Time from SoCal

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Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:30 pm

First off, YES, I have read the Event Survival Guide, basically all sections of the Preparations page, and yes this includes directions from LA. And yes I googled the directions looking at the Option 2 American Dream route.

My question is as follows:

Coming from LA (I'm actually coming from San Diego but I can figure out that part on my own), how long should I allocate for travel time from my front driveway to my camp area at BRC, utilizing the American Dream route?

Using Los Angeles as the starting point (yes, that's very broad, but I had to use something that you people can relate to), Google Maps says it will take me 11 hours and 6 minutes to go from downtown LA to BRC.

Using my home address, in SD, Google Maps tells me it will take 12 hours and 7 minutes from home to BRC.

What's it really going to take me? What should I reasonable add to that time? 2 hours? 14 hours seems somewhat reasonable. That allows time for gas stops and the traffic I'll hit approaching the gate.

I'm only asking b/c I'm trying to decide what time to leave.

-Leave at 6pm, drive through the night, get there at 8am? No, don't like driving through the night. Not safe, not fun.
-Leave at 8am get there at 10pm? Really don't want to arrive in the dark. It's hard enough setting up a regular campsite in the dark

Therefore, I'm leaning towards leaving at 3am and getting there at 5pm.

This assumes: a) it will be light at 5pm (I'm guessing so) and b) it will take me 14 hours.

Any feedback from people who have made the venture from LA and/or SD?

Feel free to post any feedback, including baseless personal attacks. Thos are always fun reading :)

Thank you!!! :mrgreen:
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby lemur » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:40 pm

i dont know any of that.


all i know is that you can plan from anywhere between 1 hour and 8 hours from when you exit the pavement and get onto the playa... before arriving at camp.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby 9ah » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:45 pm

Agree with Lemur... My friends drove up from LA and whatever time it's supposed to take it took them an extra 3 hours because the pvc wasn't attached to the roof properly.... Plan for at least a few hours more than it says.
Last edited by 9ah on Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Savannah » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:47 pm

lemur wrote:i dont know any of that.


all i know is that you can plan from anywhere between 1 hour and 8 hours from when you exit the pavement and get onto the playa... before arriving at camp.


Good point. Travel time from SoCal plus average entrance wait-time of maybe 3-5 hours in line, depending on when you arrive.

Keep snacks, water and sunscreen handy, Earthwalker. And maybe some t.p.

There are Portapotties, after a certain point. :)
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby trilobyte » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:00 pm

With no traffic or construction delays, 12 hours from LA in a vehicle that's not overloaded is reasonable. However you're likely to be in a full vehicle, there will be some traffic in one of the areas you pass through, and there will probably be some construction - I'd add two more hours to that for most people, and more if you're towing a vehicle or driving something significantly bigger than you'd normally drive. Add to that your time from SD to LA, and of course the time to get through LA (it's a big metro area), and then of course the gate queue.

Best advice I can offer is to plan to make a decent stop in Reno. Get a meal, stretch your legs, make full use of the facilities, top off your tanks, grab the last minute freshies, get your water, and ice up the coolers. Switch to your home stretch drivers there, too. That way you'll be fresh for the home stretch. It's 2ish hours from Reno to the playa, but can feel like the longest part of the trip.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:29 pm

Just add a day, and if you're ahead of schedule buy a permit from the Pyramid lake Paiutes and camp out. Or get a room in Reno.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby vapor » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:48 pm

Yeah, I agree, best advice is plan to rest and replenish somewhere before the final stretch. You'll be tired already from preparing for the event and it can easily take up to 8 hours from the time you leave Reno to the time you find a camp. I've pushed myself to make it on a precise schedule, gauging my sleep needs, expecting to get there by say midnight and be awake, only to find the 447 closed with a long detour through side roads. Or an extra long line at the gate. Or forgot something and getting lost in Walmart. And arriving near dawn stupidly tired.

My (more rational) plan these days for LA to BRC is to leave before afternoon traffic (2-3 PM), drive for 8-9 hours, stop at a rest stop and nap. Then up early and on the playa by midday. FWIW I take the spooky desert route, I find it to be the fastest, least traffic, fewer towns as well as best for heavy loads or towing (fewer long grades). There's a rest stop on the 95, I think in Mina. Or, Hawthorne is a decent place for a cheap hotel. Then last minute provisioning in Fallon. If you travel your stated route then there's a nice rest stop north of Mammoth near the top of the grade.

Anyway, to answer your question specifically the best time I've ever made it to the event door to camp is 14 hours, leaving the San Fernando valley. That is with just quick gas stops, no significant shopping and a fairly short (under 1/2 hour) gate line. On the other hand, l have made it from driveway to playa in 10 1/2 hours in early July. That is lightly loaded, mid week, no LA traffic and some fast Nevada roads. And . . . sure, I got to the playa in 10.5 hours (arrived midnight), I was meeting some friends and had GPS coordinates . . . I spent 3 hours driving around, only to then park and sleep somewhere near the edge of the playa and find them the next day in a completely different location.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:13 pm

I take a nap at the love's truck stop in fernly before "The home stretch".

My first year, I drove straight through for 16 hours, then hit an 8 hour line at gate!

It was brutal, and took a full day away from my burn to recover.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:18 pm

Wow. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear. But real truth is better than fake truth which, come to think of it, isn't really truth.

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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby mudpuppy000 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:45 pm

I usually leave around 4 am, get to empire around 4-5pm, get out of the car and go to the bathroom, grab a bunch of stuff at the empire store and then sit in the entrance line for 4 hours or so. Loooooong day. Last year I left around noon and stopped in bishop for the night and then did the spooky desert route.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby MikeGyver » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:51 pm

I live in North SD and it took me about 11 hours, left at 5 am got there just at about 4-ish (early entry so no gate line) Not sure which is the American dream route, but I took 15>395>80>447. Try and plan your gas stops though, a couple of the tiny towns in the middle have really high prices some were almost a whole dollar over the main town prices.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Milayna » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:12 am

So I live in Los Angeles, and I HIGHLY recommend planning an overnight stop on your way. It can EASILY take 16 hours to get to camp if you were to drive straight. The thing that google maps doesn't take into account is the traffic you run into after Reno and then all the way in. Even if you aren't in an RV, you will be behind a line of hundreds of them so you will be going slooooow. Plus the gate line is a total crapshoot. I got lucky this year and only waited about 45 minutes, but some campmates that got in line that same night waited several hours. There are campgrounds on the route you mentioned (that's the route I took this year also) if you don't want to spring for a motel room, but I've gotta tell you in Reno you can get a motel or hotel room for $30 if you look around, and you will be so grateful for that night of sleep before you head to the gate. As far as campgrounds, we stayed in one just after Bishop and then the next day drove through Reno and to the gate, the tent sites were $10 I think, so if you want to do that it's super cheap and well worth it. I can't imagine trying to make that trip straight, especially from San Diego.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby 9ah » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:36 am

Oh... My friends took an extra three hours to get from LA to SF... The gate line alone can be a handful of hours.

And I agree with Milayna... My friends passed out while I drove from SF to the gate... I think our 447 turn off to gate was about 5-6 hours.

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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby VultureChow » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:00 am

I can't recommend the overnight in Reno enough. Flying in last year, I pushed it way too hard and wound up barely conscious and possibly hallucinating after a 3 hour gate line. You will pack the car and think you have everything and then still wind up stopping at a few Wal-Marts as you realize you need or want something else. And the drive once you leave route 80 is not an easy one. It's pitch black on a winding 2 lane road with soft shoulders and huge RV's, trucks and trailer passing you if you dare to go under 50mph.

I'm tacking an extra day onto my trip this year so I don't make the same mistake again. I'm springing for a slightly more expensive room this time, but the BDC Sands deal is dirt cheap. Much cheaper than a moving violation, or a wreck, or lost time on playa because you spend the first day cranky and overtired.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby mudpuppy000 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:07 am

BTW, there looks like there's several places to stay in Hawthorne also. I've never tried any of them. I'd recommend going through there during the daytime though. The whole valley is filled with ammunition bunkers. Pretty eerie.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:53 pm

Oh yeah, one more thing. Reno. Every year I've gone (2002--06, 08, 09, 11, 12) there's been roadwork on I-80 in Reno.

damned piece-mealing....
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:58 pm

What happened in 7&10?

Can I just say I love all your posts?

No offense to anyone, but I hate Reno. Hot August nights is cool though. Especially when you're driving in the vicinity and see all the old cars making their way there
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:05 pm

07 I got run over by a train and had my legs cut off. That was in late April. I still had the colostomy in August.
10, transportation fail... You can't rent a back up wheelchair accessible, hand-controls van at a moments notice. Maybe not at all...
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:13 pm

I'm sorry to hear that. I think its freaking awesome that you still make it out there. That is dedication and should serve as an inspiration to others that you don't have to allow any sort of challenge to prevent you from doing what you love
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby vapor » Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:54 am

If you hate Reno don't go . . . take the back route. Spooky Desert is surreal, peaceful, mind clearing . . . great prep for the playa, imho. Hawthorne is a fine place to stay, though it can be a bit weird, feels like an abandoned city stuck in time. Which I find appealing, but anyway, I've stayed several times at the El Capitan, decent friendly place. Haven't spent much time in Fallon other than shopping, several hotels there as well. Oh yeah, bonus is the underwater naval research center on the outskirts of Hawthorne.

An alternate route to Spooky Desert is to continue on 395 up to Bridgeport, take 182/338 to 208 to Yerington/95, on through Silver Springs and into Fernley. There's a nice rest stop right before Wilson Canyon on the left side of the road, about 15 miles before you hit Yerington. Basically just a dirt parking lot next to a river, but quiet and free. This route is as fast as spooky desert if you aren't heavily loaded and keeps you more in civilization, which may or may not be appealing.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:08 pm

Does anyone else have experiences with the Spooky Desert route recently? The BM website strongly urges us not to take it due to run ins with tribal police. I have no desire to have run ins with any police, let alone tribal police.

I think I'm leaning towards 395 to Reno. that way we can stock up on last minute gear; including water, which we don't want to haul all the way from SD. Plus, if we're exhausted, we can stay in a hotel and really refresh.

Thanks for all the input.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:13 pm

I take that way every year.

Almost no traffic.

Stick to the speed limit in the few small towns on the way.

Never had any problems. 8)
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby mudpuppy000 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:17 pm

Done it twice, no problems. It's a lot easier of a drive than staying on 395 the whole way.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby katy potaty » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:33 pm

Don't forget to add time in the morning before you leave. We thought we were all packed up and ready to go the night before, but then had to screw around repacking and getting the bikes hooked up safely and remembering all the instructions for the cat sitters, etc. With that and all the bickering before leaving we ended up getting to Reno much later than we had expected. This year we're planning to add a second night in Reno and buying the PVC for our monkey hut in Reno on the extra day before heading out to the playa.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:19 pm

After fighting the idea, I have decided to follow the recommendation of breaking the trip up. We'll drive 5.25 hours to bishop, sleep in a hotel for one final night of good sleep (in reality I'll probably be like a kid on Christmas eve, unable to sleep due to unbridled anticipation and excitement), get up, eat, then drive 6.5 hours to the gate on Monday morning. A long gate wait notwithstanding, we should easily make it to camp while daylight remains.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby BBadger » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:33 am

I'd rather do it at night out of the sun, but if you prefer daylight, go for it.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby ranger magnum » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:33 pm

Vapor nailed it: 395 to 182-338-208-339-95/50

For a ways you follow the Walker river, and there are places to pull over and take a swim. In Silver Springs, there is a well stocked NAPA auto parts store, and next to it is Broken Arrow, the best auto repair shop I have ever been to.

We always stop in Bishop, which is almost the numerical halfway point from Santa Barbara, and stay the night in the Ace hardware parking lot (we have an rv).

From there it is an easy pull to the playa.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby vapor » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:22 am

regarding tribal police in Schurz I've never had an issue nor felt like I would. Regarding small towns and cops in general you'll very likely look different from most vehicles in the town. And you'll get noticed by a lot of people, some of them cops. Go the speed limit or below, pay attention, look alert, wait to get your freak on until you hit the playa and you'll be fine.

I've actually felt far more uncomfortable in Bishop than any small town in Nevada. I've gotten very hard looks from cops sitting just off the street waiting for someone to speed, I've seen as many pulled over in Bishop as in Nixon. Which is no reason to worry, just a time honored tradition of small town cops raising money. And to be fair, I get pissed when commuters speed through my neighborhood.

Anyway, the route through Bishop is great and very scenic, enjoy !
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby mudpuppy000 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:22 am

Yeah, there were a lot of CHP south of bishop last year. Pretty much any of those towns you want to slow way down.

As far as overnight stays, on the drive home I really need to stop somewhere, much more than the drive up.
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Re: Time from SoCal

Postby Earthwalker » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:21 pm

mudpuppy000 wrote:Yeah, there were a lot of CHP south of bishop last year. Pretty much any of those towns you want to slow way down.

As far as overnight stays, on the drive home I really need to stop somewhere, much more than the drive up.


Neither I nor my brother are particularly fast drivers, and having done a good bit of backroads driving, I know how much those Sheriffs/small town cops love to ticket out of towners. So we'll be cruising along at nice, safe, speeds.

We also plan on being very relaxed and "normal" on the drive up. No costumes. No partying. No "Burning Man or Bust" written in dust on the rear window. Plus we're in a minivan, so we could be a family headed to Reno for a trip to Circus Circus.

My route will likely be:

15-->395 Victorville
395--> Bishop (sleep) and catch SR6
6-->360NV
360-->95
95-->Fernley (via the alternate 95 that cuts west after Walker Lake and goes through Yerington)
Fernley/447-->34 etc

I looked at the 395 to 182-338-208-339-95/50 route, but the route I listed gets into NV quicker and seems to do so before you hit the mountains on 395. We'd prefer flat if possible. Seems like both are good though.

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