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Old 03-25-2013, 01:01 PM   #1
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Route Advice Santa Cruz to Carson City

I'm flying to CA in two weeks to look at a motorhome (32' Holiday Rambler, 460 Ford with Banks). If the deal works out, I'll be driving back to Montana from Santa Cruz. Last class A I had was in the late 80s (TTs and fivers since then) and I'm a little concerned about practicing on the Bay Area freeways. Been thinking about going across to I-5 and then north to 88 or 50 and over to Carson City. Once I get into Nevada, NO WORRIES! Comments appreciated!!

Jim
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:42 PM   #2
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As a former long-time business traveller and Bay Area resident, I am very familiar with travel throughout the Bay Area and the region. If you travel the Bay Area to get back home, one of your biggest challenges will be the first one....Rt 17 (through the Santa Cruz mountains) from SCruz to Los Gatos/San Jose area. It's a beautiful ride on 2 wheels or in a sporty sedan. But not so for someone new to the area driving in an unfamiliar MHome....white knuckles most of the way. You can do it, but it can be intense in your situation. And if it happens to be raining, you'll soon discover why Rt 17 can be one of the scariest rides on earth.

The other factor is the time of day when you travel. Coming north and east out of the South Bay anytime after 3:00 p.m. can be a test of driving skill and patience. And after that, you face the crushing mid-to-late afternoon cummuter traffic heading east on either I-580 out of Livermore and toward and over the Altamont Pass toward I-5 near Tracy or further north on I-80 toward Sacramento. If you decide to go this way, suggest you leave SCruz around 10:00 a.m. That will avoid the morning rush and put you east of Sacramento by 2:00 p.m. In any event, I would not recommend taking either 50 or 88 through the mountains toward Nevada. It is still Winter there. Rt 50 will take you into Lake Tahoe....and potential heavy snow. And Rt 88....forget it this time of year. Don't do it! Suggest you play it safe, and take I-80 into Reno and go from there. By the way, if you have mechanical difficulties enroute, travel up to and through the Bay Area would provide much better help in the event you have a problem....which hopefully won't happen.

If you want to avoid the above and get a bit used to your coach in a more relaxed envoirenment, suggest you go south out of SCruz and pick up Rt 156 at Castroville (you might be able to get to RT 156 following back roads out of Watsonville, but I don't recall if they are big rig friendly, and it may be more trouble than just going further South to Castroville). You can take this East to Rt 152 which will then take you all the way to I-5. You will go North from there. Sure, it is a bit out of the way. But it will avoid the Bay Area traffic that may concern you. And Rts 156 & 152 wind their way through some interesting countryside near San Juan Bautista and Hollister, CA, and is a VERY easy ride. The only challenge on this route is Pacheco Pass, but it remains 3/4 lane all of the way and should not prove to be a major problem. If you go this way, suggest you leave by 8:30-9:00 a.m. to put you East of Sacto by rush hour. From here, you can be in Reno, weather permitting, in a couple hours or so.

Hope this helps. You can do a Mapquest and view the various routes available. Good luck, and have a safe trip!
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:30 PM   #3
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To avoid traffic you can head south on Hwy 1 to Watsonville and take route 129 to Hwy 101 and then Hwy 152 east from Gilroy to Los Banos and directly to I-5. Hwy 129 is much better than going over Hecker Pass or Hwy 17 with any vehicle. It the route the big rigs take.

There is a truck plaza area at the southern edge of Gilroy that is a good place to get diesel and Los Banos is good for general provisioning or a rest stop before heading north on I-5.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:37 PM   #4
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agree with elkhornsun... driven it many times in my 35' Class A. Also in Los Banos is a Walmart or K-mart on the right easy in/out to get supplies.
Drive safe.. keep us advised on your trip.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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By all means stay off of 50 and 88, steep and windy and there is always a couple of idiots who think they are race car drivers and you are a rock in their roadway. When in the Sacto area just keep an eye out for the signs to Reno. When I get to Wells,NV I like to turn North towards Jackpot (Hiway 95 ? 2 lanes,but good) nice RV park at Pistol Petes.

Don G.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:06 PM   #6
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To avoid traffic you can head south on Hwy 1 to Watsonville and take route 129 to Hwy 101 and then Hwy 152 east from Gilroy to Los Banos and directly to I-5. Hwy 129 is much better than going over Hecker Pass or Hwy 17 with any vehicle. It the route the big rigs take.

There is a truck plaza area at the southern edge of Gilroy that is a good place to get diesel and Los Banos is good for general provisioning or a rest stop before heading north on I-5.
You are right....that route through Watsonville will work very nicely. Could not recall that it was the preferred truck route. Good call. Hecker Pass?? No one would consider that seriously, would they? By the way OP, Los Banos is a neat little town with a number of good local restaurants if you care to stop.

However....if your stomach is growling, suggest you go one exit north on I-5 to Santa Nella (or you can go north at Rt 33 BEFORE you get to I-5). There you will find the Andersen's Split Pea Soup Restaurant. Their famous soup is absolutely killer!! Even if you don't care for split pea soup, you will love theirs. It IS that good. Yummy! Just a thought....have fun.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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Wow! What's with you guys and Hwy 88? It's a beautiful drive and what do you mean "this time of year? It's spring here right now and if it does rain, the snow levels are usually quite high. Do call Caltrans first though. I live on Hwy 88 and drive it regularly with my 40'er and toad. Love it.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:45 AM   #8
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The tractors pulling trailers and going from the bay area to Santa Cruz area always take Hwy 101 south and take the Hwy 129 route to Hwy 1. Very rare to see someone with a set of doubles going up Hwy 17 from Los Gatos.

I can see where talking to truckers about their preferred route would be advantageous to anyone with a large RV or pullling a toad. This is where a Trucker's GPS model would be worth getting. It would be great if google maps had a "truck" option for its suggested routes.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:21 PM   #9
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Wow! What's with you guys and Hwy 88? It's a beautiful drive and what do you mean "this time of year? It's spring here right now and if it does rain, the snow levels are usually quite high. Do call Caltrans first though. I live on Hwy 88 and drive it regularly with my 40'er and toad. Love it.
Thanks for this input! I really DON'T want to drive on the freeways any more than necessary. If the weather is good, I think I'll have to take a chance.

Jim
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:34 PM   #10
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Watsonville to Gilroy

You can pick up 152 in Watsonville and go towards Gilroy. It's a lot more twisty and a little steeper than 129 but shouldn't be that much of a problem for any motorhome.

I drive 152 and 129 several times a year. The road that scares me is 152 between Gilroy and Los Banos.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:20 AM   #11
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I live in Hollister and would advise against 152 from Watsonville to Gilroy. I would take 1 to 129 to 101. On 101 you go slight south till you get 156 to San Juan/ Hollister and then to I-5.
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:31 AM   #12
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152

Have you driven that stretch of 152 lately? The problem turns have all been widened. Once you get past Mount Madonna almost the entrie road has been rebuilt and widened.

My DW still prefers 129. But unlike her I enjoy mountain roads.

Isn't there a way to miss getting near the Gilroy Outlets & Walmart? I really really really hate the traffic in that area.

For instance: 129 to 101, 101 to 156 all the way to where it meets 152 near Casa De Fruta? 152 becomes a real freeway at that point.
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