Virtual Travel – California

Today we make our way to the Golden State – California. As most people know California is known for, among other things, their car culture. That culture apparently never translated to CalTrans, who never seem to have published maps.

Instead most Californians have relied on the auto club for their travel tools. The state has two major auto clubs – The Auto Club of Southern California and the California State Automobile Association, which covers Northern California.

The auto club maps rarely featured photos, mostly just graphically interesting maps.

For this posting we will mix together vintage Auto Club maps with photos from various years of the highlights of the state.


The map below dates from the 1950s and covers the entire state.

Auto Club California State Auto Association California 1940.jpg




A view of the map itself shows the famed freeways of the state still a few years away. This view has the area from the coast around San Francisco to the mountains and Yosemite National Park, going south as far as Santa Barbara.

Auto Club California State Auto Association California 1940 4.jpg



Our tour will start in San Francisco….

Auto Club SoCal San Francisco 1997



The view back toward downtown from Twin Peaks on a cloudy day.

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While most of San Francisco streets are in a grid system, the area directly around Twin Peaks have streets with curves resulting in a haphazard look to the houses.

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The Golden Gate bridge with the tops of the towers obscured by the low clouds.

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The cool, weirdness of Haight Asbury.

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Isotope Comic Book Shop and their artistic toilet lids.

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San Francisco from Angel Island.

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An evening at the Santa Cruz Beach.

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San Luis Reservoir as we head towards the central valley.

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Yosemite! One of the best National Parks.

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The Central Valley is the produce capital of the country.

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Sequoia National Park.

2016 05 23 41 Sequoia Kings Canyon.jpg



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Kings Canyon National Park.

2016 05 23 105 Sequoia Kings Canyon.jpg


2016 05 23 116 Sequoia Kings Canyon.jpg





Let’s move on to Northeastern California.

Auto Club California State Auto Association Northeastern California 1991.jpg



Lassen National Park

2016 05 29 20 Lassen National Park.jpg




Lava Tubes

2016 05 29 41 Lava Beds National Monument.jpg



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Hieroglyphs in far northern California

2016 05 29 88 Lava Beds National Monument.jpg






Northwestern California is home to some amazing coastlines and forests.

Auto Club California State Auto Association Northwestern California 1987



Our tour of Northwest California starts out with the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geysersville.

2016 05 26 4 Geyserville CA Coppolla Winery.jpg



Lake Sonoma.

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The Mendocino County coast.

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Fort Bragg, California (not to be confused with the actual U.S. Army Fort Bragg in North Carolina).

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One of the ultimate tourist traps – the Drive Thru Tree in Leggett, California.

2016 05 27 29 Mendocino County.jpg




Redwood Forest.

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Eureka, California

2016 05 27 113 Humboldt County.jpg



We were  lucky enough to be in Arcata, California for one of the coolest festivals we ever saw – the Kinetics Festival.

2016 05 28 169 Arcata CA Kinetics Festival.jpg


2016 05 28 173 Arcata CA Kinetics Festival.jpg



Trinity Lake

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Shasta Dam and lake with Mount Shasta in the background.

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This 1927 map  is the Circle Tour of Southern California. Leaving downtown Los Angeles it takes you east past San Bernardino to Palm Springs, before heading south through the desert, finally returning to the coast at San Diego.

Auto Club SoCal Circle Tour 1927.jpg




Auto Club SoCal Circle Tour 1927 2.jpg


We will recreate the highlights of this tour 90 years later…

The Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles was there when this map was published.

2009 08 22 7 Los Angeles.jpg



Driving through the desert to Palm Springs.

2009 08 24 44 IAMMMMW Road.jpg


Palm Springs from high up on Mount San Jacinto.

2009 08 24 78 Mt San Jacinto and Palm Springs Tram.jpg



San Diego – This late 1940s map shows a San Diego that was just becoming a major city.

Auto Club SoCal San Diego County 1948

Auto Club SoCal San Diego County 1952 3


By 2012 it was a beautiful city by the bay.

2009 08 23 27 San Diego.jpg


Petco Park – Home of the San Diego Padres (trivia time – the Padres are the only major league sports team whose name is entirely in non English)

2009 08 23 70 San Diego Petco Field.jpg



And finally back in Los Angeles – although this 1920s map is missing LAX (among other things).

Auto Club SoCal Los Angeles Central Section 1940 2.jpg



2012 03 10 153 Los Angeles Scenes.jpg



2012 03 10 148 Los Angeles Griffith Park.jpg



2012 03 10 133 Los Angeles Griffith Park.jpg


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2012 03 10 144 Los Angeles Griffith Park.jpg









Yosemite National Park – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 2

Another morning, another Denny’s, and a drive out of San Jose past a classic Roadside America sight, a car wash built to look like an old riverboat, the Delta Clean – followed by a drive south through Santa Clara County, where at the southern end of the county is Gilroy, garlic capital of the world.

2016 05 22 1 San Jose.jpg

We were stunned at the cheap prices of garlic and avocados posted on signs along the way.  Ten avocados for a $1.00 is less than the cost of one avocado in Columbus. Leaving the Valley of Garlic, the route took us through Pacheco Pass by the San Luis Rey Reservoir to Los Banos.  This route across the Central Valley took us through the massive farms full of produce, as we continued to Merced.

2016 05 22 17 Central California.jpg

After passing through the small town of Mariposa, a small town with a western theme and a famous old jail, we began to climb into the mountains.  Finally we arrived at Yosemite and immediately saw beautiful landscapes of water rapids, hills and mountains of granite.  Having reserved a cabin for the night, we dropped the bags off then hurried out to see more.

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The rest of the afternoon was taken up with an eight-mile hike, passing under Half Dome and Yosemite’s Upper and Lower falls.  There was stunning scenery in every direction as we walked to Mirror Lake, named for the reflection of the mountains in the lake’s water.  Mirror Lake is a seasonal lake and is fullest when the snowmelt flows into it in spring and early summer.

A few hours later we were back at Half Dome Village, recently renamed from Curry Village after the National Park Service and one of their suppliers had a legal dispute.

2016 05 22 46 Yosemite.jpg

After a lunch break of eating pizza, we wandered again on the trails. Glacier Point Trail was closed due to ice and snow that lingered on the top of the mountain so we hiked from Station 13 to Station 8. We walked nearly 3/4 of the park then took the shuttle to the Half Dome Village.

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Since the hockey playoffs were still on I was able to convince a worker to turn one of the TVs in the lounge to the Penguins game, occuring at the same time as a basketball playoff game. The many Californians cheered as they watched the Golden State Warriors play against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the basketball championships.  Some young college guys joined us to watch the hockey game as we all ate dinner from the cafeteria line at the lounge.  The Penguins lost the game in overtime 4-3.  We went back to our cabin tired and disappointed about the game.

2016 05 22 113 Yosemite.jpg

The cabin had a private bath and a double bed.  The room had a slight mustiness to it and we had a hard time getting to sleep despite the excessive amount of exercise we got during the day.  It seemed as if I was bitten by a bug so we turned on the lights to check the bed to find black specks on the sheets.  We were unsure if these were bedbugs but we swept off the sheets and went back to bed, finding no evidence of problems in the morning. Ah nature…

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