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I have generally found the AC routes to be so easy to follow that I leave my dedicated GPS home. I do sometimes use my smart phone for directions to a particular stop, service, or attraction.
I have used an etrex for an on/off road tour and it worked out well. Personally though I found it a lot more trouble to program in the route, deal with batteries, and so on than it is worth on most routes especially if you will be on the road only.
When we got to Oakland CA for a ride down the coast I decided we needed a chain long enough to lock both our bikes up. I went into a bike shop on the waterfront and found a Kryptonite chain for $62. So I bought one and well it served. After I got back I went to my LBS, Burien Bikes,
Just follow the coast highway. I did it with roadmaps and DOT maps. DOT will send maps for free, or they did in 1993, anyway.
Thanks so much for this helpful information, jamawani!
(We think we can get a ride across the bridge at Vantage.)
Not sure why you think this. Do you have someone who has agreed to meet you there and take you, bike, and gear, etc across? Or are you hoping to hitch across somehow? I have ridden across it west to east in 1991. We had 4 guys and did it in the AM before there was much traffic. It can be done, but you have to have a mirror, be very visible and somewhat lucky. I wouldn't do it with kids.
Also, the I-90 bridge over the Columbia at Vantage is super dangerous.This is true about the bridge at Vantage. I rode over it in June of 1991 fairly early in the morning. There were 4 of us and we all waved out left arm vigorously as we rode. I heard of one person who hitchhiked over it by waiting on the freeway entrance for a pickup and when one stopped they threw the bike in the back and took the ride over the bridge and then got back on the bike and rode on!
No shoulder - zero - and pretty heavy traffic.
There is no old highway bridge option.
The Milwaukee Railroad bridge downstream remains closed, too.
This is unfortunate because the old highway from Ellensburg to Vantage is super.
And the back roads on the east side of the river are also excellent for touring.