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Old 03-15-2011, 10:25 AM   #16
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OK, but you're gonna miss the best scenery that way!

Your last chance to get off highway 1 before the Big Sur coast is at Monterey. Take CA 68 west to Salinas, then US 101 south all the way down to LA. Beware of the speed trap at King City; slow down to the limit for 5 miles before and 5 miles after King City. Other than that, you're golden.

For a slightly faster, and certainly more boring, route, assuming you're coming down Highway 1 from SF to Santa Cruz, you can try the following. Exit 1 at the Main St Watsonville exit (CA 152). Follow it through town (notice the beautiful historic Catholic church on your right). When you're almost out of town, turn left on CA 129 (Burger King, just before the bridge). Take 129 about 10 miles to US 101. Go south on 101 for just a couple of miles. Exit on CA 156 east. Follow the 156 bypass around Hollister (i.e., don't go into Hollister, unless you're curious about the town where The Wild Ones with Marlon Brando was shot). 156 ends when it dumps into CA 152. Continue east on CA 152 over Pacheco pass. A few miles on the other side of the pass, you can pick up Interstate 5 south, which you'll take all the way to DLR.

This is all my neck of the woods. It's actually easier than it sounds. Or you can rely on your GPS

HTH,
Bob
Ahhhh the infamous Pachecho Pass - formerly known as Blood Alley. That was a nasty stretch of road back in the day. DH and I used to drive from Los Angeles to Morgan Hill/San Jose 2-3 x's a month. This was 20-25 years ago. We took just about every route there is Hwy 152 always included a stop at Casa De Fruita for some weird exotic fruit wine and some sort of snack!
For years the state was working on widening that road to 2 lanes with dividers, did they ever finish it? Once we moved to Nevada we no longer came up from the South and I haven't been over Pachecho in years.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:01 AM   #17
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Ahhhh the infamous Pachecho Pass - formerly known as Blood Alley. That was a nasty stretch of road back in the day. DH and I used to drive from Los Angeles to Morgan Hill/San Jose 2-3 x's a month. This was 20-25 years ago. We took just about every route there is Hwy 152 always included a stop at Casa De Fruita for some weird exotic fruit wine and some sort of snack!
For years the state was working on widening that road to 2 lanes with dividers, did they ever finish it? Once we moved to Nevada we no longer came up from the South and I haven't been over Pachecho in years.
Yep, it's now 4 lane, mostly divided, all the way from the 156-152 junction to I-5. Although it's a mountain pass, it's now a very easy road to travel. They even built a fly-over intersection at 156 & 152. Before that, 152 east from Gilroy used to back up quite a ways, while people yielded to left turns for westbound traffic. The new fly-over is wonderful, and is the crowning touch to making the road safe and easy.

Blood Alley, huh? I thought that term was reserved for the portion of Monterey Highway from Morgan Hill to San Jose, in the old days, when it served as US 101 before the freeway portion of 101 was complete.

-Bob
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:36 AM   #18
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Yep, it's now 4 lane, mostly divided, all the way from the 156-152 junction to I-5. Although it's a mountain pass, it's now a very easy road to travel. They even built a fly-over intersection at 156 & 152. Before that, 152 east from Gilroy used to back up quite a ways, while people yielded to left turns for westbound traffic. The new fly-over is wonderful, and is the crowning touch to making the road safe and easy.

Blood Alley, huh? I thought that term was reserved for the portion of Monterey Highway from Morgan Hill to San Jose, in the old days, when it served as US 101 before the freeway portion of 101 was complete.

-Bob
After California's population started booming in the 1950s, Pacheco Pass's traffic steadily increased. So did traffic speeds. And so did the accidents and death count. By the 1970s, truckers began calling the pass "Blood Alley" and "The Ho Chi Minh Trail" because of its notoriously risky reputation. Among the famous fatalities are the elderly heirs to the Gallo Winery fortune. George Dexter, the designer of McDonald's "golden arches" restaurant symbol also died in a traffic accident here. As the death count rose, everyone knew something must be done to make the road safer.Courtesy of the Gilroy Dispatch
For the complete article: http://www.gilroydispatch.com/lifest...f-pacheco-pass

Bob, I too remember when the section you are referring to was also deemed blood alley. I do think if I remember correctly the only way to get to HWY 152 was via Monterey Road and thus it was all coined the same. Back when DS and I used to travel over Pachecho, there used to be a large sign on the East Bound side that stated the number of fatal accidents that had occurred. It used to creep me out since we traveled it often and would see the numbers periodically changed
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:58 PM   #19
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Cool article. Thanks!

-Bob
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:44 AM   #20
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Bob,

Thanks sooo much for such details. It is exactly what I'm looking for. I really appreciate it.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:07 AM   #21
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Yep, it's now 4 lane, mostly divided, all the way from the 156-152 junction to I-5. Although it's a mountain pass, it's now a very easy road to travel. They even built a fly-over intersection at 156 & 152. Before that, 152 east from Gilroy used to back up quite a ways, while people yielded to left turns for westbound traffic. The new fly-over is wonderful, and is the crowning touch to making the road safe and easy.

Blood Alley, huh? I thought that term was reserved for the portion of Monterey Highway from Morgan Hill to San Jose, in the old days, when it served as US 101 before the freeway portion of 101 was complete.

-Bob
Ironically, on this past trip that started this whole thread, to the relief of all those afraid of heights, we made it to Santa Cruz for a quick lunch, then headed over to San Jose. Anyway, somewhere between those two, it started to rain and we were working our way up a slanted highway when a car spun out with an ear tearing loud screech and sliding sidways RIGHT TOWARDS US!!! I was fortunately able to swerve out of the way, but I think half our van load might have had a mild heart attack... they were talking about that until we got to san Francisco that night.
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:08 PM   #22
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Ironically, on this past trip that started this whole thread, to the relief of all those afraid of heights, we made it to Santa Cruz for a quick lunch, then headed over to San Jose. Anyway, somewhere between those two, it started to rain and we were working our way up a slanted highway when a car spun out with an ear tearing loud screech and sliding sidways RIGHT TOWARDS US!!! I was fortunately able to swerve out of the way, but I think half our van load might have had a mild heart attack... they were talking about that until we got to san Francisco that night.
Between Santa Cruz and San Jose? Most likely HWY 17! When I was a teen we hauled over that hill to the beach like crazy. I remember when I was a kid and that road had no center divider - now that was nuts!

6 years ago, my Brother got married in Santa Cruz, I had forgotten how hairy HWY 17 was! I have no idea how I survived adolsecence. I remember being in friends cars speeding like idiots over that road.

I've seen cars play bumper cars with that divider. Some of those turns are insane. Glad you all made it unscathed
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:50 PM   #23
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FYI - in the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_17632167?nclick_check=1
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:37 PM   #24
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We were planning to do that road for our upcoming trip, now I'm reconsidering because I am afraid of heights! And the falling boulders!

Would you suggest taking another road for some part of the trip?

Steph, we are from Montreal too; driving all the way down! 9 weeks trip , with 2 kids and a 18 months baby!.
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:50 PM   #25
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Where are you coming from, and where are you trying to get to? If you're specifically trying to get from San Jose to Santa Cruz, you have little choice unless you want to go far out of your way. But highway 17 isn't too bad. Just watch your speed, and don't try it during rush hour (too many speed demons on the road, which are the ones prone to spin out).

If you're coming from SF, highway 1 makes a wonderful alternative. Beautiful scenery, but not driving on the edge of a cliff like the portion through Big Sur.

And if you're going to Monterey rather than Santa Cruz, the faster, easier way is to take US 101 south to CA 156 west. That's a more-or-less flatland route, almost all freeway.

-Bob
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Old 03-27-2011, 07:50 AM   #26
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Thank you GrandBob, we are going to San Francisco, From LA...

Planned to stop overnight near Pismo Beach then Big Sur so doing it in three days...

We are leaving next week and I'm really nervous, not sure about my itinerary...We are doing the road to Florida easily every year but this is really different, I think we will do more than 15 000 km in 65 days and so much things to do, especially in California, we probably should cut somewhere but don't know where...

thanks again, if I freak out on that road, we can change to another one (I guess...) but my husband is really looking forward to do it
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:49 PM   #27
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OK. When you get up to Monterey, you have a choice. You can continue on Highway 1 through Santa Cruz and all the way up the coast to SF. Or you can take CA 156 over to US 101, and take 101 all the way up to SF.

The Hwy 1 route is more scenic, and not that much longer. It's not as scenic, nor as scary, as the portion through Big Sur. I'd recommend it. Be aware that it uses surface streets through Santa Cruz, which can get pretty slow during rush hour. If you're leaving Monterey between, oh, 3:30 and 6 PM, I'd recommend 156/101 instead.

Also, I see now that this is the same trip I responded to in your thread about the roads through the Sierra. If you're truly leaving in a week, then the only way through the Sierra will be through Tahoe, either on I-80 or US 50(* note), or all the down by Bakersfield and through Tehachapi. You can get into Yosemite without a problem (the west entrance is fairly low in elevation), but you won't get over Tioga Pass and out the east entrance -- not for another 2.5 months yet.

If you choose to go through Tahoe, have fun, it's beautiful. But be sure to carry tire chains, and know how to use them. All the roads to Tahoe have had chain restrictions numerous times in the past week -- they just got a ton of new snow. Snow, whiteouts, and chain controls can turn a beautiful 4-5 hour road trip (from SF) into an 8-12 hour nightmare. If you choose to do this, check road conditions before you leave. I recommend the CHP site at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi You can also call the road conditions line at 1-800.427.7623

HTH,
Bob
(* note) Well OK, also 88 and 108. But if 80 and 50 are bad, you don't wanna even try those two roads.

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Old 03-27-2011, 10:53 PM   #28
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Chiming in here too on the Sierra routes.
The Sierra's have an epic amount of snow right now. 200% or more of normal.

88 is an amazingly beautiful drive BUT its at the highest elevation and closes regularly for avalanche control.

50 is usually the last to close due to bad weather but its single lane, undivided and coming down off of echo summit can be terrifying in bad weather.

80 has been closed a lot lately, my DS spent 2 extra days in Sacramento last weekend due to 80 being closed.

If you carry chains (a must) and chain controls go into effect you can pay the "chain monkeys" $30 to put your chains on for you. Takes them just a few minutes.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:02 PM   #29
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well, you certainly don't see that on the maps...We are SO unprepared, chains?!!
and here we are required by law to have our winter tires until march 15, but never have that amount of snow...

the AAA trip tik make us take the 580, 205, then 120 from San Francisco to Yosemite.

But why go so north to lake Tahoe?

Thank you very much both of you
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:10 AM   #30
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well, you certainly don't see that on the maps...We are SO unprepared, chains?!!
and here we are required by law to have our winter tires until march 15, but never have that amount of snow...
Well, I'm guessing you don't live in one of the highest mountain ranges in North America (outside Alaska).

The first year I moved out to CA, I took my motorcycle to Tahoe in late April. I believe Easter was late that year, like this year, and I took my GF and drove the bike to Tahoe. Got caught in a snowstorm on the way back. Now that's uncomfortable, riding a motorcycle through the snow, on I-80 at about 40 MPH to try to keep from slipping, with a passenger on the back. Learned my lesson about making assumptions about weather in the mountains. I now carry chains Oct through May if I'm travelling there.

Quote:
the AAA trip tik make us take the 580, 205, then 120 from San Francisco to Yosemite.

But why go so north to lake Tahoe?

Thank you very much both of you
Because there won't be any roads cleared of snow between Tahoe and Tehachapi!

You're welcome. Enjoy your trip!

-Bob
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