From L.A. to Coos Bay in Five Days

CA: South Coast Region, San Luis Obispo County, Pacific Coast Area, San Simeon, Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, Elephant seals [Ask for #271.033.]
CA: South Coast Region, San Luis Obispo County, Pacific Coast Area, San Simeon, Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, Elephant seals [Ask for #271.033.]

August 2013. When my wife Kasey and I evaluated where we wanted to live we quickly settled on the Pacific coast. But where? We planned a two week trip up the coast to scope out the possibilites and made reservations for July 2013, figuring to get a good look at the hottest weather and worst crowds. Our original plan was to fly into Los Angeles and rent a car, then spend two weeks meandering slowly up the coast to Victoria, finally flying back from Seattle. However, a closer look at weather and town sizes narrowed the competition with Coos Bay the clear favorite, and with this in mind we set up a five day drive up the coast from Los Angeles to Coos Bay followed a week in a bayside cottage just outside town.

This type of trip, where you fly into City A, rent a car there and drop it off at City B, then fly out of City B, is known as a "scissors". A scissors always costs more but you make it up by spending less time driving (returning to City A) and more time enjoying. (Always place value on your time! How much salary are you giving up to barrel down an interstate for two days to return your car? I thought so.) We found that, in this case, United Airlines did not charge extra for booking a scissors from Washington DC to Los Angeles to Seattle and back to Washington, a lucky break. But car rentals will always charge extra, as a scissors messes up their logistics. Managing this depends on finding a rental that has too many vehicles in City A and too few in City B, as your scissors saves them having to hire someone to drive the car to city B. We got an excellent price from Fox Rent A Car, which furnished a free shuttle from the terminal to their location a bit under two miles away.

VA: Washington Region, Loudoun County, Washington's Outer Suburbs, Dulles International Airport,  Main Terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport at dusk. Photo by Joe Ravi, sourced from Wikimedia Commons (http://tinyurl.com/qxxzjat) [Ask for #998.008.]
Main Terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport at dusk. Photo by Joe Ravi, sourced from Wikimedia Commons [Ask for #998.008.]

Our trip started and ended at Dulles, Washington's (DC) international hub at its far western edge, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge. It is an architectural landmark, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1958, "highly regarded for its graceful beauty, suggestive of flight," as Wikipedia puts it. What it is not noted for is any ability to move people between the curb and the airplane. A billion-dollar underground tram, opened in 2010, was meant to relieve the congestion, but bizarrely fails to reach the actual airside, or even the correct level, forcing a walk hundreds of yards long with significant upslopes. Our plane, a United Airbus A-320, had a tired, worn interior with the traditional cramped seating. Under certain circumstances, however, United will let you book an empty seat, and the price was so low we took advantage of this. This made a big difference in our comfort level, as we could put the empty seat between us, raise our armrests, and spread out a bit. I should note that the Dulles United crew honored this arrangement without question, but we had to argue with United's Seattle crew to keep them from selling our seat to someone else. I can remember when people flew for pleasure. Can you?

Jumping four time zones westward gave us enough daylight to drive out of town to the Oxnard area, giving us a chance to be unimpressed by the drive down CA 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH) through Malibu. But then, we were tired. We ended the day at the Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, an attractive modern facility at a competitive price, located just a block from a waterfront park.

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OR: South Coast Region, Coos County, Rough topography east of Coos Bay. ©2015; data from <ahref='http://www.delorme.com>Delorme, ©2004</a> [Ask for #990.109.] 
 
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