Tag Archives: travel

Driving Speeds of California

Traffic Lanes & Driving Speeds

hwysaab

california freeways

# 1 lane # 2 lane # 3 lane # 4 lane
the passing lane cruising lane truck lane merging lane
speeders: 80 mph avg speed: 70 mph avg speeds: 65 mph avg speed: 55 mph

The chart above is NOT considered legal speeds, but they are kinda realistically what to expect on the FREEWAY. Interstates and busy freeways in California get cranking and CHP is usually out in force, earning revenue for the state, as well as ensuring the safety of the roads.

Senior drivers, tourists & outta stater visitors be warned – the closer you get to a big urban area, the higher speed and more aggressive the drivers will be. Large rigs and SUVs kill with impact, so slow down a little folks.

So much for Sammy’s “Can’t Drive 55”

Californians can’t drive anywhere near 55. Now that the laws have increased the statewide speed to 65 or 70 mph, there is no stopping ’em. Unfortunately the average speeds are increasing all over the west, as people zoom from place to place, city to city, in a never ending transient society. This leaves way more dirt roads and rural backcountry left to us.

TIP: Exit the rat race & take your time, for your sanity sake & safety… slow down.

On average over 3500 people die on California roadways each year.
Fatality Facts State by state

California SR = Highways

The freeway speeds above do not apply to narrower state routes and rural county highways. Most of these are one lane blacktop in each direction and are labeled 55 mph. Maybe slower for curves, tunnels and bridges. Be alert when driving and know that cell phone service is not always abundant on the back roads. At any time you can experience: wildlife crossing, rock slides across the road, downed tree (or branches) in the roadway, stalled vehicles w/ stranded motorists, snow or hail, or any other hazards that accompany typical backcountry travel.

No Guard Rails

La Porte Snow

California Highways
California: Outside

Helpful Routes

Southern California Short Cuts

Must head North out of LA? Skirting the backside of Los Angeles is always a possibility on a FRIDAY night. Taking 15N, 10W, 210W will put you in the opposite direction of most of the bad traffic flow.

Merge back up with I-5 North of San Fernando Valley. If you must get West to the coast, the Simi Valley 118, or the 126 through Fillmore, is the best option.

camp in routeRvs camping in route

Plenty of jump off spots for overnight camping on the Grapevine, inside Angeles National Forest & Los Padres National Forest.

food

#1 – Avoid Los Angeles area, if possible. This will add 1-4 extra hours on to your road trip depending on the ‘hellish & hectic’ reasons this area normally experiences. If you must venture through, try doing so at night after dark. Gas up and eat a meal before you reach this area, to avoid needing to stop in L.A.

gasoline

Watch out for frequent Cal-Trans freeway closures starting
in the midnight hours.

The Interstate 91 & Interstate 10 Eastbound are both bad situations during winter months due to Palm Springs weekenders & if snow is decent, the Big Bear ski crowds.

Angeles Forest Hikes Los Padres National Forest Maps San Berdardino mountains

desert roads

california

Lets face it, Vegas traffic back to Cali sucks.

The Interstate 15 is the main corridor that gets backed up on Friday nights Northbound at the I-10 & the I- 215 junction.

 

 

Southbound on Sundays is awaful from Barstow to San Bernardino. An alternate route is old Route 66 (best get a good map) & avoid the bumper to bumper in the high desert Mojave region.

OLD ROUTE 66, anyone?

 

 

Driving from Southern California

Headed to the Eastern Sierra or Death Valley – Make sure to take Interstate 15 straight up to US Highway 395N. The turn off is just south of Victorville. ” On the Road” gas up & quick food stop on US 395 is available in Adelanto & in the region known as ‘four corners’ @ Highway 58 junction.

But be warned it can get a little congested on Friday nights. An alternate is Interstate 15N to Interstate 215N to avoid most of the traffic from the west.

Typical afternoon rush hour problem spots in San Diego.

A small detour, if traffic is bad on Hwy. 78 in North County San Diego & you are headed Interstate 15 North. Twin Oaks Valley Road leads right up to Deer Springs Road & the Avocado Highway known as 15.

State Atlas Maps

Regional Maps

camptruck

dangerous

NOTE: I am keeping the old screen shot maps from MapQuest on this page to prove my age and experience on such topics. Sorry that I don’t have the same knowledge of the San Francisco Bay Area traffic, which can be as bad, if not worse than Southern Cal.

And I thank you for using my site. DanaMite

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.

califrepublic

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.

star

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.

check

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

Seasons of California

spring summer autumn winter

All Four Seasons in California

californiaWhile some may think there are only 2 seasons in California

WINTER (the wet season) and SUMMER (the dry, hot season) which may also be known as Fire Season (as in wildfires).

There are indeed 4 Seasons in California:

However – Spring and Autumn are much shorter, as rapid swings in rain and drought (weather related events) often dominate the West Coast region.

And by the way, Earthquake Season is any time of year.

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

campCamping Season can be all year long in California, where we often have mild winters, sometimes without much precipitation.

Southern California has camping and hiking all the time, in every area. Deserts are a favorite camp destination in the winter months, usually December thru March. Find more info on Desert Camping. See also, a page on Winter Camping.

The Central Coast and Central Valley regions often have campgrounds available and open year-round. Northern California and the Sierra Nevada mountains get most of the real wet weather, between November and April, so campgrounds usually close (for half the year) depending on weather conditions.

tableviews
High Country Sierra Nevada mountains

Often the higher elevations of California (5000’+) can only be accessed by vehicle during summer months. Deep snowpack means paved roads are usually closed for the majority of the year (Nov-May) and sometimes, during a ‘good’ winter, the main Sierra highway routes do not open up to public access until June or July. Read more on Sierra Road Conditions.

potrerocabin

California Road Conditions

snow conditions

June Gloom in California

june gloom

seasonal weather patterns

Late spring in California is a wondrous time of year for getting out and exploring. Thousands of prime hiking trails and camp spots, coupled with relatively mild weather throughout the state, should insure that your ‘gotta see’ list is long. Total Escape is stuffed full of weekend ideas and your excuses for not leaving the house could be vanishing with the warm weather.wildflower

However, for those dwelling in the coastal regions of our great state, spring isn’t all it is cracked up to be. I’m talking about the dreaded marine layer fog, more affectionately referred to as ‘June Gloom’ or ‘May Gray’. This weather pattern can even last into July and August!

The hotter it is inland, the more likely the beach will be cloudy. Advection fog occurs when warm, land air moves out over cool, ocean water. The cold, California Current and upwelling produce cool, moist marine layers that blanket the entire coastline up and down the state. San Francisco is notorious for its dense fog.

birdsandfog

Many tourists and newcomers in California expect warm summers with plenty of sunshine, only to be disappointed by dreaded cloudy days. Otherwise known as overcast!

April was warm, but May is gray. It can be annoying, but why wait it out at the beach? … just head east to catch some rays.

califrepublicIf you’re like most folks who prefer the bright, warm sunshine to the gray, cold mist of a heavy marine layer, you might want to head inland. In most places throughout the state it is warm & the sun is shining and very warm inland by June. It only takes only a few miles of eastward travel to lose the gloom and be basking in the warmth of yet another classic California day.

Although, triple digit heat can also begin around June 1st in parts of the southwest. Regions like Death Valley, Vegas, Arizona, and the Central Valley of California often see temperatures creeping past 100 degrees, in the month of June. Consider that tidbit in your road trip planning. Check the forecast.

You may need winter jackets for the campsite at 5000′ elevation – but air conditioning on the drive there. A wide swing in day time temperatures can be expected in Cali.

Coastal Fog California

marinelayer

campCamping season is warming up and the crowds are often sparse at the start of the season. Campgrounds are most crowded when “school is out for summer break”, so if you want a quiet camp, choose to explore the back roads.

Travel season is non-stop in California, all year long; and now, so is Wild Fire season.

campfireJULY 1st typically marks the start of the seasonal NO-BURN DAYS: no more open burning, no residential brush burns, no campfires outside of developed campgrounds.

Check with the local rangers for specific conditions. Cal Fire, USFS, BLM, County Fire Agencies

snowSNOW MELTS – June is also the month that many of the snow covered mountain passes finally open up for the summer season. These are the main paved routes that go over the highest points in NorCal and the Sierra range, making Wilderness Areas and alpine lakes accessible. Wildflowers will bloom May-July in the Sierra Nevada!

weathersnowmap
California Road Conditions (click map to see more info)

(California State Routes, Interstate & US Highways)

drumtribes
Summer Solstice Campout – JUNE 20-22


Play Hooky

Ditchin, Absent, Gone

break free, break loose, break off, break out
bolt, elude, evade, flee, fly, relief, vent

work slave zombie

Finding ways to ditch work or school has always been a challenge for dedicated students or work-o-holics. Generally (rat race) Americans work more hours, longer hours and take less vacation days than any other population on the planet, the studies have found.

Californians have a true recreation paradise at their back door… and very few get to enjoy it. Too busy in the city. There are so many neat places to go & cool people to see on the back roads of California, that a whopping 5 paid holidays we get per year just isn’t enough.

Plus there is always so much work to do. Well, guess what? The work will just keep on coming, and coming, until you decide YOU really need a break. Taking that break doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

hookie, hooky?

The slang word conjures up 10 year old kids, neighborhood pals, riding bikes, running around old abandon shacks & exploring deserted mines. Swimming holes, rope swings and sunshine. A whole day of rest & relaxation, the fun kind. Yep. When you were a youngster, you knew the real meaning of enjoying a day. Free time was almost ALL the time and you lived each day with a fresh outlook.

NOTE to self: TAKE THE BACK ROADS, as much as possible.

Springtime, waterfalls, wildflowers. When it has been a long hard, snowy winter, a sunny day is a huge welcome in February. Come March and April, people want to be outside more, before the summer heat begins.

April 20 is a popular day to enjoy nature, annually. The month of April is prime time for traveling, with Easter weekend and Earth Day celebrations. 420 Camp Outs, Earth Day, River Festivals, Wildflower Blooms. Usually the first camping of the season for true die-hards.

A to Z California

see all California small towns & vacation destinations

5 good reasons
to take that extra day off of work/school

As you may have noticed by now, adult-hood is not all it’s cracked up to be. Work, chores, errands, sleep, drive & more work. Time to re-evaluate what is or isn’t happening in your life. If it’s travel you desire you don’t hafta wait until your are retired. Total Escape is here to help with thousands of pages & ideas. Explore close to home. Travel local regions in California, more often, for less money.

1. Cuz You Deserve It

Yes, dang it, you do. And you know it.
Your year is becoming a series of uneventful weekends all strung together. You need a fresh dose of reality & a weekend away does wonders. Clears the head of daily worries, opens up a fresh perspective, makes you think a little better. Whether it’s fly fishing, antique shopping or laying in a hammock near a creek, it all helps you. Subtly, but it does.

At the desk

bodie ghost town

2. Mental Health Day

We are a nation of work-o-holics. It’s that simple. We are becoming an impatient, unpleasant, selfish society that is always in a rush. What kinda life of daily grind is that? As we all have heard, Europeans get x-number of weeks for holiday time. Twice or three times more than us Americans. Do they know something we don’t? Is it time to slow down & use our sick days for our mental health? When your body is healthy, you might not get sick so often, so go for a hike to celebrate. Stop the chatter about it & do it. Enjoy life, every weekend. Recognize every holiday, 3 day weekends & plan something special for yourself and/or your loved ones.

3. Nature’s Well of Wellness

Fresh mountain air, glowing orange sunsets, the scent of cedar pines, the crashing of ocean waves & the warmth of a fireplace or campfire. A full day of hiking the high Sierra or just lazily fishing from your boat. Nature has magical ways of healing even the most weary souls. Come back from your weekend, exhausted & amazed OR refreshed & fully rested … it’s all up to you. We live in a beautiful place. California has a thousand destinations for you to enjoy. Why not start a health habit of traveling?

HelpMeEscape

4. Less Crowds

Summer is slowing down & autumn will soon set in. The hordes of tourists are thinning out, now that all the kids are back in school. This is the time to plan that weekend in the mountains, rent a cabin, a historic hotel or camp out along the river. Ask for an extra day, a Friday off & make that weekend a 3 day mini vacation. Traffic heading outta town is way better on a Thursday night or Friday morning, than the usual ‘mass exit’ weekend jam. Sitting on the freeway not moving is no fun at all. It’s a horrible way to start a vacation & the weekend escape rush hours can be grueling, so try to plan around it.

5. Cheaper Off Season Rates

Many small independent lodges, like the ones we feature here on Total Escape, usually drop their rates in their off-season. Call ahead to find out when the rates are best. Often the same thing goes for recreational adventures, tour companies & air fares. Each season has it’s own unique characteristics, so plan your stay according to preference. There is always a nice balance with winter, as the Golden State has plenty deserts to explore, as well as snowy slopes. Summer always looks great for the high Sierra but the coastlines are best in Fall. So as you can see there is no use waiting for the perfect time to travel, cuz in California the weather is almost always gorgeous.

Marc at Sunset“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you…while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
– John Muir

The California National Forests, State Parks & National Parks have a million & one things for you to do to enjoy your surrounding, or choose to do nothing at all in some pretty spectacular scenery.

your choice

California Weekends, Unexpected Day Off, Back to Nature

BLM / State Parks / National Forests / National Parks

BLM California

State Park California

National Parks California

US NFS

Out of the Box

city buildings
Feeling like you are trapped in a box lately? Is your daily existence in front of a computer monitor driving you bonkers?

Well, well then, the Total Escape web site is the new place for you. This is Off the Beaten Path, California style. The golden state at it’s very best. Local trips. Scenic drives.

cubical ratNot like the traffic hell you experience on the freeways, but open roads, trees, nature, open spaces, wild grass, blue birds, open fields, sunshine, fresh air & open meadows. Openness!! Plenty land, parks, recreation, leisure & simple good ideas for your weekend getaways.

escape cubical life soon

We all have our version of the BOX. What holds us there, is only a mystery. If you are sick of sitting at home doing nothing on the weekends (a house is a box), or needing a reason to kick the boob tube habit ( T.V. the most controlling box of all) or just wanting to break away after (or before) that big project deadline at work, Total Escape is a perfect place to start your day dreaming. With thousands of pages & photographs to show you where to go, you will wanna bookmark this online resource.

try it, you’ll like it:

winery tour & tasting
bike ride along the coast
a dirt road in the countryside
seafood in Baja, plus a hotel
find a bed & breakfast
cozy mountain cabin
natural hot springs
try SUV adventures

development
While you won’t know who’s doing what on television, I can assure you that your new found freedom & stream side camp will keep you reminiscing for many months.

By traveling locally, you can travel more often, experience a variety terrain, towns & recreational activities. Plenty small towns lodges wanting you to find them. Plus camping will work for moderate lifestyle travelers seeking the less expensive option for the weekend. Less cash, more nature.

How broke are you? Money is no excuse either. You will spend the same amount, if not more, staying in town, seeing a movie, doing one restaurant dinner & running up to the store for a sec (3 stores & a mocha freezy later, $$$). Leave the shopping boxes (malls) for weeknights.

Carpool and save on the cost of gasoline. A long road trip, it’s a great way to get re-acquainted with an old friend.
socalsuburb

Dedicate your weekends to yourself for once. (at least every month or so) Try scheduling in a real weekend away.

If you are a home owner, chances are you’ve spent the last year or more on house projects (or procrastinating on them). Time to stop! Celebrate life. Enjoy yourself & go. Let your imagination run wild while you dream of the coolest, most scenic places you can go. A rustic Sierra cabin, walking distance from a lake. A romantic bed & breakfast in wine country. A fly fishing guided tour up north somewhere. Come on, let go & get out of town.

find yourself
Something you can’t find with a GPS.

Yourself.