Newbies - Geographic Anomolies
Areas: Northern, Central, Southern
City: Los Angeles
This diverse state is almost a land unto its own. You can pan for gold in Jamestown, sample wine from the vineyards in Napa Valley and stare up at the impressive 2,500-year-old General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia measuring 101 feet around. Snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear lakes give stark contrast to the hot, dry sand of the deserts and beaches. Yosemite National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge and Death Valley are a few of the many sites California is known for.
It is especially important to keep your logbooks correct and your inspections up-to-date when driving in California. If you are pulled over for speeding, it is not uncommon for the police to check everything else out, too.
The speed limit is 55 mph and you do not want to be caught speeding. You will find that four-wheelers drive fast in the cities, like LA and Sacramento. You will be pushed to speed in heavy traffic areas. To avoid being a road hazard, try to drive with the flow of the traffic, yet stay conservative. It is always best to head through metro areas during the night or early morning hours, and never during rush hour if you can avoid it.
The speed limit is reduced to 35 mph going into LA and some other cities and towns. Watch the signs.
In Redding, northern California, there is a police academy. There are often many trainees monitoring the roadways. You have a good chance of being pulled over in that area for minor infractions or for going a few miles over the speed limit. So keep it in the lines and under the limit.
Heading east on I-80 from Sacramento will take you through some rugged mountains and steep grades. Heavy traffic in bad weather makes this road hazardous. Winter weather can especially create dangerous traveling conditions. Highway 50 into south shore Lake Tahoe is closed to trucks with a 53-foot or extended trailer.
The northern midsection of the state is fairly flat and slightly downhill as you drive north to south. Pay attention to your speed.
The two main roads cutting through the middle of the state are I-5 and Hwy. 99. Desolate in some parts, I-5 is newer and more open. Highway 99 is a very busy route. It is an older road and is a little bumpier. They join together at "the Grapevine."
Since you are headed downhill into a very populated area, check your brakes. If you're tired, don't push it. Once you start into town you can't pull over. There's lots of gear jamming and heavy traffic. You need to be alert.
The direct route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is I-15. On weekends it is very busy. If you try to use it on Friday night, you'll find yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Once you've made it over the mountain passes and steep grades, get ready for desert country. Southern California becomes extremely hot in the summer months. An average temperature in the desert during the day is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is easy to become overheated or suffer from heat exhaustion. Make sure your cooling system is in good shape before heading into these desert regions.
Fuel prices tend to be higher in this state so it is good to fill up before going in when possible. With the drastic change in landscape, from mountains to deserts, be prepared with the proper equipment. There are a lot of inspection bays and scales in California, and they are pretty tough on keeping equipment and logbooks in good order.
Let us know about what its like to drive in other parts of North America by emailing us at layover.com