grouping of cities. Large urban centers draw in the good and bad – crowds, businesses, services, criminals and the homeless. The city centers will have hospitals, grocery, fast food, restaurants and big box chain stores.

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Illegal raves and outdoor parties, with unruly young people can also be found in rural or forested areas. If you come across an abundance of cars and vehicles, parked along the roadside in a remote area, you will find a large event nearby – if you follow the blasting electronic music. Drive many miles away (to another spot) if you are seeking a quiet camping experience.

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After Dark: World Gone Crazy

Civil Unrest in Cities:

2020 UPDATE – In this time of uncertainty, we feel it necessary to let you know about real-life threats and cautions you should consider while traveling. Lockdowns, curfews and criminals are now bigger concerns, along with the growing police state. Recently released inmates: Criminals will more likely prey on people and property at night, when less people are out and less light will protect their identity.

FREAKS COME OUT AT NIGHT. Protestors that plan their marches during the day are safer, and are way different than the restless ones who choose hit the streets after dark. The thugs, hoodlums, and kids (who seek the thrill of danger) are more likely to be out and about at night. Looting, arson and violence escalates after the sun goes down.

  • DO NOT travel or drive at night inside a large city or metropolis.
  • DO NOT visit an unfamiliar city or metropolis, at night.
  • DO NOT dine out in a city or metropolis, at night. If you need to shop, do so in daylight hours.
  • DO NOT park on the street overnight; find a parking lot, or a private driveway – to leave your vehicle while you sleep.
  • GIVE your timeframe and itinerary to someone you trust, and stay in contact throughout your travels.
  • NEVER leave anything inside your car, as these unknown items are just a reason for the possibility of a break-in. Always lock your  vehicle and set the alarm.
  • REFUELING/RECHARGING your vehicle in a city is often necessary while traveling; Choose a freeway exit outside of the city center and use a well lit gas station or recharging station. Lock your vehicle if you need to go inside.
  • BE CAUTIOUS of strangers that approach you out in public with questions or small talk. Thieves often use this strategy to catch you off-guard. Couples walking around with a gas can, asking for spare change, can also be a set-up to take advantage of you. Tweekers and drug addicts will use a wide variety of tactics, so be aware of their behaviors when you see them.

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California Hardiness Zones

Growing Food in California

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Gardening in California is best when understanding the terrain and plant hardiness zones. This map shows what to expect in which areas, on heat and freezing temperatures.

california_zonemap_usda

Scroll down the page for larger maps for
Southern California and Northern California 

List of Rural Counties of California

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Bread Basket Bonanza

California is often called the “bread basket of the world”, since we grow so many foods for export here. California produces almost all of the country’s almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries.

In the list below, we try to break down where certain foods grow well and in which regions.

  • Fruit Orchards – Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills
  • Citrus Orchards – SoCal, Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills
  • Nut Orchards – San Joaquin Valley & North Sacramento Valley
  • Avocado – North San Diego Co, Central Coast Valleys
  • Garlic – Central Coast, Gilroy
  • Artichoke – Central Coast, Castroville
  • Olives – North Sierra Nevada Foothills
  • Corn – Central Valley
  • Melons – Central Valley
  • Dates – Coachella Valley Desert
  • Grapes – San Joaquin Valley, North Sacramento Valley
  • Lettuce – Salinas Valley
  • Celery – Salinas Valley
  • Tomatoes – San Joaquin &  Sacramento Valleys, Sierra Nevada
  • Peppers – Imperial Valley, Inland Empire
  • Rice – North Sacramento Valley
  • Carrots – Cuyama Valley, San Joaquin Valley
  • Strawberries – SoCal, Central Coast, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Cattle Ranches – Central Coast, North Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills, Sierra Nevada Mountains

California Wine Country – spans nearly the whole state – from Temecula to Mendocino, vineyards are located all over

lemoncove

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norcal_USDA
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socal_USDA
click to enlarge

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Camp Kitchen Rules

springtable

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rodents to raccoons / bats to bears / fish to frogs

Outdoor Kitchen Rules:

    • At home you can let your dirty dishes sit for days in the sink, but not out here. As much as you hate to, wash the dishes right after your meal – so you don’t attract wildlife to your camp. Heat wash water to make cleaning up easier on your hands. A large towel helps w/ drip dry process, so carry old towels.picnic
    • Picnic tables outside in the elements and are used by everyone, including the animals and rodents. Bring a table cloth, plastic, or an old sheet to cover the table. Hold it down with heavy objects on each end.

Hantavirus is a serious and deadly lung infection that is caused from inhaling fine dust particles from rodent droppings.

      • Avoid eating or preparing food directly on the ground. Place a ground tarp down and then a picnic blanket, at the very least.
      • Use caution (and a wet sponge) when staying overnight in rustic cabins, tent cabins.
      • Beware of older buildings that may be or may have been populated with rats or mice. Bring tarps, sheets and extra blankets to minimize the dust level. It’s advisable NOT to sleep or eat in any place that has evidence of mice turds.
      • Avoid sleeping or camping in caverns or caves, as rodent populations are in excess.
      • Do not feed wildlife, birds, squirrels or rodents. They can carry rabies and/or many other diseases.camp

    garbage (pack it out)

        • Put food left overs in the ice chest as soon as it cools. Use paper towels to wipe food residue out of pots – before washing. Dispose of trash food into paper grocery bag.  Dispose of paper bag & towels into the campfire. Let it burn down all the way w/ the last wood scraps; No more food smells to attract bears!
        • Do not leave the garbage outside overnight. Deposit trash in a dumpster at campground, or treat it like food and lock it away in a vehicle. Double bag it – in case it leaks. Always carry extra black trash bags when traveling, to clean up litter. These large bags can also be used as storage for blankets and pillows.campfire

      campfire (safety)

        • Obtain a free campfire permit from the local ranger station, if you plan to cook outdoors, using a stove or a fire. Know current fire conditions and obey RED FLAG restrictions on fire.
        • Do not leave campfires, lanterns or candles burning unattended at camp. Make sure the propane or butane fuel is turned off (at the stove and at the tank) after a meal. Drowned campfires before bedtime, or when you leave camp.

      washing (clean)

            • Do not wash dishes or cookware directly in the stream (lake, creek, river). Bring a large bucket or wash tub. Avoid dipping dirty dishes or pans into the lakes, rivers, or creeks. Wash nearby without putting soap into the natural waterway. Some campgrounds do not have piped water, so carry your own.
            • Disperse wash water over the ground at least 200 feet from nearest stream, river or lake.
            • Use a sponge scrubber with soap in the handle for convenience w/ minimal liquid. Store it is a ziplock baggie. No more chasing the floating soapy sponge down the creek, in the cold, swift current.
            • Same rules apply when washing your hands in the creek or bathing your body in a lake. Keep the soap to a minimum and rinse soap off – away from the shoreline of the lake, river or creek.

            water (raw water)

            • Do not drink untreated water from a lake or creek, no matter how fresh or clean it looks. Boil water, or bring a portable water filter for use when camping/hiking. If you carry bottled water, pack trash out; recycle bottles.
            • Boil water, Boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
              • If water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.
              • Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. At altitudes above 5,000′, boil water for 3 minutes.

            Giardia is often found in rivers and streams. These organisms exist in waters because they exist in our digestive tracts and those of other animals. So anywhere that there’s poop near water, that water could contain pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Aeromonas, Yersenia enterocolitica, Leptospirosis, Listeria, or Vibrio, in addition to a suite of viruses and protozoan parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Some only cause short-term, if severe, gastrointestinal distress. Others can cause issues that last for weeks, months, or even years.

            califrepublic

            wildlife

            • Bears? If you are camping in ‘bear country’, do not cook in or near the tent or sleeping cots. Cook downwind from your sleeping area. Use metal bear boxes for food storage, when provided at campground. If not, use the trunk of your vehicle. Windows up!
            • Two large plastic boxes/containers with lids help in storing items properly, away from rodents & rain. Use one box for kitchen wear & Use one box for food storage. Wooden crates or plastic crates can also work.
            • Keep cooler in the shade -always! When stored in a vehicle, place blankets or tarps over ice chest to prevent sun from baking down on it. Overnight – put the cooler inside a vehicle. Windows up!

            camp

        racoonwarnsign
        click to enlarge
            • Raccoons are super-crafty creatures and can get into almost anything. Close your car windows at night. Tarp down the truck bed securely. Bring an extra tie down strap or two, to wrap the cooler or food box.
            • No food or SCENTS in the tents! Animals are attracted to smells. No BBQ sauce t-shirt or greasy jeans. No snacks, no candy, no cough drops, no toothpaste, no ointments, no deodorant. Store those scented items closed up in a vehicle, or in a metal bear box.
            • Bats may come in close at  night to eat mosquitoes and other flying bugs. On occasion they may find your cabin interesting and want to explore; Or a well lit motorhome could be inviting, so keep the screen door closed.
        taters
        Breakfast taters, coming up.

        How to deal with Bears & food storage

        RUBtub

        A large rubber container with lid is great for storage & doubles as a wash tub, so you don’t end up adding suds to the stream. Many mountain streams are used for local water sources & the less polution in them, the better.

        watercont_i
        Camp Kitchen Care

        tarptenttub
        Ground tarps help keep gear clean and provides for food prep space.


California Car Rentals

Auto Rentals, 4×4 Rentals
in and around California

Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, Inc.
california

Automotive Rental Agencies
Baja Car Rentals
Bus Service / Tours
Camper Van Rental Shops
Hummer Rentals
Jeep Rentals
Limousines
Motorcycle Rental
Off Road Rentals
SUV Rentals
Trucks 4×4 / 4WD
RV Motorhome Rental

4x4    califrepublic    camptruck

Tobin Bridge California
Tobin Bridge California

#1 RV Rental Marketplace

CaribouWoodbridge
Queen Lily bridge, Caribou Road, North Feather River

Auto Rental Service Agencies


Alamo 844-354-6962
Budget 800-218-7992
Enterprise 855-266-9289
Hertz 800-654-3131

SFthennow

Rent-A-Wreck San Francisco, CA 877-877-0700
Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, Inc.
hwy highway

june lake loop
June Lake Loop is a popular spot for Autumn Colors

camp

bajaexplorin
Paved roads are the main highways in Baja, everything else is usually DIRT

Baja California Mexico Car Rentals

Some San Diego car-rental companies will rent vehicles for driving into Baja California & will provide Mexican auto-insurance. Franchises below can have location drop offs & pick-ups in the US or over the border in MX.

ABC RENT-A-CAR
Costa Mesa, CA 949-200-3367

AVIS Rent a Car
San Diego, CA 619-688-5000
Otay Tijuana 619-588-1309
Mexico 800-770 2847
Baja California Norte, Mexico

DOLLAR
800-800-4000 MX & SD
San Diego Airport San Diego, CA
Tijuana, Baja California

ENTERPRISE 855-266-9289
San Diego, CA 619-696-5000
Mexicali, BC 686-514 2406
en Español 1-877-416-0000

NATIONAL CAR MX
800-716-6625

CALIFORNIA BAJA RENT-A-CAR
619-470-7368
Trucks, Vans, Jeeps, SUV, 4×4 vehicles

Baja Insurance
Buy Baja Insurance online

SequoiaSUV
Toyota Sequoia in Lakes Basin Recreation Area
SUVtrips
Access more roads w/ a Sport Utility Vehicle

SUV and 4×4 Rentals

These days most all car rental agencies have Sport Utility Vehicles for rent, but if you need 4 wheel drive for your trip, then make sure 4WD is an option.

4x4

granitegravelrd
Hard core roads: 4×4 may be needed to reach secluded camp sites in California.

Click below for off-road rentals all around California, from fully outfitted Jeeps (for a week) to quick quad rentals at the dunes (for a few hours).

4 wheel drive rentals = 4×4 Rentals

Overland Jeep Rentals w/ camping roof top tent and gear;
ATV and Quads @ beach sand dune park

snow

snow & ice?

Heading up to the mountains for anything fun? then you better ask rental car company about snow forecast and tire chains – or buy some in route.

OFF ROADING, for sure

If you plan to drive on serious dirt roads for hundreds of miles, a week of camping, rock crawling mountains, take a spin on the desert sand dunes, or want to drive into Mexico, then you will need extra insurance. Ask and expect to pay $$$.

likearental
Drive It – like a rental. (Perosi) Moab UT – Crawloween 2000

wildflower

mountains